Session 17: Sacrifice
If you offer a lamb, you are to present it before the Lord , lay your hand on its head and slaughter it in front of the tent of meeting. Then Aaron's sons shall splash its blood against the sides of the altar. From the fellowship offering you are to bring a food offering to the Lord : its fat, the entire fat tail cut off close to the backbone, the internal organs and all the fat that is connected to them, both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which you will remove with the kidneys. Leviticus 3:7-10
Key verses: Lev. 3:7-10 (also the theme of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy)
Timeline: about 1250 BC . During the time of the early Israelites, the areas were ruled by Egypt and the Pharaohs, the Iron Age is at its beginning, the Trojan war was on, and ancient Babylon falls to the Assyrians.
Key personalities: Moses, Aaron, two million Israelites
Timeline, about 1500 BC . During the time of the early Israelites, the areas were ruled by Egypt and the Pharaohs and the great ancient cities are built.
The Book of Leviticus It tends to be the 'white pages' of the Bible, because they are free from the fingerprints and dirt--few will read or preach it. How sad. The Book is considered boring because it is about the regulations of service and worship. W e need to immerse ourselves in Leviticus (yes, it is a relevant piece of God's Word), because it gives the instructions on how to become a holy nation to know and be used by God. The name refers to the Levites who were responsible for teaching and leading the people to know and worship God and maintaining the sacred practices and Law. It can be better viewed as "the Handbook of the Priests." For Christians, Leviticus points us to the precepts of the New Testament and what Christ will and since has, fulfilled--the holiness of God, the nature and seriousness of sin, who we are in God's sight because of sin and our desperate need or sacrifice and the resulting atonement to redeem us, and the necessity of a priest-Our Savior, Jesus Christ--to mediate between God and humanity.
Key Happenings: We are to Honor our LORD God!
Lev. 19:1-2 , The Lord said to Moses, "Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: 'Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy .
Why the Law and the sacrifices? Because we are called to Be holy! This means to set one's self apart, in a distinct manner, to be identified and positioned in and with God and not in or with the world. It also means to be "set apart" from sin and its influences as "garbage-in-creates-garbage-out." God called the Israelites to be set apart from the other nations. They were to worship God and influence the other nations for God. At the same time, they were not to be contaminated by them. They needed a way to be cleansed in God's sight. When they succeeded, they were blessed. When they failed, they were judged and taken into captivity. For us, it means we are not to be influenced by sin so we are able to serve and please God, strive for moral purity, and benefit others (Lev. 11:44; 19:2; 20:7, 26; Hab. 1:13; Matt 5:48; Eph. 5:1; 1 Pet. 1:12-21; 2:9).
· Sacrifice means to appease a god by offering sacrifices and atonement. For our One True God, He is Holy and can't be approached! We can't just say Hey, God, here I am, let me in. Why? Sin. They couldn't approach God the, we can't approach God now. God demands a payment for sin; its cost is something we do not fully understand because we are sinful and He is Holy. The cost of sin is so enormous that we could never ever pay it. Only one could and can pay the price, and He did. Christ paid it for us as our suffering servant-our Savior. The sacrifice takes our place of punishment, gives us atonement to cleanse us to approach a Holy God who can't be touched by sin, so we are able to approach God (Isa. 53:12) .
· Why animal sacrifice? This was a means to be cleansed of sin for forgiveness by a surrendered attitude because of a loss of something precious--not the cause of faith, but as a response to please God. It is based on the faithfulness of our Lord--not of our goodness. Animal sacrifices pointed to Christ's coming redemptive work that we now have. Even then, true repentance must come from our willingness to do so as it can't be forced or coerced; yet repentance was then and is now necessary for the forgiveness of sins (Heb. 9:11-15; 10:1-4).
· Blood? Hebrews tells us that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. God demands a payment for sin; its cost is something we do not fully understand because we are sinful and He is Holy. Its cost is so great that we could never pay it, so for the Christian, Christ paid it for us as our suffering servant. (In the Old Testament, it was done by animal and other sacrifices for His forgiveness, the remission of our sins.) This means God lets us go, lets us off the hook of our debt from our sin and His just wrath. God cancels our debt, and thus we receive pardon because of Christ and are released from our captivity of sin and guilt. Then, sacrifices were temporary; now through Christ's Blood, we have God's eternal redemption. Now, we have everlasting deliverance by one sacrifice--Christ's. He purchased our salvation, paid our ransom, and gave us abundant life for real living (Lev. 16:11-16; Dan. 9:24; Isa. 53:12; Heb, 9:11-28; 10:2-14).
· A sacrifice is Never without blood-- the personal atonement, the cleansing ritual and purification that the priests had to go through; now Christ is our Purification. The e xternal regulations of the Mosaic system only dealt with the external; Christ deals with the internal and eternal--the matters of the heart!
· The Law became frustrated by the disobedience of its priests and observers. It only worked when the people did what they were supposed to do (1 Sam. 15:22; Psalm 40:6-8; 51:16; Prov. 21:3; Isa. 1:10-17; Jer. 11:15; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-27; Micah 6:6-8; Rom. 8:3-4; Heb. 8:8-12).
· Redemption is the payment of a price to get something back, such as reclaiming an item from a pawn shop today or freeing a slave in Paul's time. We cannot save ourselves, and it is impossible to be saved by merit-we have no good work that can save us from our sin. God is unique and totally just and fair as a judge. Sin has affected all of our being and all of the world. Even if we have not committed any evil, it is still our nature to do so. Our redemption only in Christ Our Lord is freeing us from the bondage of sin, and it is no anything that we cannot do ourselves (Mark 10:45; 1 Cor. 1:23-25; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 9:15).
· By all this we are redeemed, as in the freeing of a slave by the paying off his/her debt. We are freed from the bondage of sin by the greater cost of His sacrifice of His shed blood that gives us "justification." He frees us from the "curse of the law" and "wickedness" (Ex. 13:13; 21:30; Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45; Rom. 3:24; 8:2; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7; Col 1:14; Titus 2:14; Heb. 9:15; Rev. 5:9).
· Pleasing odor ? This means God is pleased by our obedience and faith. (Lev.1:9).
· Sanctified . This means God makes us justified and consecrated, as in holy, and set aside from sin so we can come before Him. This points to what Christ did, giving us redemption and the forgiveness of sin to which we responded to justification by faith alone, and results in our inner transformation and qualifies us to know and worship God. Before Christ, the pollution of sin kept us separated from God.
· Atonement means to "cover" and to reconcile two opposing parties with an offering or gift that is sacrificial in nature. God wanted to cover our sin because we did not honor His request. It took the ultimate obedience and sinless nature of Christ and His sacrifice to atone for our imperfect humanity. He covers our sin by His sinlessness; this is what atonement is all about.
Christ's atonement literally is by His shed blood that is sacrificial in nature; it covers our sin so that God does not see it and is not affected by it, so He can forgive, give us grace, and bring us into the kingdom. We are reconciled to God through Christ, who made amends to "cover us" and please God's wrath on our behalf. Everyone has sinned and everyone needs atonement. Thus, our redemption is through Christ's blood and suffering which was the sacrifice to bind us in good relationship with our Creator and Lord. We model this by seeking to reconcile with others (Lev. 17:11; Job 15:14-16; Psalm 5:4-6; 32:1; 85:2; Isa. 53:4-6; 64:6; Jer. 44:4; Hab. 1:13; Matt. 27:37; Luke 22:37; John 2:2; 4:10; Rom.10: 2-3; Gal. 3:13; 4:4; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14-22; 2:14; Heb. 2:17; 9:11-15; Rev. 1:5)!
God is a God of details . This shows how much He cares and cares for you! All of the furnishings, separately indicated in this passage, show how close God is, but He can't be reached because of sin. A sacrifice was needed; blood was required to purify and for our forgiveness (Ex. 3:14-15; Lev. 17:11; Isa. 41:4; Rev. 1:4).
Water from the rock, why the extreme punishment? Numbers 20:11. Here is another tough lesson. Why was God so harsh with such a faithful servant? First, leaders and those who know have a higher responsibility and a higher accounting to God with their actions, especially when it comes to teaching and modeling of the Word of God. The reason Moses did not go into the Promised Land is not just because he had a beef with a rock. Moses was not allowed to step foot in the Promised Land when he disobeyed God, because he knew better. We all disobey God at some point. I do not go through a day without disobeying God, maybe not intentionally or unintentionally, but just the fallacy and sin of being human. Fortunately, we have grace, but we also have responsibility. So the more knowledge you have, the more responsibility you have. When you know God's Word, you have the responsibility to live it out. And when you are the pastor, you have the responsibility of teaching God's Word with truth, power and conviction. If not, get another job, because that is what you have, a job, and not a ministry, and what you are doing is deceiving God's special people.
Leviticus, Jesus and the Law
read Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, even parts of Exodus, we come face to
face with what we may find as just crazy stuff.
Such things like the Ark will give you
hemorrhoids if you get too close, or you will die if you sew the wrong kinds of
fabric together or never cook a goat in its own milk--the extreme penalties for
seemly minor offenses.
Even in the New
Testament we see what seems to be a hungry Jesus is a cranky Jesus.
In Matthew 21:18-21, Jesus curses a fig tree
for not having fruit when it was out of season and should not have any.
Why talk about this?
Because this is what the atheists, agnostics,
God haters, liberals and the disconnect use to try to discredit the Bible,
saying it is full of myths, contradictions and errors.
What many people do not do is seek to examine
what did that mean in the time, language and setting, because we are reading
this two to three thousand years later in a culture and language that is
completely different than ours.
judge with our worldview and feelings and miss the original intent.
The fig tree is an object lesson.
When fig trees have green leaves, they are
also supposed to have fruit.
did not and was not fulfilling its purpose--a metaphor for character.
(We covered the "weird" laws in the last
Key Takeaway: God now forgives our sins based on the Person and Work of the Son; there is no more using rituals and sacrifices for atonement when Christ is sufficient and fulfills it all. We now have the New Covenant, as Christ is the new sanctuary and new sacrifice-we are to be set on the right path or right order and lining ourselves up in a plumb line to God's Way and precepts. The order of the Mosaic customs had profound meaning that had to be done by God's prescribed plan. Christ fulfills this; the question is: are we properly lined up to Christ (Isa. 53; Ezek. 40:39; 42:13; 43:18-27; 44:29; Heb. 8:6-13)?
Also in Scripture, we are called to be a living sacrifice. For the ancient Jews, this was a lifestyle of worship that God be continually praised. For us, it means the same thing--we belong solely to God, not to ourselves or the world or anything else. This is a key component to maturity and spiritual growth in the faith. This stems from our trust, obedience, and gratitude for Who Christ is and what He has done for us (Lev. 7:11-21; Psalm 4:5; 27:6; 40:6; 50:7-15; 54:6; 69:30-31; 119: 108; Pr. 21:3; Hos. 14:2, 12; Luke 10:36-37; Rom. 3:25; 6:12-17; 8:13; 12:1-3; John 15:13-15; 37-38; Eph. 4:23; Phil. 4:18; Heb. 13:9-25; 1 John 3:16),
This is also a call to live honorably--t he desire to pursue Christ and His precepts and be careful that we honor Him and not stay others from Him. This must include our devotion and surrender to Christ, for only in Him--by Word and Prayer--and being held accountable by others will our conscience be clear (2 Cor. 1:12).
The foreshadow of Jesus Christ? He is the offering, we respond by offering ourselves up to God in devotion and surrender to His Lordship. It is our living faith and piety that pleases God; this is what endures. Animal sacrifices are no longer necessary or even desired by God. He desires our intimacy. He desires us. He desires you.
Questions to Ponder
1. Why do you suppose that Leviticus tends to be ignored or never preached?
2. Why can't we just say Hey God here I am, let me in?
3. Why does God want a way to cover our sin?
4. God thinks that details are important; what does this mean to you and your church?
5. How does this section of Scripture show how much Jesus cares for you?
6. Why does God demand payment for sin? What does this show about His character and Holiness?
7. How do you feel about all these regulations of service and worship? What about in your church today? Do you have rules and procedures? Why are they important? When are they abused?
8. How does it make you feel that God lets us off the hook from our debt of sin and His just wrath?
9. What is your response to the fact that as a Christian, God cancels our debt and releases us from our captivity of sin and guilt?
10. Jesus' sacrifice was to atone for our imperfect humanity. He covers our sin by His sinlessness. How has this information changed your life?
11. How do you know that you are properly lined up to Christ? How can you be more so?
12. As a Christian you are called to be a living sacrifice . What does this mean, and how can you make this work?
© 2013 R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org