Spiritual Training 07 April 2015 (Leviticus)

Posted: April 6, 2015 in burnt offering, leviticus, offering
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Under Gods Command (Book of Leviticus)

Leviticus 1

WORSHIPING A HOLY GOD (1:1—17:16)

The Israelites have arrived safely at the foot of Mount Sinai, and the Tabernacle has been completed. The people will spend a great deal of time here as God shows them a new way of life with clear instructions on how sinful people can relate to a holy God. These instructions help us avoid taking our relationship with the same holy God too lightly. We learn about the holiness and majesty of the God with whom we are allowed to have a personal relationship.

Leviticus 1:1-17 Instructions for the offerings

1The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting. He said, 2“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When anyone among you brings an offering to the LORD, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock.

The book of Leviticus begins where the book of Exodus ends—at the foot of Mount Sinai. The tabernacle was just completed (Exodus 35–40), and God was ready to teach the people how to worship there.

This “tent of meeting” where God met with Moses was the tabernacle’s tent. This was the centerpiece of the tabernacle complex, with its surrounding courtyard, and it contained the sanctuary (or Holy Place) in one part and the Most Holy Place with the ark in another part. These two sections were separated by a curtain. God revealed himself to Moses in the Most Holy Place. Exodus 33:7 mentions a “tent of meeting” where Moses met God before the actual tabernacle was constructed. Many believe it served the same function as the one described here.

    3“ ‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, you are to offer a male without defect. You must present it at the entrance to the tenth of meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD. 4You are to lay your hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on your behalf to make atonement for you.

The first offering God describes is the burnt offering. A person who had sinned brought an animal with no defects to a priest. The unblemished animal symbolized the moral perfection demanded by a holy God and the perfect nature of the real sacrifice to come—Jesus Christ. The person then laid his hand on the head of the animal to symbolize the person’s complete identification with the animal as his substitute. Then he killed the animal, and the priest sprinkled the blood. He symbolically transferred his sins to the animal, and thus his sins were taken away (atonement). Finally the animal (except for the blood and skin) was burned on the altar, signifying the person’s complete dedication to God. God required more than a sacrifice, of course. He also asked the sinner to have an attitude of repentance. The outward symbol (the sacrifice) and the inner change (repentance) were to work together.

5You are to slaughter the young bull before the LORD, and then Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 6You are to skin the burnt offering and cut it into pieces. 7The sons of Aaron the priest are to put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. 8Then Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, including the head and the fat, on the wood that is burning on the altar. 9You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.

    10“ ‘If the offering is a burnt offering from the flock, from either the sheep or the goats, you are to offer a male without defect. 11You are to slaughter it at the north side of the altar before the LORD, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall splash its blood against the sides of the altar. 12You are to cut it into pieces, and the priest shall arrange them, including the head and the fat, on the wood that is burning on the altar. 13You are to wash the internal organs and the legs with water, and the priest is to bring all of them and burn them on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.  

The “aroma pleasing to the LORD” is a way of saying that God accepted the sacrifice because the people’s attitude was pleasing to him.

Why are there such detailed regulations for each offering? God had a purpose in giving these commands. Starting from scratch, he was teaching his people a whole new way of life, cleansing them from the many pagan practices they had learned in Egypt, and restoring true worship of himself. The strict details kept Israel from slipping back into their old lifestyle. In addition, each law paints a graphic picture of the seriousness of sin and of God’s great mercy in forgiving sinners.

 14“ ‘If the offering to the LORD is a burnt offering of birds, you are to offer a dove or a young pigeon. 15The priest shall bring it to the altar, wring off the head and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. 16He is to remove the crop and the feathers and throw them down east of the altar where the ashes are. 17He shall tear it open by the wings, not dividing it completely, and then the priest shall burn it on the wood that is burning on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 

Israel was not the only nation to sacrifice animals. Many other religions did it as well to try to please their gods. Some cultures even included human sacrifice, which was strictly forbidden by God. However, the meaning of Israel’s animal sacrifices was clearly different from that of their pagan neighbors’ sacrifices. The Israelites sacrificed animals, not just to appease God’s wrath, but as a substitute for the punishment they deserved for their sins. A sacrifice showed faith in God and commitment to his laws. Most important, this system foreshadowed the day when the Lamb of God (Jesus Christ) would die and conquer sin once and for all.

Lets Bring it Home: it is important to remember that neither sacrifice nor repentance actually caused the sin to be taken away. God alone forgives sin. Fortunately for us, forgiveness is part of God’s loving nature. Have you responded to God’s offer to forgive you?

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