Having looked at the ritual involved in the burnt offering, we can now try to understand its relevance to us. Keep in mind that God is teaching us by picture lesson; what we refer to as “types.”
Have you ever discovered, at what you might call your “best moment,” those occasions when devotion seemed strongest and love flowed freely, that suddenly there arose within your heart a thought of pride, an awareness of an impure motive, a sobering realization of shortcoming or failure? Or you rebuked yourself for “self-awareness” of what you were doing? You would be a rare Christian if this were not the case. To love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength is a worthy goal; but reality proves how miserably we fail. Bent and blemished by our flesh, our very best is so feeble.
Does this mean we should despair? Do we cede the battle and retreat to a casual Christianity to relieve ourselves of guilt? Why be continually reminded of failure? The burnt offering adjusts our thinking about this.
It was mentioned in an earlier paper that when Hannah brought Samuel to the Temple to give him to the Lord, she brought a burnt offering (1 Sam 1:24-28) of three bullocks. While she was giving her best with the purest of motives and with the greatest of devotion, she realized that she needed the burnt offering as well. Recall as well that the burnt offering was “accepted … to make an atonement” (Lev 1:4). The worshiper was accepted in the full perfection of the offering.
Appreciation of His Work
Notice then how the details of the ritual display something of the perfection of the sacrifice. Mention was made of the parts of the offering. We are told that the priest would first of all “flay it.” A priestly man was able to make inroads to discover what was beneath the “surface.” Have you made any “inroads” into Christ in your reading lately?
The descending cost and the increasing difficulty of obtaining the sacrifices is helpful to see. It would be more difficult to bring a dove than it would be to walk to the flock and get a lamb. There is no thought of inferiority in one animal over another. Each has a unique aspect of Christ to reveal. The strength seen in the bullock, the submissiveness seen in the lamb, the stately step of the goat, and the sensitivity seen in the dove were all seen in Christ. He is the summation of every virtue and beauty.
The head and the fat were placed together on the altar. The head reminds us of intelligence. The fat was the source of energy (we have to think in Biblical terms, not current societal terms). Thus we see zeal controlled by knowledge (John 2:17). He always did the will of His Father. The words of John 5:19 are remarkable and one of the strongest proofs of deity. It was impossible for Christ to be doing what His Father was not doing. And He did it in exactly the same manner!
The legs and the inwards were washed in water. There was nothing impure about His walk or His inward motives and affections. There was no disconnect with the Lord. The Psalmist longed that the words of his mouth and the meditation of his heart would be accepted (Psa 19:14). He wanted the outward to be consistent with the inward. Such was ever the case with the Lord Jesus. There was no hidden agenda. All his actions were linked with perfect affections and motives. “In Him” there is no sin (1 John 3:5) and He “did no sin” (1 Pet 2:22).
As He approached the altar of Calvary, in the bullock we see His strength given to God; in the lamb His will, submissive and devoted to His God. As we think of the goat, His steps were without flaw. The dove and pigeon remind us of affections and sensitivities ever toward God. John’s gospel especially tells us of One Who longed to return to the Father. He came with perfectly devoted strength, a totally consecrated will (mind), a heart full of love (heart), and a spirit of worship (spirit). There was no defect or deficiency in this sacrifice. He came as a worshiper to His God. He came in consecration and offered Himself all for His God. Nothing was held back for self. No self-awareness of how great His deed was or how much He deserved notice because of His sacrifice. Absolutely selfless and totally consecrated, His sacrifice rose as a savor of rest. It was totally accepted. And we are accepted in Him, “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph 1:6).
Adoration for Him
You cannot look at Christ without worshiping Him. Moral men may appreciate His character and admire His teaching. Nicodemus-like they may view with admiration the works and words of One they consider a great Prophet. But the believer worships.
You cannot gaze on Christ without longing to know Him better. Each fresh gleam of His person not only satisfies the heart, but gives the renewed awareness that there is an ocean yet to be enjoyed, a vast continent that is waiting to be claimed.
You cannot fix your eyes upon Him without becoming like Him. Recall the orphan verse which is in Leviticus 7:8. Amidst the regulations of the peace and trespass offerings, we learn that the worshiping priest left the altar with the skin of the victim. The beauty of the victim became his. Likewise, occupation with Christ reproduces in us some of His moral features as we yield to the Spirit’s work.
If there were no other valid reasons to study the offerings, these would be compelling and thrilling in themselves.