It’s hard to say what my favorite book of the Bible is, but it’s easy to say the least: Leviticus. A whole lotta rules and regulations, and even worse, detailed instructions on how to slaughter animals. Instructions that I find gruesome and very hard to stomach. It raises two questions: 1) What about the poor Levite priest who didn’t have the constitution for slitting throats, wringing off heads, cutting up animals, touching blood, etc.? and 2) When they finally build the third temple in Jerusalem, how will they get anything done without PETA and every other animal right’s group fighting them tooth and nail? Silly questions, I suppose, but you have to wonder.
I’ve made it through this book once before so I can do it again. Just remember that everything in the Bible points to Christ and maybe it will make more sense. Right?
The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting. He said, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When any of you brings an offering to the LORD, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock.” (Lev 1:1-2)
Okay, what do I see here? I can gather two things: 1) WHEN you bring an offering, not IF you bring an offering. People were expected to do it, then, although nothing written in stone as to how often. (?) That raises another question — why? Maybe that will be more clear later on. 2) Bring an animal from the herd or flock. That means no wild animals, but something that belongs to you. Your sacrifice is going to cost you something. We saw this already in Exodus 12 where the Israelites were to take a lamb into their home and care for it for four days before slaughtering it for the Passover. That sacrifice obviously cost them emotionally; it would be like slaughtering a puppy.
…He must present it at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting so that it will be acceptable to the LORD. He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He is to slaughter the young bull before the LORD, and then Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and sprinkle it against the altar… (Lev 1:3-4)
So the person bringing the sacrifice has to slaughter the animal himself, at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Then the priests get to work, sprinkling blood on the altar. It sounds to me like the person offering still has work to do once the animal is dead. It has the priests sprinkle the blood, then He (the offerer?) skins the animal and cuts it into pieces. Then the priests arrange the fire and place the meat on the fire. Then He (the offerer?) washes the inner parts and legs with water, then the priest burns all of it on the altar.
It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the LORD. (Lev 1:9)
I know I’m missing a lot here, but I do get that the laying of hands on the animal represents our sin being transferred to an innocent being whose death will atone for our sins. That’s pretty easy symbolism of Christ and his work on the cross.
“An aroma pleasing to the LORD.” Well, what smells better than a steak on the grill? I can’t think of anything. But I don’t think this is referring to God enjoying a good barbecue. Ephesians 5:2 says, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” So Paul is saying here that what was pleasing to God was the love Jesus had, a love that died for others. God wants us to be like Jesus and to reflect His amazing, all-encompassing, self-sacrificing love.
I imagine that if I was alive in Jesus’ day and had seen the sacrifices going on in the temple, and had made some of them myself, then I would better understand the implications of Jesus’ death on the cross, not only from a legal standpoint but also from a human one. I don’t know how anybody can see the light go out of the eyes of a dying creature and not be moved by it. How much more an animal of my own, that is dying because of MY wickedness. And how much more so the Son of God, paying the ultimate price for me.
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. …For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. – Romans 10:9-13