.To return to work page.

 

Query for the Month

of December 1999

Next up-date: January 1st 2000 (God willing).

 


Query:

Response:

Well, that's certainly thrown us in among the Old Testament ceremonies with a vengeance!

First of all, let us take note of the fact that ALL the ceremonies of the temple, and all the offerings, pointed to Jesus Christ, either personally, or had something to do with His work on earth and heaven. They are meant to be understood spiritually as well as physically so I will be jumping from one to the other in my attempt to answer this question.

And please remember that when the Spirit says "he" He also means "she".

*************

The BURNT sacrifice commenced with Adam and Eve when they were asked by God to kill a lamb as an acknowledgement that Jesus had died for them. Yes, that's right! Jesus is

Revelation 13:8

...the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

It is written:-

Genesis 3:21

Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

They killed the animal (as we all cause the death of Christ), then burnt the body of the animal on an altar made of stones. The skin was used by their Saviour to clothe them IN PLACE OF the fig leaves which they had put on when they discovered that after sinning they were no longer clothed in light.

Genesis 3:7

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

The leaves were their attempts to make themselves presentable before God, but our own works will never do. A later Christian likened this covering of the lamb skin to a wedding dress and mentioned that it was the gift of God.

Isaiah 61:10

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

That dress is also described in the judgment story told by Jesus. It is most important to be found wearing that clothing when our Father inspects us just before the wedding/judgment for it is sent out with the invitation and there is no excuse for not having it on.

Matthew 22:10-14

So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the King came in to see the guests, He saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and He says to him, "Friend, how came you in here not having a wedding garment?"

And he was speechless.

Then said the King to the servants, "Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." For many are called, but few are chosen.

*************

After some time, Adam and Eve passed on the knowledge of salvation and how it operates, to their two sons, Cain and Abel. When they were ready they came one day to show their appreciation of what Jesus had done for them. But as we all know, Cain decided to give his own works, "the fruit of the ground". But without the presence of blood the offering failed to show the picture of Jesus' death and could not be accepted.

Genesis 4:3-7

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the LORD.

And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect to Abel and to his offering: but to Cain and to his offering He had not respect.

And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? and why is your countenance fallen?"

"If you do well [by showing obedience to My request], shall you not be accepted? and if you do not well, sin lies at the door [of your heart]."

Thus Cain showed what he was like. He refused obedience and also denied that the animal represented his own "death", for the one animal represents both Saviour and sinner. We must "die", and offer our total life in consecration to God to fulfill the conditions of salvation.

These things were well understood by Cain but rejected by him.

*************

More time went by and during it Satan was able to persuade men that if God wanted a dead animal as a sign of repentance, then He would no doubt be very pleased with more than one. Thus Noah offered many burnt offerings when he was released from the ark.

Genesis 8:20-21

And Noah built an altar to the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in His heart, "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done."

God knew about the corruption of men's understanding, so He had arranged for Noah to take the extra one of all the clean animals with him into the ark. Genesis 7:2-3. But it was NOT what He wanted. ONE animal, ONCE in a lifetime is enough to show our understanding of the grace of Jesus Christ in Christianity. See Romans 6:10. Any more is a waste of life. But He must work with what He can get us to understand and so the ceremonies of the Old Testament are constantly marred with this misunderstanding of the character of our God.

Centuries later Satan had totally obscured the fact that the burnt offering represented two things. First the death of Jesus, and second the "death" of the offerer. This second "death" is referred to in Paul's letter to the new Roman Christians and pictures selflessness in action.

Romans 12:1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a LIVING sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

What God did then at the beginning of the church system with Abraham was to introduce another ceremony which clearly showed this. He came to Abram one day and requested circumcision, the cutting off a part of the human anatomy. Because Abram had showed his lack of faith during his experience with Hagar, this had a fitting symbolism.

Genesis 17:1-11

And when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, "I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be you perfect. And I will make [future tense] My covenant [agreement] between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly."

And Abram fell on his face [in wholehearted repentance]: and God talked with him, saying, "As for me, behold, My covenant is with you [present tense], and you shall be a father of many nations. Neither shall your name any more be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham [to show that a different man now existed]; for a father of many nations have I made you [just now]. And I will make you exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come out of you."

"And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your seed after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you, and to your seed after you. And I will give to you, and to your seed after you, the land wherein you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."

[To understand this statement, we need to read the following verse.

Romans 4:13

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

And God said to Abraham, "You shall keep My covenant therefore, you, and your seed after you in their generations. This is [the sign of] My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your seed after you; every man child among you shall be circumcised. And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant between Me and you."

What He was promising, and what Abraham and Paul (plus all the other genuine Christians of both Old and New Testaments knew) was that one day he would inherit the new world as the father of the faithful.

The removal of the sinful nature of men was now shown by the circumcision, while the understanding of the death of Jesus in the plan of salvation was continued by the burning of the animal (except its skin). See Leviticus 7:8.

Thus the "burnt" offering is the heart of the Christian message. The thief on the cross with Jesus saw the gift of God and in his heart accepted it. Luke 23:43-49. In this way he offered a "burnt" offering to his God. No other works are required. The belief that Christ can remove the "old man", the "old Adam", the "sin nature", (call it what you will) and replace it with His "life" is paramount to Christianity. It is this belief which is "counted unto righteousness".

Romans 4:9

"... for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness."

The "skin" in this picture represents our earthly body, and in the New Testament this is clearly left here on earth at the resurrection. See 1 Corinthians 15. The rest of our lives can be accepted and remodeled to be fit for the new kingdom, but this cannot.

***************

Before the Israelites left Egypt they went the through the ceremony of the Passover. Exodus 12. This consisted of eating a lamb which again represented Jesus. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8. This time the ritual showed the entrance of Jesus into the life of the offerer, a further step in the public revelation of the plan of salvation. The whole plan had been understood from the beginning in the days of Adam, but was continually being obscured by Satan. This necessitated the expanding of the details of it from time to time. However, before the ceremony it was impressed upon the people that EVERY one needed to be circumcised to show the removal. Otherwise the entrance of the new life would be pictured as being placed on top of the old! This could also show two natures at the same time! It would be like having two husbands at the same time. See Romans 7:2-3.

Exodus 12:43-49

And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the ordinance [law] of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: but every man's servant that is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. A foreigner and a hired servant shall not eat thereof."

"In one house shall it be eaten; you shall not carry forth ought [anything] of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall you break a bone thereof. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it."

"And when a stranger shall sojourn [live] with you, and will keep the passover to the LORD [and become a Christian], let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and to the stranger that sojourns among you."

To enable "strangers" or non-Jews to participate in the passover, the Lamb was chosen on the 10th day of the month but not killed until the 14th. Exodus 12:3-6. This time period permitted them to be circumcised and to recover. The striking of the blood on the door posts gave a clear picture of Jesus on the cross with His arms outstretched. Notice that this ceremony took place in the offerers' homes, not in the organised building. This tells us that every one who came to the sanctuary/temple was, in picture, a Christian with Christ dwelling in him/her.

**************

When the sanctuary services were expanded later, the burnt offering was the first one described in the book of the law. It could be an ox, a sheep or goat, or just a dove. What was given depended on the offerer - any one was accepted.

Leviticus 1:1-5

And the LORD called to Moses, and spoke to him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, If any man of you bring an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of the cattle, even 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 voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering [as a symbol of passing his life to the animal]; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him."

"And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation."

With it was associated the "meat" or "meal" offering of flour, oil and incense. Leviticus chapter 2. Here we are clearly shown that we cannot offer our lives without also promising our goods and abilities. Because there was no blood in this sacrifice it always had to be attached to a "burnt" offering. The priest who assisted in the offering took a handful of it to burn on the altar, to show the sincerity of the offerer. Verse 2. The rest became the property of the priest to use as he wished. Verse 3. Here we can see that when we offer our all to Jesus He will use some of it immediately, and keep the rest in reserve till required. Today that burnt portion is reflected in the first tithe of 10% given to support the public work of God, while the remainder stays with us till called on. But Christians know that it ALL belongs to God who gave it.

The next chapter in the book of the law (Leviticus 3) describes the "thank offering" in which a happy Christian takes an animal, ox, sheep or bird (depending on their knowledge and appreciation) and offers it to God. This also must be accompanied a "burnt" offering and a "meal" offering, for saying "thank You" without giving your life and possessions as well would be a sham, a complete lack of appreciation of what the death of Jesus really means.

This third offering has a distinct and separate meaning from the "burnt" offering. It had to be eaten by the offerer the day it was offered! Leviticus 7:15. It came complete with vegetables and extras so if the offering was a bullock then it was an enormous meal! Under certain circumstances it could be eaten on two days, but under no circumstances could any of it be kept till the third day. Leviticus 7:16-18.

Jesus helped us with our understanding of this problem when He told Simon:-

Luke 14:12-13

Then said He also to him that bade [invited] Him, "When you make a dinner or a supper, call not your friends, nor your brethren, neither your kinsmen, nor your rich neighbours; lest they also bid you again, and a recompense be made you. But when you make a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and you shall be blessed; for they cannot recompense you: for you shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."

In the same way, we need to collect around us a group of those who are less fortunate than ourselves to enable us to fulfill our obligation to God in the eating of the "peace" offering. If we are really happy or making a great promise and are offering a "bullock" then we will need a great many to share our delight. Of course, we may also invite the "Levite" [the Bible teacher] so that the guests may get a good understanding of what and why we are doing this.

If we attempt to eat of it on the third day we are simply denying that Jesus died on Friday, rested on the next day, and rose on the third day, Sunday, to commence a new stage in His life. Those who deny this, even though they may offer prayers to God will find that they are in fact, an "abomination" to Him.

*************

God knew that not all Christians would be able to come to the sanctuary/temple in Israel, for Christians are scattered in every nation and country in the world. He therefore made provision for a "burnt" sacrifice to be available 24 hours a day. He said to Moses:-

Exodus 29:38-43

Now this is that which you shall offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. The one lamb you shall offer in the morning [the 3rd hour 9am]; and the other lamb you shall offer at even [the 9th hour 3pm].

[Each one was kept burning until the next joined it.]

And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering. And the other lamb you shall offer at even, and shall do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire to the LORD.

This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there to you. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory [presence].

Those who could not make it to the courtyard, for whatever reason, had only to pray with the spirit of the offering in their mind and it was accepted. God is a spiritual Being and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. John 4:24. This does not stop us from literally obeying as well, as Jesus pointed out in His parable. Although we don't make animal sacrifices now, we are still to share our abilities and goods as the Spirit directs. And that's how we fulfill the law today. And that's how Jesus comes to us and talks with us.

**************

What about "sin" offerings?

Today we do the same for sin offerings as we do for the burnt offerings. We action them in spirit and in truth. We think and pray in accordance with the ritual directions given to Moses but replace the animal's death with the death of Jesus the Son of God. The Priest who assists us is Jesus our High Priest and the sanctuary/temple we refer to is the one in heaven which God built and not man. See Hebrews 8.

Not until more than 2,000 years had passed by in the world's history, and Moses and the people needed plain simple instruction did Jesus mention "sin" offerings. Then they came AFTER the three we have covered. Therefore they do not rate very highly in God's scheme of things. We should understand that He will NOT overlook them, but that they are revealed to us for our own good, not because He cannot live with them. I repeat, WE NEED the cleansing from our actions of sin AFTER we become Christians, but this is primarily to save our face in the new world. Another reason is to prove the word of God when He says that Christians need not sin. But so few professed Christians believe this that it is almost a non-issue today! However, God's word shows that this is due to change.

The thief on the cross was cleansed of all his PAST actions when he was recreated as a Christian and so are we. He did not go on and commit any further sins so he entered God's kingdom clean in God's sight. Unfortunately, and against all that our Father would have us understand, we as Christians so often commit sins in our Christian "walk" that we need many cleansings.

Jesus told His disciples on His last night on earth that they were "clean" but needed to have their "feet" washed. This was a picture. He/she who had washed in the public baths had to walk home on dusty roads. When he/she eventually got home all he/she needed was to wash his/her feet and he/she was clean all over. See John chapter 13.

The only sin that cannot be forgiven is the sin of refusing to be forgiven! This is usually described as the "unpardonable" sin, and is commonly manifested as seeing the Spirit of God as the agent of Satan, while at the same time accepting the leading of the Devil as the guidance of the Spirit. See Matthew 12:31.

In a few words, confusing One with the other because we prefer the methods of the latter.

Force has no place in the kingdom of love, but many professed Christians show by their actions that they think it does.

*************

Offerings for general sins of ignorance, accepted revelations of sins against the commands of God, accepted revelations of sins against our fellow humans (and other creatures) are detailed in Leviticus chapters 4-6. Chapter 6 deals specifically with already known and deliberate (willful) sins against our fellows such as robbery with violence. Various ways of dealing with the sin (for each confession must be specific to the very sin for which forgiveness is being sought), are set out in these chapters. We must know what we are like and what we are asking forgiveness for. It is NOT sufficient for a Christian to come to God and say, "LORD, I am a sinner, please forgive me". That is OK for a non-Christian to say BEFORE conversion or rebirth, but every Christian needs to know the where, how and why of their sinful behaviour.

Also set out these chapters are the various ways in which Jesus deals with these sin problems. Basically there are two methods. One in which the human priest eats the animal offered (or at least a significant portion of it) thus showing that Jesus (our High priest) now carries the load for us.

The other is that the blood of the animal is taken into the first room of the sanctuary/temple and sprinkled on the prayer altar and on the ground. This shows that God has heard and seen our offering through the death of Christ, and accepted it.

What happens after that is another subject and if anyone wants to hear about it, I would be happy to discuss it some other time.

 

Conclusion:

"Burnt" offerings and "sin" offerings serve two very different purposes. The first group are the grateful responses of one who has become a Christian through the pass over experience. The others are a duties imposed on Christians by the Spirit of God to enable them to actively carry out the wishes of their Saviour and stand before their fellowmen as object lessons of the power of the gospel.


Spiritual Dictionary:

Sacrifices and Offerings:

"Burnt" offerings and "sin" offerings serve two very different purposes. The first group are the grateful responses of one who has become a Christian through the pass over experience. The others are a duties imposed on Christians by the Spirit of God to enable them to actively carry out the wishes of their Saviour and stand before their fellowmen as object lessons of the power of the gospel.


Next thought. To be discussed from January 1st 2000.