LEVITICUS 1 : 1-17
The Burnt Offering was a voluntary act of worship in atonement for sin in general, an expression of complete surrender to God, and was offered daily, morning and evening. Under the Mosaic Law the skins of the animals belonged to priests as their portion (dues or allowance). This is the second offering following the Sin-Offering in the ritual. By Divine ordinance this was to be one of the most common offerings, since no day would pass without burnt offerings being presented to the Lord. (The sin and guilt offerings being the other common offerings). Only domestic animals were to be offered; the people were not permitted to hunt animals for sacrifice. One reason for this is that animals which preyed on others as food could not represent Christ who was to give life in His death. Similarly only “clean beasts” could be offered. It remains fitting that if one is to offer anything to God in sacrifice, it should be something which is loved dearly and is very valuable to the offerer.
THE OFFERING as described in Lev.1:3 is a “burnt sacrifice” (‘a sacrifice consumed by fire’ Webster’s Dict.), and the victim could be selected from one of four sources: The Bullock (or Ox Lev.1:3) depicting Christ as the patient and enduring servant; obedient to death : The Sheep depicting Christ in unresisting self-surrender to death: : The Goat representing Christ as numbered with transgressors; made sin and a curse : The Turtle-Dove (pigeon) Lev.l:14> indicating that Christ, for our sakes became poor .
THE OFFERER brings the animal which must be: “a male without blemish” (or defect; complete, full, perfect; undefiled, upright; Strong’s). The story is told of a missionary watching a local woman throw her healthy young son into the river full of crocodiles; when he asked why she did so she replied “We give our gods our best.” The question to us is “Do we?” God still demands the best that we have to offer! . What kind of offering do we bring in remembrance of Him? Does our offering change from day to day? The offerer must present the offering himself: “…of his own voluntary will”<1:3 KJV>; (NOTE! This phrase is omitted from the revised version) that is it was not demanded by God, but was offered voluntarily . Oftentimes we can be very willing to give what belongs to others, but what about that which we do have? . (1) THE PRESENTATION OF THE VICTIM –“at the door of the tabernacle” . In consideration of the fact that the Israelite was prone to idolatry, God insisted that all sacrifices should be offered in the place that He appointed, namely, the door to the Tabernacle. This principle still applies today, and we must take great care that in our worship of God we maintain the terms and conditions that God has appointed (2) IDENTIFICATION WITH THE VICTIM- “…lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering”. This symbolised a transfer of an obligation to suffer for sin, from the offerer to an innocent victim. The victim would now stand in the place of the offerer and would be dealt with accordingly. This introduces us to The Concept of Substitution which can be explained as a ransom or the price to free a slave; something or someone stepping in the place (instead) of the one condemned to die (3) KILLING OF THE VICTIM -– “He is to slaughter the young bull before the LORD”. The fundamental thought is that the offerer is to kill the victim himself, which would result in him sensing the enormous cost of his atonement as he sees the life of his victim being poured out. In a deeper sense every sinner must identify with this in the fact that our sins helped to nail Christ to the cross, causing Him to suffer such agony. (4) THE SPRINKLING OF THE BLOOD – “the priests shall bring the blood and sprinkle it against the altar on all sides”. Here the offerer’s work ends and the priest’s work takes over. Once we have identified with our substitute, we should also cease to work and allow our heavenly High Priest to take over. It was in this sprinkling of the blood that the atoning work was completed. In this act the blood was symbolically presented to God, and this is the work of our heavenly priest alone; therefore we must leave it to Him , atonement involved the substitution of a life for a life. (5) BURNING THE SACRIFICE- , the distinguishing factor of the burnt offering is that the whole was to be burned and thus ascended toward heaven in the fire and smoke. Since the whole sacrifice is to be consumed, it must therefore be flayed (cut in pieces) and carefully arranged upon the wood. The internal parts and organs, and the feet, must be washed in water, so as to remove any thing that may defile. It should be noted that in the case of the Turtle-dove, it was not cut in pieces (presumably because it was so small) and was not necessary in order for the whole to be consumed by fire. The significance of fire: it is a symbol of God’s holiness: (1) In Judgement: ; (2) As a manifestation of Himself ; (3) Typifying Purification . In consideration of the fact that in the meal offering, no blood was shed, but the offering was burnt on the altar, fire must represent something other than judgement. In other words, it must have the same meaning in all the sacrifices. Since atonement has already been accomplished in the sprinkling of the blood, burning can only mean the ascending of the offering in consecration to God, and God’s acceptance and appropriation of the offering. Note that in the inaugural service in the Tabernacle, a fire came down from God and consumed the sacrifice; indicating that God had accepted the atonement . Thus the offerer was symbolically taught that complete consecration to God is an essential part of worship. The offerer had no part in the burnt offering, it was all for God: it had passed forever beyond the offerer’s recall. The lesson to be learned is that Christ represented us in perfect consecration and surrender to God: in perfect obedience to His father’s will . Thus the burnt offering presents Christ as our sanctification; and in this respect He is our perfect example of what our consecration to God should be.
REGULATIONS- these regulations ensured the continual uninterrupted sacrificial fire on the altar. The ashes had to be removed so as to allow the fire to burn properly, and the wood had to be replaced regularly in order to fuel the fire. When the accumulated ashes at the side of the altar needed to be removed, the priest had to change his clothes; since his priestly garments were only to be worn in the tabernacle. He was then to deposit the ashes outside the camp in a clean place so that the people would not loose sight of the holiness of God’s worship. The continual burning points us to the fact that our consecration to God should not be occasional but on a continual basis. As the priest would offer the morning and evening sacrifice, so we should renew our self-consecration to God morning and evening, and all day long. Even as Christ offers Himself to God in consecration continually on our behalf. THE PRIEST’S PORTION One purpose for the skin may have been for making a coat to warm the priest during the cold desert night. However, symbolically it speaks to us of the righteousness of Christ, with which every believer is covered .
OUTCOME “so that it will be acceptable to the LORD.” God wants to be pleased with our acts of worship! The offerer rested heavily or relied on the victim to procure from God atonement and acceptance. In identifying with the victim, the offerer, implied, and no doubt actually expressed confession of personal sin. Thus the offerer rested and depended on the sacrifice as the atonement for sin, a divinely appointed substitute in death. We also in faith and humility accept the judgement of God against us, while at the same time thanking Him and accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world” – MY SIN! So we also lean and rest our burden of sin on Christ. “He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him”.. “It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.”