sermon: The Sacrifices of Leviticus (Part 3)
The Burnt Offering, cont.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 08-Mar-97; Sermon #280; 75 minutes
Each of the types of animals used in the burnt offering is significant. The cattle (bullock or oxen) represent untiring, uncomplaining labor in the service of others. The sheep (lamb) represent passive, uncomplaining submission even in suffering. The turtledove represents harmlessness, vulnerability, innocence, peacemaking, and conscientiously doing right. The goat represents leadership, singleness of purpose, strong-mindedness, dignity, and stately courage. All of these characteristics, depicting Christ's sinless life, we are to emulate as we encounter the trials life brings us.
We are going to begin once again back in Leviticus 1, and also to begin this with a bit a review, because Leviticus 1 presents us with instruction regarding the whole burnt offering. This instruction has to do with Christ's devotion to God. It presents to us a broad picture of the ideal that we are to strive for in our relationship with God.
Remember that the offerings are all describing the same Person, but looking at Him from differing perspectives in much the same way as one would look at a piece of art, or let us say, something else that you hold in high regard—you are holding it in your hand and you are gradually rotating it, looking at it from a somewhat different perspective. Every time you make a little bit of an adjustment with your eyes, you begin to see details of the beauty that is in whatever you are looking at. So each little turn gives you a different perspective of a specific feature, and that gives you pleasure and instruction.
Remember that the offering had four distinctive characteristics that set it apart from all the other offerings.
1) It is a sweet savor to God.
There is no sin that is seen in this offering. The offering is given because of devotion.
2) It was offered for acceptance in the stead of the offerer.
The animal represented the offerer.
3) A life was given.
The giving of that life represents the totality of that devotion.
4) It was completely burned up.
Again that has to do with the totality of the devotion but from a somewhat different angle. We saw also that the animal was cut into four distinctive parts, and each representing some aspect of Christ's character in His life: the head representing His thoughts; the legs representing His walk; the innards, His feelings; and the fat His general vigor and health. Now all of this was put on the altar and it was totally consumed.
The next step is to understand the variety of animals that could be offered as part of the burnt offering, and each of these animals gives us a specific characteristic of the way that He lived His life—the attitude that signified His devotion as He conducted Himself throughout His life.
Leviticus 1:2-3 "Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, 'When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of the livestock [one of the varieties]—of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD.'
Leviticus 1:10 'If his offering is of the flocks—of the sheep or of the goats—as a burnt sacrifice, he shall bring a male without blemish.'
Leviticus 1:14 And if the burnt sacrifice of his offering to the LORD is of birds, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves or of young pigeons.
So we have of the herd, a bullock; of the flocks, a kid of the sheep or goats; and of the birds, a turtledove.
Leviticus 1:5 'He shall kill the bull before the LORD; and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting.'
Now we are going to look at the bull here first, and in each one of these cases I will tell you what it symbolically represents before we look at the scriptures, and when we look at the scriptures they will be self-evident because the scripture will just tell you out very clearly, to confirm what I am saying.
The bull represents patient, untiring labor in service to others.
Proverbs 14:4 Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox.
Let us never forget that all of these things that are characteristic of Christ are examples that we are to strive for in what we do in relation to God. In other words he is saying that even as Christ showed the patient untiring labor in service to others and thereby produced a great deal of wealth—that is, spiritual wealth—through His works, we too are to put our shoulder to the wheel and spare no energy in doing this, and to labor very hard in what we do in service to others.
In Psalm 144 the bull appears in there as well, and in a very interesting setting. Psalm 144 is a prayer of David.
Psalm 144:9-10 I will sing a new song to You, O God: on a harp of ten strings will I sing praises to You. The One who gives salvation to kings, who delivers David His servant from the deadly sword.
Then he begins asking, requesting blessings from God.
Psalm 144:11 Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners. . .
Then he tells why he wants these things.
Psalm 144:12 That our sons may be as plants. . .
Psalm 144:13 That our barns may be full. . .
Psalm 144:14 That our oxen may be well laden; that there be no breaking in or going out; that there be no outcry in our streets.
Does anybody here within the sound of my voice complain when we have to work hard? Well that is a human proclivity to do those kinds of things, but Jesus did what He did uncomplainingly. There is an example to shoot for.
I do not know whether you are aware of this or not, and I was not aware of it, but I read it in a book. When I say that I was not aware of it, I mean that I was not aware of it from personal experience. Oxen have a characteristic in them that very few animals have. They will literally work themselves to death. Most animals will balk at doing things, but oxen—a bull—have that proclivity created within them, that it might be an example to those of us who are God's children.
Let us go back to the book of John, chapter 6, and here is direction as to where we are to turn our efforts.
John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled."
What is the direction of our requests to God? What is their purpose? What are we thinking about? Jesus said to these unconverted people that all they wanted to do was to get money to eat. That is a normal thing. Now we all understand, do we not, that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said to not worry about those things. "Take no anxious thought. Your Father knows what you have need of." Instead, we should turn our attention with the focus in our lives in another area.
John 6:27 "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life. . ."
"Seek you first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you." Human nature fights this proclivity, that is, to give ourselves to God "tooth and toe nail," and it takes effort to turn our attention to what God says is the higher priority. I just said in the announcement that not everything in life has the same priority. Not everything is on the same level. God's Word prioritizes for us. "Seek you first the kingdom on God," and labor like a bull, all the way to death if need be.
John 6:27 "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give to you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."
Now there is another promise. He will give it to us.
John 6:28-29 Then said they to Him, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."
Faith in the right things is very important to God's purpose, and I think we understand that not all faith is the faith. The book of James makes a very clear distinction on this. And so he has honed—made even sharper—what we are to labor toward, and that is to strengthen our faith in the things of God, because faith is the substance [it means the foundation] of things hoped for. It stands under all true spirituality, and one of its products—even more important, if we can put it that way, than faith—is love. See, "The greatest of these is love." So you will find God's sense of priorities for us, and so He is telling us "Labor like an ox."
Some other scriptures on this:
I Thessalonians 1:2-4 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of God and our Father, knowing beloved brethren, your election by God.
Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
I think that apart from Jesus Christ, certainly the apostle Paul is perhaps one of the finest examples of all of God's people, and God changed his name from Saul to Paul, and Paul means worker.
What about the lamb? You could also sacrifice a lamb.
A lamb, unlike the bull, represents passive, uncomplaining submission, even in suffering. It represents following without reservation. The emphasis is on the following part, and without reservation.
In Isaiah 53 there is a piquant example—a prophecy of Christ.
Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth [uncomplaining submission to the will of God]; He led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.
Jeremiah 11:19 But I was like a docile lamb brought to the slaughter; and I did not know that they had devised schemes against me, saying, "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be remembered no more."
That of course is in regard to Jeremiah.
Please do not get the picture that neither Christ nor Jeremiah did absolutely nothing, but they were innocent of being the cause of persecution that was inflicted upon them, and when the persecution came, they accepted it without griping. That is very difficult for us to do because human nature very quickly leads us to think, Woe is me! and that is natural. I am not going to say if we do that, that somehow God is totally against us. No, He is not, but that does not make that "Woe is me" right either, see. It is a starting point.
We need to catch ourselves, look to the example of Christ and recognize that we are to endure this trial, and at the same time work in a godly way, like a bull, to find out why it is there and do what we can to get out from under it. But while we are going through it, we accept it uncomplainingly.
There are a couple of scriptures to remember in regard to this:
Proverbs 26:2 . . . so a curse without cause shall not alight.
The curse could be a trial. I do not mean to give you the impression that every trial is a curse. That is not the point, because there are good trials, and if God allows it to take place, then I would say that everything that happens in that regard is good for us. I can say that confidently, because of Scripture. You remember Romans 8:28: "All things happen for good to those who are the called, to those who love God"? Qualified. To those who are the called, and those who love God, that all of these difficult trials are for our good, and so we operate with the full strength of our faith in what God says, that He will never give us a trial that is too great for us, that He always provides a way out. But the lamb uncomplainingly accepts it as his lot, and knows that it is going to be for his good.
Let us go to Romans 8:36. This is just after that "All things happen together for good." The apostle Paul says:
Romans 8:36 As it written, "For Your sake we are killed all day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."
God expects us to follow our leader, and our Leader is Jesus Christ. We are to accept difficulties in the same mind and in the same attitude that He did, knowing, understanding, having faith that this trial is not for our destruction, even though it may seem that way, but rather it is necessary for preparation for what God has in mind. That is why it is good.
We can read in Hebrews 5:7-10 of God putting Christ through these trials very similar to ours, only I can guarantee you, exceedingly more difficult. He did it to prepare Him to be High Priest, so that He would know sin, suffering, humanity, from the perspective of a man. What did Christ say? "Not My will, but Yours be done." So a sheep then is a person living by faith, who follows.
The turtledove represents mourning innocence, meekness, humility. With the turtledove, there is no labor seen here. Neither is their uncomplaining submission, but rather, the quality is harmlessness. Also we might say a peacemaking proclivity. There might even be a quality, a trait of sadness involved.
Turn with me to Matthew the 10:
Matthew 10:16 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
Harmlessness. Harmless as doves.
We are going to go back to Isaiah 59. I do not know whether you are familiar with Isaiah 59, but the background of what is written there is the judicial system and what was going on within it in Judah at the time of Isaiah. I do not know whether again, if God succinctly tells us why Israel and Judah went into captivity. There were three major reasons. One was idolatry, the other was Sabbath breaking, and the third one is supplied most clearly by the book of Amos—social injustice. That is what we are seeing here in Isaiah 59—social injustice.
I think that you can begin to see that a person who is like a mourning dove—harmless, seemingly weak, they are non-offensive, non-aggressive; they are not assertive, they are not the leaders of industry. They have no power. Those kind of people would be very easily taken advantage of. They are the people that Christ very frequently calls "the poor." It does not mean they are poor financially, it means that they are weak in the sense of social strength. They have no one to fight for them, as it were. You can see this very clearly in American society. The great middle class is without power. And so we find that he is talking about the judicial system here.
Isaiah 59:8 The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace.
In a time like this Amos says its a time when the prudent keep silence.
Isaiah 59:9-10 Therefore justice is far from us, neither does righteousness overtake us; we look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness! We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as at twilight; we are as dead men in desolate places.
Oh! What a picture that is of American society stumbling around, not knowing which way it is going.
Isaiah 59:11 We all growl like bears, and moan sadly like doves; we look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.
The more money you have, the better lawyers you can afford, the more likely that you are going to get "justice." And if you are poor, weak, maybe a minority—Boy! I will tell you, you have got three strikes against you already.
Isaiah 59:12-13 For our transgressions are multiplied before You, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and as for our iniquities, we know them; in transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.
Isaiah 59:15 So truth fails, and who departs from evil . . .
Such as the Christian. Mark my words, brethren, I use that word minority on purpose, for in the future you are going to be the smallest, most oppressed minority in the country. Your color will not make a bit of difference. Your faith in God will make every difference.
Isaiah 59:15 . . . makes himself a prey. Then the LORD saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice.
Mourning innocence. That is the very way that Christ said He is sending us out for the witness of Him. But He said, "Be wise, even though you're a dove." There are ways of doing things that will help. This quality, though, is also shown in God's Word to be extremely valuable and rewarding. Let us look at one example here in Isaiah 57. This is one of my favorite verses. It is so beautiful.
Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the High and Lofty One that inhabits eternity . . .
Ah! Boy! What does that mean—"He inhabits eternity"?
Isaiah 57:15 . . . whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."
That is a dove! Those people have a special place in God's thinking. Why? Well largely because those are the people who have a heart like Him, and they are following His way. God is the God of the humble, the meek, the gentle, the unassertive, the non-aggressive. The widow, the fatherless are very clear types of these people. That is why God said there should be a special regard in all of His people for people like that—the widow, the orphan. But here He puts all of His people, who are like mourning doves, to be in that category.
Isaiah 66:1-2 Thus says the LORD, "Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist," says the LORD. "But on this one I will look: on him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word."
Psalm 34:17-19 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
So a dove represents those who are harmless, very conscious of doing right. They are responsible people.
We jumped over one, and that is the goat. We will save the goat for last here in regard to this.
The goat represents strong-mindedness, singleness of purpose, leadership.
Any of you who are aware of the characteristics of a sheep as compared to a goat know the goat is not a follower. A goat leads. They take over. It is interesting that a goat is not put in as near a good a light as a sheep by the Scriptures, and possibly because people with these characteristics are frequently offensive to their brethren and have a tendency to go off in their own direction in their drive to carry out what they see is their goal. It is good to remember that a goat, like a sheep, is a clean animal, and they represent somebody who is converted. Now a goat has good qualities, and that leadership is a good quality, but he is reminding us that those who are blessed with these qualities had better be very careful in their use of those qualities.
Let us go first to the good side. In Jeremiah 50, we have a prophecy regarding Babylon, and if you will read the whole thing you will find that God's people are in Babylon. He says in verse 8:
Jeremiah 50:8 Move from the midst of Babylon, go out of the land of the Chaldeans; and be as the rams before the flocks.
In other words, there is a time for leadership—not only a time, but a place for leadership. I guess you might say the biggest problem regarding it is when to exercise it, and when to exercise restraint. In this case, he is showing a time to exercise that leadership. There is a time when those with these qualities had better grab the bull by the horn, set the example, and get the sheep to follow them. And they will. They will.
I can think of an example of a man who undoubtedly had goat-like qualities, and there was a time that he took the bull by the horns. I am thinking of Phinehas. God praised him for what he did. That was right in that case. The situation demanded it, and boy! He just stood up and he took charge of things and did what needed to be done. That was good.
Now let us go to Proverbs 30:
Proverbs 30:29-31 There are three things which are majestic in pace, yes, four are stately in walk: A lion, which is mighty among beasts and does not turn away from any; a greyhound, a male goat also, and a king whose troops are with him.
What we see here is dignity, stately bearing, undaunted courage. But as we are going to see in a little bit larger context, a strong inclination toward haughtiness. I am going to read these scriptures to you from the New International Version, and I am going to read two more scriptures that follow right in context.
Proverbs 30:29-31 (NIV) There are three things that are stately in their stride; four that move with stately bearing: a lion, mighty among beasts who retreats before nothing. A strutting rooster, a he-goat, and a king, with his army around him.
Let me add here before I go on to the next verses that if you will just stop to think about it, all four of these animals—let us say three animals and a king—are noted for getting into fights. What follows in the next verses is very interesting.
Proverbs 30:32-33 (NIV) If you have played the fool and exalted yourself, or if you have planned evil, clap a hand over your mouth; as for the churning of the milk produces butter, and as the twisting of the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife."
It is a gentle warning that those who have these qualities are going to have to be very careful in their use of them, because they have a proclivity for rubbing others the wrong way.
Now with that in mind let's go to Matthew 25 and we'll look first at verses 31 through 33 so that we get the context.
Matthew 25:31-33 "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations shall be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left."
Matthew 25:41-45 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand [the goats], 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'
This is the spiritual downside—that among the clean animals, people, the goat is shown as rejected. I think the reason is obvious, and that is, their very qualities of leadership drives them into a tendency to be self-serving, rather than other-serving, so they have to work very hard to channel their drive to do their own thing. So as a sum to that—there is a time to pick up the ball and run with it. But remember this—this is the hard part—that it has to be run within the limits of our role. Remember what Jesus said: "I always do the will of the Father." He never attempted to take over the Father's job. He always stayed within it.
Back to Leviticus 1. Let me pick up something in verse 9 again.
Leviticus 1:9 But he [the bullock, or the lamb, or the goat] shall wash its entrails and his legs with water. And the priest shall burn all on the altar.
Leviticus 1:14-15 And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the LORD is of birds [the turtledove is mentioned] . . . . The priest shall bring it to the altar, and wring off its head and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out at the side of the altar.
Then the priest was told to pluck the feathers.
Leviticus 1:17 Then he shall split it at its wings, but shall not divide it completely; and the priest shall burn it on the altar, on the wood that is on the fire. It is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet aroma to the LORD.
The distinction here is this: The bullock, sheep, and goats were cut up and then they were washed with water; but the turtledove, though it was split open, was not cut in parts and neither was it washed in water. Now with the turtledove (you can read it at your own leisure), you will find that the emphasis is on what the priest does, rather than what the offerer does. And what the priest does in relation to the turtledove, he assists in the offering, even though the one who brings the offering might be quite able to do it for himself.
Remember the characteristics. A bullock is strong, and a lamb is very strong in what it does as well (in following), and the goat has strong characteristics as well. But everything about the turtledove is weak. It is harmless, innocent, unassertive, non-aggressive. It is not a captain of industry, see. It looks like somebody maybe who has been run over by a truck. I do not mean that literally of course.
But Ephesians 5:26 might immediately come to mind, where it says regarding Jesus that He is going to wash us with the water of His Word. He does this in order that we might be sanctified, holy.
The comparison between these two has two possibilities. Everybody who brings an offering, regardless of their seeming capability—young, strong, whatever—if they bring a turtledove, it is an indication that this person is of a class or mind, if I can put it that way—maybe financially, maybe social status, maybe in health—but they are a person who needs help. And so much of the work is done for him by the priest.
There is a wide cost difference between a couple of turtledoves, let us say, that can be bought for a penny, as compared to a lamb or a sheep or a bullock that might cost a hundred times more than that. And so a turtledove indicates that somebody of low status, if I can put it that way, is bringing the offering.
We have a little indication of this in regard to Christ when He was presented at the Temple by His mother and father. Do you know what they brought? A turtledove, which indicated their social status, indicated their financial status. They did not bring a bullock, or even a lamb, because they probably could not afford it.
The spiritual aspect of this is that even though a person may seem capable on the outside, everybody needs help you see, and the high priest stands ready to give whatever aid is necessary to make sure that this person is acceptable before God. And it is a good thing. So to whom much is given, much is required. But to those who do not have much to give, the high priest makes up for it.
This is so wonderful! None of us comes before God on the strength of our own character, on the strength of our own righteousness. Everything that makes possible our acceptance before God has already been done before us. Everybody is in need of the help of the High Priest, and He makes up for it.
The next distinction draws this particular type even more finely in that with the bullock, the sheep, and the goat, the offerer was the one who killed the animal. But with the dove—a little wee dove that anybody could wring its neck—God made the priest do it. In fact, if you look at the directions for these four different animals, with the dove, the priest does everything except bring the animal.
Let us go back to John 10:
John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep."
That may have two possible applications to it: Give His life literally in fighting the attacker which might be a lion or a bear, or whatever. David said he had to fight off both. Or it could also mean give His life in continuous service, spent in behalf of the sheep.
John 10:12 "But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them."
In regard to our acceptance before God, you see One has already gone before us and prepared the way, so that all we have to do is follow it. We can understand that we are not being accepted on the basis of our own works, even though our works are appreciated, and even though our works may be strong enough. We are not accepted on the basis of those strong works, because only perfect works are acceptable.
Now, do not slack off in your labors, because this is a tendency of human nature to slack off whenever it knows that somebody else has done what is necessary. We do not want to slack off, because if we understand what God is working out, then we understand that our striving to follow in the footsteps of Christ and do what He did, as He did it, is the very thing that helps prepare us for what we are going to be doing. The better prepared we are, the better we are going to be able to serve the Father and mankind in the Kingdom.
John 10:15 "As the Father knows Me, even so know I the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep."
John 10:17-18 "Therefore does My Father love Me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself [a voluntary offering]. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment I have received from My Father."
"I always do His will." The perfect sheep.
So with the turtledove, then, the understanding is that the death of the offering is seen as the work of the high priest, and mediator, I can add here, and thus Christ's intercessory work is emphasized for those who are weak. That is all of us. Those who are weak require more help, and not much is required of them. Here is a wonderful thing: God does not expect from us what we cannot deliver.
Now we are going to conclude the burnt offering with a series of scriptures, beginning in Hebrews 2.
Hebrews 2:16-18 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but he does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those [feed, take care of them] who are tempted.
President Clinton said, "I feel your pain." Oh balderdash! But Christ does. He truly does understand humanity and human nature.
I Peter 2:25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseers of your souls.
I want this verse more, because of the verse that I am going to give you now, and that verse that I am going to give you is one that you are well aware of:
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.
There is our goal. The same mind as Christ has needs to be our goal.
In the burnt offering, we see Jesus both as our representative and example. Representative, in a very real sense, that His offering was for us. Now let us look at a very interesting scripture in I John 4. Remember here, we are not talking about His crucifixion.
I John 4:17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment. . .
Judgment is now upon the household of God—"That we might have boldness in the day of judgment." Here is why:
I John 4:17 . . . because as He is [as Christ is], so are we in this world.
What this means is that we are accepted before God on the basis of His representative act on our behalf. Let me make this clear. In this case it is not on the basis of the forgiveness of sin. We are accepted before God on the basis of the life that Christ lived. If Christ had not lived the life that He did, His crucifixion would have been worthless!
So let us get things in order. First, He had to lay down His life in the way that He lived, and it was the way that He lived—sinlessly—that proved that there was no separation between Him and the Father. He was perfectly acceptable to the Father on the basis of His sinless life. No breaking of any commandment of God had ever occurred in His life, and so His sin—which was none—did not separate Him from God. That is what made His crucifixion worthwhile.
The crucifixion provides the payment for the penalty of our sin. It is the life that He lived that makes us acceptable to come into God's presence. One had to occur before the other was any value. And so God made sure, and Christ made sure as well, that He lived a perfect life first. First things first.
So we are accepted on the basis of the life that He lived, and when you come before the Father, you are accepted by Him as if you were Jesus Christ. That is pretty fantastic, because, "As He is, so are we," even while we are still in this world. Now what this means to you and me, let us say in the practical living of our life, is that if we are to be in His priesthood—remember, He is the High Priest of the Melchizedek priesthood—then we should be following His example of His devotion to God—totally devoted. Not a single thing held back in any aspect of His life. Always hard working, always uncomplainingly following, always harmless, innocent, pure, always a perfectly balanced leader. Nothing ever got out of control. Everything was governed by His determination to fulfill the will of the Father.
Now we are going to go on to the meal offering, and I just have about 7 or 8 minutes, and it will give me just a little bit of time here to lay a foundation for the next time that I give a sermon, and it will be on the meal offering.
The first thing I want you to notice in Leviticus 2, at least in the King James, is it is somewhat misnamed. In the King James this is called the meat offering.
Leviticus 2:1 And when anyone offers a grain offering to the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour. And he shall pour oil on it, and put frankincense on it.
There is nothing wrong with the word "meat," except that through the centuries since the King James was translated, the usage for the word has changed. Then the word meat simply meant food. Now the word meat means to us flesh that we fry, broil, or whatever. But what is intended by God is the word meal, or grain. And so this is a grain offering, or a meal offering. I will probably be using the term meal most frequently.
Leviticus 2:9 Then the priest shall take from the grain offering a memorial portion, and shall burn it on the altar. It is an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.
It too is a sweet savor, just like the burnt offering was, which means that there is no sin involved in the meal offering. Now again, it represents a man in perfect obedience, that is, Jesus Christ, giving God an offering which God accepts as being pleasing to Him. Secondly, note that the materials are different. Here we see a major difference. Fine flour (verse 1), oil, and frankincense. Now there is no animal there, so no life is given in the meal offering. This is its first major difference from the burnt offering. In the burnt offering, a man offers his life to God. In the meal offering, he is offering the fruits of the ground.
Genesis 1:29 And God said, "See, I have given you [mankind—Adam and Eve] every herb [all the vegetation] that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.
What this verse is showing is that portion of the earth that God allotted to man, showing that portion that God offered to man. In short it means its produce. Now if we combine this with our knowledge of the burnt offering with the meal offering, I think with the addition of one more verse we can see what this is all about between these two.
Now go to Genesis 9. This is right after the flood. Again, God is giving some specific directions here, and He says:
Genesis 9:4 But you shall not eat flesh [meat] with its life, that is, its blood.
A clear distinction. The fruit of the earth—vegetation, herbs, whatever you might want to call it—is man's portion; but life is God's. Man's life is what God has claimed as His part of the creation, and this points out why He did not want us to eat blood. It is because the life of the flesh is in the blood. And so the blood represents life—and that was God's.
So within the context of the offerings, life symbolizes what we owe God: the burnt offering—a completely devoted life. Now by contrast, the grain, the oil, and the frankincense—the fruit of the earth—symbolizes what we owe to man. What is our duty to God? The burnt offering. What is our duty to man? The second. So the surrender of our life, as it is being lived in devotion to God, is God's portion. The other is the fulfillment of our duty to our neighbor. Now I am going to give you a verse that sums these up very clearly:
Matthew 22:36-39 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' "This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"
The burnt offering represents our duty to God, and the keeping the perfect fulfillment of the first four commandments. The meal offering represents our duty to man, and its perfect fulfillment represents the perfect keeping of the last six of the Ten Commandments. In doing each one perfectly, we have fulfilled the Ten Commandments perfectly. Of course we understand not a single one of us has ever done it.
That is an overview of the meal offering, and that lays a groundwork from which we will build the next time around.