By Chuck Smith
Tonight we begin the book of Leviticus, in which we deal with the methods by which the Levitical priests were to offer the sacrifices and it deals with, first of all, the various sacrifices that were to be made. So in chapter one, we have, first of all, the law concerning the burnt offering sacrifices. Verse three:
“If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted [on his behalf], for him to make atonement for him.” (1:3-4).
Then it goes on, and if he doesn’t take from the herd, he can take from his flock. One of the sheep, or goats, or he can bring a turtledove or a young pigeon. The burnt offering sacrifice was basically the sacrifice that spoke of my consecration to God. Thus the burnt offering sacrifice was to be totally consumed by the fire. The idea being, my life totally consecrated to God. So I wanted to make an offering of consecration. I want to consecrate my life to God. I would bring from my herd a bull, I would bring from my flocks a goat or a lamb, or if I couldn’t afford that, I would bring a young turtledove or a pigeon. I would bring it to the priest, and I would lay my hand upon its head which we mentioned this morning, was the method by which I identify with the animal. The animal now represents me. I lay my hand upon its head, that it might represent me, and then the animal is slain and placed upon the altar, and burnt. As the aroma goes up, it is a sweet smelling savor unto God, as my life is completely consecrated to Him. “Oh that my life would be totally consumed in the things of the Lord.” Complete consecration unto God. How necessary that is.
In chapter two we get to the second offering, which was called the grain offering. In your King James versions, it reads meat, but the word in the Hebrew, is actually grain. So you offer a grain offering of fine flour. Now the grain offering is basically just something to offer to the Lord as a sweet savor. Nothing smells better than bread when its baking. So you would mix the fine flour with oil and with salt, and the priest would take a handful, which was a memorial, or it was the representation of the whole. He would get the rest of it. But, he would take a handful and put it upon the fire in order that it might rise as a sweet smelling savor, unto the Lord. It is one of the most holy offerings you can offer. It’s really not for anything, except just for the Lord. “Lord I just offer this to you, for your enjoyment.”; and, giving our lives to God, just for His enjoyment. Just spending time with God, and how important that is. Not coming to God with any requests, not laying any heavy issues on Him, but coming just for the pure fellowship, for that time of enjoyment together with Him.
The various types of grain offerings are given here in chapter two. They can be baked in a pan, they could be baked in a cupboard pan. The interesting thing that in verse eleven, in this offering not to be any leaven or honey mixed into the bread dough. No leaven or honey. Leaven is, always in the scriptures, a type of sin, because it multiplies by rottenness. It permeates through rottenness, and thus, no leaven. No honey. Honey is a natural sweetness, but it has nothing to do with the grace of God, and so, there was to be no honey within the flour that you offer to the Lord. That which was to be burned, there would be the frankincense sprinkled upon it, in order to give it even a further aroma, a delightful aroma.
In chapter three, we come to the peace offerings, and again, it was a male or female, the burnt sacrifice had to be a male, the peace offering can be male or female. Each of the sacrifices were to be without blemish. God didn’t want anyone offering anything to Him that was a cast-off. Of course the sacrifices, for the most part, being a type of Jesus Christ, they had to be without spot and without blemish. A spot was a inherent defect in an animal. A blemish was an acquired defect, and Jesus gave Himself for our redemption as a lamb, without spot or blemish. There was no inherent sin in Christ, nor was there any acquired sin, without blemish. So the sacrifices, in as much as they were prefiguring Jesus Christ, had to be without blemish. There could be no blemish upon the animal, and thus, they were again to lay their hand upon the animal, it was to be slain, it was to be roasted, and then part of it was completely roasted for the Lord, and the rest was roasted and given back to me and I would sit with my family, and we would eat together; and, it was a offering of communion.
As we have mentioned before, the act of eating together was one of the most symbolic acts, signifying the becoming one with an individual, that you can enter into. As we eat together, breaking the bread, I eat a part of the bread, you eat a part of the bread. Through this bread, you and I are becoming united. Because the bread is becoming part of my body, as I assimilate it, but it is also becoming a part of your body, as you assimilate it, so we’re becoming a part of each other. That is what makes the communion service such a meaningful and beautiful experience, as Jesus, the bread, from which you partake, He’s the one that unites us together. I am nourished by Him, you are nourished by Him, thus we become a part of each other. Our lives are brought in a beautiful unity, through the common bread that we partake. So in the peace offering was this very idea, of my becoming one with God. I bring my animal, the priest, I put my hand upon it’s head, and the animal is slain, and the priest then takes the fat and burns the fat and a portion of the lamb; and, then he gives me a portion of the roasted lamb, and I sit with my family. The idea is we’re sitting together to eat with God. He has eaten a part of this lamb, I am eating the rest of it with my family, and thus we come into this oneness, this communion, this koinonia, this fellowship with God. Really one of the most beautiful of the offerings, I feel, that you could offer, is the offering of communion, the peace offering that was offered unto the Lord.
Now in the sixteenth and seventeenth verses, it speaks about the fat belonged to the Lord, and so no man was to eat of the fat or the blood of the animals that were brought for sacrifice. Always the fat was to be cut away, and that was to be burned. Really when you’re barbecuing, that which really smells, you know, gives the best aroma, is the fat of the meat, and that’s what drips down on the coals and smokes; and, that’s really where you get the glorious aroma. So, this belonged to God, they were not allowed to eat the fat or the blood of the animal, offered in a peace offering.
In chapter four, we get to the sin offerings.
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance [unintentionally] against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them [anything that ought not to be done, and he does some of them]: If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people [bringing guilt on the people]; then let him bring for his sin [offer for the Lord], which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering (4:2-3).
First of all, the whole idea of the sin offerings, and the mention of the fact that the sins being unintentional.
The word sin literally means, to miss the mark. In our English derivation, it comes from the old English game, that was called “sinner”, in which a hoop would be placed at the top of a pole, and each man given a specified number of arrows, and he pulls the arrows out of his quiver, and he shoots them through the hoop. If you missed the hoop, you were called a sinner, and you would have to set up the drinks for the participants. That’s where the word sinner came from. You missed the mark. There’s this hoop out there, you shot your arrow, you missed the hoop, you missed the mark, you’re a sinner, and they’d say, “Ah, you re a sinner, you know, you missed the mark”, and then you would have to treat. So that’s the origin of the word in the English language, and it is a correct translation from the Greek “hamartia”, which means the missing of the mark. Now there is another word, “transgression”, and we’ll deal with that in chapter five, which is a willful violation of the law of God. Sin is an unintentional violation.
I know people who have a weakness in their flesh, who are missing the mark. Though in their heart, they want to hit the mark. Peter was guilty of sin, not because it was a deliberate, willful thing. He just missed the mark. Jesus said to Peter, “Peter, your spirit indeed is willing, but your flesh is weak.” He should have been praying, he was sleeping. It was God’s will, God’s desire that he be praying at this time. Jesus said, “Watch and pray”. Jesus came back, and he was sleeping. He said, “Oh Peter, your spirit indeed is willing, no problem there, your flesh is weak. You’ve missed the mark, because your flesh is weak.” That so often is the case in our lives. It isn’t that it’s something that, I’m rebelling against God, in the law of God, “I’m going to do it anyhow, it doesn’t matter!” Not that. That would be a transgression, but this is just a weakness. It’s something that God is working on. It’s an area of my life where the Spirit of God is developing that work of His power within me, and I don’t yet have complete victory over this area of my life, and yet nonetheless, I do it. Though it be unintentional, it is sin, and the effect is just the same, for the wages of sin is death. So it is the missing of the mark.
What is the mark? Perfection. Jesus said, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” You say, “Nobody’s perfect.” You’re right. Nobody has hit the mark, outside of Jesus Christ. He alone, could say, “I always do those things that please the Father.” Can you say that? “I always do those things that please the Father.” I can’t say that. I’d like to say that. I wish I could say that, I wish that that were true. I wish that my flesh wasn’t weak. I would like to be perfect. My heart desires to please God. To always please God, but I don’t. My spirit is willing, my flesh is weak. God wants you to be a reflection of Himself. “Be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” He wants you to be a reflection of Him, to be His representative. Only Jesus could say, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” He was a perfect representation of the Father.
No man has seen God at any time. The Only Begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He’s manifested in Him. Now, it’s God’s desire and purpose that you manifest Him. By your life, by your works, by your attitudes. That you reflect God to the needy world around you, you are the light of the world. But unfortunately, we are not always good representations of God, and where I fail to truly represent God, I have sinned.
When Jesus was on the ship with His disciples, going over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, the storm came up. The disciples were bailing furiously, and the ship was going down. They couldn’t keep up with the water. They came to Jesus in the back part of the ship, and they saw He was asleep, and they rudely awakened Him, and said, “Master don’t you care if we perish?” He first of all rebuked them, for waking them up, no, for being fearful, for lacking faith. “Oh ye of little faith.” That seems strange doesn’t it? The ship’s going down and He rebukes them for lack of faith. Why? Go back to the beginning of that whole experience, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to Gergesenes” They thought the ship was going to go under. It can’t. He said, “Let’s go over to Gergesenes” So He rebuked them for their lack of faith, and then He rebuked the wind and the waves, and said, “Peace, be still.”
Now, Jesus represented the Father, who is, and has, perfect peace in every storm. How do you react to the storms of life? Do you represent God.? Do you have complete peace? Can you sleep in the midst of the storm? Or are you panicked, are you with the disciples, who weren’t representing God? Missing the mark. We’ve all done it, but it requires an atonement, a covering.
So God now has provided a method by which their sins were to be covered. The reason being, that the effect of sin is always death. The wages of sin is death. “The soul that sinneth, God said, shall surely die.” God said to Adam, “In the day that you eat thereof, you will surely die.” Talking about the spirit of man that area whereby we contact God. God the superior trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit. Man the inferior trinity of spirit, soul, and body and it is in the realm of the Spirit that you touch God, God touches you. It is His Spirit that bears witness to my spirit, that I am a child of God. “For God is a spirit, and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and truth.” And when your spirit is dead, you are then what the Bible terms the “natural man”, who cannot understand the things of God, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned, but your spirit is dead. Therefore you’re alienated from the life of God. Therefore the talk about God and Jesus Christ is just so much mystery to you. No comprehension. You lack the faculties by which these things are appreciated, the spirit being dead. So when sin is ruling in a person’s life, that person is dead to the things of God, insensate. That’s the way man was born. That is the case of the natural man, who by nature were the children of wrath, even as others. “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh.” So God provided the means for the putting away of sin, because it is God’s purpose that man should fellowship with Him. That’s why we were created. In order that we might reap the benefits of walking as one with God. Walking in fellowship with Him. Sin broke that fellowship, and so God provided the way in which your sins might be covered, in order that you might have fellowship with God.
It varied with the priests, “For unto whom much is given, much is required.” So the priest had to bring a bull as his sin offering. Then if you were offering for the whole congregation. It is interesting here that it points out that the nation itself, can be guilty of sin, even as an individual is guilty of sin. What is sin? It is failing to be what God wants us to be. It’s failing to fulfill the purpose and the intentions of God. If you do not fulfill God’s intentions for your life, you’re coming short of the glory of God. That’s sin.
Now a nation also can come short of God’s purposes, and if a nation comes short of the purposes of God, then that nation has sinned against the Lord. God had a definite purpose for the nation of Israel. That they would be a light unto the Gentiles. That they would be to the Gentiles, a demonstration of the blessings of a nation that would walk in fellowship with God. How God would bless and honor such a nation. I believe that our nation was raised up by God for that self-same purpose. “One nation under God”, and that was the purpose for which God raised up our nation, and as the nation was under God, and saw God, and gave God the place of honor in our national life, God blessed our nation and made us strong.
But in I Kings, it talks about how that Israel had sinned against the Lord. The nation had sinned against the Lord. Really their sin stemmed from the fact that they misinterpreted their history. Rather than realizing it was God that made us strong, they began to think, “It’s because of our wisdom, we’re so smart, we have such intelligence, that’s why we’ve become strong, because we’re intelligent people. We’re more intelligent than these nations around us and it’s our great wisdom that has made us powerful and strong”; and, they misinterpreted their history.
We are in danger of misinterpreting our history here in the United States. I hear a lot about the free enterprise system, and people are trying to attribute the strength of our nation to the fact that, “We are a free enterprise nation.” I hear the praises for democracy and they say, “Well, we’re strong because we’re a democracy and we have a democratic form of government.” That is misinterpreting your history. We are strong because God made us strong, because we honored God at the beginning and the birth of the nation. But, as our nation turns from God, and begins to attribute the strength to something other than, “It was the Lord who raised us up, and the Lord who made us strong”, our nation, as Israel, will go down the tubes. A nation sinning against the Lord, unless there is a repentance, unless there is a covering for that sin, that nation is destined for oblivion. I don’t care how strong the nation may have been. Israel was, at one time, one of the strongest nations on the face of the earth. But they sinned against the Lord their God. You cannot trust in the strengths of armament. You cannot trust in the strengths of your manufacturing potential, your GNP, or your anything else! We’ve got to trust in the Lord. He’s the one who made us strong. He is the one that will sustain, only one. So there was the offerings for the nation that had sinned.
Then there was the offering for the rulers, for again, “To whom much is given, much is required.” When the ruler had sinned against the Lord, he had to bring a male kid of the goats, and again, lay his hand upon it, and offer the sin offering. But then in verse twenty-seven, it gives to us:
And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance [unintentionally], while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned (4:27-28).
I don’t know why the common person brought a female, where the ruler brought a male, and I don’t understand that. I don’t know why. There’s probably some kind of reason for it, but I don’t know.
And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering [identifying with the animal, transferring the guilt, (my sin), over onto that animal, and then the animal is slain] and slay the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering. And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof [the remainder of the blood, sprinkled] at the bottom [base] of the altar.
And thus there was made a covering for the sin, and a man could then have fellowship with God.
Now, it is impossible that the blood of bulls or goats could put away sin. They did not put away a man’s sin, they covered a man’s sin. The word atonement in the Old Testament is an entirely different word than the word atonement in the New Testament, where it talks about Jesus making an atonement for us. The word atonement in the Old Testament, comes from the Hebrew word, kaphar, which means to make a covering. That is it was covered over, so that God winked at it, or ignored it, acted as though it didn’t exist, because the covering was made by the sacrifice.
But Jesus in His sacrifice, went one better! Rather than just the covering of our sins, He put away our sins, once and for all! The Greek word atonement, can best be understood if you just break it up, and you say at-one-ment. For it is through Jesus Christ, that we have become, one with God. He has made us one with God through the fact that His sacrifice for our sins, has put them away; and, now we can walk in the light, as He as in the light, and thus we have this at-one-ment, fellowship with God. Unity with God, and the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is cleansing us from all sin.
So the blood of bulls and goats could not put away sin, all they could do was point the finger to the future. They were a type, they were a foreshadowing of that good thing which was to come, that is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, by which our sins could be put away, once and for all. Now, when our sin is cleansed through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we then are born again. That is, we have a spiritual birth. The spirit that was dead because of our trespasses and sins, comes alive, “And you, He has made alive, who once were dead, as the result of your trespasses and sins. Who in times past, you were walking according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, that even now works in the children of disobedience, and you were by nature a child of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in His mercy, wherewith He has loved us, provided for us the putting away of our sins, through faith in Jesus Christ, Whereby grace we are saved, through faith, that not of yourselves, the Gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast, for you are His workmanship.” So God’s work for us in the sin offering of Jesus Christ, putting away our sins, bringing to me a new birthday, spiritual birth, and as the result, my spirit now alive, fellowship with God is restored, as I worship Him in spirit and in truth.
So, this sin offering in the Old Testament, only was pointing ahead to that which Jesus would be doing for us, when He came and when He died in our place, and our guilt, even as I put my hand on the head of that little lamb, and I would transfer all of my sin and the crud of my life over in that little lamb, and then that poor little thing would have to die for me. As I see the blood pouring out, and the little lamb going limp and dying, I realize, “Hey, he’s taking my sin, he’s taking my punishment, he’s taking my guilt, that little lamb is dying for me”, and then the fat of it taken and burnt before the Lord, and as it arises, I realize, “I deserve that death, it’s taking my place.”
But even so, when I look at Jesus Christ, and I see Him up on the cross, I should be thinking the same, “Hey I deserve that death! It is my guilt that has been transferred on Him, that has placed Him on the cross. He’s dying there for me, and in my stead”, and I identify with Jesus, even as I identified with a little lamb, I now identify with Jesus, for He is burying my sin. He is dying in my place, in order that through His death, my sin might be put away, so that I can now have this glorious fellowship with God, and all of the benefits that attend to such fellowship. So I live in this blessed fellowship with God. How wonderful it is to walk in the consciousness of God’s presence and power and love, surrounding my life. How glorious it is just to walk with God, and to fellowship with Him, and to experience His presence and his power, as I walk in the light, as He is in the light, and as He gives me that power over sin; as He works in me day by day, freeing me from that bondage of corruption, and making me like Him. “For we with open face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed from glory to glory into the same image, by the power of that spirit now alive and working in me.”
So, the sin offerings. Then in chapter five, we move on into the trespass offerings. The trespass offerings, he describes some of the trespasses.
And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity (5:1)
First of all if you have been sworn in as a witness and you do not give the full testimony, you’re holding back evidence, you allow a judgement to be made on insufficient or incomplete evidence, then you held back! You’re guilty. That’s a trespass.
Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase of an unclean beast or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty (5:2).
If you touch any unclean thing. A dead animal was considered unclean. If you touch any unclean thing, you’re guilty of a trespass.
Or if he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever uncleanness [blood, or a dead body], it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty. Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips [falsely] to do evil, or to do good [speaking thoughtlessly], whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him [you don’t keep it]; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these. And so it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things [matters], that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing: And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord for his sin which he hath sinned, [and there again, the same] a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement [the covering, the kaphar, the atonement] for him concerning his sin. And if he be not able [because of poverty] to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, [then he can bring] two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the Lord; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering (5:3-7)
Now this sin offering was to be accompanied with a grain offering, verse eleven, but in this grain offering, there was to be no oil put in it. They’re not to sprinkle any of that frankincense on it because this is not just a worship offering to the Lord, but this is a sin offering, and thus, it was to be different from the regular grain offering. So, the offerings that were to be for the trespasses.
Now, if your trespass involved taking something that belonged to someone else, then you were to make restitution, but in making restitution, you had to pay twenty percent interest, on whatever it was that you had taken. In other words you’re to add a fifth part thereto. When we get to the book of Leviticus, we find that God also required that on the tithes which He said belonged to Him. So a person would spend his tithes, borrow from the tithe, the Lord said, “That’s fine, but just pay the twenty percent interest on it, when you pay your tithes.” It’s cheaper to go to the bank!
So the priest shall make the covering for him regarding his ignorance in which he erred. Now, sins can be ignorant. I may not know that it’s a sin, but it’s interesting to me that even the sins of ignorance need to have a sacrifice or a covering for them. Once the sacrifice had been made, the main benefit was the covering, and thus, the approach to God, and the communion with God. So, these are the basic offerings.
Now, as we move ahead into the next chapters, we’re going to be getting into a few more specifics, as we deal with how the burnt offering was to be offered by the priest, and so forth. So we’ll take the next five chapters next Sunday. Read them over. We’ll move through them again rapidly next Sunday night, because, for the most part, the offerings of the Old Testament don’t relate to us unless we can tie them in with the offering of Jesus Christ. As we see them only as the types only to point ahead to Jesus Christ, and realize that in Christ, there is total fulfillment for us. Then there is the greater appreciation.
So, as I said, read if you can, the book of Hebrews, along with Leviticus, because you’ll be able then, by the book of Hebrews, to tie together, the old covenant of God under the law, with the new covenant that God has made, through Jesus Christ. You’ll see where Jesus has become our great High Priest, who He entered not into the place made with hands, into the tabernacle, but into heaven itself. Not with the blood of bulls, but with His own blood, into the presence of God, that He might make the atonement for our sins, once and for all. You’ll begin to appreciate, more completely, that work of Christ in our behalf, as you study what they used to have to go through, compared with what we have now. That glorious covenant through faith in Jesus Christ, whereby our sins are put away.
Father, we thank you for your word and we thank you especially for Jesus Christ, and for that work that He has done in our behalf. Washing us and cleansing us from our sins. Making us new creatures. And Lord, we pray tonight that you will help us, strengthen us, give us power Lord, by your Spirit. For we want to be Lord, what you would have us to be. We want to do what you desire us to do. We don’t want to come short of your glory. We don’t want to fail you Lord, but we want to represent you before this dying world. So may our lives become the reflection of your glory, as you, oh Father, work in us, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
May the Lord be with you. May the Lord bless you. May the love of Jesus Christ just fill your heart and your life. The excitement of walking with Him and serving Him. May you be enriched in your walk in the Spirit. May God’s blessings be upon your life this week, as you become the light in this dark world. Reflecting the light of Jesus Christ in that darkness where you work, where you live, where you attend school. May God’s Spirit work in you, as He brings to your awareness those areas of failure. Those unintentional sins. That we might bring them to the Lord and confess them to Him, who is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us of all of our unrighteousness. In Jesus’ name.