The book of Leviticus is a very much neglected book of the scriptures. It is a book for the Levite’s, who were priests and teachers to Israel. Priests only did duty in the sanctuary at certain times. They were otherwise in the towns of Israel where they exercised a teaching ministry. Yhwh spoke to Moses to tell the people of Israel how they might approach God. For the purposes of this article I would only deal with the blood sacrifices .There are 5 blood sacrifices mostly dealt with in Leviticus 1-7. Sacrifice for the nation of Israel is dealt with in chapter 16.
All of the blood sacrifices were to teach Israel that sin separated them from God. But it was to tell them of YHWH’s grace of how when they found themselves to be sinners, the way in which they could be restored to God. Sin teaches us of our own depravity and the ruin that it brings, but it also teaches us that God doesn’t tolerate sin and that He is a Holy God. This is a foundational teaching in our relationship with God. Unless sin is effectively dealt with we can never be restored to God.
The 5 blood sacrifices all signify in shadow form different aspects of Christ’s sacrifice. The sacrifices are shadows of Christ’s reality and must be interpreted in Christ to find their true meaning. Also we must interpret the sacrifices with the light of the new shining on the Old. To this purpose the book of Hebrews is crucial. Also where scripture only gives a little light we must interpret them in the light of scriptures that give more light and better understanding. To properly interpret the sacrifices we must also understand imagery and symbolism.
The meaning of the burnt offering
Fundamental to worshipping God,for it to be the worship that God desires,total concecration is required. An undivided heart and desire to do the will of God is what is required. The worshipper of the true God had to be sold out to do the will of God. The burnt offering differed from the other blood sacrifices in that the burnt offering was completely consumed,wheras the other blood sacrifices each had a portion for the priests and in the meal offering reserved a portion for the worshipper.But in the burnt offering all was consumed nothing was left for worshipper or for Priest. Also the burnt offering predated the making of the nation of Israel.We read that Abraham and even Noah offered burnt offering to God. So blood offering was not a new thing,rather it was the first time it was incorporated into the national worship of Israel. We also find out that the burnt offering was offered day and night in Israel. Well lets look at the significance of this. Firstly from vs 10 we see that one could offer a dove instead of an animal from the flock. Why is this so? Well besides teaching the offender that it would cost him to sin,as a perfect animal would be prize stock and worth a lot. Now we see the mercy of God that noone in Israel should be excluded from making right with God because of poverty. Such a poor man would not be excluded because of economic standing and so there was noone who was excluded from making right with God. Next it must be pointed out that although the male offered the sacrifice,it was offered on behalf of his wife and children. Women and children were not excluded but included in the offering of their male representative.
Well what is the significance of the burnt offering? Because it is completely consumed and in this consumation is offered heavenward toward God we can only but conclude it is the foreshadow of the one and only truly consumated man to God, namely Jesus Christ. The one who perfectly worshipped God. Jesus the perfectly obedient man offered in perfect consecration to God. But of course Jesus is offered in our place in our stead. In all that we have failed to do to worship God acceptably. We have fallen short of the glory of God,Romans 3 reminds us that all have fallen short,there is noone righteous not one. So we can plead Jesus perfect consecration and worship to God when we fall short of His glory.