"Speak to the Israelites and tell them, 'When any of you brings an offering to the LORD, you may bring as your offering an animal from the herd or the flock.
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);
(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.
I. ALTAR-OFFERINGS AND TABERNACLE MINISTRIES ALL REACH THEIR COMPLETION IN CHRIST.
I. The very same voice which proclaimed the commandments on Sinai Is HERE SAID TO ANNOUNCE THE NATURE OF THE SACRIFICES, AND HOW, WHEN, AND BY WHOM THEY ARE TO BE PRESENTED. The unseen King and Lawgiver is here, as everywhere, making known His will. Those sacrifices which it was supposed were to bend and determine His will themselves proceeded from it.
Bring an offering unto the Lord.I. THE SACRIFICES ARISING FROM BREACH OF THE COVENANT — COMPULSORY. Sin and trespass-offerings (chaps. 4-5). Presumptuous — literally high-handed — sins incurred that forfeiture(Numbers 15:30; Deuteronomy 17:12). In contrast to these sins of presumption
1. The sin-offering was for sins of ignorance (chaps. 4., 5.).
2. The trespass-offering (Leviticus 5:14, &c.) differed from the sin-offering mainly in the character of the sin to be atoned for. It was a sin calling for "amends" or compensation.
II. THE SACRIFICES FROM WITHIN THE COVENANT — VOLUNTARY. Omitting the meat-offering (chap. Leviticus 2.), which was an adjunct of the other sacrifices, and involved no shedding of blood, we notice —
1. The burnt-offering. The stated and congregational burnt-offerings of the day, and week, and year, &c., were compulsory. The occasional offering, of which we speak here, was voluntary (chap. Leviticus 1). The burnt-offering pointed to the entire surrender of a man's being and life to God. Its characteristic was its entire consumption arid up-going in a flame to God. It was equivalent to a prayer, recognising God's sovereignty, and His claim of service in all our relations. He who asks, "How can I best serve God?" will commit his way to God, and be at peace.
3. The thank-offering, the greatest of the three. The occasions for the thank-offering were innumerable. Joy as well as sorrow calls to religious exercise. "In everything give thanks." This sacrifice of praise is the one sacrifice of heaven.
(W. Roberts, M. A.)
II. These words were spoken to the children of Israel OUT OF THE TABERNACLE. The Tabernacle was the witness of God's abiding presence with His people, the pledge that they were to trust Him, and that He sought intercourse with them.
III. The Tabernacle is represented as the Tabernacle of the CONGREGATION. There, where God dwells, is the proper home of the whole people; there they may know that they are one.
IV. "Say to the children of Israel, If any of you bring an offering to the Lord." THE DESIRE FOR SUCH SACRIFICE IS PRESUMED. Everything in the position of the Jew is awakening in him the sense of gratitude, of obligation, of dependence. He is to take of the herd and the flock for his offering. The lesson is a double one. The common things, the most ordinary part of his possessions, are those which he is to bring; that is one part of his teaching. The animals are the subjects of man; he is to rule them and make use of them for his own higher objects; that is another.
V. THE VICTIM WAS TAKEN TO THE DOOR OF THE PLACE AT WHICH ALL ISRAELITES HAD AN EQUAL RIGHT TO APPEAR; BUT THE MAN WHO BROUGHT IT LAID HIS OWN HAND UPON THE HEAD OF IT. He signified that the act was his, that it expressed thoughts in his mind which no one else could know of.
VI. THE RECONCILIATION WHICH HE SEEKS HE SHALL FIND. God will meet him there. God accepts this sign of his submission. He restores him to his rights in the Divine society.
VII. NOW IT IS THAT WE FIRST HEAR OF THE PRIESTS, AARON'S SONS. If there was to be a congregation, if the individual Israelites were not to have their separate sacrifices and their separate gods, then there must be a representative of this unity. The priest was consecrated as a witness to the people of the actual relation which existed between them and God.
(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)
1. In each offering three distinct objects are present: the offering, the priest, the offerer. Christ is each of and all these: Substitute, Mediator, Innocent Victim.
2. The difference in the several offerings. Different aspects of Christ's offering.
3. The offerer himself also reflects Christ in His diverse aspects.
4. The different grades in the various offerings: bullock, lamb, dove. Denoting the different estimates and apprehensions formed of Christ by His people. Some never go beyond the conception of Christ as their Paschal offering, securing their redemption from Egyptian bondage and death. Others, however, see Him as their Burnt-offering, wholly devoted to God for them; while to others He is the passive Lamb, silent and submissive in affliction; and to others the mourning Dove, gentle and sorrowful in His innocency.
II. ALTAR-OFFERINGS AND TABERNACLE MINISTRIES WERE DESIGNED FOR ISRAEL'S ACCEPTABLE COMMUNION WITH GOD. The types of Leviticus, in distinction from the types of redemption or deliverance from doom, give us the work of Christ in its bearing on worship and communion.
1. They meet the needs of a ransomed people in providing for their access to God. If they come for consecration they bring the burnt-offerings; if for grateful acknowledgment of Divine bounty and graciousness, they bring the food offerings; if for reconciliation, after ignorant misadventure or neglect of duty or temporary transgression, they bring their peace or trespass-offering. But they all provide a basis for access to and acceptance with God.
2. Christ's work, as connected with the communion of His people, must be viewed under manifold representations.
2. They differed in the manner; for the Decalogue was written in tables of stone, but these only in a book; to show that they were perpetual, these not to endure always.
3. The place was different. The moral law was delivered in Mount Sinai; the ceremonial out of the Tabernacle, to show that it served only for the Tabernacle, and was to continue no longer.
4. They differ in the time of delivery. The moral law was delivered at once; the ceremonies were given at divers times, for Moses had not been able at once to have received them all.
5. There was some difference in respect of the people, in whose hearing these laws were delivered. The Decalogue was delivered in Mount Sinai by a loud, thundering voice, that all might hear; but here at the giving of the ceremonial law only the heads, princes, and elders came together, particularly the Levites whom the observations of these ceremonies more nearly concerned.
(A. Willet, D. D.)1. At the root of the essential significance of the Mosaic sacrifices two ideas lie — viz., the Mosaic idea of presentation, and that of atonement.(1) Upon the idea of presentation (or "giving to God," as it has been otherwise termed), the fundamental idea of all sacrifice, little need here be said. The Mosaic system of worship, like the patriarchal, was based upon the fact that man might approach God so long as his hands were not empty. As Adam worshipped in Eden by the surrender of time and strength in obedient performance of the Divine will, and possibly by the presentation of some of the fruits of his labour, as Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock, the acceptance of his gift opening a way to God which the patriarchs were not slow to follow; so, in the law given upon Sinai, the Jew was bidden to come near his Maker and Preserver, gifts in hand. Offerings of toil became means of grace; things eloquent of cost were channels for what was priceless; pledges of human sincerity in appeal were transmuted into pledges of Divine earnestness in reply; gifts from men to God brought gifts from God to men.(2) Unlike the preceding idea, which belonged to every sacrifice of whatever name, in some measure or other, the idea of atonement belonged simply to sacrifices of blood. "To make an atonement," if we probe the Hebrew figure to the bottom, was to throw, so to speak, a veil over sin so dazzling that the veil and not the sin was visible, or to place side by side with sin something so attractive as to completely engross the eye. The figure which the New Testament uses when it speaks of the "new robe," the Old Testament uses when it speaks of "atonement." When an atonement was made under the Law, it was as though the Divine eye, which had been kindled at the sight of sin and foulness, was quieted by the garment thrown around it; or, to use a figure much too modern, yet equally appropriate, it was as if the sinner who had been exposed to the lightning of the Divine wrath had been suddenly wrapped round and insulated. The idea of atonement was the so covering the sinner that his sin was invisible or non-existent in the sense that it could no longer come between him and his Maker.
2. Carrying in mind these two conceptions of presentation and atonement which the language of the law associates with every animal sacrifice, the names and express statements concerning each variety of such sacrifice will enable us to add their distinguishing to their general characteristics.(1) The burnt-offering was at once a sacrifice and an atonement; but it was the element of presentation which was brought by it into especial prominence. It was pre-eminently the sacrifice of worship.(2) The peace-offering resembled the burnt-offering in the relative insignificance which it attached to the fact of atonement; it differed in laying stress upon quite another affinity which might exist between God and man. As the burnt-offering provided a means of individual worship, the peace-offering provided a worship that was social. The peace-offerings were the sacrifices of friendship, and were presented by those who either desired, or lived and rejoiced in, the sense of an established friendship between themselves and their Maker and Preserver.(3) In the sin and trespass-offerings the fact of atonement is emphasised.(a) The sin-offerings, as their name implies, were offerings for sin. They may be divided into three classes: those which were presented in processes of purification; those which had to do with the expiation of precise sins, whether committed in church or state, by priest or ruler or common Israelite; and those which had to do with the expiation of undefined sins.(b) The trespass-offerings were presented in atonement for sins against God or against man which admitted of compensation. There was in every trespass-offering the idea of retribution.(4) Of the several species of bloodless sacrifices, nothing further need be said as regards their essential significance than that they are gifts pure and simple, without any element of atonement, and that they have for their aim to carry this fundamental conception of worship by presentation into all the ramifying relations of life. By the aid of the meat-offerings and drink-offerings and their priestly analogues, the shew-bread and oil and incense, God might be approached by the produce of labour; by the ransoms and firstfruits, He might be approached in recognition of the gifts of child and beast and produce of the earth; even battle might be consecrated by the presentation of spoils. By gifts God could be approached, and the sources of these gifts being various, the Divine hallowing might be as various.
3. Without minutely investigating the essential significance of the various holy days of the Jewish calendar, it is sufficient to call to mind that, amongst other uses, these holy days were days for "holy convocation." They were opportunities specially arranged for a more regular and continuous attendance upon the means of grace provided by the Tabernacle and its services.
(A. Cave, D. D.)
(A. Caves, D. D.)1. There were many sorts of sacrifices and yet but one Christ to be signified by them all. This did the Lord in great mercy and wisdom, that so His people, fully busied and pleased with such variety, might have neither cause nor leisure to look unto the wicked idolatries of the heathens, according to the several charges given them of God, "To beware lest they were taken in a snare, to ask after their gods saying, How did these nations serve their gods, that I may do so likewise?" &c. Seeing all the abomination that God hateth, they did unto their gods, burning both their sons and daughters with fire to their gods, and the Lord would have them do only what He commanded, putting nothing unto it, neither taking anything from it.
2. Although Christ be but one, and His sacrifice but one, yet great is the fruit, and many mercies flow from Him and His death unto us. By Him our sins are washed out, by Him God's wrath against us is appeased, by Him we are adopted and taken for the sons of God and fellow-heirs with Him, by Him we are justified and endued with the Holy Ghost, enabled thereby to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness, walking in His holy commandments with comfort, and longing for our deliverance out of this Vale of misery, "That we may be clothed with our house, which is from heaven," &c. Divers sorts of sacrifices, therefore, were appointed, to note, by that variety, the variety of these fruits of Christ to all believers, though He be but one.
3. There were many sorts of sacrifices, that so plainly the Church might see that these kind of sacrifices were not the true sacrifices for sins. For if any one had been able to take away sin the others had been in vain added (see Hebrews 10:1).
(B. W. Newton.)
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)blood. Some verily seem to think, and some sceptics have argued, that the Bible cannot be what it claims to be, because it represents God as appointing and taking pleasure in such sanguinary arrangements and services. But observe the glaring inconsistency of such people in shrinking with abhorrence from the bloody nature of the system which God has arranged for our salvation, whilst they are yet great admirers of the taste and culture of the men and times we read of in the classics. They are charmed with the ancient Greeks and Romans, and are ever putting them forward as our exemplars and guides; and cannot get done talking about their glorious civilisation; just as if the religion of Greece and Rome had no sanguinary rites, or involved no dealing in bloody sacrifices. Never was there a religious system on earth more bloody in its observances, or more shocking in its sacrificial ritual, than those in vogue among these very Greeks and Romans, sanctioned and supported by their laws, and advocated by their greatest men. Their altars flowed, not only with the blood of bulls and goats and various unclean and disgusting creatures, but with the blood of human beings, who were annually slain and offered up in religious worship to propitiate their sanguinary deities. In the worship of Zeus Lycaeus in Arcadia, human sacrifices were regularly offered for hundreds of years, down to the time of the Roman Emperors. In Leucas, a man was every year put to death at the high festival of Apollo. When their great generals went out to war, they first offered up human victims to gain the assistance of their divinities. Before the battle of Salamis, Themistocles sacrificed three Persians to Dionysius. The city of Athens — the very "eye of Greece" — had an annual festival in honour of the Delian Apollo, at which two persons were every year put to death, the one for the men and the other for the women, of that renowned metropolis. The neck of the one who died for the men was surrounded with a garland of black figs, and the neck of the other with a garland of white figs, and both were beaten with rods of fig-wood as they were led forth to a place where they were burned alive, and their ashes cast into the air and sea. And Grecian story tells of many parents, who laid violent hands upon their children, and offered them up as bloody sacrifices to their gods. Nor was it much different with the Romans. In their earlier history it was the custom, under certain contingencies, to sacrifice to their deities everything born of man or beast between the first day of March and the last day of April. Even in the latest period of the Roman Republic, men were sacrificed to Mars in the Campus Martius, by priests of state, and their heads stuck up at the Regia. I mention these things, not to vindicate the Levitical rites, of which they were monstrous and wicked distortions and perversions, but to show the miserable inconsistency of those sceptical people who denounce the atoning regulations of the Scriptures, and hold up the taste and ideas of the Greeks and Romans as the true models of what is beautiful, refined, and elevated. I merely wish to have you know and feel, that if the Hebrew ritual is to be regarded as offensive to a lofty aesthetic taste, the ritual of the most polished nations of antiquity was still more offensive and abhorrent in the utmost degree; and that if the religion of the Scriptures cannot be received as of God by reason of its connection with scenes of blood, there is no system of religion upon earth, ancient or modern, that can be so received; because all others have been equally and still more sanguinary in their services, and that, too, without any of the deep and affecting moral meaning of this. And I freely confess that I see nothing in the doctrine of salvation by blood, or in the Jewish rites, which typified it with so much strength and clearness, either to offend my taste, to shock my reason, or the least to interfere with the readiest and fullest acceptation of the Scriptures as the true revelation of Almighty God. True, I behold in it much that humbles my pride — that tells me I am a very wicked sinner — that proclaims my native condition far removed from what God's law requires — that assures me I am undone as regards my own strength — and that holds out death and eternal burning as what I deserve. But all this accords with my conscience, and is re-echoed in the deepest convictions of my soul. And with it all, it presents to me a plan of redemption so out of the line of man's thoughts, so fitted to my felt wants, and so completely attested by its moral efficacy, that it is itself a mighty demonstration to my mind of its Divine original. The very fact that the Bible has but one great subject running through all its histories and prophecies, ordinances and types, epistles and psalms — that salvation by blood is the focal point in which all its various lines of light converge — is to me one of the strongest evidences that it has come from God. When I consider that its writers lived hundreds and thousands of years .apart, that they were found in all walks of life, and that they wrote in languages foreign to each other, I can find no way to account for the unity which pervades it but by admitting that these various writers were all moved and guided by the same high intelligence and inspired of God.
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)if we enter into the temple of obedience. Having crossed the threshold, then law begins to operate. After the if comes the discipline — the sweet, but often painful necessity. Observe the balance of operation: Man must reply; having replied, either in one form or the other, necessary consequences follow. It is so in all life. There is no exception in what is known as the religious consciousness and activity. The great sea says in its wild waves, "If ye will walk on me and become citizens of this wilderness of water, then yon must submit to the law of the country; you must fall into the rhythm of the universe; you must build your wooden houses or your iron habitations according to laws old as God; you need not come upon my waters; I do not ask you to come; when you come I will obliterate your footprints so that no man may ever know that you have crossed me; but if you come you must obey." We have, therefore, no liberty after a certain time. This is the law of all life. But we never give up our liberty in response to the laws of the universe without our surrender being compensated after God's measure. The law gave great choice of offering. It said, "If you bring a burnt-offering, bring it of the herd if you have one. If you have not a herd of cattle, bring it of the flocks; bring it of the flock of the sheep; but if you are too poor to have a flock of sheep, bring a goat from the flock of the goats; only in all cases this condition must be permanent: whatever you offer must be without blemish. But if you have no cattle, no sheep, no goats, then bring it of the fowls: bring turtledoves or young pigeons; the air is full of them, and the poorest man can take them." Is that not mercy twice blessed? We are not all masters of cattle that browse upon the green hills; nor are we all flock-masters, and amongst flockmasters there are rich and poor. God says, "Let your offering be according to your circumstances, only without blemish, and it shall be accepted." There is no short and easy method with sin. Men have sought by excess of the very thing itself to destroy sin, and if they could have gone forward from indulgence to indulgence, from insanity to insanity, they might have escaped the remorse of this world; but God has so constituted the universe that men have moments of sobriety, times of mental and moral reaction, periods in which they see themselves and their destiny with an appalling vividness, and in those hours it is found that the sin which began the mischief is still there. There is no way out of it but God's way.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(H. C. Trumbull.)
(H. W. Beecher.)Mark 4:28). So did the blade or herb spring out of the law of nature; the ear or culm, in the law written; but we have in the gospel the pure grain or full corn, which is Christ Jesus. Therefore, as the stalk or ear is of necessary use till the corn be ripe, but the corn being ripe we no longer use the chaff with it, so till Christ was exhibited in the flesh, which lay hidden in the blade and spike of the law, the ceremonies had their use; but since that by His death and passion this pure wheat is thrashed and winnowed, and by His ascension laid up in the garner of heaven, they are of no further use (Ephesians 2:15). The Jews were taught by those shadows that the body should come, and we know by the same shadows that the body is come; the arrow moveth, whilst it flies at the mark, but having hit the mark, resteth in it.
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
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