Constancy of Offerings Under Levitical System

January 30, 2018 at 8:24 AM 1 comment

Reading through the opening chapters of Leviticus as I’ve been doing the past few days for my daily Bible reading, I am awed at the amount of offerings required by the Israelites. Leviticus 1 introduces the qualities and requirements of the Guilt Offering. Leviticus 2 highlights the Grain Offering. Chapter 3 reveals information regarding the Fellowship Offering, and Leviticus 4 focuses on the Sin Offering.

The Sin Offering deals with intentional as well as unintentional sins committed by people who either committed them deliberately and were later made aware of their sin or who committed them unintentionally and were made aware of their sin. Chapter 5 of Leviticus expands the understanding of sinning when someone does not do something that he/she should have done and they knew they should’ve done it.

The types of sin are often explicitly spelled out by God to Moses. People who kept the truth hidden. People who deliberately told falsehoods. People who dealt treacherously with a neighbor by cheating them in some fashion, etc. It is sad that these things needed to be spelled out to the Israelites, but it is clear from their behavior that their character was severely lacking in many places.

Chapter 6 also deals with the priests and the offerings; how they were to oversee the offerings of the people and how they were to offer for their own sins. Chapter 7 of Leviticus wraps that section up and codified the following offerings:

  • Burnt Offering
  • Grain Offering
  • Sin Offering
  • Guilt Offering
  • Ordination Offering
  • Peace Offering

Whew. I don’t know about you, but it quickly becomes clear why there were no seats within the Tabernacle. The job of the priest(s) was never completed. They, in fact, never got to “sit down,” which would’ve signified an end to the need to offer any form of offering. This is a stark reminder that the sin of the people prior to the cross of Jesus was always before God.

In fact, those outside authentic Christendom (those who have placed their faith in the ability of the Lord to save based on His perfect life, His painful substitutionary death on our behalf, and His resurrection), continue to have their sin before holy God. When He sees them, He sees their filthy “righteousness,” which is no righteousness at all. On the contrary, for authentic believers, God does not see our iniquity. Instead He sees the righteousness that is ours because of Jesus. In essence, God sees Christ’s righteousness since that has been imputed to our accounts. This is why we are positionally righteous before holy God.

But give it some thought for a moment or two. Consider what it meant to be part of the nation of Israel during the time before Jesus. To approach God, to live in His Presence, sacrifices were constantly being made. This tells us that people – whether intending to or not – are constantly sinning. God sees all of that and keeps track of it.

When offerings were made in the Old Testament, the sacrifices themselves did not remove the sin or the guilt from the person. The many offerings were merely done to cover sin, not remove sin, as the human author under the Spirit’s inspiration clearly attests in Hebrews.

1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4 ESV)

For our sin to be completely removed, we need to look to Jesus, to which every type of offering in the Old Testament pointed.

8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:8-10 ESV)

It is clear from these passages alone that the Old Testament sacrifices were only temporary and could not, in and of themselves do anything permanent for anyone. They served as signs that pointed to Another, who would come and offer Himself as the final and perfect propitiation for humanity’s sin problem.

When Jesus finished His work on our behalf, He actually sat down at the Father’s right hand in the third heaven. This proved beyond all doubt that His sacrifice was complete, total, irrevocable, and fulfilled all aspects of the Old Testament law.

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:11-14 ESV)

The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that in the Old Testament, the priest stood every daily fulfilling his service to the nation of Israel. He never had a chance to sit down because there were always more offerings that needed to be observed. Notice also that these priests continued to offer the same sacrifices repeatedly because they only covered sins, but did not remove them or take them away. The writer then compares and contrasts this with Jesus who offered one sacrifice (His entire life, ultimately His body), in a single sacrifice for sins. When He had done so, “he sat down at the right hand of God” and simply waited for the rest of things to come to fruition; when His enemies would become His footstool (Psalm 2).

Again, the writer to the Hebrews confirms that “a single offering” has “perfected” forever “those who are being sanctified.” If you are a Christian, this applies to you. What does it mean? Quite simply, it means that we do not have to offer any actual sacrifices on an altar so that the smoke of those offerings would rise to God as a sweet-smelling fragrance. It means that our faith in Jesus’ life (work) and death (sacrifice) on our behalf has “perfected” us. This means that our faith in Jesus allows God to take the righteousness that is in Jesus and apply it to our life so that when God sees us, He sees Christ’s righteousness, not our filth.

Another very important aspect of this is in the phrase “those who are being sanctified” (v. 14). We are made “perfect” (righteous) and yet we are still being sanctified and this will continue throughout the remainder of our lives. Positionally, we are already “perfect” because it is His righteousness which defines us now before the Father. This is why all the accusations of the devil amount to nothing.

However, where the rubber meets the road, we need to continue growing in Christ (sanctification). In the short of it, sanctification is where God sets something aside for His purposes. We are being (present-tense, continuous), sanctified and this process will be in place for the rest of our earthly lives.

Getting back to sin offerings and sin in general from the Old Testament compared to the same situation now, we can clearly see that our situation in Christ on this side of the cross, has placed us in an enviable position. We no longer have to concern ourselves with physical sacrifices placed on an altar before holy God. We are free from the tyranny created by the Old Testament law given to Moses. It was given to highlight the impossibility of living a life that pleases God with externals. A careful reading of the Old Testament proves that though the sacrificial system was fully in place, only those whose hearts were also dedicated to God were accepted by Him.

In the Old Testament, salvation came to people the exact same way it comes to us; through faith (Hebrews 11). However, also during the Old Testament times, the sacrificial system played an important role in ensuring that people understood that sin was reprehensible to God. Drastic measures (death of animals, which often necessitated sacrifice by owners were needed because the sacrifice was taken from their flocks, meaning one less animal or more to have for financial purposes). This was done by the penitent to remain in fellowship with God.

Salvation today is also through faith and it is our obligation to remain in fellowship with God. However, because Jesus’ death represented the fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrificial system, no one alive today is obligated to offer physical sacrifices on any altar to God either for the remission of sins or to remain in fellowship with God.

So what happens when we do sin? What occurs at that point? The same thing that happened in the Old Testament. Sin affects our relationship (or fellowship), with God. It removes us from fellowship with Him. It does not destroy our salvation, but it does destroy our fellowship at least temporarily, until we come to a point of admitting it and repenting from it.

Think of it. During the Old Testament, when people sinned, their fellowship with God was broken. Often, this meant that He became angry with the entire nation of Israel because of the sin of a few. Until the problem was corrected, God was their enemy and treated them as such.

Today, when we sin, our fellowship with God also breaks and we have an obligation to take care of the problem that we caused. This is only accomplished through admission of our guilt and a determination to move beyond it to get back into fellowship with God. We do not need to slaughter a lamb or goat, dove or pigeon. We don’t need to place our hand on the head of that animal before God to signify that we are identifying with it as our sin or guilt offering.

Today, if you are in Christ, that means that you are “in fellowship” with Him because you are saved. Being “in Christ” is something that we have control over by virtue of the fact that we keep from sinning (in the strength of God). When we fail, we also know that He will not fail us. His anger has been averted because He poured out His wrath on Jesus as He hung, dying a terribly painful death so that we don’t have to experience God’s wrath.

Romans 8 is a wonderful chapter. Read it. Ponder it. Understand that because we are saved, we are no longer condemned. Beyond this, there is nothing that can ever separate us from the love of God. When we sin, we break fellowship but even that does not separate us from God’s love. He waits for us to admit, repent, and seek Him once again.

It is similar to having an argument with a loved one. There might be hurt feelings and the two people may need to be away from one another for a brief time. When cooler heads prevail, the two people move back toward one another expressing their sorrow at failure and reaffirming love for one another. The only difference between this situation and the one where the Christian relates to God is that it is always and only “on us.” Broken fellowship is never God’s fault. It is always ours, yet He continues to reach out to us in love, not anger, to bring us back into fellowship with Him.

Keep your sin “list” short. Be aware of when you fall, how quickly you need to realize it, admit it, and repent of it. Unlike the Israelites, you don’t need to kill an animal to show God how serious you are about your sin. Jesus paid it all. Instead of the tendency to take that for granted, we need to allow ourselves to be filled with love for God because of His tremendously great love for us.

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , , .

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1 Comment

  • […] Previously, we touched on the significance and amount of sacrifices and offerings highlighted in the first few chapters of Leviticus. The more you read Leviticus, the more overwhelmed you can become at the sheer number of offerings that were supposed to be observed annually with more observed every seven years and then also during the 50th year (Jubilee). It quickly becomes apparent that sin costs a great deal of money. People had to own their own herds of sheep or cattle to be able to keep up with things. In some cases, seven lambs were required to fulfill the sacrificial obligation. Is it any wonder that by the time Jesus appeared on the scene in the New Testament, He rightly called those charlatan salespeople in the Temple court “thieves” because they had created a situation that made it even more untenable for the average Israelite to be able to afford to worship God. […]


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