Five principal sacrifices
and offerings were essential to the Tabernacle and
The tribe of Levi was set
apart as priests and officers of the state. Those
who were not descendents of Aaron assisted the
priests, guarded the Tabernacle, and moved it about
the wilderness. There were choirs in King David's
time and instructors of the people. Tithes supported
the Tabernacle and Temple, the Levites and the poor.
The Jewish religion
absolutely forbids human sacrifices. Normally the
animal sacrifices were made in the front of the
Tabernacle or Temple. The bloody sacrifices were
from the animal kingdom and were without blemish and
not less than eight days old and not older than
three years of age.
The worshiper legally
purified himself, and brought to the priest the
animal with which he had identified himself and his
sins by laying his hands on its head (Leviticus
1:4). The word for "to lay the hands on" has the
idea of leaning or resting by supporting oneself on
the animal. The worshiper was symbolically
identifying himself with the animal as his
substitute by pressing heavily on it with his hands.
The worshiper was personally involved in the
slaying, skinning and preparing the sacrifice. The
priest performed the rituals in the sacrifice.
The Burnt Offering
(Leviticus 1:3-17), olah is "that which goes
up," and is probably referring to the smoke of the
totally consumed sacrifice going up to God. It
consisted of a male animal of cattle, sheep or fowl
and was entirely consumed, except for the hide, by
the altar fire. The skin was given to the priest and
the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled around the
altar. This daily offering was made for the nation
and for individuals to secure atonement (v. 4). A
guilt or sin offering often preceded it.
The central idea of the
burnt offering was entire consecration to God since
the fire consumed the animal. It symbolized
self-surrender of the whole person to the Yahweh.
Because of personal sin, it was necessary for the
individual to die spiritually. There was no
reservation since the sacrifice was yielded to the
LORD on behalf of the individual.
Jesus Christ came to do
the will of His father. What greater demonstration
of that fact can we find than in the totally
consumed offering of Himself on the cross? Jesus
said, "I have come down from heaven, not to do My
own will, but the will of Him who sent Me" (John
6:38). He came to bring to completion that work
(4:34). He was completely dedicated to the will of
God. He prayed, "Not my will; Thy will be done." It
totally consumed Him. He set His face toward the
cross and did not waver. It was all or nothing.
All of the animal
sacrifices pointed to the death of Christ. Christ
our consecration was wholly consumed on the altar by
the fiery judgment of God. He was totally consumed
by the will of God in order to obtain our
Hebrews chapter ten
places the emphasis on the one sufficient sacrifice
of Christ to atone for sin.
By this will we have been
sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus
Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily
ministering and offering time after time the same
sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He,
having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time,
sat down at the right hand of God" (Hebrews
This was a once-for-all
sacrifice, never to be repeated like the animal
sacrifices that could only point to and teach about
the coming of the perfect sacrifice for sin. They
couldn't make any one perfect in the sight of God
(10:1-3). Every sacrifice was a constant reminder of
the sins of the people. "For it is impossible for
the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (v.
4). However, "for by one offering He has perfected
for all time those who are sanctified" (v. 14).
Jesus Christ came
and paid our sin debt in full. Every believer is
covered by His sacrifice.
Not only do we have a
perfect sacrifice in the Lamb of God, but we also
have a perfect High Priest "who does not need daily,
like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices,
first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the
people, but because this He did once for all when He
offered up Himself" (9:27).
Christ did not offer His
perfect sacrifice in the Temple made with hands,
"but through His own blood, He entered the holy
place once for all, having obtained eternal
redemption. . . . How much more will the blood of
Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered
Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your
conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
There was no reservation
on the part of Christ. There was complete
yieldedness to the will of the Father on our behalf.
As the writer of Hebrews makes very clear, His
perfect sacrifice makes it possible for the believer
to consecrate himself as a living sacrifice to God.
We now belong to Him. He purchased us. "For you have
been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in
your body" (1 Corinthians 6:20). We now become
living sacrifices. Because of Christ's sacrifice we
can now be what God originally intended us to be. We
can live to righteousness. Paul expressed it this
Therefore, I urge you,
brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your
bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to
God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And
do not be conformed to this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that
you may prove what the will of God is, that which is
good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:1-2).
He changes us from the
inside out. Now that we have a righteous standing
before God we are to live righteous lives before
Him. Paul uses a technical term for offering a
Levitical sacrifice. Our whole person becomes a
sacrifice of worship through our daily experiences.
Let us make a once-for-all presentation by placing
our bodies at the disposal of God. We can now be a
holy, living sacrifice that is well pleasing to Him.
Our sacrifice is living in contrast to the slain
sacrifices in the Temple. Paul admonishes us to
"walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and
gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice
to God as a fragrant aroma" (Ephesians 5:2). Now
that I have been redeemed my whole life is worship.
It is now my lifestyle. This transforms the way we
view our lives and God's purpose for us on this
earth. Our lives can now be a "fragrant aroma" to
God rather than the stench of sin and death. Let the
sweet fragrance of Jesus rub off on you. We, too,
can now be consumed by the will of God. We have
become a whole burnt offering to God.
The desire of the
believer in Christ is, "Not my will, but thy will be
done." God's grace transforms us from selfishness to
a lifestyle that is consecrated to God. We yield to
Him as the Lord and Master of our lives. In that
submission to the will of God we find joy, peace and
abundant life. A living sacrifice produces the fruit
of the Spirit in the believer's daily life.
If you have never done so
will you make that once-and-for-all commitment of
yourself to Jesus Christ right now?
1:1-17 The Whole Burnt Offering
Christ in the Old Testament