Old Testament Sacrifices and What They Teach Us About God’s Character

Monday, June 12, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 1-3

Having introduced the Book of Leviticus in an earlier post, we turn our attention to today’s scripture reading, Leviticus 1-3.

Leviticus 1-3 states what God required of Israel in sacrificial offerings and it serves as a lesson for the 21st century believer: God demands that His people be a holy, sanctified people.

Preacher and author, Warren Wiersbe writes in his “Be Series” on the Book of Leviticus:

“Leviticus tells New Testament Christians how to appreciate holiness and appropriate it into their everyday lives.  The word holy is used 91 times in Leviticus, and words connected with cleansing are used 71 times.  References to uncleanness number 128. There’s no question what this book is all about.” [BE Series – Old Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – Pentateuch]

The sacrifices offered in the Old Testament were a figure of which Jesus Christ was the perfect, complete, “once and for all” sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 10:10).

The first offering required in Leviticus is the “ burnt offering” (1:1-17).  The children of Israel were to bring to the Tabernacle “a male without blemish” (1:3); placing “his hand upon the head” of the bull, sheep or goat, the worshipper identified with the animal’s death as the substitutionary sacrifice for his sin (1:4-5, 10, 14-15).  The sacrifice was then killed and the priest would take the blood and sprinkle it on the altar (1:5, 11).

The second sacrifice noted in Leviticus is the “meat offering” (a better translation would be “meal” or food offering) (Leviticus 2).  Also know as an oblation (meaning “gift” or present); it was a non-blood offering that consisted of grain (“fine flour”), oil and frankincense (2:1).  The priests were to take a portion of the “meal offering” for their families and the rest was to be offered as a burnt offering (2:2

The third offering was a “sacrifice of peace offering” and was a blood offering (Leviticus 3).  Unlike the “burnt offering”, the “peace offering” could be male or female; however, the standard, “without blemish”, applied and the priests inspected the offerings to insure they were acceptable sacrifices (3:1, 12).  As with the “burnt offering”, the worshipper would “lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle” (3:2) and the priests would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the altar.  My examination of sacrifices found in Leviticus will continue in our next devotional commentary.

We, who identify with Jesus Christ as the sacrificial offering provided by God for our sins, are not under obligation to bring animal sacrifices (Hebrews 10:4) since “we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

I close highlighting the “without blemish” standard the LORD required of sacrifices under the Law.  Sacrificial offerings were to be of the highest quality. I am sure the temptation for many was as it is today, to give the LORD something, but not necessarily the best.  The apostle Paul had in mind the same “without blemish” standard for believers when he wrote: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

The LORD required of Old Testament sacrifices the best and He requires no less of His people today.  Our bodies, our lives are to be “holy, acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1).  Holy, sanctified, set apart and dedicated to the LORD.  Acceptable, pleasing and conforming to the will of God; anything less is unacceptable!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith