Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, If any man of you bring an offering to the LORD…
We shall reach the end for which God introduced all that apparatus of Divine worship so elaborately described in this book if we take the following steps: -
I. THE SEPARATING PRESENCE OF SIN IN THE HEART AND LIFE OF MAN. But for the sin which "separates between us and our God" there would have been unrestrained communion between man and his Maker in every age and land: no need of mediation, of special arrangements, of careful limitations, of means and media of approach. Every line of this chapter, as also of this book, speaks of sin - sin in the soul, sin in the life, sin on the conscience, sin as a hindrance in the way of man.
II. THE EFFORT OF MAN TO FIND A WAY BACK TO GOD. It is impossible to forget that while Israel was offering its sacrifices as God directed, other nations were bringing their victims in such ways as they deemed best. The commonness of sacrifice, its prevalence outside the holy nation, speaks eloquently enough of man's conscious distance from God, and of his desire and endeavour to find a way back to his favour. "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord?" This is the anxious question of sin-stricken, unenlightened man. "Shall I come with burnt offerings... wilt the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams?" This is his suggestion in reply. It is affecting to think of the multitudes of sacrifices under every sky, as instances of men "feeling after" the mercy of an offended God, groping in the dimness or the darkness towards reconciliation and peace.
III. THE DIVINE PROVISION FOR MAN'S RETURN AND ACCESS TO HIMSELF.
1. Under the old dispensation. Man was to bring to the altar of God suitable offerings; such as were within his reach; the best of the kind; an unblemished male. It might be from his herd (verse 2), or from his flock (verse 10), or it might be a fowl of the air (verse 14). The priest was to pour the blood round about the altar (verses 5, 11), and the carcase was to be consumed upon the altar, - a whole burnt offering unto the Lord.
2. Under the new dispensation. Instead of "the blood of bulls and goats," God has provided one offering which suffices for all souls of every land and age, even his own beloved Son. This was the "Lamb of God" (1), absolutely perfect, "without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:19; Hebrews 9:14);
(2) shedding his own blood (Hebrews 9:12), giving "his soul (his life) an offering for sin" (Isaiah 53:10); "putting away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:26);
(3) accepted of God; "an offering... of a sweet savour unto the Lord" (verse 17; Ephesians 5:2). Through that shed blood of "the Lamb that was slain" for us we have access at all times, forgiveness of sin, reconciliation to God. But not without
IV. PERSONAL SPIRITUAL PARTICIPATION. The offerer under the Law took personal part in the offering: he brought his victim to the tabernacle (verse 10); he killed it with his own hands (verses 5, 11); he also "put his hands upon the head" of the animal (verse 4). The sinner, under the gospel, does not provide the sacrifice: "Christ our passover is slain for us." But he does take a personal participation: "by faith he lays his hand on that dear head of his;" he acknowledges that he himself is worthy of death; believes and appropriates to his own need the fact that Jesus died. for his sin; earnestly desires that his guilt may be transferred to the Lamb of God; entreats that that shed blood of his may atone for and cover his iniquity.
V. THE END OF SACRIFICE, - ENTIRE PERSONAL CONSECRATION. The consumption of the whole animal in the fire pictures the complete dedication of the Saviour, his absolute and entire consecration to the work which the Father gave him to do. It symbolizes ours also. Accepted by God through the atoning blood of the Lamb, we are to dedicate ourselves to him. Our personal consecration
1. Should follow upon and grow out of our acceptance through a crucified Saviour.
2. Should be thorough and complete: including heart and life, body and spirit, things sacred and things secular.
3. Will then be well pleasing to God, "an offering of a sweet savour unto the Lord" (verse 17). - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.