Moses gives the sequence in which the sacrifices are to be offered at the inaugural service of the Priests and the Tabernacle, and it should be noted from the very outset that God commands that atonement for sin must made before He accepts any other sacrifice . In Numbers 6, God also indicates the sequence in which these sacrifices are to be presented . The procedure was: (1) The sin offering and the trespass/guilt offering; (2) The burnt offering with the meal/meat/grain offering; (3) The peace/fellowship offering. The sequence shows that sin must first be dealt with; and this includes atonement (sin offering) and restitution (guilt offering). This must be followed by complete commitment of self (burnt offering) and works (meal offering). After these have been dealt with, full fellowship can be established between God and the worshipper, and between the individual worshippers (fellowship offering).
1. (i) SIN OFFERING: Scripture teaches that all consecration to God and fellowship with God must begin with, and ever depends upon atonement made for sin. Our Lord Jesus paid the ultimate penalty for sin when He offered Himself to His Father on our behalf. No other service for God can be performed successfully or effectively until we accept this fact! Christ, our High Priest, presents His blood in the Holiest Place; that is, in God’s holy presence, “having obtained eternal redemption” for us . Unfortunately many today are like Cain, who tried to offer his works (fruits of the soil) in consecration before sin was dealt with . (ii) GUILT OFFERING: We often overlook the fact that although original sin has been dealt with in our lives, there is the day-to-day defilement that must be cleansed. As the ritual of the sin offering reminds us, the sin of the Priest carries with it the heaviest of guilt, and since God sees us as “priests” it is expedient that each believer carefully maintains unbroken fellowship with God. Such sins are either against God or against our fellow believers, and must be dealt with in accordance with the Guilt or Trespass offering; carefully observing the fact that restitution is required and is based upon God’s standard. Therefore, in consideration of what the Guilt/Trespass Offering teaches us, let us be careful not to trespass against our Lord or our neighbour. If however, some unintentional sin is brought to light, let us understand that God requires a sacrifice as well as full restitution wherever possible. . As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, one who has been forgiven of sin and has been brought into the very presence of a holy God in the person of His Son, who now “sits in heavenly places” ; when was the last time I offered my guilt offering? This is the question that each and every one of us must ask! Remember that the Sin and Guilt/Trespass offerings are not voluntary offerings, they are MANDATORY offerings. We have no option in this for God demands them!
2. (i) THE BURNT OFFERING: The Burnt Offering speaks to us of the full consecration of our person to God, and this is a natural sequence for any child of God. It is fitting that when we consider all that the Lord Jesus accomplished for us in His atonement; it only follows that we should be willing to give ourselves fully to Him! .
(ii) THE MEAL/MEAT/GRAIN OFFERING: Once we have given of ourselves to God, the next thing in sequence is to fully consecrate our works to Him . The only way we can obey with respect, fear and sincerity; is when our works are fully consecrated to God. Therefore, let us fully understand the symbolism in these offerings: as our Lord Jesus Christ offered Himself and His works in full consecration to His Father; we too must offer ourselves and our works to God through our Lord Jesus Christ! Remember that these are VOLUNTARY offerings, thus they are presented by one who truly loves and appreciates what the Lord has done!
3. THE PEACE/FELLOWSHIP OFFERING: This offering symbolized that the offerer, having been forgiven of sin in general as well as specific sins, having been consecrated in self and works to God, was now in a position to enjoy real peace and fellowship with God. After the best portions of the animal had been burnt on the Altar on top of the Burnt Offering, the flesh of the animal was given back to the offerer so that he/she could enjoy a fellowship meal. Our Lord Jesus taught His disciples what this symbolism meant when He spoke of Himself as “the Bread of life”. The idea He was trying to get across to them was that as we eat bread, and it is assimilated by our physical bodies it nourishes and strengthens our physical bodies. In a similar manner, we must eat of the “Bread of Life” in order that our spiritual bodies may be nourished. <see John 6>. The other lesson to be learned from this offering is that as we present our fellowship offering, God gives back to us as worshippers a portion of our sacrifice so that we may fellowship with Him. Another serious question that we must ask ourselves is: “How important is it for me to sit at the Lord’s Table in fellowship with Him, to partake of His fellowship Offering?” . However, let us not forget God’s warning given to us in regard to His Table . It is evident that if we fail in respect to the other offerings, we cannot enjoy fellowship with God and His Son. If our sin has never been forgiven – offer our Sin offering. If some unintentional sin has been brought to our attention – offer the Trespass offering. Consecrate our lives and our works to Him in our daily Burnt offerings and Meal offerings. When we have set these matters straight then we are in the position to fellowship with a Holy God.
Thus we observe that although the animal sacrifices are no longer offered, they have been replaced by a “better sacrifice” in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, and these sacrifices are still in effect in the person of our Lord Jesus. Therefore, we as believers must be diligent in our “offerings” to God, recognizing that they can only be offered in and through the person of Christ. So let us continually offer Christ back to God our Father as we worship in appreciation for all that our Lord accomplished for us in His eternal sacrifice on the Cross.