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The Burnt Offering
Scripture Reading: Lev. 1:1-17; Heb. 10:5-10 In this message we shall begin to consider the burnt offering, which is Christ for God’s satisfaction. It is difficult for us to enter into the real significance of the burnt offering, and we admit that our experience of this offering is limited. Actually, very few Christians have the real experience of the burnt offering. We may have had much experience of the trespass offering and the sin offering and also some experience of the meal offering and the peace offering but only a little experience of the burnt offering. The most fine and detailed types of Christ are in the book of Leviticus. Without chapter one of Leviticus, we do not have a way to explain or define Christ as the burnt offering. It is correct to say that the burnt offering is Christ for God’s satisfaction. But how could Christ be such an offering? This is not easy to explain. If we would know Christ as the burnt offering, we need to study Leviticus 1. Before we come to this chapter, however, I would first like to consider Hebrews 10:5-10. Verse 5 says, “Wherefore, coming into the world, He says, Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me.” Here “sacrifice and offering” refer to the totality of all the different sacrifices and offerings. There is a distinction between sacrifices and offerings. Sacrifices are for sins, and offerings are for gifts. If we feel that we are sinful and need to offer something to God, this offering for sin, strictly speaking, is a sacrifice. However, if we bring something to God not for sin but for fellowship, what we bring is not a sacrifice but an offering. Hebrews 10:5 tells us that God did not desire sacrifices and offerings but instead prepared a body for Christ. This indicates that God intended that Christ would be the replacement of all the Old Testament sacrifices and offerings. Verse 6 goes on to say, “In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You did not take pleasure.” This seems to be a repetition of verse 5. Actually it is an itemizing and definition of “sacrifice and offering” in the foregoing verse. Verses 7 through 10 continue, “Then I said, Behold, I come (in the roll of the book it is written concerning Me) to do Your will, O God. Saying above, Sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You did not desire nor take pleasure in (which are offered according to the law); then He said, Behold, I come to do Your will. He takes away the first that He may establish the second; by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The “roll of the book” in verse 7 refers to the Old Testament. What is the will mentioned in verses 7, 9, and 10, and what is the meaning of the words “I come to do Your will”? Some Bible teachers say that this means that everything the Lord Jesus did and said was according to God’s will. This interpretation, however, is not according to the context. “Which will” in verse 10 refers back to “will” in verses 7 and 9. The will of God in these verses is to take away the first, the animal sacrifices of the old covenant, that the second, the sacrifice of Christ of the new testament, may be established. Therefore, God’s will here is for Christ to come to replace the Old Page 1 of 6
Testament sacrifices and offerings. At the time Christ came. God wanted Him to take away the Old Testament sacrifices—the sacrifices of sheep, goats, and oxen—and to establish the New Testament sacrifices, which are Christ Himself. Hebrews 10:5-10 clearly indicates that the sacrifices and offerings in the Old Testament are types, shadows, of Christ. Christ is the reality, the body, of all those sacrifices and offerings. Hebrews 10:5-10 further reveals that the foremost offering is the burnt offering. This is also indicated in Leviticus, where the burnt offering is mentioned first. If we are to understand what the burnt offering is, we need to consider Hebrews 10, which tells us that as the burnt offering Christ did the will of God. We should not interpret the word “will” in this chapter in a way that is common, natural, or human. God wanted Christ to replace all the Old Testament offerings and sacrifices. This is God’s will here, and Christ came to do it. It was not a simple matter for Christ to replace the offerings and sacrifices with Himself. How could a man replace all the offerings and sacrifices? Consider the qualifications that were required and the kind of person one had to be. The person who replaced the offerings and sacrifices had to be one who was absolutely for God, even in every small thing. Anyone who is not absolutely for God in all of the small things is not qualified to do the will of God to replace the old sacrifices and offerings with the new, that is, to take away the first and establish the second. To take away the first and establish the second is to take away the old covenant and establish the new covenant. The will of God in Hebrews 10 is to replace all the sacrifices and offerings of the Old Testament with the sacrifices and offerings of the new covenant, and to do this one had to be absolutely for God. We have spoken often about walking in the spirit and about practicing being one spirit with the Lord. In big things it may be easy for us to be one spirit with the Lord, but this is not easy in small things. How easy it is for a small thing to break our oneness in spirit with the Lord! But such a thing never happened with the Lord Jesus. When He was on earth, there never was a time when a small thing caused Him to lose His oneness with the Father. If this oneness had been broken, then He Himself would have been in need of a Christ. Furthermore, He would have been disqualified from being the burnt offering, needing someone to be His savior. However, the Lord Jesus was absolutely for God, and therefore He was qualified to be the burnt offering. It was a great thing for the Lord Jesus to do God’s will—to be the burnt offering to replace the Old Testament offerings and sacrifices. None of us is qualified to be the burnt offering. If we had been regenerated without having become fallen, it would have been hard for us to break the oneness with the Lord in our living. Although we have been regenerated, we are still living in the old, fallen nature. We may exercise our spirit to have a life that is one with the Lord, but often a small thing will cause this oneness to be broken. What, then, should we do? Instead of being disappointed, we should recognize that we need Christ. We need Him to be our burnt offering. SIGNIFYING CHRIST NOT MAINLY FOR REDEEMING MAN’S SIN
The burnt offering signifies Christ not mainly for redeeming man’s sin but for living for God and for God’s satisfaction. As the sin offering Christ is for redeeming man’s sin, but as the burnt offering He is absolutely for living a life which can satisfy God in full. Throughout His life on earth, the Lord Jesus always lived a life that satisfied God to the uttermost. In the four Gospels He is presented as the One who is absolutely one with God. His divine attributes were expressed in His human virtues, and sometimes His human virtues were expressed in and with His divine attributes. When He was confronted, examined, and questioned by the evil, subtle opposers—the scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Herodians—during His last days on earth, at certain Page 2 of 6
times His human virtues were expressed through His divine attributes, and at other times His divine attributes were expressed in His human virtues. In the life of the Lord Jesus there was no blemish, defect, or imperfection. He was perfect, and He lived a life which was perfect and absolutely for God. He was fully qualified to be the burnt offering. Having, through His incarnation, a body prepared for Him by God to be the real burnt offering (Heb. 10:5-6), He did God’s will (vv. 7-9) and was obedient unto death (Phil. 2:8). On the cross, He offered His body to God once for all (Heb. 10:10). Questions and Points for Fellowship [Group One]
1. What is the difference between a sacrifice and an offering? 2. According to Hebrews 10:5-10, what is the will of God? 3. Why was Christ qualified to be the real burnt offering? Page 3 of 6
Leviticus 1 speaks of different categories of burnt offerings: a young bull of the herd (v. 3), a sheep or a goat of the flock (v. 10), or a turtledove or young pigeon of the birds (v. 14). The offerings in these three categories are of different sizes, with the young bulls being the largest and turtledoves A. According to the Offerer’s Appreciation and Ability to Offer
The size of the burnt offering depends on and is according to the offerer’s appreciation and ability to offer. We may have a great deal of appreciation, but we may not have the ability to prepare a large offering, a bull, but only a small one, a turtledove or a young pigeon. This, of course, does not mean that as the burnt offering Christ Himself is of different sizes. In Himself, Christ is always the same. There is not a large Christ, a small Christ, and a medium-sized Christ. Nevertheless, in our experiences Christ may differ. In our experiences Christ may be a small or a medium-sized burnt offering, but in Paul’s experience Christ was a large burnt offering, a bull of the herd, because his experience of Christ was far greater than ours, and his appreciation and ability to offer Christ to God were great. Therefore, in Himself Christ is the same, but according to our B. Lives Able to Move and Act in Their Will
All the burnt offerings in Leviticus 1 were of lives that are able to move and act in their will. This indicates that a burnt offering must be something living. A dead person cannot be obedient to God; only a living person can do this. However, in order to obey God, a living person needs to subdue his will to God’s will. If Christ was to be a burnt offering for God, He had to be such a living one, one with a strong will but with His will subdued to God’s will…. C. Lives Good for Shedding of Blood
Although the burnt offering is not for redemption, it nevertheless makes propitiation for us (Lev. 1:4). For this reason, the burnt offering must be a life that is good for the shedding of blood. Anything of the herd, of the flock, or of the birds has blood for shedding. The blood is necessary for forgiveness. “Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). D. Strong and Young
The burnt offering was to be strong and young. This means that it was to be full of strength and freshness, with no weakness and no oldness. In Leviticus 1 a male signifies strength, and a young one signifies freshness. Spiritually speaking, Christ was a male, full of strength, and He was young, full of freshness. He was strong, and He was fresh. Although Christ is ancient, He is never old. He is always fresh and strong. With Him there is no weakness or oldness. E. Without Blemish
The burnt offering had to be without blemish. This means that it had to be without defects and faults. As the burnt offering, Christ is without defects and faults (1 Pet. 1:19; Heb. 9:14). OFFERED AT THE ENTRANCE OF THE TENT OF MEETING
A. In the Outer Court of the Tabernacle
The burnt offering was offered at the entrance of the tent of meeting (Lev. 1:3), that is, in the outer court of the tabernacle. The outer court signifies the earth. B. Accepted before Jehovah
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The burnt offering, which was offered on the altar in the outer court, was accepted before Jehovah (v. 3). The altar signifies the cross. The cross on which Christ offered Himself was on earth, but His offering of Himself was before God. He offered Himself on earth, and He was accepted by God and before God. THE OFFERER
A. Laying His Hand on the Offering
Leviticus 1:4 says of the offerer, “He shall lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make propitiation for him.” The offerer was not only to bring the offering but also to lay his hand on the offering. 1. Signifying Identification, Not Substitution In the Scripture, the laying on of hands always signifies identification, union; it does not signify substitution. To lay our hand on the offering means that we are one with the offering and take the offering as being one with us. Hence, the laying on of hands makes the two parties one. By laying our hands on Christ as our burnt offering we are joined to Him. We and He, He and we, become one. Such a union, such an identification, indicates that all our weaknesses, defects, shortcomings, and faults become His and that all His virtues become ours. This is not exchange—it is union. We may realize that we are altogether unqualified and hopeless. This is our actual situation. But when we lay our hands on Christ, our weak points become His, and His strong points, His virtues, become ours. Furthermore, spiritually speaking, by such a union He becomes one with us and lives in us. As He lives in us, He will repeat in us the life He lived on earth, the life of the burnt offering. In ourselves we cannot live this kind of life, but He can live it in us. By laying our hands on Him we make Him one with us, and we make ourselves one with Him. Then He will repeat His living in us. This is to offer the burnt offering. Laying our hands on Christ as the burnt offering is not just a matter of identification; it is also a matter of propitiation. Propitiation means that our problems with God and God’s problems with us are taken care of. Laying our hands on Christ not only makes us one with Him but also takes care of our problems, propitiating our situation with God and enabling us to have peace with God. Once we had problems with God, and God had problems with us. Christ propitiated our situation with God and took care of the problems. Now we simply need to lay our hands on Him. When we lay our hands on Christ, the problems between us and God and between God and us will be solved. Therefore, the laying of our hands on the burnt offering is for propitiation. B. Slaughtering the Offering before Jehovah
“And he shall slaughter the young bull before Jehovah; and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall bring the blood and dash the blood all around on the altar which is at the entrance of the tent of meeting” (v. 5). The slaughtering of the offering was for the shedding of blood for forgiveness. The sprinkling of the blood around the altar was for the acceptance by God of the offering burned on C. Skinning the Offering and Cutting It into Pieces
Verse 6 tells us that the offering was to be skinned and cut into pieces. As our burnt offering, Christ passed through this kind of mistreatment. He was skinned and He was cut into pieces. Page 5 of 6
The skin of the burnt offering is its outward expression of its beauty. Hence, to skin the offering is to strip it of its outward expression. This skinning of the burnt offering signifies Christ’s being willing to let the outward expression of His virtues be stripped. When Christ was crucified, His clothing was removed. This indicates that He was “skinned.” 2. Cutting the Offering into Pieces The cutting of the offering into pieces signifies Christ’s being willing to let His entire being be broken without any reservation. As our burnt offering, Christ, with His entire life and history, was cut into pieces. If we did not have Christ as our burnt offering, we would have to suffer being slaughtered, skinned, and cut into pieces. We need to realize this whenever we offer Christ to God as the burnt offering. We also need to realize that He was slaughtered, stripped of His outward expression, and cut into pieces. All these sufferings were for Christ to do God’s will. Christ’s going to the cross to be slaughtered, stripped, and cut into pieces was His doing the will of God. If we realize that we need Christ as our burnt offering, we then need to have a proper prayer. Proper prayer is simply to lay our hands on the Lord. We should not pray, “Lord, have mercy on me and do something for me.” This kind of prayer is objective. We need to lay our hands on the Lord in order to have a subjective prayer. In such a prayer we may say, “Lord, I lay my hands on You, causing myself to be identified with You and You to be identified with Me.” When we lay our hands on Christ through subjective prayer, the life-giving Spirit, who is the very Christ on whom we lay our hands, will immediately move and work within us to live a life that is qualified for the Questions and Points for Fellowship [Group Two]
1. Explain how the size of the offering relates to the offerer’s appreciation and ability to offer? 2. What does the laying on of hands signify in the Scriptures? How can we lay our hands on the Lord today, and what will be the effect? 3. What does the slaughtering, the skinning, and the cutting into pieces of the offering signify? (The Life-study of Leviticus, Msg. 3, Page 6 of 6



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