I am teaching a series of lessons on Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy this semester at Georgia School of Preaching. (Thank you for allowing me to do this as well as preach and teach).
Leviticus is NOT one of the books that most Christians go to when they need encouragement. Indeed, most Christians seem to want to gloss over the book because of all the rituals that are enumerated in the book; things we really have a hard time trying to understand!
Exodus closed with the tabernacle having been set up and now the services of the tabernacle, the duties of the priests and duties of the individual Israelite comes into play. Some main points are in the book – sacrifice, priesthood, feast, and holiness are emphasized.
One of my teachers from years gone by emphasized that we need to look for Christ in every book of the Bible. What do we see in Leviticus that will help us not to dismiss this part of God’s word?
THE PREDOMINANCE OF SIN! Man’s sin against God and how sinful man can come into the presence of the Holy God is the main theme. God must punish sin! God’s righteousness demands that sin against him be punished because it is an affront to the Creator and redeemer of man. While his grace does cover sin, he emphasizes what sin does to him and mankind, and the broken fellowship that he desires with man. So many things emphasize to us how God really looks at sin – the multiplicity of sacrifices, and the amount of blood that had to be shed for man to come into the presence of the holy God. When we get into the numerous sacrifices, we have to realize that blood had to be spilled – the innocent for the guilty. If we were an Israelite, and had to actually participate in killing an animal that was the best we had (in an agricultural society the cost would be great), and as we see the blood flow down the altar, would it impress upon us how our sin costs the life of the innocent for us to be in a relationship with God?
Sin was not considered that serious by humans then or now, and, sadly this is true in the church as well. If we could be impressed with the innocent paying for the life of the guilty – if we could see the blood – if we were at the cross of Jesus and saw him die, then would our sin really hit home to us? Would we play fast and loose with sin, justifying wrong actions, if we could see the Savior, the perfect sacrifice, dying on a cross for us? If we could see his blood, hear his groans, and watch him pass away would we look at sin differently?
THE MAIN FEATURES OF THE SACRIFICES ARE SUBSTITUTION, IMPUTATION AND DEATH. The life of the innocent is given for the life of the offender as a substitute. In imputation the punishment due to the guilty party is imputed or given to his sacrifice. This is symbolized by the laying on of hands of the offeror on the head of the victim. And the innocent victim died.
In Jesus we see these things portrayed in Leviticus. He is the priest, offering the victim to God in the way that God demanded. He is the offeror – he offered himself as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of mankind. He is the victim as his blood can deal with every sin of all mankind. “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins – Hebrews 9:22
The burnt offering was the major sacrifice that was discussed in the first chapter of Leviticus. This burnt offering was made at the morning and evening sacrifice to God daily (Exodus 29:38-46). The whole animal was given to God. Consider how Jesus offered himself WHOLLY on our behalf to God. It shows his self-surrender, and his great love for all mankind. And he expects the same from us – our self-surrender to his will daily, yea, hourly (Romans 12:1-2).
The grain offering was the complement of the burnt offering, but could not be offered alone, as clearly shown in Cain and Abel’s sacrifice in Genesis 4.
The peace offering of Leviticus 3 was a communion feast with the Lord, the priest and the offeror. It was all about fellowship with God. This is what God desires and wants from man, and this is what we should desire above all else.
The bodies of the sin and trespass offerings (Leviticus 5) were burned outside the camp as if the sacrifice was charged with the sin and consumed (Hebrews 13:11-12). The blood of the sin offering alone was brought into the MOST HOLY PLACE and sprinkled on the mercy seat. Jesus, the perfect sin offering, shed his blood and He himself appears in the presence of God on our behalf (Hebrews 9:11-14, 24-26) in heaven itself. In the sin offering the penalty of sin is prominent; the trespass offering suggests the idea of ransom for sins.
Do we see Jesus in these offerings before God? Do we see what is really going on, and, further, do we see our sin and the great cost which was paid to save us? To allow us to come into the presence of the holy and righteous God?
Don’t discount Leviticus when you read the Bible! Look for Jesus in every book of the Bible, and you will be amazed at how God has delivered us from our sins.
Thanks be to God for His unspeakable Gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15.