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This sermon was preached on Sunday 27/05/01 Am, by Kevin Matthews. It was the second part of a two part series.
This morning we consider the remaining verses regarding the burnt offering and sacrifice of Leviticus One. Last time we considered two main points, the first was approaching God God’s way and we saw a number of things in connection with that first point.
We saw that all attempts to approach God outside of His directions are pointless, for all such approaches will be rejected. These sacrifices needed to be carried out accurately because they pointed forward to a sacrifice that was the reality. These offerings and sacrifices were only a foreshadow of the true way of approaching God.
If these offerings and sacrifices were changed in any way, then no matter what it was that these people did, it would not be a true representation of the reality to come, and would in fact lead people away from a true understanding of how to approach God. If they missed it here, they missed it there. This would be not only an intellectual blunder, but an everlasting and soul-damning error as well, for participation in these offerings and sacrifices demonstrated a participation in the reality by faith. It was not these offerings and sacrifices that enabled the Israelite to approach God, but that of which they were symbolic of, and which they looked forward to by faith.
This we began to understand last time, for we also briefly considered a number of things regarding what was represented in the selection of an offering and in the bringing of the victim for the burnt offering and sacrifice. We saw firstly, that Christ was foreshadowed as the sacrifice with which men could truly identify. Secondly, we saw that Christ was foreshadowed as the perfect and sinless sacrifice for sin. Thirdly, we saw that Christ was foreshadowed as man’s free will offering for sin; and fourthly, that Christ was foreshadowed as the One through whom sinful man must go in order to approach the Father and enjoy a relationship with Him.
Now that in summary was what we looked at in our last message on Leviticus 1. We now turn to today’s consideration of the passage.
‘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 (Lev 1:3).’
When the Israelite brought his offering to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, he was actually indicating to all that he was serious about his desire to approach God and to enjoy a relationship with Him. He recognized that there was a need for atonement, that there was a need to have his sin removed if he was to enter into, and enjoy a continuing relationship with God.
How could he, one polluted by sin approach the holy God without his sin being first removed? It could not be done, for his God is a consuming fire, with eyes that cannot look upon evil. No man, woman or child can enter into the presence of Almighty God stained with sin. Even the slightest sin is enough to leave a person condemned before God and cast out of His presence.
Do you dare come with your many sins? Dear ones it cannot be done, for if you roll up on the last great day in your sin you will find no place for you before the Lord. You will be cast out into that place of‘ everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt 25:41b).’ If you desire to approach God then you must come God’s way, a way foreshadowed and represented in the offerings and sacrifices of the Old Testament.
So we see the Israelite bring his offering for a burnt sacrifice, looking not so much to his bull, sheep, goat, turtledove or pigeon as the means whereby his sin will be removed, but to the one that in this ritual the creatures foreshadowed. By bringing this offering, he was saying that he looked forward by faith to that greater offering and sacrifice for the removal of his sin, and as the reason why he could approach God.
He may not have been sure as to just what exactly was foreshadowed, but the true Israelite knew that the reality was coming, and in that reality would be the forgiveness of his sin. He knew that in that reality was the reason why he could enter into a real and meaningful relationship with His God then.
Now sinner, you in this present age are not to look forward to the reality, but back to that same reality that the Israelite looked forward to by faith. You need to look back to the Lord Jesus Christ, for He said‘ I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (Jn 14:6).’ In other words the only way to successfully approach God is through Jesus.
You can forget approaching Him by all other methods, it is Jesus alone to whom you must go, for it is He who has the words of eternal life.
The Israelite, he didn’t dream up his own method of approach, he didn’t decide that his way was as good as any other way, he never made up his own means of acceptance with God, for all these would be unacceptable - it was God’s way or no way! My friend, if you would approach God this morning, if you would be a member of that everlasting kingdom, then you must come the right way, the Jesus way.
‘And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him (Lev 1:4).’
The Israelite would then place his hand on the creature, and again this part of the ritual indicated a number of things also. In this he was acknowledging that he was a sinner in need of someone else to take his sin away. If he was not to suffer for his own sin, then someone else must take that punishment for him. The hand on the offering indicated that this was the one who would stand in his place to pay the penalty for his sin. Not the sacrifice itself, but the one symbolically typified in the sacrifice - yes, even Christ Himself.
‘For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb 10:1-10).’
There was also an acknowledgment in this of what the sinner truly deserved. He confessed as it were, that he was such a sinner that he deserved to face the death of a sinner, and that that punishment was due to him. As this creature would die, so he deserved to die. Without this stand in, or what we call a substitute, the sinner would indeed die the death of the wicked.
My friends if you want to approach God in order to live before Him, then you too need to acknowledge your sin before Him. You need to admit that ‘yes, what God says about me in His Word is true. I am guilty of sin, and the death of the wicked is all that I can expect as my just desert. Lord, if I am to live I need a Substitute to step in and take the penalty for me, otherwise I justly perish.’
Have you acknowledged your sin, have you confessed to the Almighty that you are indeed the guilty one? Until such time my friend, you have no right to approach the Heavenly Father. The heavens will be like an impenetrable shield to your prayers, for you are still recognized as the enemy of God, and there will be no words of peace passing between God and yourself. Sinner, you have a problem that must be acknowledged, or you will never arrive at the right approach to God.
You are a condemned sinner, completely corrupted by sin. There is no need to try and hide the ugliness of your sin from God, He knows that it is there, and He has provided the means whereby you can be free of its burden. Just go to Him sinner, confess your sin and place your hand by faith upon the Substitute for sinners. There is room enough for you still to put your hand on Him, for He will willingly stand for all that come to Him by faith.
The symbolic gesture of the hand upon the offering represented the sins of the offerer being transferred to the offering, and that this offering was now bearing the guilt of that sin, and would suffer the punishment due for that sin. The offerer no longer carried the guilt and was no longer required to pay the penalty for it. The Israelite was saying that, ‘this creature has a connection with me. I lay up my whole case upon this creature.’
In other words, the offering or sacrifice became a substitute for the sinner, upon which all the sins of the offerer were transferred. The offering was not the one guilty of the sin, but yet it became responsible for taking the punishment of that sin. The Israelite threw his whole confidence upon the One foreshadowed by the sacrifice, one whom He did not know fully, as being the One in whom he banked on for eternity.
We see an example of this transfer of guilt in the Day of Atonement scapegoat,‘And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness (Lev 16:21,22)’
This transfer of sin is what we call imputation. The sin is reckoned as belonging to the sacrifice even though it was the offerer who actually committed the sin. It’s like a bank account transfer, where one’s whole account is transferred to the account of another. One has become free of the guilt of sin, the other now bearing the full blame of it.
This friends is a picture of the reality, the way of approaching God is foreshadowed in this ritual, for Jesus is the true Substitute Sin-Bearer. If your sins are to be forgiven, if you are to enjoy a right relationship with God, and if you are to enter into the Celestial City, then you had better be sure that Jesus is your Substitute. You must be certain that He‘who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor 5:21)’ has become sin for you, that Christ has stood for you as your sacrifice for sin, and that He has stood in your stead, bearing the wrath of God in your place.
If not, then sin remains, and you remain in your sin, and you must then suffer the just punishment for sin yourself in the place of everlasting torment. But the good news is that there is a Substitute for sinners, and He is willing to stand for you, if only you will offer Him up as your sacrifice by faith.
The Israelite exercised faith in Christ through the laying on of hands upon that which represented Him and he thereby gained a Substitute. You must also exercise faith in Christ by resting in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, taking hold of that sacrifice on the cross as being your sole confidence for the forgiveness of your sin and your right of approach to God,‘For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom 10:13).’
Would you be one of the whoever in those verses? Then cast your sole confidence, your entire faith, and your whole trust upon the Lord Jesus Christ as your Substitute and Offering for sin. You must bank in Him alone, as the sole investment you make for eternity. You must not invest in the bank of merit, or that bank of religion, but only in the bank of Jesus Christ.
As the offerer was indicating that he wanted a relationship with God, and that through this offering he expected to be able to have one, so you sinner through Christ Jesus can be sure you will have a relationship with God. This is the one sole way of entering such a relationship. Come by this way and you will have it.
Please Read Leviticus 1:5-9
What can be said of all this elaborate ritual involved in the actual killing and burning of the offering? Well, we have seen that this offering was sacrificed before the Lord. This probably indicates the satisfaction of divine justice and wrath in the punishment of sin. Almighty God watched, as it where, over the sacrificing of the animal, making sure that His justice and wrath were satisfied in the punishment of the substitute.
What a dreadful picture of pain and suffering is exhibited in this picture of the future reality. Here the fire indicating the punishment of sin, and possibly underscoring the eternal punishment that awaits sinners who have no substitute sin offering. How sin will indeed be punished, there being no escape from the Omnipresent Sovereign Lord.
To many Hell is the figment of religious imagination, but to the Bible it is the place of eternal punishment. It waits for the wicked as a gaping mouth to devour the wicked, and all who remain at death unrepentant will be swept into it. Sinner you already walk the rim, soon death will come and your footing will give way, and you will be in Hell fire forever.
The skinning and cutting of the body into pieces probably indicates the great agony and suffering that comes with the punishment for sin. We see a foreshadow of the torment due the sinner for his sin. What a terrible place it will be, with continual torment and no respite, where there will be‘weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt 8:12b),' ' for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched (Is 66:24b).’ It will never end sinner, will you go here for want of a Substitute to bear away your sin?
Oh sinner, are you ready for this place? When death sweeps you into the realm of the everlasting, it is this that awaits you. Why would you perish like this sinner when you don’t have to? ‘What do I mean I don’t have to? Is there a way for even I to escape?’ Yes, yes there is!
You see, this picture painted in the burnt sacrifice is a foreshadow, it is symbolic of that great way of escape from the wrath of God. An escape which takes the sinner far away from this place of suffering, for there is one who has gone in the sinner’s stead.
Not only do we see the punishment of sin foreshadowed in the burnt sacrifice, but we also see the punishment of the Substitute for sin foreshadowed. Yes it is Jesus, broken for sinners, taking the wrath of God upon Himself that sinners might be spared the eternal punishment destined for the wicked.
‘Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (Is 53:4-12).’
Yes, Jesus Christ has stood in the place of sinners, but not for all - He has done so only for those who will come God’s way. You must rest your sole confidence for eternity and for your relationship with God in this Substitute for sinners alone. Will you do so and live, or will you refuse so and perish?
With the directions of the Lord followed in the offering of the sacrifice, we see that the offering is‘ accepted for him to make atonement for him. (1:4b).’
In other words, the offerer no longer bears the sins for which atonement has been made, they have been forever removed from his account. Atonement has the idea of completely cleaning away and removing all trace of sin in the offerer. God no longer see’s sin in the sinner, and he will no longer be required to pay the penalty for his sin, for it has already been met.
You sinner can appear before God as though you had never sinned, even though you have.'Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Is 1:18b).’
How do receive this wonderful atonement for yourself? You do as the Israelite did, you place your hand by faith upon the offering for sin, and rest your whole confidence in Him. You reject all other offerings and are satisfied with this One alone - yes, Jesus the reality foreshadowed by the burnt offering, and you have the right to approach and enjoy a relationship with the Father.
You can be sure that such an offering will be accepted by God, and that you also will be. That God accepts the offering and sacrifice can be seen by it becoming‘ a sweet savour unto the LORD (Lev 1:9c).’ To the Lord God, the sacrifice carried out God’s way was an acceptable representation of the reality to come, it was an acceptable exercise of faith in the Divine sacrifice for sin and so the Israelite’s offering was ‘accepted for him to make atonement for him (Lev 1:4b).’
Will it be any different for you my friend when you place your hand upon the Lord Jesus Christ as your offering for sin? No,‘And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour (Eph 5:2).’ The sacrifice for sin has been accepted by God, and He has shown this by raising Jesus from the dead, who ‘was raised again for our justification (Rom 4:25b).’
Here then is the acceptable sacrifice to God that allows a person to approach Him with confidence - will you come to Him this way?
The Burnt Sacrifice Part 1:
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