James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,Leviticus 1:1-17
THE BURNT OFFERING
There are five offerings in chapters 1-7, and these five include all the offerings and sacrifices referred to in the history of Israel. It will simplify matters if we remember this. Sometimes offerings are presented for the priest himself, sometimes for the nation, a ruler of the nation, or a common individual; sometimes the offering is a bullock, sometimes a sheep, a goat, a turtle dove, or a pigeon; but in any case, it is always one of these five offerings. Chapter 7, for example, refers to offerings for vows, thanksgiving offerings and voluntary offerings, but these are all simply different aspects of one of the five, namely, the trespass offering.
It should not be supposed that these offering in themselves satisfied God (Hebrews 10:4), but their importance lay in what they symbolized, namely, the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
These five offerings, again, may be divided into three kinds. The first two (that is, the burnt and the meal offerings) are forms of dedication by which the surrender of the offerer to God’s perfect service is expressed. The third (the peace offering) is really an offering of thanksgiving by which the offerer expresses his praise to God and communion with Him. The last two (the sin and the trespass offerings) are those of expiation, and deal with the removal of sin and pardon of its guilt.
The order in which these five are revealed here is not that in which Israel presented them, but in their actual use the sin and trespass offerings came first. Then in the consciousness that sin was put away and pardon secured through those offerings the burnt and meal offerings followed, by which their desire to devote themselves to God wholly for His service was expressed. Lastly, in the peace of a cleansed conscience and a surrendered life the peace offering was presented, expressing fellowship and communion with God. See 2 Chronicles 29:21-31 for an illustration of the order in which the offerings were presented.
THE BURNT OFFERING
Which offering is first referred to (Leviticus 1:3)? It is probably called the burnt offering from a Hebrew word which means “that which ascends.” It is distinguished from the other offerings, in that the whole of it was consumed upon the altar, and none of it was eaten by either the offerer or the priest. The typical significance of this is as follows: (1) it acknowledged God’s claim for the perfect services and entire devotedness of the offerer; (2) it acknowledged that the offerer was destitute of that service and devotedness, and hence presented as substitute in his stead; (3) it acknowledged that the absence of this service and devotedness involved guilt and deserved death, hence the slaying of the substitute; and (4) it acknowledged that because no such service and devotedness was found in the offerer he needed an offering to be wholly accepted in his place as a sweet savor to God.
How is the acknowledgment of the final point above expressed in the first specification of the burnt offering (Leviticus 1:3)? What class of victim is referred to here? Of what sex and quality must it be? We thus see that God claims the best as to strength, energy and perfectness (compare Malachi 1:8; Malachi 1:13). Christ is the only and absolutely perfect One.
What other kinds of victims might be used in the burnt offerings (Leviticus 1:10; Leviticus 1:14)? It is difficult to say why these varieties were permitted. Some think they represent consideration for the poor, who might be unable to present those more costly; others say they represent different aspects of Christ, as (for example) service in the case of the bullock, submission in the case of the lamb, mourning innocence in the case of the dove; while others that they represent different degrees of faith or apprehension of Christ on the part of believers, some being more feeble than others in their apprehension of Christ having only a partial recognition of what He has done or what He is to them.
THE RITUAL OF THE BURNT OFFERING
Seven features constitute the ritual of the burnt offering, as follows:
1. the presentation (Leviticus 1:3).
2. the laying on of hands (Leviticus 1:4).
3. the slaying of the victim (Leviticus 1:5).
4. the sprinkling of the blood (Leviticus 1:5).
5. the separating of the pieces (Leviticus 1:6).
6. the washing of the pieces (Leviticus 1:9).
7. the burning of the whole (Leviticus 1:9).
Concerning the presentation, who was obliged to make it (Leviticus 1:2)? That the offerer should do this was doubtless to represent his individual confession of his need, his individual acceptance of God’s way of salvation, and his individual recognition of the excellency of his offering. The Revised Version adds a thought to Leviticus 1:3 namely, that the offerer is to present his offering in order that he may be accepted. In other words, it is not enough for a man to praise God, or even to see to serve Him, until he first is accepted before God, and for this acceptance of himself he requires a propitiatory offering. God is thus satisfied by the perfectness in the offering. In the sin offering the atonement is for sin and not acceptance, but here in the burnt offering the worshipper comes without sin. That, therefore, which he offers is received as a sweet savor by the Lord (Ephesians 5:2), and on the ground of it the service of the offerer is received. Note, where the offering was to be presented, namely, at the door of the Tabernacle. This not only to guard against idolatry in groves, or to compel men to worship as God appointed, but to provide for publicity (see Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9-10).
The laying on of hands (Leviticus 1:4) is instructive. The act implied the identification of the offerer with the offering not only, but also the transfer of his obligation of guilt to it as his substitute. What expression in this verse proves that the offering was in his stead? (Compare to Leviticus 16:21; Numbers 8-11 RV; 1 Peter 1:24.
Who should kill the victim, the offerer or the priest (Leviticus 1:5)? The fact that the offerer did this signifies each individual’s responsibility for his own sin.
But who sprinkled the blood? That the priest should do this shows us Jesus presenting our offering of Himself before God.
The flaying and cutting were done by the offerer (Leviticus 1:6). Some would say that this was to render the parts more convenient for burning; others say it signifies a minute appreciation on the part of the offerer of the excellence of his offering. The application of this to the believer on Christ is clear.
The burning of the whole is important, since it signifies the ascending of the offering in consecration to God, and His acceptance of it (9:24). As He taught the Israelites that complete consecration to God is essential to right worship, so He teaches us that Christ represented us in perfect consecration and surrender (John 17:19; Romans 5:19; Hebrews 10:5-39). He died that we might not die, but it does not follow that since He was consecrated for us we need not be consecrated. This will be referred to later, but just now examine Romans 12:1.
1. How many offerings are included in “the Law of the Offering”?
2. What do they symbolize?
3. Name them, and describe their meaning.
4. In what order did Israel present them?
5. What spiritual acknowledgments were involved in the burnt offering?
6. Name the seven features of its ritual.
7. State the spiritual significance of the presentation.
8. Do the same for the laying on of hands.
9. Who killed the victim, and what did it signify?
10. What was signified by the burning?