~ 10 Previews of Christ in One First Covenant Offering ~
Some commentators consider the Book of Leviticus the greatest book in the Bible. If opens with five offerings (sacrifices) to the nation of Israel—with specific laws for each one. All five offerings present a picture of the Coming Messiah—Jesus Christ.
The first group of three offerings in Leviticus 1-3 (the sweet savor offerings) provide a glimpse of the person and character of Jesus Christ. He is lovely, He is our peace, and most importantly He is our substitute—He paid the penalty for our sin.
The final two offerings, the sin offering and the trespass offering, (the non-sweet savor offerings) are bitter. They provide a glimpse of the redemptive work of the person of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary for us. In this post we will look at just the first offering—the burnt offering.
The Burnt Offering was listed first in order because it is first in importance! It is the only free will offering (voluntary, not required by God). It is likely the oldest offering known to man (i.e., Abel, the son of Adam, provided a burnt offering). God gave Israel this as the first offering and even called the place of the burnt offering the burnt altar.
This burnt offering is a clear “type” or foreshadow of Jesus Christ. Consider ten aspects of the burnt offering which point to The Messiah—Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Burnt ~ The Hebrew word means “that which ascends.” The offering was entirely consumed—nothing left but ashes. “If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd … And the priest shall burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the Lord” (Leviticus 1:3a, 9b). Jesus Christ gave His totality on the Cross of Calvary. Upon the completion of His once-and-for-all sacrifice for sin He exclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
Washed ~ The animal’s inwards and legs were washed with water. “He shall wash its entrails and its legs with water” (Leviticus 1:9a). For us the inwards relate to our inner thought life and our character and legs represent our walk or lifestyle. In the New Testament we are washed the water of the written Word of God and by the by the blood of the living Word of God. “A new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:20-22). “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6).
Domestic ~ It was a domestic animal. Wild animals were not acceptable. “When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of the livestock—of the herd and of the flock “Leviticus 1:2b). Domestic animals represent taming—or obedience. “Jesus Christ humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the Cross” (Philippians 2:8b).
Male ~ “… a male without blemish…” (Leviticus 1:3). Male symbolizes strength. The Lord Jesus Christ is “mighty to save” (Isaiah 63:1). He is able to “save to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25).
Perfect ~ The sacrifices of Leviticus required“… a male without blemish…” (Leviticus 1:3). Those sacrifices pointed forward to the true sacrificial lamb, the Lamb of God, who was “without blemish” (1 Peter 1:19) and Who lived a sinless life on earth—“in Him no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:22).
Choice ~ “…he shall offer it of his own free will…” (Leviticus 1:3). Jesus said, “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17-18a).
Substitute ~ “The burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him” (Leviticus 1:4b). The burnt offering was a substitute offering—a vicarious offering—on behalf of another. That is the great basic issue of The Gospel of Jesus Christ—that He paid for my sin, for your sin, and for the sins of all who will come to Him as their personal Savior. By God’s law “without the shedding of blood there is no remission [forgiveness] of sin” (Hebrews 9:22). “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7b).
important note: This is a major change in God’s dealings with mankind. No longer is sin covered over (atonement) as it was in the first covenant rather now it is paid in full and forgiven.
Death ~ “He shall kill the bull before the Lord” (Leviticus 1:5a). The animal had to die on behalf of the Israelites as a sacrifice for their sin. Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty of our sin. Who killed the Christ? I killed Him. You killed Him.
Separation ~ Later we learn in chapter 4 of Leviticus that the ashes of both the animal sacrifice and the fuel for the fire were required to be taken outside the camp. Jesus Christ while He was in the world maintained a perfect separation from sin. Christians today are to be separate from the world. “Come out from among them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17).
His Radiance ~ “And the priest who offers anyone's burnt offering, that priest shall have for himself the skin of the burnt offering which he has offered” (Leviticus 7:8).
The only exception to the consuming fire was the skin of the animal which was kept for a covering (an atonement in the first covenant). Christians are priests (1 Peter 2:9) and are seen by God the Father as being covered with the Robe of Christ’s righteousness.
the scripture revisited: “Now the Lord called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: “When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of the livestock—of the herd and of the flock. If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord. Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He shall kill the bull before the Lord’” (Leviticus 1:1-5a).
~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW
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