Leviticus 1:1-3

The Burnt Sacrifice - Part 1

All sermons preached by the webmaster may be freely copied, printed and distributed. We ask only that the site name and homepage URL be included in all copies distributed. Thankyou. This sermon was preached on Sunday 13/05/01 Am, by Kevin Matthews. It was the first part of a two part series. This was a Sunday on which the Lord's Supper was celebrated.



Our focus this morning turns to the Book of Leviticus, and in particular to the burnt offering and sacrifice of Leviticus One. Now this may seem to you to be a little out of place on a day in which we observe the Lordís Supper, for what would an Old Testament sacrifice have to do with that? I mean, isnít Leviticus just a little old hat for us today, especially the sacrifices?

The thing that needs to be noted here, is that when we observe the Lordís Supper, we are in a manner looking back to the time of Christís life upon the earth, and what He accomplished by His life and death here for sinners. This is especially so for the individual sinner who partakes of the Lordís Supper, who in large part bears testimony to all, that what Christ achieved there was for him/her personally.

Here in Leviticus we see almost the same thing, for in participating in these sacrifices, the Israelite was in fact also looking to the time of Christ, the difference being that he looked forward, while we look back. The burnt offering and sacrifice was a shadow or type of Godís way for sinners to approach Him.

So you see a study of the Old Testament sacrifices is not really that far removed from our observance of the Lordís Supper at all, though they most certainly are very different from what we participate in in our observance of the Lordís Supper.


1. Approaching God Godís Way

As we read earlier in Exodus 40:34-38, the Tabernacle of Meeting was the place of Godís special presence among the people of Israel. It was here that God and the people would come together, and where they would commune and spend time with each other. Here God would speak to the people and the people would listen. Here at the central place of Israelite life in the wilderness, the people could bring their various offerings to the Lord, and thereby draw near to God.

'And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock (Lev 1:1,2).'

In this passage God commissions Moses to teach the people the correct method of approaching Him. They were not to come in just any manner whatsoever. If man is to enjoy the nearness of God, and draw near to Him, then man is not the one who draws up the rules for his approach. There was to be no referendum within Israel to decide the best manner of approach to God, for God Himself imposed it upon them through the instrumentality of Moses. The way of approach to God was to be through the various offerings, because it was these that illustrated the way that God would bring sinners close to Himself and allow them back into fellowship with Him.

The word offering that is used in this passage is a general term that includes any sort of offering at all. In the Old Testament an offering was that which the Old Testament worshipper brought in order to draw near to God, enabling him to enjoy the nearness of God among the people, and with him/her personally. If he wanted to have anything to do with God at all, he needed to bring an offering, for it was by way of these offerings that the way to God became open to them.

If offerings were to be acceptable to God then they must be made in conformity to Godís directions. These directions were not to be tampered with or changed to suit manís circumstances in any way. God gave His directions in order that they be followed, so that men may in fact enjoy the nearness and presence of God, and be able to have a relationship with God. God didnít leave man guessing as to how he should approach Him, but made the way clear to him through Moses His prophet.

And there is really no difference in approaching God today, for it is still God who lays down the necessary directions for sinful man to approach His presence. It is not you or I who draw up the rules for drawing near to God. It is not the pastorís role, it is not a bishopís role, and it is not the popeís role - It is Godís role and His alone.

Yet there are many who think they can make up there own rules as to how they may approach God and enter into His presence. Some approach by doing what they consider to be good things, and others by what they consider to be holy and religious things. There are others who just think certain things about God, who form a certain image of what they want God to be like, and then direct their lives accordingly. Then there are those who are happy to just approach God in any old way they see fit, as long as they approach Him. There are just so many ways to approach God today, for today is the day of the many ways to God philosophy.

But one thing can be said in response to all these ways, and that is - useless. They are all useless! ĎBut such and such is so genuine and so sincere.í Maybe so, but that approach is still useless, and God will not accept it. ĎBut such and such has done so much for the Lord and so many good things for others.í If that is the way they attempt to approach God, then it is still useless. How can fallen sinful humanity dictate to God in any manner whatsoever, how even one person may approach the Almighty, who is a consuming fire and unable to look upon evil? I tell you that such thinking is just foolishness, and all man-made approaches useless.

When the people of Israel were in the wilderness and worshipped the golden calf, they were sincere too, and it wasnít because they sought after some other God that their approach was rejected, for they sought to approach the very God who had brought them out of Egypt. Do you know were they went wrong and why they were rejected? They went wrong by approaching God in a manner that was outside of the directions He had given, and so God rejected their approach. They arrogated to themselves the way they would draw near to God, constructing their very own method, which is the very same thing that so many people do today.

Yes, they sought God sincerely and wholeheartedly, but they did not approach by the way that God had directed them. It matters not whether you are Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul, or John Doe Smith if your approach is other than what God directs, both it and you will be rejected.

My friends, if you attempt to approach God outside of the manner that He has directed, then your approach is also useless, and it is unacceptable to God. You are just like the people of Israel approaching through the golden calf. Do you realise that? It matters not that you are genuine and sincere, for you approach in a manner that God has not directed, and therefore God will reject both your approach and you. God is a God who is concerned about detail, and if you wonít follow his detailed directions, then you might as well not even bother approaching, for your approach will be rejected.

Sinner, think upon this, are you sure that the way you approach God is in conformity to His directions? Are you certain? This is not something that you want to be wrong about. Your approach to God must be on His terms, or in the end He will say to you, Ďdepart from Me, for I have never known you.í Donít fool about with this, for you must come by Godís way, or itís no way.

As we consider this passage and indeed each of these sacrifices in Leviticus in turn, consider carefully the right way of approach to God as you are told about it. Indeed, do more than consider it, approach by that way also. Cast off any other way, and approach God by His way alone. I tell you, there is no other way but by this way - Godís way!

What we see here in the burnt offerings and sacrifices of Leviticus One is the shadow of the reality. Coming up ahead in the history of Israel is the accomplishment and fulfillment of what these offerings and sacrifices pointed to. It is this future accomplishment that enabled an approach to God to be even made at all in Mosesí day. Godís way of approach through these offerings and sacrifices was to paint a picture of how a person can truly approach Him, pointing people forward to the only way of approaching God.

We are going to return to this idea in more detail later, but suffice to say for the moment that this is why attention to detail in the directions given by God was so important. To be an accurate picture, the details of the reality had to be accurately illustrated and upheld in these offerings and sacrifices. These directions said something, indicating a number of things, and these we are going to look at in coming points.

But these directions also indicated something else. These offerings and sacrifices not only pointed to something, they also demonstrated something, and that was a personal participation in the future accomplishment by the exercise of faith. So if you missed the right approach in the picture here, then you also missed the right approach in the reality there. So you see the importance of approaching God Godís way, for if you donít come GodĎs way then there is no successful approach at all.


2. Selecting and Bringing the Offering

Now lets go a little deeper into the passage and consider just what was being indicated and demonstrated through these offerings and sacrifices. To begin with we want to consider the selection of the offering. Just what were the Israelites to bring for a burnt offering? We see that God gives clear direction as to what may be offered to Him.

Firstly, the offering was to come from the personís own herd or flock, Ďye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock (1:2b).í Direction is then given throughout the chapter as to what exactly this meant for the people. We see from verse three that the offering could come from the herd, from verse ten that it could be a sheep or a goat from the flock, and then from verse fourteen that it could even be a turtledove or young pigeon.

The addition of the offering of birds in verse fourteen is to allow the poorer people also the right to approach God by His appointed means, a point which we see in connection with the trespass offering in chapter five of Leviticus. ĎAnd if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the LORD; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering (Lev 5:7).í

This way of approaching God was to be open to all the people, not just to the rich, and this is an important point, for the burnt sacrifice pointed forward to the way of approaching God for all people. It pointed forward to the day when all the ends of the earth were to come to God.

Godís way of approach is not just for those who are rich, it is also for those who are poor. It is not just open to those who are European, but for all tribes, tongues and nations. Sinner, this way of approach is open to you, if only you would approach God by this way. Wonít you come by Godís way; it is open for you. Listen and hear of the way to come, and then come sinner, come.

There were to be no exceptions given for the Israelite in his approach to God. The bringing of anything else as an offering meant that it would no longer be considered as a true burnt offering to God, for it would be outside of that which constituted a burnt offering to God. Sincerity of heart or not, it would not count.

What the offerer brought as an offering must be within these requirements, either of the herd, the flock, or a turtledove or pigeon that belonged to the offerer. The offering had to be one of these, and also be one with which the offerer could identify, as something that meant something to him.

It had to be his own, something with which he could identify, for again, the burnt offering pointed forward to that which was foreshadowed by the burnt sacrifice. That which is foreshadowed by the burnt offering is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who belonged to that race of men for whom He came to save. Godís means of approach for the sinner was through One who was exactly like them, except without sin. He came to His own, but His own did not recognize Him.

Where the shadow failed, the Lord Jesus Christ succeeded, for He was perfectly identified with man, and sinful man could perfectly identify with Him. Christ is a Man as we, who has suffered as we, who sought to obey as we, yet actually did so. Here is a sacrifice that sinners can identify with, whom we can own as our own sacrifice, as the one perfectly able to fulfil the directions of God. He is the one we are able to bring before God and own as the sacrifice for our sin, the one with whom we can fully identify - He is Man as I am man.

Sinner, will you take this Jesus as your sacrifice, as the one whereby you are able to approach the Living God acceptably? Here is the way of a right approach to God, of a right drawing near to Him, even the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He is the means whereby man can enter into a relationship with God. ĎLook unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else (Is 45:22)!í

Secondly, ĎIf his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish (Lev 1:3a);' 'And if his offering be of the flocks, namely, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt sacrifice; he shall bring it a male without blemish (Lev 1:10).í For the offering to be acceptable to God, it must be a male without blemish, and that meant with no defects whatsoever.

' Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the LORD for a burnt offering; Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats. But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you. And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein. Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the LORD, nor make an offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the LORD (Lev 22:22).'

Anything brought to be sacrificed that was found to have any defect or blemish at all could not be sacrificed, and was to be rejected.

Here again we see the Lord Jesus Christ foreshadowed in the burnt offering and sacrifice, for He is the one who was without sin and able to be offered unto God as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of others.

Sinner, donít come bearing any other offering or sacrifice to God in order to draw near to Him, for there is no other good enough to bear the price of sin. There is sin in all, defect upon defect, but in Christ you have 'For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor 5:21).í

Who can draw near to the God who is Ďof purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity (Hab 1:13a)?í You who are polluted with sin right to your innermost being, throughout all that you are, cannot even hope to draw near to God. Yet here is a perfect sacrifice, one that is of infinite value to be offered up for your sin. Oh sinner, here is your means for drawing near the thrice holy God, it is Jesus.

Thirdly, the burnt offering was not to be something that was not forced upon a person, for ' he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD (Lev 1:3b).' The offering was to be something that he himself wanted to bring as an indication of his own desire to approach God and to be near Him. The sinner was not to be forced to bring this sacrifice by Moses or the priests, for he had to freely bring it of his own volition. He himself must desire to be near to God.

This too sinner you see in the Lord Jesus Christ, for He will not force Himself upon you at all. You must choose Him for yourself, you must take Him, and you must offer Him as the sacrifice for your sins by faith.

Wonít you take this offering and this sacrifice for yourself, for He is freely offered to you, and you will then have a sacrifice that will be acceptable to God? Take Him while you may, and you will have life. If you would come to God by the Lord Jesus Christ, then you may certainly come.

Fourthly, the offering was to be offered at the door of the Tabernacle of meeting before the Lord, for ĎIf 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 (Lev 1:3).í

By bringing the offering to the doorway of the tabernacle of meeting, the offerer was acknowledging that this was in order to approach God and to come near to Him. The person was acknowledging that, Ďyes, there is sin between God and I, and I need this future sacrifice that is illustrated and foreshadowed by the burnt offering that I bring.í

In order to approach God the sinner must first appear at the altar at the doorway to the tabernacle of meeting. To approach God, there must be between the sinner and Almighty God this offering. In other words, the acceptance of the offerer was all tied up with the offering itself, yet not this offering but that which it foreshadowed. If the offering was rejected, so too was the offerer; if the offering was accepted, then so too was the offerer.

Today we gather to observe the Lordís Supper, and in doing so we proclaim to the world the death of the Lord Jesus Christ till He comes. We acknowledge together, that between God and us stands this now realised promise. The Lord Jesus Christ is the burnt offering that Ďentereth into that within the veil (Heb 6:19b).í We now are in the presence of God because of the sacrifice of Christ offered up to God, and we are able to enjoy His company.

Oh sinner saved by grace in the Lord Jesus Christ, how the burnt sacrifice shows us the wonder of what Christ has accomplished for us, ĎIn whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him (Eph 3:12).í The burnt sacrifice very graphically illustrates that which we remember today, the Lord Jesus Christ as the perfect sacrifice for sin, and how the Lord Jesus Christ has brought us near to God.

Next week we continue our consideration of the burnt offering, and see the wonder of Godís means of bringing us near to Him. Amen

The Burnt Sacrifice Part 2:


UPDATED: 19 April 2014


Sermons - Leviticus

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