November 17, 2014
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
The Burnt Offering
If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord
ye shall bring your offering of the cattle,
even of the herd and of the flock.
Why would a man bring a burnt offering to God?
These offerings were all offered “according to the law” (Heb 10:8). The Lord Jesus summarized the law with two great truths: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all the soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself” (Luke 10:27). Acutely aware of his inability to love the Lord with every aspect of his being, the Israelite would bring a sacrifice which symbolized what he recognized he lacked.
The purpose of the burnt offering then, was for the offerer to be accepted as a worshiper, despite the failure to love the Lord his God with every fiber of his being. This understanding of the offering is reinforced by remembering that, apart from the skin, the sacrifice in its totality – what the offerer should be – was given to God.
Christ is not only the object of our worship, but as we are conscious of our limitations and failure in worship, He is the basis for our acceptance as worshipers.
As we progress down the chapter, we move from the largest to the smallest (bullock to bird), from the most expensive offering to the least expensive, and from the most easily accessible (from the herd) to the most difficult to obtain (from the skies). The bullock suggests strength for work; the lamb – submission of will; the goat – skillfulness in walk; and the birds – sensitivity in feeling.
Notice that the bullock (son of the herd) is slain “before the Lord” (v 5), the lamb or goat is slain on the north side of the altar (v 11), and the bird has its head wrung off at the altar (v 15). Why the different locations? Or are they not so much different locations but rather different aspects of the same place?
“Before the Lord” suggests His interest in the sacrifice. It was for Him. In Scripture, judgment always comes from the north, and here it suggests the intensity of the suffering. “The altar” may serve to link the sacrifice with the fire.
The head and fat were placed together on the altar. They would speak of intelligence (mind) and strength or zeal (fat). In His life zeal did not outstrip knowledge; and knowledge did not lag behind zeal. The inwards (answering to the heart) and legs were washed in water to remove any impurity and then placed together on the altar. All that speaks of Christ must be cleansed from any hint of imperfection. He was pure within and without.
Three times over we are told that the offering ascended as “a sweet savor unto the Lord” (vv 9, 13, 17). Another translation terms it, “a savor of rest.” Here was something in which God found pleasure or rest.
- Do you think God found less pleasure in the sacrifice of the dove as compared to the bullock?
- What was present in the dove and pigeon that was not in the bullock?
- Everything was laid in “order” on the altar. What does it suggest about our worship?