The author of Leviticus wastes no time moving to the nitty gritty details of offerings! But let's take a look at what all this means. We know that the sacrifices we read about here are a precursor to the ultimate sacrifice in Jesus Christ. While we read about several different offerings here...sin, guilt, burnt, fellowship...each with its own requirements, Jesus was the only sacrifice needed for all of these reasons.
Sin offerings had to be brought to the Lord regardless of who the sinner was. The more important the sinner's position in the nation was, the more expensive the sacrifice. The greater the privilege, the greater the consequences. Even though a sin is a sin is a sin, this showed the nation that everyone paid a price for their sins. No one was exempt. Whatever animal was brought, the sinner had to lay their hands on its head acknowledging the transfer of sins from the person to the innocent animal. But when the whole nation sinned it was the elders who did this because they were responsible before God for the oversight of the people's spiritual lives. Once the animal was slain the blood was presented to the Lord. When it was the high priest and the nation some of the blood was sprinkled before the veil...the Holy of Holies. Some was put on the horns of the altar of incense and the rest was poured out at the base of the altar. This reminded the nation that the sins of the leaders had far greater consequences. Leaders set the tone for everyone else.
It is important to note that the fat of the sacrifice was burned on the altar but the body of the sacrifice was burned in a clean place outside of camp. This made a distinction between the sin and burnt offerings for the people as they watched. Most important it was a reminder that the sins of the high priest and the whole congregation would pollute the whole camp. The sin offering was too holy to remain inside an unholy camp. When we look at Hebrews 13:10-13 we see a picture of Jesus Christ who died outside the city gate, outside the camp as our sin offering. He was the most holy sacrifice, the most perfect sacrifice of all and He could not be in the unholy city of Jerusalem. Even though He was perfect, even though He was the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, He was covered with the filth of our sins. God does not put Himself in the presence of sin, so He turned away from Jesus. The result of this offering ...then and now was forgiveness. Animal sacrifice cannot take away sin or bring a change of heart, but they do point to the perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ our Lord, who can and does. He is our sin offering.
The guilt offering was sometimes called the trespass offering. This offering was needed for two kinds of sins. First was a sin against the holy things of the Lord and second, sins against your neighbor. These offerings are a reminder that it is a very costly thing for people to commit sins and for God to cleanse us from our sins. Because the only atonement for sin is the shedding of innocent blood. The bottom line is, our sins hurt others and they hurt God. And true repentance will bring about a need to make restitution. Isaiah 53:10 makes it clear that when Jesus died on the cross God made Him a guilt offering. He paid the penalty we should have rightfully paid. The book of Numbers gives a bit more detail about this offering. Not only did the guilty person confess their sin, they also restored the property involved or paid the equivalent in money plus a fine of at least twenty percent of the value of the damaged property. And they had to bring a ram for their sacrifice. This was an expensive sacrifice.
What we really see in all this is the awfulness of sin, the seriousness of confession and restitution. We also see the grace of God as He continually makes a way for His people to seek forgiveness. We see His grace in the Old Testament and we see it front and center in the New Testament. In the gift of God's grace in Jesus Christ we have been given the chance to believe in Him and trust Him. We have been given a home and a place to go where we are always welcome. We have received mercy we don't deserve, peace amid the chaos of our lives and grace...God's riches at Christ's expense. God has lavished His love upon us time and time again. All of this is ours because of Jesus who was willing to die for us.
Not only is Jesus our sin offering and our guilt offering but He is our grain offering as well. Like the heads of new grain that are crushed and put in the fire, Jesus is the grain, the bread of life. In Him we will never hunger. Jesus is our drink offering. Drink offerings were poured out when given, just as Jesus Christ our Lord was poured out for us, the cup of the new covenant, his blood shed for us. He poured Himself out in a life of serving. Jesus is our fellowship or peace offering. These offerings were brought to offer thanks and praise to God. They resulted in a celebration. Jesus brings us joy. The Israelites needed six different offerings and sacrifices to have a right relationship with God. Hebrews 10:12 tells us Jesus Christ offered one sacrifice for the atonement of our sins forever.
God has always made a way for us. He wants a relationship with us now and eternal life with us after we leave this place. God has always had grace for His people. We have seen it many times already. It may look a bit different than what we see in the New Testament but it isn't. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W