Leviticus. It’s the book with all the blood in it; the one with all the sacrifices. “Why do I even need to know this?” You might ask. “After all, we don’t need to offer sacrifices anymore. What’s the point?” My friend, I will have to challenge you. Leviticus is not just a “bloody” book. It’s a story of God’s grace and his love for humanity.
For the next month or so we’re reading the book of Leviticus and we would like to share that journey with you. We would like to help you uncover the grace in Leviticus.
Chapter 1 begins with God talking to Moses in the tabernacle of meeting. He gives him the rules surrounding the choosing and sacrifice of the burnt offering. The sacrifice had to be prepared in a certain manner and the process had to be done a certain way.
We are given the details of how the sacrifice is to be prepared and carried out and chances are if given a lamb today you'd know exactly what to do. But still you may be asking, "What's the point of all this anyway?"
This first sacrifice was known as a “burnt offering” and there are a few things to note:
1. The offering had to come from your personal stock. You couldn't go into the wild and capture an animal and offer it to the Lord. It had to cost you something.
2. It had to be male. Male animals were considered stronger and hence were thought to be more valuable.
3. The sacrifice had to be perfect. You couldn't give God what you didn't want.
4. The offering must be given of the owner's free will. You were not going to be coerced or forced. You had to want to do it.
5. Before killing the animal, the owner had to place his hand on top of the animal's head. This symbolically transferred the sin to the animal because after all, the wages of sin is death.
Photo taken by Shantel P.
This sacrifice was one of atonement: a way to reconcile fallen humanity with a holy God. And this is where the grace comes in: it all points to Jesus.
Animal blood couldn’t save us. We needed someone perfect who would bear the sin on our behalf.
The lamb of atonement represented Jesus - the perfect Lamb of God. God was not concerned with the sacrifice as much as he was concerned about the condition of the heart of the person giving the sacrifice.
God wanted his people to be so deeply affected by their separation from him that they would willingly, even eagerly, go into their personal stock to find a lamb to be offered.
They would look for the very best one that they had. They wouldn’t be thinking about the cost or even the loss of the animal. They should be thinking,
“My God is so awesome that all he wants from me is a single lamb or a bird.”
God didn’t exclude those who couldn’t afford a lamb either – they could bring a turtledove or a pigeon.
Can you imagine? A single animal was all God wanted as atonement for the sins that we committed against him. And there’s the grace.
Today we don’t have to offer up a burnt offering to the Lord. Jesus came and died for our sins and through him we have reconciliation with the Heavenly Father.
We are called instead to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is how we worship (Romans 12:1). It’s about the heart. Are we worshiping him as he deserves to be worshiped?
Are we living our lives so that God can be praised?
Is our heart in the right place?
Take a few moments to consider the heart behind your sacrifice.
Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me. My heart isn’t always right and I don’t always do those things that please you.
Forgive me for those times when my offering was less than you deserved and help me truly worship you in spirit and in truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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