Bringing An Offering
Leviticus 1 - 7
We are going to cover the first seven chapters of Leviticus tonight. I'm going to just cover the high spots.
Maybe you have found yourself making a commitment to reading the Bible all the way through. You start in the book of Genesis and do pretty good. You struggle some, but you get through it okay. Then you move to the book of Exodus. Exodus is no problem. It was hard, but you make it through. Then you come to the book of Leviticus. When you read all of the details, you find it so complicated and involved. You find it dull and uninteresting then finally quit in utter frustration.
That was my first experience with the book of Leviticus. I daresay there are those of you who have had the same experience.
Properly understood, the book of Leviticus may be the most thrilling book in the Old Testament. In verse 2, we read, "Speak unto the children of Israel." It's addressed to the Hebrew people.
You say, "That's the people in the Old Testament. We are in the New Testament. Why are we interested in that? According to the book of Hebrews, all of this in the book of Leviticus has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. If we no longer observe and do all of these things, why bother studying the book? Why waste our time with studying something like that?"
The book of Leviticus is referenced in the New Testament more than any other Old Testament book, as far as I can tell. My computer search hit some 400 times it is referred to in the New Testament. Really, there are truths taught in the New Testament which cannot be understood in their fullness and in their depth unless you get the message of the book of Leviticus.
The book starts with a conjunction, "And." That means it is tied to the previous book. "And the Lord called unto Moses out of the tabernacle." So there is a connection between Exodus and Leviticus.
In Exodus, God gave the pattern for that tabernacle. It was the place where God's people went to worship. It was there that they were taught how to approach God. Leviticus which is in contrast to the book of Exodus.
· In the book of Exodus, you have the account of the exodus from Egypt. You see there how God gets His people out of Egypt.
· In Leviticus, you are going to find out how God gets Egypt out of His people. Exodus shows us the way out. Leviticus shows us the way in.
In our English Bibles, this book is titled "Leviticus." If you look at the first four letters in Leviticus, you will get it. Leviticus, pertaining to the Levites or the Tribe of Levi. So here is a book that pertains to the Old Testament tribe of Levi. Who are those people? That was the tribe from which the priests were taken. In the Old Testament they had priests whose job it was to lead the people in the worship of God and to teach the people what God expected of them and how to correctly worship Him.
The Lord spoke in verse 1, "out of the tabernacle." In Exodus 19:3, we are told that God spoke out of the mountain, Mount Sinai. He gave the law. Now, God is speaking out of that tabernacle, and He is giving specific instructions and directions about how a sinner can approach a holy God.
The whole Bible is a book about salvation. The whole Bible tells us the story of how we who are sinners and deserve hell can go to a wonderful place called heaven and be in fellowship with God forever. So Leviticus is a book of worship.
There are certain key words in the book of Leviticus, which I want you to jot down, and they will be important to unlock for us the meaning of this book.
One of the words is "blood." You will find that word occurs about 90 times in this book.
Another word is the word "holy," or "holiness." Those words occur about 80 times in this book.
Eight times in this book you will find this phrase, "be ye holy." God is saying to us in the book of Leviticus, "You be holy! God is holy! You be holy!"
It shows us that the only way that we can be holy and the only way we can approach a holy God is by way of the blood. God always requires blood.
I want to share with you what the theme and the key of this book is. The theme is how a sinner can approach a holy God and be acceptable. The bottom line is this in verse 2. "If any man (generic) of you bring an offering unto the Lord..." You had to approach God with an offering.
In the book of Leviticus he is going to tell you the specific offerings that are to be used.
In the first seven chapters he gives us the five offerings by which sinful people can approach this holy God. I'll point them out to you as we move along.
The first three of these offerings are called sweet savor offerings. They show us the God-ward aspect.
All of these offerings are going to point us to the Lord Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.
Leviticus finally came alive to me and I really got a blessing out of it when I began to look for Jesus in the book of Leviticus. When I could see Jesus, then the whole thing just began to leap with excitement, thrill and blessings.
Some ordinary things in life may seem rather dull and uninteresting in themselves. Take sugar. That doesn't really look exciting, does it? Or take salt. I rather doubt you get all excited about salt. I like salt on my food. Probably not good, but I do. But in and of themselves, sugar and salt are not all that exciting. But you can take sugar or salt and put them under a microscope and you will be absolutely astonished at the beauty and the wonder and the splendor that is wrapped up in sugar and salt.
You can take these offerings and put them under the microscope of the Holy Spirit and the teachings of the New Testament and all of a sudden these offerings are filled with beauty and wonder and glory and awe. You will come away from them with a new appreciation and love for the Lord Jesus Christ like you have never had in all your life.
The first three offerings are sweet savor offerings that show the God-ward side of the cross of Jesus.
The next two offerings are the sin offerings that show the man-ward side of the cross of Christ and what the cross accomplished for us and how it affects us practically and personally.
I. Offerings of Dedication.
These three offerings, the burnt offering, the meal offering, and the peace offering, picture for us the value of Christ's death on the cross. It's the God-ward side when Jesus died on the cross.
Here is what was to happen. Imagine a person in the Old Testament and they have sinned grievously. Sin brings guilt. You do not sin with immunity. You do not sin and there not be a price to pay. So here is this Old Testament person and they have sinned. They want to do something about their guilt. They want to get forgiveness for their guilt. So the directions are that they are to bring a burnt offering. You will find in verses 3 and following the directions concerning a burnt offering.
Here's what that person was to do. He was to bring that animal. There were different kinds of animals that were stipulated to bring. In verse 3 you could bring one of the herd. That would be a cow. Or if you wanted to, you could bring not only an offering of the herd but you could bring an offering of the flock, the sheep. Or if you were too poor to have either one of those, in verse 14, you could bring a bird offering. A turtledove or your pigeon!
When Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph went to the temple, and the Bible says they brought a turtledove. They were poor. When a sinner needs to approach God, you don't approach God on the basis of what you have. God has opened it up so that anybody who wants to can come to Him. Rich or poor! Educated or uneducated! Cultured or uncultured! Aren't you glad God's way of salvation is the same for whosoever will.
Here he is. Let's just say he has a cow and he brings this animal to the door of the tabernacle. The priest is standing there. This animal has to be without blemish. There can be no flaw in that animal that he brings. Here's why. This offering pictures the devotion of Christ. It presents the Lord Jesus Christ who was without sin.
Let me give you a few Scriptures about the Lord Jesus.
· John 3:5. "And you shall know that he was manifested to take away our sins, and in him (Jesus) is no sin."
· 2 Corinthians 5:21. "For God has made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."
· 1 Peter 2:22. "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth."
· Hebrews 4:15. "For we have not a high priest who can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
The animal was to be without spot. It pictured the sinlessness of the Lord Jesus.
He would bring the animal, and verse 4 says that the person bringing that offering was to lay his hands on the head of that animal. That meant that this person was recognizing that this animal was going to be sacrificed for his sins, that he had a substitute.
You can come into the presence of God in one of two ways. You can come into the presence of God in your own goodness or you can lay your hand on a substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Can you imagine what a feeling that must have been as that man laid his hands on that animal! That's the same thing that ought to strike your heart and mine when we realize that Jesus who was without sin, who was without blemish, who was the perfect Son of God, died on the cross of Calvary, and He was our perfect sinless substitute. He was dying on that cross for all of our sins. You can't have a hard heart concerning the Lord Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross. Your heart has to be warmed and moved when you realize He took all the pain. I'm the one to blame. He took all the blame the day He died on the cross.
Verse 5 says he would take a knife, lift up the head of that animal and cut the throat of that animal. When he did, blood gushed out all over him. The priest would take that blood and carry it to the altar and sprinkle it on the altar and some other places. That worshiper would come to understand that it took the shedding of blood to make it possible for you and me to come into the presence of a holy God.
There is no salvation possible to anybody on the earth apart from the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary!
Then they would take that animal and cut it up. They would put all of that animal on the altar and that entire animal would be consumed in the fire. That is exactly what happened to the Lord Jesus Christ when He went to Calvary's cross. When He became sin for us on the cross of Calvary, the fires of God's wrath consumed Jesus Christ. He laid His all on the altar. He gave it every bit. It all was consumed on Calvary's cross to pay the price for your sins and mine.
That's the burnt offering. The devotion of Christ on the cross.
The second offering is in chapter 2. It's the meal offering. The King James calls it the meat offering. That's a little bit misleading. It is the meal offering or the grain offering. This was an offering made out of fine flour. This offering points to the perfection of Christ.
This meal offering was made out of fine flour. Fine flour means flour without any lumps in it. It's flour that is even and smooth. There were two of these kinds of meal offerings. There were some raw, but notice in verse 7 that some of them were cooked in the frying pan.
My mother used to cook in a frying pan. She had one of those "old timey" frying pans that collected stuff. It had some build up in it. You could feel all the juices when Momma cooked in the frying pan.
These were the meal offerings. It was to be of fine flour. That pictures the perfection of Jesus, the absolute flawlessness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Look at verse 11. There were some things that had to be left out of this meal and some things that had to be included. "No meal offering which you bring unto the Lord shall be made with leaven." Leaven was a symbol of evil in the Bible. There was no evil in the Lord Jesus Christ. It was to be made without any honey. The sweetness of the Lord Jesus Christ was not a natural sweetness like honey is, but a supernatural, divine sweetness.
Move on in that chapter and you will discover there were some things that were to be added to this meal offering. They added salt. That was to be salt of the covenant which reminded us of the covenant Christ made with us.
In verse 15 it says to put oil in it. It reminds us that Jesus Christ was anointed with the Holy Spirit in His earthly life. Then they laid frankincense. That was a fragrance. It reminds us of the fragrance of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This meal offering pointed to the perfection of Christ. No lump in Him. Perfectly smooth! Jesus Christ is the only person who ever lived who had a totally integrated and totally balanced personality. All of us have lumps. You may be just as smooth as you can be in one part of your personality and lumpy in another part. He's a great guy. He's just wonderful! You can't help but love him, but there are some lumps there.
But you look at the life of the Lord Jesus Christ and He was perfectly even in his personality.
Here's the third offering. Turn to chapter 3. It's the peace offering. This pictures the reconciliation of Christ. There would be a peace offering, and they would go through the same ceremony. He would lay his hand on it. They would take the blood and sprinkle it. The emphasis here was that a sinner by the death of Jesus on the cross can be reconciled to a holy God.
Because of sin our fellowship with God has been broken. God loves us. He wants to have fellowship with us. But our sins separate us and God. That's what happens to a believer today. When we sin as believers we don't lose our salvation, but we lose our communion, our fellowship with God. Sin always separates. Sin separates friends between friends. Sin separates us from God. But they would have a peace offering, and this peace offering pointed to the fact that when Jesus died on the cross, He reconciled holy God and sinful man.
Let me read some Scriptures.
· Romans 5:1. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
· Colossians 1:20. "And having made peace through the blood of his cross."
· Ephesians 2:14. "For he (Lord Jesus) is our peace who has made both one and hath broken down the middle wall of petition between us."
The only way the human soul can have deep peace in its life is because of what Jesus did on the cross of Calvary. The priest and that worshipper would take this offering, having been burned on the fire, and they would sit down and have a meal. When you sit down and have a meal, especially in Middle Eastern culture, that was a symbol that hostility was over. So in the presence of God they would have a meal. It simply meant that the war was over.
Some of you need the peace offering of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary so that the battle between you and God can be over. The battle between you and other people can be over. You can be reconciled to God and to others through the Lord Jesus Christ.
That's the first three offerings, the dedication offerings, the virtue of Christ's death.
Let's look at the next two offerings. Let's look at the sin offering and the trespass offering. There I call them offerings of Satisfaction. They have to do with the man-ward side of the cross of Jesus and what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross.
The first three are the God-ward side sin has been dealt with so far as approaching a holy God. But what does the cross mean to me personally? The answer to that is in what is known as the sin offering and the trespass offering.
II. The Satisfaction, The Victory of Christ's Death.
Look at chapter 4, verses 1, 2, and 8.
The sin offering dealt with the principle of sin itself. It dealt with our sin nature. The Bible says in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." That not only means acts of sin, but also the nature of sin. We sin because we have a sinful nature. Sinning does not make me a sinner. I sin because I AM a sinner. A boy steals a car. Somebody says, "Oh, that boy has become a thief." No. He didn't become a thief, he was already a thief. Because he was a thief, he stole a car. We are wrong in our nature.
But the sin offering dealt with the nature of sin. I want you to see something very interesting. He breaks it down by different categories.
In verse 3 he says if a priest sinned, if a spiritual leader sinned. All sin is sin, but sometimes when some people sin it has more damaging results.
Take a pastor. Let a pastor fall into sin. Or let a deacon fall into sin. Or a singer! Someone who is a respected spiritual leader! When they sin, it's damaging. So the priest is dealt with.
Not only the priest, but go on over to verse 13 and it says if the whole congregation sins. There are some sins that are national sins. Sometimes whole nations vote for sinful acts. America has sinned grievously in several areas. You know it! How serious!
Move on to verse 22, and it talks about when a ruler has sinned. That's talking about public officials. I want to tell you what! When the president sins, it's damaging.
I'll give you an example. The previous president (thank God)! Now if you are a Democrat, don't get mad at me. It has nothing to do with party. I'm talking about behavior. The previous president grievously sinned in the Oval Office. You ask those who deal with Middle Schoolers what is one of the number one issues on the campus of Middle Schools. Some of those young people who have gotten into those kinds of things responded, "It must be alright because the president did it." It's grievous when rulers sin.
Then in verse 27 it talks about the common people sinning. Just ordinary rank and file people! Just you and me!
There was a prescribed offering that was to deal with the very nature of sin. When Jesus died on that cross, He dealt with the nature of sin. He dealt with the root of sin. He dealt with the principle of sin.
Chapter 5, verse 1. Here's the fifth offering, the second of the satisfaction offerings. It's the trespass offering. You will find that mentioned specifically in verse 6. "He shall bring his trespass offering." In chapter 5 you have a series of illustrations of particular sins committed.
In verse 1 it talks about swearing.
In verse 2 it talks about unclean things.
In verse 19, "He hath trespassed against the Lord in holy things." That means he is giving a series of illustrations. He doesn't name every sin you can commit. But he's just talking about acts of sin. There was a trespass offering for those individual acts of sin. When a man had committed a particular sin, he would offer a trespass offering.
Look at verse 6. "And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord for his sin which he has sinned." An act of sin! The last part of the verse says, "And the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin."
When Jesus died on the cross, He not only dealt with the principle of sin, but also the practice of sin. Not only did He deal with the nature of sin, but also the behavior of sin. Not only did He deal with the root of sin, but also the fruits of sin.
That's what Jesus did for us on the cross. He died on the cross to give us a brand-new nature, and He gave us the power so that we can live a godly consecrated whole, totally committed life to the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Old Testament every time one of those sacrifices were made, it was to make atonement. The word "atonement" means "to cover." Not put away, but to cover them over and roll them toward the cross. The Old Testament believers were saved by looking forward to what the Lord Jesus would one day do on the cross. You and I are saved by looking backward to what Jesus did on the cross.
Turn to Hebrews 10 and you will see how all of this points us toward Jesus. Verse 4 says, "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin." All the Old Testament offerings did was cover sin and push them toward Calvary. It wasn't possible that they could take away sin.
Now drop down to verses 12 and 14. "But this man, Jesus, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified."
You have to come to God with an offering. What are you going to bring? Are you going to bring something you've done? Are you going to bring the life you've lived? Or are you going to put it in the words of the song? "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling." By faith you have laid your hands on Jesus and have claimed His death and His shed blood for your salvation and your entrance into the presence of a holy God.
Every head bowed.