“The Burnt Offering”
Have you seen any children’s pastor starting his children ministry’s first semester with the book of Leviticus? I think that many parents will probably be extremely upset if their babies come back home talking about blood and killing animals. It is said that the book of Leviticus was “the first book studied by a Jewish child” (F. Duane Lindsey, “Leviticus,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1985), 163. – See more at: http://www.insight.org/resources/bible/leviticus.html#sthash.o4TJVA1q.dpuf) I go further, how many sermons have you heard your pastor preach on Leviticus?
As I said before, it is not my intention to go through the whole book of Leviticus; I will focus this series on the first seven chapters, that is, the discussion of the offerings or sacrifice. Lets start with the Burnt Offering.
The burnt offering was the foundation of all the rest of the offerings. It was a symbol of total surrender to God (Leviticus 1:10). The whole animal was burned on the fire. You will see that was not the case for other offerings. Each person was responsible for presenting this offering. However, it is important to point out that this offering was voluntary (Leviticus 1:3). If it was not given with a willing heart it was not acceptable before the Lord. They were responsible for doing all the work, from killing the animal, to cleaning certain organs and other parts of the animal, etc. The priest was only responsible for the fire for the sacrifice.
Purpose of the Burnt Offering
Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. Leviticus 1:4 (NKJV)
The purpose of this offering was to make atonement. Other words for atonement are, apology, amends, reparation, penance and others. The Hebrew word here is the word, kāp̱ar: A verb meaning to cover, to forgive, to expiate, to reconcile.
Even as we see that it was a voluntary offering it was crucial and in reality, nobody was exempt from this offerings. Is there anybody perfect?
Symbolism of the Burnt Offering
The voluntary status of this offering speaks to the fact that God will not force anybody to be saved. It is His will that we all be saved (I Timothy 2:4) and everybody will have a chance to make a decision for Christ, but at the end, it is up to each one of us to accept His invitation. He will give us all the tools to be saved. To start with, He gave us Jesus; He is that Young Bull, or that Sheep, or that Goat, or that Dove or Pigeon that took the punishment that we deserved, as they were kill for our sins. God will give us the faith to believe and the grace to receive the Gospel, but you and I still have the option of rejecting HIM. It should not be new news for you and I to know that people reject God every day!
Important Things to Point Out Regarding the Burnt Offering
Notice that nobody could use the excuse that they could not afford this offering. God made it affordable for everybody, from the rich to the poor. Leviticus 1:3 speak of using a young bull; that was probably the most expensive animal. In Leviticus 1:10 the Israelites were able to use a sheep or a goat for the same sacrifice. Finally, in Leviticus 1:14 it is clear that either a dove or a pigeon were also allowed for this same offering. Meaning that God is not excluding anybody; everybody is welcome, everybody has access to His forgiveness. It was true then and it is true now.
Leviticus chapter one describes the burnt offering. Notice that the children of Israel did not have the freedom to do this offering in whatever way they wanted. There was a protocol to follow, a specific way to do it and a specific place to offer this and the other offerings for that matter. This is symbolism that God has already established His ways and we are call to follow Him, not the other way around. This idea that we can follow God our way is not only unbiblical, but also demonic and is leading many to hell.
Today is a much simpler process, if you repent of your sins, confess Jesus as your Savior and Lord and receive Him with an honest heart you will be saved (Romans 10:9-10) But Romans also made reference to this concept of total surrender to God. In Romans 12:1-2 the Apostle Paul tells us,
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. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (NKJV)
The idea that we can be saved just because we repeated a prayer, but insist in living our lives according to the pattern of the world, is a false teaching and, perhaps the reason why many seated in our churches on Sunday mornings are lost.
Leviticus is a part of the Old Testament, therefore a shadow of our reality in our relationship with God today (Hebrews 10:1). We don’t have to kill any animals today in order to receive atonement; we have all the sacrifice we need in Jesus (Hebrews 10:18). However, what we should consider is this, should our commitment to God be less than our Old Testament brothers and sisters? We are operating in a better Covenant according to Hebrews 8:7-12, so why are we not found even more faithful than the Levites? Hebrews 11:39-40 tells us,
And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (NKJV)
Beloved, our Old Testament brothers and sister did not receive Jesus as we did. Jesus became flesh for us and started a New Covenant. Our Old Testament brothers and sisters did not have the Holy Ghost inside of them as we do. If a Levite is outdoing us in their commitment to God, perhaps it is time to seriously get into the Word, embrace discipleship, learn sound doctrine, or even check your own salvation.
To be continued…
Next, the Grain Offering!
 Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (521). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.