Leviticus 1 – the Law of Burnt Offerings

The blood atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ was foreshadowed in the Scriptures beginning in Genesis 3:21 when God clothed Adam and Eve in animal skins after their sin to cover their nakedness. What the animal skins did in the natural realm Jesus’ death and resurrection did for us in the spiritual realm. Which means covering our soul’s nakedness.  The imputation of the righteousness of Christ is this eternal spiritual covering.

Clearly, the shedding of blood is a significant topic with its purpose and application codified in the Law of Moses. This brings us to Leviticus initially to discuss the offerings that shed of blood.

Let’s begin with Leviticus 1 and it’s brief discussion of a burnt offering. The Baker encyclopedia of the Bible says burnt offerings are a form of Israelite sacrifice in which a choice animal is offered to make atonement for sin and was completely consumed by fire (Lv 1).1

Other purposes of the burnt offering are, according to Philip Shaff,  so man can draw near to God who is holy. It is seen fundamentally as a gift to God, either in thanksgiving for his goodness or for atonement for sin. As it was burned the offering in essence ascended to God and was pleasing in His sight.2

The following is a summary of the details of Leviticus 1 as the Chapter discusses the selection of the animal to be offered and the process of it’s offering. One point to notice in general is the exacting specificity recorded. This would demonstrate a character trait of the Lord: He wants it done His way.  Since He is so detailed then Holy Scripture is, as was written previously, exclusively written and therefore compatible with Jesus’ declaration that He is the only way to the Father.

Leviticus 1

To perform the rite of a burnt offering an animal is brought from the herd or flock [vs 2]

If it is an offering for a burnt offering he shall take a male without defect and offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting [vs 3].  The definition of the Tent of Meeting  is a tent pitched by Moses outside the Israelite camp in the wilderness. There Moses met with God and others would enquire of the Lord. God’s presence was shown there by a pillar of cloud. It seems to predate the construction and setting up of the tabernacle, after which, the term became synonymous with the tabernacle. 3

He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering that it may be acceptable to God and be an atonement for him. [4]

He shall slay the young bull before the Lord and then Aaron’s sons the priest shall offer up the blood and sprinkle the blood around the altar that is at the doorway of the tent of meeting [5]

He shall then skin the burnt offering and cut it into pieces [6].

The sons of Aaron shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire [7]

The Aaron’s sons arrange the pieces of the burnt offering, the head and suet, over the wood which is on the fire that is on the altar. [8]

It’s entrails and legs he shall wash with water  and the priest shall offer it up in smoke all of it on the altar for a burnt offering which is an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord. [9]

If the offering is from the flock of sheep or goats he shall offer a male without defect. [10] He shall slay it on the side of the altar northward before the Lord and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle its blood around the altar. [11] He shall then cut it into pieces with its head and suet and the priest shall arrange them on the wood which is on the fire that is on the altar. [12] The entrails and legs he shall wash with water and the priest shall offer all of it up in smoke on the altar; it is burnt offering and offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord.

But if his burnt offering is of birds then he shall bring his offering from the turtle doves or young pigeons. [14] The priest shall wring off its head and offer it up in smoke on the altar and its blood is to be drained out on the side of the altar [15] He shall takes its crop and feathers and cast them to the east side of the altar the place of ashes. Then he shall tear its wings but not sever them. Then the priest shall offer the bird up in smoke on the altar on the wood which is on the fire: it is a burnt offering, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord. [16]

In summary there are four animals that can be offered for a burnt offering:

Bull, sheep or goat and bird.

The process of the offering for a bull, sheep or goat is:

The worshipper brings the animal to the tent of meeting, lays his hands on the head of the animal and then slays it.  The priest then takes the blood from the animal to sprinkle the blood on the altar.

  1. The worshipper brings an animal from the herd or flock.
  2. If the animal is from the herd it shall be a male without defect offered at the door of the Tent of Meeting. If from the flock is shall be a male without defect offered at the north side of the altar.
  3. He lays his hand on the head of the animal that it be acceptable and an atonement
  4. He shall slay the young bull before the Lord.
  5. Aaron’s sons the priest shall offer up the blood and sprinkle the blood around the altar that is at the doorway of the tent of meeting [5]
  6. He shall then skin the burnt offering and cut it into pieces [6].
  7. The sons of Aaron shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire [7]
  8. Aaron’s sons arrange the pieces of the burnt offering, the head and suet, over the wood which is on the fire that is on the altar. [8]
  9. It’s entrails and legs he shall wash with water  and the priest shall offer it up in smoke all of it on the altar for a burnt offering which is an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord. [9]

The offering of the bird

  1. bird brought to the altar
  2. wring off its head
  3. offer it up in smoke on the altar
  4. its blood drained out on the side of the altar
  5. crop with feathers taken away and cast it beside the altar eastward to the place of ashes
  6. wings torn but not severed
  7. bird offered up in smoke on the altar on the wood on the fire
  8. it is a burnt offering; an offering by fire and a soothing aroma to the Lord.

The goal today was to see the specific list of actions taken to properly offer the burnt offering to God. The next post will further discuss the uses of the burnt offering.

 

1 Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (p. 389). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

2 Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

3 Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.


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