Day 10: The offerings in summary
‘‘If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.’’ Lev. 1:3
Additional reading: Lev. 2:1; 3:1; 4:3; 5:14 – 15
It is expedient to have a recap at this point. This is The Making of the Nation of God 3: The Levitical Code of Worship and Separation. I pointed out from the very beginning of this series – The Making of the Nation of God 1: From Adam to the Entering into Egypt that God made man in His image for man to know Him, love Him and be with Him forever. But for sin, man fell short of God’s glory and was therefore expelled from God’s presence. However, God put in place a divine machinery to redeem fallen man from sin.
God called Abraham as part of His plan to redeem man. He promised to make a great nation through him. God also did not fail to inform Abraham that in time to come his children would end up as slaves in a foreign land. Having pointed this out, God went on to say that in due time He would deliver them from their land of slavery and give to them a land of their own — one flowing with milk and honey. In part fulfilment to these promises, Abraham and Sarah who were all past the age to have children celebrated the birth of Isaac. From Isaac came Esau and Jacob and from Jacob came the twelve tribes that ended up as slaves in Egypt in a bid to survive the famine that ravished their then world.
The Making of the Nation of God 2: The Exodus was an expose of God’s great act of deliverance of Israel, His chosen nation from the strong hands of Pharaoh and his sham gods. One after another all the gods of Egypt fell to the power of the God of Israel. In God’s first encounter with Moses He instructed Moses to tell Pharaoh this: ‘‘Then tell him that I have said, ‘Israel is my first – born son, and I commanded you to release him, so he could worship me. But you refused, and now I will kill your first – born son.’ ’’ ( Exo. 4: 22 – 23 CEV). ‘‘Then you must tell him that I, the LORD, say, ‘Israel is my first – born son. I told you to let my son go, so that he might worship me, but you refused. Now I am going to kill your first – born son.’ ’’ (GNB). This was God’s desire — to have a nation named after Him worship Him in spirit and in truth. But this could not be except a separation from sin took place. So, God enacted the Exodus of His children from Egypt a symbol of sin to another place where they could worship Him.
But even after the Exodus, Israel could still not worship God freely despite God’s personal desire to live in the midst of His children. To enable man access His throne of grace, God put in place the Levitical code, which was a set of rules that instructed the anointed priests of specific sacrifices to be performed in order to atone for the sins of the people so that they could fellowship with Him. These rules also set the standard for a holy living amongst the children of Israel, which marked them out from other nations. As God is holy, holiness was to be the hallmark in the camp of Israel; else no one could enter His presence.
Different sacrifices were instituted by God as a means through which the anointed priests could atone for the people and have their sins forgiven before they could commune with God. These included the law of the burnt offering, the meat or grain offering, peace offering, sin offering and the trespass offering.
And so in order to bridge the gap between a holy God and a sinful people God told Moses: ‘‘If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.’’ The word offering is translated thus: offering [qorban — something brought near the altar, i.e. a sacrificial present: – oblation, that is offered, offering]. Then in Leviticus 2:1 we read: ‘‘And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon…’’ This word is also repeated here and translated thus: offering [qorban — something brought near the altar, i.e. a sacrificial present: – oblation, that is offered, offering]]. Then, the word offer [[qarab — a primitive root; to approach (causatively bring near) for whatever purpose:- approach, case to approach, bring, cause to bring, bring forth, bring near, come, cause to come near, come nigh, draw near, be at hand, join, be near, offer, present, produce…].
I said earlier that sin separated God’s people from Him. Therefore, He put in place the different laws as stated above so that the priests could make sacrifices on their behalf to atone for their sins. An offering is something brought near the altar, which is a sacrificial present. To offer on the other hand means to approach — to bring near, draw near, etc. So, whatever the people brought before God as prescribed by the law was the only means through which they could approach God in worship, fellowship or communion. In other words, what they brought, be it a lamb, goat, bull, flour, etc was an atonement that made it possible for them to access God — what they brought before the altar as sacrifice made it possible for them to approach God for by it their sins were forgiven (atoned). What they brought drew them near God. Also, what they brought as sacrifice joined them together with God in fellowship.
Note the following: the burnt offering was atonement for unintentional sin and a voluntary act of worship that expressed ones devotion, complete surrender and commitment to the LORD. The grain or meat offering was also a voluntary act of worship done in recognition of God’s providence, thus, signifying ones commitment and devotion to God. The peace offering was a communal meal and a sacrifice in thanks for what God has done for an individual. It was also a voluntary act of worship. The sin offering was compulsory. It was for unintentional sin and cleansed one from defilement, thoughtlessness, neglect, etc. It restored a sinner back to God and showed the seriousness of sin. The trespass offering, which was also compulsory compensated for injured parties being God and a neighbour. It required restitution.
But whatever the case may be, God instituted these laws so that the sins of His people could be forgiven in order for them to draw near Him in worship. However, these sacrifices were temporary and imperfect as the blood of goats and bulls could not blot away the sins of the people.
But Jesus Christ our High Priest entered the Holy of holies once and for all and by His blood we all can enter boldly into God’s throne without condemnation. Paul writing in this vein said: ‘‘Christ came as the high priest of the good things that are now here. He also went into a much better tent that wasn’t made by humans and that doesn’t belong to this world. Then Christ went once for all into the most holy place and freed us from sin forever. He did this by offering his own blood instead of the blood of goats and bulls. According to the Law of Moses, those who became unclean are not fit to worship God. Yet they will be considered clean, if they are sprinkled with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a sacrificed calf. But Christ was sinless, and he offered himself as an eternal and spiritual sacrifice to God. That’s why his blood is much more powerful and makes our conscience clear. Now we can serve the living God and no longer do things that lead to death. Christ died to rescue those who had sinned and broken the old agreement. Now he brings his chosen ones a new agreement with its guarantee of God’s eternal blessing!’’ (Heb. 9:11 – 15 CEV).
The King James Version renders verse 14 in this manner: ‘‘How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?’’ The word offered is translated thus in Greek: ‘‘How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered [prosphero — to bear towards, i.e. lead to, tender (especially to God) treat: – bring (to, unto) deal with, do, offer (unto, up), present unto, put to] himself…’’
According to the Laws of Moses, animal sacrifice was the only means through which a sinner could approach God — animal sacrifice drew one closer to God in fellowship, yet it was temporary and imperfect. But unlike the days of old when animal sacrifice was a daily affair because of its deficiencies, the blood of Jesus was shed once and for all so that we can enter (approach) God’s presence and worship Him. The blood of Jesus bears us towards God with clear conscience. ‘‘…think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out.’’ (MSG). The blood of Jesus presents us to God as holy, so we can worship the LORD without fear of condemnation — without fear of being judged.
Meditation: If not for the blood of Jesus Christ, how many goats, bulls and rams would I have had to offer to appease God to enter His presence?
Prayer: No more do I have to offer any sacrifice; all because of the blood of Jesus Christ. Thank You LORD.