Hebrews Lesson 128 May 29, 2008
NKJ Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Open your Bibles to Leviticus 3 - Leviticus 3. Our study in Hebrews has taken us to Hebrews 9 where the focus shifts to the ritual system that God established for Israel in the Old Testament in the Mosaic Law. The doctrinal principles that are going to be developed and unpacked by the author of Hebrews are built off an understanding of the Old Testament ritual system that was articulated in the Mosaic Law. So you have on the one hand the furniture that's in the Tabernacle - later in the Temple (the brazen altar, the laver); then inside the Holy Place you have the Table of Showbread, the Candelabra, and then the Altar of Incense; then inside the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant. Each of these pieces of furniture pictures some aspect of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and each of these says some things to us about His person and His work. Not only do the articles of furniture say something, but what takes place at each one of these.
The first article of furniture that we have taken a look at is what I have up here on the pulpit. This is the brazen altar. As you notice on each corner of the altar there is a horn. This is referred to as the horns of the altar. Horn is a picture of power and authority. Each time a blood sacrifice was made, among other things that were done with the blood – usually the blood was splattered on the side of the altar. Sometimes the entire basin that collected the blood is poured out at the base of the altar. Sometimes when we get into the offerings related to the priest (the guilt offerings), they would take the blood into the Holy of Holies and splatter the blood even on the Altar of Incense in front of the veil. All is a picture of cleansing, that blood is the basis for cleansing. We have to understand just exactly what the significance of the blood is that goes beyond its physical properties. The physical blood is a representation of a spiritual reality. So it's important to understand the shape, the function of the altar itself to understand what is happening there.
Now in the last couple of weeks we focused on these offerings, sacrifices that are explained in Leviticus. When we look at the book of Leviticus as a whole, the first part of Leviticus (chapters 1-16), we find God regulating the ritual cleansing necessary to recover and maintain fellowship with Himself. These are not primarily sacrifices related to salvation or the picture of the atonement itself in terms of what we would call phase 1 salvation - phase 1 being when you trust in the Messiah as your Savior and move from spiritual death to spiritual life, move from a position of guilt and condemnation to justification. This all occurs at an instant in time when a person (whether in the Old Testament or New Testament) puts their trust in the promise of God's provision that is focused on the person and the work of the Messiah. The Old Testament looked forward to this event. In the New Testament (in the Church Age) we look back to this event. But, the focal point of history is the work that Jesus Christ did on the cross where He paid the penalty in full as a substitute for mankind. That is an operative term here that is portrayed in all of these sacrifices – the concept of a vicarious substitution; I mean vicarious sacrifice, a penal substitution. And this principle of substitution and this principle of cleansing and the need for there to be a death of someone or something else in order to provide cleansing is found from Genesis 3 when God first slaughters the animals to make clothing for Adam and Eve all the way into the book of Revelation.
In the book of Revelation what we find is that the favorite title for the Lord Jesus Christ in the book of Revelation is the term the Lamb of God. He is the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the earth. He is the Lamb who takes away our sins. We find that this is the basis for the praise of the four living creatures and the 24 elders in Revelation 5. He is the one who was slain and is the one worthy of all of our praise. This imagery that we have even at the end of the Bible in Revelation begins in Genesis 3 when God first slaughters those animals and skins them. Then we see it pictured again when Noah comes off the ark and they have taken 7 of every clean animal on the ark.
Now there is never the mention of clean animals before Genesis 6. Noah is told by God to take 7 of every clean animal and 2 of every unclean animal. The question is - how did Noah even know what was clean and what was unclean? It's clear that God must have revealed this at some point. So there is a lot that God reveals in that period from Genesis 1 to Genesis 11 that's not written in the text. That's why we're very comfortable and confident in saying that when God sacrifices (kills) those animals to clothe Adam and Eve and the interplay between the fact that they had tried to solve their problem in initially by clothing themselves with fig leaves and then after God outlines the curse He says He killed animals and He clothed them with animal skins. By looking at all of Scripture we can understand what must have been going on behind that is the teaching of the doctrine of a substitutionary payment - that there must be a blood price paid for cleansing from the guilt and the stain of sin. That imagery is picked up in Isaiah when he talks about the fact that though our sins be scarlet that they will be made white as snow. It is that stain of sin that (red crimson dye) was so strong that you couldn't get it out. It was a permanent dye. Sin is that same way. So we have these pictures (this imagery) all the way through Scripture. You have the sacrifice with Noah. You have the provision by God of a ram to take Isaac's place on the altar in Genesis 22. It's a tremendous picture, a visual of substitutionary death that that ram died in Isaac's place.
Then we get into the book of Exodus and there's much more detailed sacrifices in Exodus and Leviticus as they're explained in Leviticus 1-7 and then the carrying out these by the priests. All of this is to prepare Israel and mankind to understand what happens when God's Messiah - the Lamb of God as John said "who takes away the sin of the world"-shows up. You just can't understand who Jesus is.
God just didn't plop Jesus down 200 years after Adam sinned and say, "Okay, now you can understand what it's all about."
There has to be this progression of revelation, this progression of understanding. God has to teach various things in many different ways. Then "in the fullness of time" Paul said Jesus is going to come, born of a virgin, to fulfill His role as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The Lamb of God imagery is picked up in the Passover from Exodus all the way up to the Passover as Jesus prepares His disciples with the Lord's Table the night before He goes to the cross. So the Passover meal itself is a picture of what happened in terms of God's redemption of Israel through that substitute Lamb when the Angel of Death was going to Passover if the blood was applied to the door. It's a picture of application of the death of the lamb that is a basis for redemption.
So we see all of this imagery all the way through Scripture and then we come to the very end of Scripture in Revelation and you have Jesus presented once again as the Lamb, the Lamb, the Lamb, the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the earth. What this does for us is show us as believers that the Bible is integrated. It is an integrated consistent whole where every piece fits together from the beginning to the end; every piece builds other elements that fit perfectly together. So this isn't the work of man. It's not the work of 3 or 4 people who are sitting back in a smoke-filled room somewhere having a little conspiracy that we're going to fool everybody. The only explanation of this is that God has revealed Himself to man. So when we get to Israel and God's plan of salvation He describes these sacrifices beginning in Leviticus 1.
We've looked at the first two – the burnt offering and the meal offering. A couple of things we ought to note.
- First of all, the location of the brazen altar speaks of the need of a sacrificial atonement, a substitution. Prior to entering into God's presence there has to be an expiation for sin. There has to be a satisfaction. There has to be the removal of guilt. That's what that term expiation means. It means the removal of guilt. The guilt that we have is the guilt from Adam's sin. So there has to be this sacrificial atonement. When you get into Leviticus 1, these instructions are to Israel who is already viewed as a redeemed people. When were they redeemed as a nation - not individual redemption, corporately as a nation? When were they redeemed from slavery? In the Exodus event as they come out of Egypt. That pictures their national redemption. So when they then come to the Tabernacle to worship God they are coming and the picture is that they're coming as those who are already saved. Now of course these all picture elements related to what we would call positional sanctification or what occurs on the cross when Christ died; but the reality is that the sacrifices provide the basis for the ongoing fellowship and relationship of the worshipper to God. The principle is this recognition that there has to be a cleaning of sin continuously because we continue to sin. When we sin that breaks fellowship with God. When we sin there is a change in our relationship not in terms of its eternal realities (we can't lose our salvation) but in terms of that day-to-day ongoing fellowship. Darkness has entered into the relationship and that has to be cleansed. The basis is always the same which is the blood of Christ. I John 1:7 lays the foundation that we are cleansed - continually cleansed (present tense) – by the blood of Christ. But if that meant we didn't have to confess our sins, that there didn't have to be some dynamic of ongoing cleansing when we get out of fellowship; then I John 1:9 would not have needed to have been stated. So I John 1:7 is stated first to give us the foundation. It's the finished, completed work of Christ our positional forgiveness, our positional cleansing; but in the day-to-day experience we have to admit (acknowledge) our sin because it teaches us to focus on the fact that there's ongoing sin. We can't slip into arrogance. We can't slip into pride. That's the same lesson that's taught again and again and again in the Mosaic Law. There are all these regulations about what can render you unclean: not only sin but many activities that are not sinful in and of themselves; but they relate to sin. They're involved with sin – touching a dead body. A woman who gives birth is unclean. Why? Because that goes back to the curse that for the women their pain in childbirth will be multiplied. Touching a dead body – physical death is a consequence of sin. Eating certain animals that were carrion eaters and were like catfish or shrimp or lobster – all the good stuff. You couldn't eat it because they ate off the dead stuff that's at the bottom of the ocean. So that is connected to the penalty of sin. So God uses this to teach in visual aids about salvation, to teach about ongoing relationship with Him and that He provides everything.
- So we saw that the foundational offering was the burnt offering. Not always the first thing that comes in, but when the offerings are combined (when there is a burnt offering, a peace offering and a guilt offering.) the burnt offering is always the first one because that is the foundational offering. So we saw that the burnt offering (just in terms of a summary) is a picture of fellowship with God. It is a picture of fellowship with God, positional or experiential, because they're both grounded in the one event of Christ's death on the cross. So the burnt offering pictures the work of Christ on the cross as a substitutionary blood sacrifice. In the act of bringing the sacrifice, the worshipper lays his hand on the head of the burnt offering which is a picture of identification. It's a picture of transfer of his guilt to the animal. It is an innocent animal without defect and so the animal is brought (after observation) to be sacrificed. We saw that these burnt offerings were the basic offering every day in the Temple, every morning, every evening and that this is the foundation for the ongoing relationship for people with God. So the burnt offerings were practiced as early as Genesis 8:20 when Noah came off the ark and also in Genesis the sacrifice in relationship to Isaac was a burnt offering. It is through the burnt offering that they experienced real forgiveness even though those offerings themselves could not take away sin and guilt because the blood of bulls and goats (as we will see when we get into Hebrews 10) can't take away sin. But, nevertheless we're specifically told in the Scripture not only that God forgave them - again and again you have statements that God forgives them on the basis of these sacrifices because of what they picture.
- The second offering we got into last time was the meal offering or sometimes called the gift offering or the tribute offering. This is a bloodless offering. It was a raw grain offering. It was the finest of grain that was brought. It was mixed with oil and the offering was baked or it was grilled or pan fried. It could be brought raw. No leaven or honey was to be used with it because that's a picture of sin. It's to be from the first fruits of the harvest. In some cases it's to be seasoned with salt as a reminder of the permanence of God's covenant with Israel. Now last time we went through the various facets of the meal offering noting that the fine flour which was very expensive in some passages such as Ezekiel 16:13 and II Kings 7:1. It is seen as a luxury item and compared with gold and silver in terms of its value. It represents the value of the sacrifice and in terms of its representation of Jesus Christ it pictures the impeccability of the Lord Jesus Christ. The pouring of oil on it in verse 1 depicts the anointing of the Messiah which is a picture of the fact that He has been appointed by God for a reason and for a purpose. The frankincense that is also part of the offering would produce a sweet smell indicated that God accepts the sacrifice of Christ on the behalf of the believer.
Now one of the things that I noted was another aspect to this sacrifice - the grain offering of first fruits that's described in verse 14. I ran out of time last time and didn't get a chance to develop this too much, but it's an important passage.
Now if you have your Bible and read it, you will note especially in the New American Standard text that this verse reveals that God is really a southerner. If you notice in the text in both verse 14 and verse 16 that the green heads of grain (that's how it is translated in the King James) is translated as grits. God likes grits! So that means God's a southerner. I have never met a Yankee yet that liked grits. So this tells us God is not only a southerner; but He also likes beer because later on we'll see that there's a strong drink offering. Most people think that that means something other than beer or wine. That's all that they had back then. Nobody knew how to distill beverages and make scotch or vodka or anything like that until 8th or 9th century AD. So the only thing a strong drink offering could be is wine or beer. The word translated strong drink means barley beer. So just something you can remember - something you can entertain your friends and neighbors with sometime is that God likes grits and He likes beer. Just a little bit of Bible trivia that you need to remember.
Now in conclusion to the grain offering and the emphasis and the role of the oil – the oil is a picture of the ministry of the God the Holy Spirit.
We have several points to cover in the relationship to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The ministry of the Holy Spirit in sustaining Jesus Christ is prophesized in the Old Testament. The key passage is Isaiah 11:2, 3 talking about the 6-fold Spirit being poured out upon the Lord Jesus Christ - also mentioned in Isaiah 42:1, 61:1-3. In His humanity Jesus Christ had to face all kinds of testing. He had to face all the normal vagaries of life that we face because He would become thirsty. He would become hungry. Physically He would become tired. All of these things would enter into His day-to-day experience. He had to make choices as to how He handled these things. You know when you get tired (I know this probably doesn't apply to anybody here. I am just talking theoretically.) …when people get tired sometimes they get grumpy. Well, the Lord Jesus Christ had to deal with the fact whether or not He would get grumpy when He was tired. Unlike most of us He didn't. He didn't make that choice so He had to rely on the Holy Spirit. He used the same basic skills that we use to solve these problems and tests. He had to rely on the promise of God. He had to rely on the doctrine that He knew in His soul - understanding the plan of God, the grace of God, the provision of God, His love for God. He's focused on His mission. All of these things gave Him a focus on solving the problems through the sustaining ministry of God the Holy Spirit. We have that same ministry. That's part of the thrust of what we see in Hebrews. Because we have this same ministry of the Holy Spirit that the Lord had, we too can make those decisions to not sin. The problem is that we don't and we need to be constantly reminded. It is easy for us to relax and then the spiritual gearshift slips out of forward momentum and into neutral. The next thing you know we're crashing into the ditch of carnality.
- The second thing we noted was that the Holy Spirit was related to the baptism of Jesus. This is His inauguration into His ministry. The same thing happens to us when we trust in Christ as our Savior. We are baptized or identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, which set us apart positionally for service.
- We've seen under point 3 that the Holy Spirit sustained Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry. Matthew 12:18, 28, Luke 4:14, 15, and 18. When the Holy Spirit led Him into the wilderness and He was without food (and water) and fasted for 40 days, 40 nights and then through the three tests of the devil; it's the Holy Spirit who led Him into the testing. Sometimes we think when we get into testing that "Oops! Wait a minute. I must have made a wrong turn. Last night when I was contemplating my naval in terms of what kind of liver quiver I would have to make this decision I must have misread those sensations and so I made a wrong turn." It's funny how so many people evaluate the decision making in their lives even if they do it right. You sit down. I've seen this. I have gone through this myself. You make all the right decisions. You weigh every piece of evidence you can come up with. You talk to wise people who've gone through similar things. You get their input. You look at all the circumstances. You weigh all the factors. You pray about it. You trust God and you make the decision. Six months later after you've moved across the country, you have taken a new job. You bought a new house. You have gotten a new car. The company decides that they are going bankrupt. They close their doors. You're out of a job. Now you live 3,000 miles away from family, friends, church, and everything else. You say, "Why did God let me do this?" Now we start blaming God. The reality is that through the decision making process and the application of doctrine; we were covertly led by the Holy Spirit to a wilderness situation to be tested to see if the doctrine in our souls would keep us from blaming God. "Oops! Failed that one." So that's the point. We have the same Holy Spirit. He will take us covertly into places where there is testing so that we can grow by the doctrine that we have and see how God works in our lives.
- The sustaining ministry of the Holy Spirit continued when Christ was bearing our sins on the cross when He cried out ,
NKJ Matthew 27:46 …"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
When you look at the Hebrew from which that is quoted in Psalm 22 the "why have you forsaken Me" is a singular pronoun. It is not "My God" (that is the Father) and My God (that is the Holy Spirit) why have you both forsaken Me? It is My God, My God, (both in reference to the Father) why have you (singular) abandoned Me? Why have you forsaken Me? Why have you allowed Me to go through this? Jesus asked that question. It is the Holy Spirit though that doesn't forsake Him, doesn't abandon Him. It is the Holy Spirit who strengthens Him so that in those 3 hours on the cross when He goes through pain and suffering and misery that you and I cannot even imagine. On our worst day, in our worst pain we are not going through 1/10th of 1% of what Jesus went through in the first 5 minutes of the cross. We can't even describe the intensity of it because it was so horrific. The sinless impeccable Second Person of the Trinity bore in His body in hypostatic union (the deity didn't leave) He bore in His body on the cross the full weight and penalty for our sin – every bit of it. And He was separated from the Father judicially for those 3 hours. What enabled Him to do that and to not sin, not come off the cross, to not walk away from it, was the ministry of God the Holy Spirit. That's the same ministry that each of us has to enable us to get through anything that happens. The test and the misery – and some of the worst tests we have are from our own emotions. We just think, "Well, this is never going to go away." The point is to relax. Never is a long time and it won't probably last until tomorrow. But we're so impatient that we have to try to solve it in our own strength immediately.
- The 5th thing that we see from the Holy Spirit's role with our Lord is that He had a role in the resurrection of Jesus Christ - His physical resurrection according to Romans 8:11 and I Peter 3:18.
- The present ministry of the Holy Spirit in relation to Jesus Christ is described in John 7:39 and John 16:40 in terms of its result which is the glorification of Jesus Christ. So He comes to the church for the purpose of glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit's ministry is not to glorify Himself. He's not the focal point of His ministry despite what the Charismatics and the Pentecostals say where they put so much emphasis on the Holy Spirit and sing songs like "Come Holy Spirit Come". Of course He is already here raising His eyebrows saying, "Why are you saying that?
The next thing to remember in the next offering that we are going to study is the one in chapter 3 which is the peace offering or the fellowship offering. I'm going to cover this in about 9 points - 9 points of summary just to break it down into its basic components.
- First of all, in terms of the nomenclature it's known as a fellowship offering or a peace offering even though the other offerings also talk about fellowship. This is an offering that is a celebration of the fact that we already have peace with God. We already have fellowship with God. It is not like the burnt offering which is a picture of regaining fellowship or maintaining ongoing fellowship. It's not like the sin offering or the trespass offering. It's dealing with the confession and cleansing after the commission of sin. This is a celebration of ongoing offering. That is because this is the only one of these sacrifices that involves the worshipper eating part of the sacrifice. It was a celebration in Israel. They would have a feast and they would sit down and eat from the sacrifice. It is a picture of the idea of sitting and eating a meal with someone as a picture of fellowship. It's a picture of partnership and communion, which is a background to understanding the imagery in the Lord's Table. The peace offering itself could be part of many other offerings. It could be part of a thank offering. It could be part of an individual praise related to the individual praise psalms or it could be a corporate praise related to declarative praise psalms. It could be as a result of the fulfillment of a vow as we see in Leviticus 7: 16-7 and Numbers 6:17-20. It could in the fulfillment of a vow, Leviticus 7:16-7 and Numbers 6:17-20. In I Samuel 1 Hannah after becoming pregnant and giving birth to a son goes to the Temple and offers a peace offering. She brings 3 young bulls. She brings an ephah of flour and a skin of wine in payment of her vow for the provision of Samuel. So part of her vow fulfillment was a peace offering. All of that - the three young bulls and the ephah of flour - indicates a very well-to-do, prosperous household.
The word that is used here that's translated peace for peace offering comes from the same word that is used for a greeting in Hebrew – Shalom. It's a word for peace. It is the word salem meaning – in the hiphil stem it means to make peace, to fulfill or to surrender. It is recognition that the peace that we have with God has already been accomplished and now we are enjoying the benefits of that. It is reminiscent of what Paul says in Romans 5:1.
NKJ Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
That is our position. We have been reconciled to God.
- The second thing we should note under point #2 in terms of the terminology is that the use of salem here in the qal stem indicates a peaceful relationship already in existence. This is supported in the Septuagint by the use of the word soterion. It's in light of deliverance that has already been accomplished. So it's a celebration of a past event in the present ongoing reality.
- The mechanics. We are beginning to deal with the mechanics of the offering. The peace offering could be from the herd and it could be male or female. Now in other offerings the emphasis would be that it would be either a male or female. But, here it could be either male or female. We're not sure what the distinction was or why in some offerings it's male and other offerings it's female. I don't know. I haven't read that anybody else who has clue either so I'm not going to speculate. The peace offering could be from the herd. That would mean from the cattle. Or it could be from the flock, either sheep or goats: either one. But they had to be without defect. So there would have to be an evaluation period and it would have to be clear that there's no defect. Once again that pictures the impeccability of the Lord Jesus Christ in His humanity that He was without sin and therefore qualified to go to the cross and pay our penalty for us.
In verse 2 we read:
NKJ Leviticus 3:2 'And he
That is the offeror.
shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it
He slays it. He slaughters it at the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting. So the Tabernacle of Meeting is outside the Holy of Holies. He kills it at the door.
at the door of the tabernacle of meeting; and Aaron's sons, the priests, shall sprinkle the blood all around on the altar.
Now that's not really a good analogy. Sprinkling - I always think of is you know if you are ironing. See I like to iron. I was taught to iron years ago. I iron everything. You just kind of dip your hand in water and sprinkle a little bit there. It seems so weak and wimpy a concept. This is a splattering of the blood. All of this pictures something. It's violent. The sin is violent. This is supposed to picture something that is horrible in terms of the payment of a penalty. So the blood is taken and splattered against the sides of the altar. So the person bringing the sacrifice brings it up. Aaron's sons (the priests) splatter the blood all around the altar in verse 2.
In verse 3
NKJ Leviticus 3:3 'Then he shall offer from the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire to the LORD. The fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails,
So part of it is consumed as a burnt offering. This would include the fat that covers the entrails and all of the fat that is on the entrails. You ask the question: well, why the fat? What is so significant about the fat? Well, this shows that this is a healthy animal. This is an animal that has been well-fed, an animal that is not just skinny or ill so it pictures the fact that the giving of this animal is the giving of something that has value and this is something that is significant.
- So the one who brings the offering lays his hand on the heavy offering. It's a picture of identification and substitution. Again and again we see this picture that there must be a substitute for us to have a relationship with God. Man can't do it on his own. There has to be a substitute.
- The sacrifice is offered by fire. The fat burns the entrails - the fat on the entrails, the fat around the kidney, the fat around the liver and from the sheep. The Palestinian sheep have these large (larger than other sheep) fat tails. They would burn that upon the fire. That must have smelled good – like a good barbeque. That's the sweet savor offering because these 3 offerings are sweet savor offerings. There's no burning of the hide because the animal is skinned. The entrails are cleansed so all of the stuff that is inside the guts and all of the fecal material that's inside the colon and everything…the entrails - it's all cleaned out so you're cooking the meat. You're cooking the fat so that's going to have a good smell to it. So if you live downwind of the Tabernacle, you probably would often think about having a good steak for dinner. So Leviticus 3:17 shows that there is a permanent statute against the eating of the blood or the fat of the sacrifice. Now why that? Well, first of all there is the prohibition against eating the blood because blood is a picture of life. The picture here is that the blood is not to be eaten. The blood of the sacrifice is to be poured out. It is a picture of death. The reason that the fat of the sacrifice was not offered is because what makes the sacrifice valuable (It's a picture of the value and the worth of the sacrifice) is to be consumed upon the altar. That which is of value belongs to God. It is a picture that that which is valuable in our lives belongs to God. Our lives are not for us to just use and live out on our own terms. But, everything belongs to God. He is the one who has supplied everything. So the picture in all of these sacrifices deals with the consumption of fat upon the altar as a picture of the believers' commitment and a recognition that everything that he has in life is from God and belongs to God. Also the fact that the liver would be consumed would prohibit or keep people from taking the livers and using them in hepatoscopy, which is the use of the liver to tell fortunes. They would do various means of divination in the pagan religions. So the liver and these other parts are burned also to prevent that from taking place.
- So point number 6, in terms of the basic procedure the worshipper presents the offering. It's examined. He slaughters it himself. Later on the priest would do that. But, initially the individual was supposed to do it so you experience the impact of your sin in causing the death of the animal. The priest would apply the blood to the altar to the horns of the altar and then burn various parts of the offering. The fat was removed and burned which represents the choicest parts of the animal: that everything in our lives that is of value belongs to God.
- Point 7 is the picture that everything is offered on the altar. It is designated as food. It is designated as food which indicates that God doesn't need it to eat. God doesn't eat it, so who's eating it? Well, the worshippers are eating it. It's a picture of that shared communion and the celebration of what God has provided. So point 7, all is offered on the altar (the burnt offering), but the offering is food. So this food is shared with the worshipper and others with him. Often they would have a feast or a banquet there, which illustrates fellowship. They are celebrating the joy of their fellowship with God.
- Under point 8, we have the fact, the emphasis on blood that runs all the way through these sacrifices. The idea of blood is a picture of something. It is a picture of guilt and it is a picture of death. When something bleeds, it dies. You have phrases such as Leviticus 20:9 "His blood shall be upon Him". That's using blood as a figure of speech for guilt. In the Old Testament and passages such as Deuteronomy 12:23 life is equated with blood. So when the blood comes out, life is gone. In passages such as Genesis 9:6 when it states:
NKJ Genesis 9:6 "Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.
That's a picture of a violent death, a murder. But it doesn't mean that it's restricted only to those situations where somebody actually bleeds. Poisoning, strangulation, all of these other kinds of murders would also come under that same category. So blood is a picture of death. This is why the blood is to be collected. The blood is put on the horns of the altar. The blood is splattered on the base of the veil inside the Holy Place. In the sin offering with the priest, the blood is poured out on the base of the altar. All of these things happen to indicate that it is the blood (that is the death of the sacrifice) that is the basis for the relationship with God.
- So in conclusion, this offering reflects an ongoing fellowship or communion with God and is thus an expression of joy or celebration over our relationship with God. It's a perpetual statue.
NKJ Leviticus 3:17 ' This shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall eat neither fat nor blood.' "
Now that brings us to a division (a very subtle division, but nevertheless a division) between chapter 3 and chapter 4. This is seen because for the first time since 1:1 God speaks again in verse 1.
God speaks in verse 1.
NKJ Leviticus 4:1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
Then you have the explanation of the burnt offering, the grain offering and the peace offering. Then there is a break. "And now the word of the Lord spoke to Moses saying" and it indicates a distinction.
The first three are voluntary sacrifices and they represent the ongoing fellowship or relationship that the worshipper has with God. But the sin offering in chapter 4 and the trespass offering in chapter 5… these picture offerings that have to be handled in relation to particular sins in the life of the believer after salvation. There are sins of omission, sins of ignorance, sins that did not involve intention on the part of the believer; but they break fellowship with God. So, there is the need for ongoing cleansing.
In this next section in chapter four, you could really divide it into four different sections dealing with different people or different groups. The sin offering has to do with inadvertent sin or unintentional sin. In verse 3 through 12, it deals with the sin offering in relationship to the sin of the High Priest. It deals with leadership. More has to be done in relation to the High Priest because he's in a position of greater influence. It's not that his sin is worse than anybody else's sin; but that the consequences of his sin before the people as a leader can have greater negative consequences. All sin violates the righteousness of God. Even the most common sins, the ones that we think really aren't that bad – sins related to something as simple as eating a piece of fruit - are sins that separate us from God. It doesn't have to be a great sin such as murder. It doesn't have to be something horrible in terms of genocide. It doesn't have to be any of these other things that man looks at as so terrible to be the cause of our separation from God. Just something, anything, no matter how innocuous it may seem, it is a violation of what God says. That's what separates us from God.
So it all has to be paid for by Christ on the cross. But there is a recognition that some sins have greater consequences than others. So there is in terms of experience a scale of value in terms of the penalties for different sins and who commits them.
So the sin of the High Priest is mentioned in verses 3 through 12.
Then there's the sin of the congregation when the congregation as a whole commits some infraction in verses 13-21. Then, the leaders of the congregation bring the offering to the Tabernacle and to the brazen altar.
Then there is the sin offering for the ruler. How's that handled? That's described in verses 22-26. Then the sin offering for the individual who commits an infraction; then sin offering for specific types of offenses as described in chapter 5:1-13. So when we come to this offering (the sin offering), some have called it a purification offering because that is its consequence. The believer must be purified of the sin, must be cleansed from the uncleanness before he can be restored to fellowship with God. That is a picture that goes on throughout history.
Some may say, "Well you know, the reason they had to keep doing that in the Old Testament was that the blood of bulls and goats can't take away sin. That's what Hebrews says, right? So when you get to the New Testament the blood of Christ continuously cleanses from all sin (I John 1:7) so you don't really need to confess your sins. That's talking about something else. That's just legalism because the work of Christ is completed, right?"
That's what people have said. I've had people tell me that. Okay, if that's true then the death of Christ is just as complete and sufficient for sin in the Millennial Kingdom as it is in the Church Age, right? Well of course it's right. So why do the priests in the Millennial Temple have to have burnt offerings and sin offerings and guilt offerings in order to be cleansed of sin when they go into the presence of God serving in the Temple? Because, sin still corrupts a relationship with God even though we're saved. It's going to be just as true in the future kingdom as it is in the Church Age. Just because the dynamics in the relationship differ, there still needs to be this issue of cleansing.
I remember years ago getting in a lot of discussions over this whole issue. People always wanted to focus on confession. Confession is not the key word in I John 1:9. The key word in I John 1:9 is cleansing - and forgiveness. You trace those concepts from Genesis to Revelation from the first dispensation into the Millennial Kingdom. Whenever man commits sin there is a breach of the relationship with God and cleansing must take place. Even if there is positional cleansing, it still needs to be applied to the new instances of ongoing sin.
- So the first thing we note is that the terminology here is the hata offering which is the word for sin. It literally means to miss the mark or to miss the target. It's used that way in Judges 20:16 when it talks about the left-handed Benjamites who could throw a rock with their sling and not miss the target. So literally it has that meaning in Judges 20:16. The target of course when it is applied to sin is the righteousness of God.
NKJ Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
We don't hit the target and there needs to be a cleansing of sin. There needs to be an expiation of the guilt and someone else has to do that. That's the picture in the purification offering.
- So the purpose of this offering is to be cleansed so that fellowship can be restored. The purification deals with removing the defilement or the impact that sin has had. All sin known and unknown must be forgiven.
- The third thing that we note is that the sin offering is not a voluntary sacrifice as the first three were. This is something that is mandated when somebody sins or if they are rendered unclean. Under those conditions, this offering was required of all. It's required of priests. It's required of the congregation, the rulers and individuals as you go through and read through the passage. The focus is always in relation to atonement and forgiveness. That sin is a crucial word in this cannot be doubted because it is used so many times in chapters 4 and 5. Chapter 4 is the first time the word is used in Leviticus.
- So the sin in question is one that was unintentional or one that is out of ignorance. It is a sin of commission, sin of the high hand. These are other categories of sin. This chapter is simply dealing with the sin of unintentional sin. It's inadvertent; it's not premeditated; it's not intentional.
In Genesis 20:9 when Abimelech complains to Abraham… that was a sin of unintentionality.
NKJ Genesis 20:9 And Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, "What have you done to us? How have I offended you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done."
Numbers 24 Balaam is unaware that God was the one who opposed him. That's a sin of unintentionality. But there is a contrast with sins with what the Bible calls sins of the high hand - Numbers 15:30. So this offering deals with the sin of ignorance.
- What happens? A priest brings a bull, lays a hand on the bull, slaughters the bull, and takes some of the blood to the tent. Inside the Holy of Holies he dips his finger in the blood and splatters the blood 7 times before the Lord on the veil of the sanctuary. The priest was then to go out and put some of the blood on the horns of the altar as a fragrant incense. All of the blood of the bull was then to be poured out at the base of the burnt offering. But then all of the fat of the entrails, the kidneys, the loins, and the liver were to be offered up in the smoke of the burnt offering. But, the hide, the flesh, the head, the legs and the entrails and guts were to be taken to a clean place outside the camp where they were mixed with the ashes from the other offering. They are poured out and these parts were then burned on the wood with fire. The picture there is that the sin is removed from the individual. The guilt is removed. He is separated from the guilt. There it is dealt with completely and totally so that all of the sacrifice is consumed.
- Now in the sin offering different animals were used. A bull was used for the High Priest or for the congregation, a male goat for the ruler, a female goat or lamb for the common person. But, if they were poor they could also bring a pigeon or a turtle dove or if they were the poorest of the poor a tenth of an ephah of flour could be brought. So in other cases, for example with the congregational sin the elders would lay their hands on the head of a bull. They would also splatter the blood in the Tent of Meeting. In the case of the sin of the ruler, the goat was a male without defect. It could not be a female. It had to be a male without defect. It's slaughtered before the altar. The blood is not taken into the Tent of Meeting, but it's all applied to the horns of the altar and then poured out on the base. With the sin for the individual, he would bring a female goat (notice, not male or female but in this case a female goat) without defect or a lamb (a female without defect) and then the blood was put on the horns of the altar and the rest of it poured out. This describes the confession (we would say offering) offering. This is the restoration to fellowship.
So we have covered four of the offerings, four of the things that take place at the brazen altar. As a person would come into the Tabernacle, one or more of these four would take place there.
Then there is one more to cover. We will get to that and some review when I return from Israel in about three weeks. I get back at midnight the night before so we'll see if I'm awake or asleep on that Thursday night. But, somehow I'll make it.
Let's close in prayer.