Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sacrifice and Offering

“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and
without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”

-Hebrews 9:22

                The book of Leviticus is full of laws that God told Moses to give to His people. It draws its name from the Levites. The tribe of Levi was one of the twelve tribes of Israel and they performed the religious functions in ancient Israel. After the people of Israel were led out of Egypt, the firstborn of all men and animals were turned over to God.  The Levites were in charge of offerings. When the Promised Land was divided among the tribes, the Levites did not get a whole territory but received cities in each territory to maintain the tabernacle.  The first religious laws set down in Leviticus are the giving of offerings to God through priests. They were designed to bridge the gap between a holy God and a sinful man.  There were five main types of offerings.

                The burnt offering (Leviticus 1; 6:8-13; 8:18-21; 16:24) is the first offering mentioned, was a sacrifice for wrongdoing. The price was a male bull, lamb or goat, or a young pigeon or dove. The animal had to be perfect without defect. If the person could not afford an animal he could offer tenth of an ephah of fine flour. After presenting the animal, the sinner would place his two hands on the animal and therefore, it was accepted as a sin offering. This act, in essence, transferred the sin from the human to the animal. They would kill the animal and then the priest took over. The priest would bleed the animal and cut it up ceremonially. They sprinkled the blood on the altar and then they washed the internal organs and legs. The whole animal would be burned on over wood on the altar and the aroma was said to be pleasing to the Lord. 

“He washed the inner parts and the legs with water and burned the
whole ram on the altar as a burnt offering, a pleasing
aroma, an offering made to the Lord by fire, as the Lord commanded Moses.”

-Leviticus 8:21

                The grain offering (Leviticus 2) was meant for voluntary worship and thanks. The grain was ground into flour and it could be put into bread or cakes. Olive oil and incense were added to it by the priests and yeast and honey were forbidden. The grain baked grain offerings had to be sprinkled with salt and a small portion was burnt on the altar.

                The fellowship offering (Leviticus 3; 7:11-34) was a voluntary at of worship, thanks, and fellowship. Any clean, perfect animal, male or female, could be offered. If it was an offering of thankfulness, then cakes and bread both with and without yeast and mixed with oil were also to be offered. This offering was to be eaten as well. The offering was presented at the gate of the tent and the blood was sprinkled on all sides of the offering. The internal organs, fat, and liver were burned as a food offering. Whatever was left after two days that wasn’t eaten was to be burned, or else the offering wasn’t accepted.

                The sin offering (Leviticus 4:1-5:13; 6:24-30; 8:14-17; 16:3-22) was for when some unintentionally sinned and then recognized that sin. There were different rules for a priest, a whole community, a leader, and a member of the community. There were also different rules for different sins. If you were guilty of premeditated transgression and infraction, the offerings didn’t help you. Priests and whole communities had to bring a young bull while a leader had to offer a male goat. A member of the community had to bring a female goat or lamb without defect. If the people could not afford the animals, they could offer two doves or pigeons-one for a sin offering and one for a burnt offering-or a tenth of an ephah of fine flour. The blood was sprinkled on the altar and at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The fat, kidneys, and liver were burned on the altar. The hide, flesh, head, legs, inner parts, and offal were burnt outside of the camp in a place ceremonially clean.

                The guilt offering or repayment offering (Leviticus 5:14-6:7; 7:1-6) was for doing something against God, like holding back your tithe, or in regards to someone else’s possession. A ram or lamb was brought to be sacrificed and the debt would be paid, plus an additional twenty percent.

                Eventually, these offering were no longer enough. They would give these offerings but then continue to live their sinful ways. You see, it’s like how it’s not enough to go to church on Sundays but then live sinfully the rest of the week. Or even to just pray to God when we need something and then forget Him the rest of the time. We’re supposed to give God 100 percent of us-not 80 percent or 50 percent or 20 percent.

“The multitude of your sacrifices-what are they to me?’ says the Lord. ‘I have more than
enough burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no
pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats…stop bringing meaningless
offerings!...Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves cleans. Take your evil
deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!”

-Isaiah 1:11…13…15-17

                God gave His people a chance to repent and change their ways. They still chose to disobey His decrees and commandments. Therefore, He separated himself from them and when they cried to Him, He did not listen.

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so
that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt.”

-Isaiah 59:2-3

“You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until wickedness was
found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and
you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O
guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.”

-Ezekiel 28:15-16

                You might think that this means that God does not love. This doesn’t mean that God didn’t love them still though. What He wanted them to do was repent and bring glory to His name. You may say God is selfish, but He’s not. He created all things-He created you. He has every reason to be praised and glorified. You wouldn’t be sitting where you are right now reading this if it weren’t for Him. Because God loved us, He sent His son to earth to pay for our sins on the cross (John 3:16; Isaiah 53:5). He wants us to have a way to have a relationship with Him and that was possible only through Jesus.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

-John 14:6

                Through Jesus we were reunited to God. He is the bridge we needed to draw closer to God. He was the final blood sacrifice for all mankind, covering all generations (Hebrews 9:26-28). He is worth more than any animal sacrifice or the annual blood sacrifice that the priests would offer. They offered blood that was not theirs, which was meant to be a reminder of how they should live. Jesus came through a holy place (Hebrews 9:11-12).

“The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are
ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will
the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God,
cleanse out consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”

-Romans 9:13-14

                His crucifixion brought an end to the blood sacrifices that were once required. Hebrews 10:5-7 says that God didn’t desire sacrifices and offerings nor was He pleased with burnt offerings and sin offerings. There is only one sacrifice that we can give to Him, and that is our bodies as His temple. We are to give our time and our will to God so that we can find everlasting life.

“…and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

-Matthew 10:38-39

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