In chapter 1 we have the protocols for the Burnt Offering — which intended to illustrate the atoning sacrifice God would have to make on behalf of the sins of the people. As we’ve noted, God would have to offer something costly. Jesus the Sacrifice would willingly endure something ghastly. And in the end atonement would come from our faith in these two things being enough to make us right with God. Leviticus 1:4, “It will be accepted on his behalf.”
In chapter 2 we were presented the Grain Offering. Directly following a sacrifice God would make to atone for our sins, the Lord then explains the appropriate way in which we should respond to Him on account of His great grace. God doesn’t demand something extravagant nor does he delight in the artificial or fake (“no leaven or honey”). Instead, He tells us to bring to Him “fine flour, mixed with oil, seasoned with salt,” and topped with “frankincense.”
In chapter 3 we transition from a response to His grace to the celebration of His grace. The Peace Offering was not a sacrifice made to secure peace with God, but a sacrifice made in celebration of the peace Jesus secured on our behalf! Because of the work Christ accomplished on our behalf satisfying a debt we could not pay, today we not only have oneness with Him through His Spirit, but we experience genuine community with each other.
While the first three offerings were made as a manifestation of one’s freewill and the sacrificed received by the Lord a “sweat aroma,” the Sin and Trespass Offerings laid out in chapters 4, 5, and part of 6 were much different. Regardless of whether or not a sin was committed as a manifestation of one’s sin nature (the Sin Offering) or was done willfully (the Trespass Offering) a sacrifice was mandated by the Lord nonetheless.
It’s worth noting, in the procedures concerning these two offerings, the connection back to the Burnt Offering is undeniable. In fact, the “Burnt Offering” is referenced 10 different times in chapters 4 and 5 alone. Understand, the entire purpose of these offerings was to remind you that sins of nature or will can only find atonement in the Sacrifice made by God!
In Hebrews 10 we have recorded for us a snippet of a conversation Jesus had with the Father before coming to the world, “Therefore, when Jesus came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure… Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’” The key to appreciating all of these offerings is to realize they weren’t designed to work, but to set the stage for the work Jesus would accomplish on your behalf!
As we transition to the remainder of Leviticus 6 and work our way through all of chapter 7 you should know the instructions for these five offerings will be repeated with one twist... While the first five and a half chapters focus on the way in which the offerer was to come and make his sacrifice before the Lord, the next chapter and a half centers on the priestly protocols.
Leviticus 6:8-9, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Command Aaron and his sons (priests), saying, ‘This is the law of the burnt offering: The burnt offering shall be on the hearth upon the altar all night until morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it. (The fire was to burn all night so that the offering was totally consumed.)
Leviticus 6:10-11, “And the priest (in the morning) shall put on his linen garment (long shirt), and his linen trousers (pants) he shall put on his body, and take up the ashes of the burnt offering which the fire has consumed on the altar, and he shall put them (ashes) beside the altar. Then he shall take off his garments (the linen shirt and pants), put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place.”
Since we realize the deeper typological significance related to Jesus, we can’t help but note the care in which God wanted the priests to handle even the “ashes of the burnt offering!” This was all about His Son! Not only was their job to keep the fire burning all night so that the offering was completely consumed, but in the morning they were to shovel the ashes off the altar, place them into a pile to the side, before changing out of their priestly garments into street clothes, and transporting the “ashes outside the camp to a clean place.”
Leviticus 6:12-13, “And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be put out. And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order on it; and he shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings. A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.”
In Leviticus 9:24 we’ll see that during the first Burnt Offering made by Moses and Aaron fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the sacrifice. God literally ignited the altar! Because the fire itself was the one supernatural element of the sacrificial system, it was one of the central jobs of the priests to ensure this divine fire never went out.
Leviticus 6:14-16, “This is the law of the grain offering: The sons of Aaron shall offer it on the altar before the Lord. He (the priest) shall take from it his handful of the fine flour of the grain offering, with its oil, and all the frankincense which is on the grain offering, and shall burn it on the altar for a sweet aroma, as a memorial to the Lord. And the remainder of it (the grain offering) Aaron and his sons shall eat (this being the Tribe of Levi); with unleavened bread it shall be eaten in a holy place; in the court of the tabernacle of meeting they shall eat it.”
Leviticus 6:17-18, “It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it as their portion of My offerings made by fire; it is most holy, like the sin offering and the trespass offering. All the males among the children of Aaron may eat it. It shall be a statute forever in your generations concerning the offerings made by fire to the Lord. Everyone who touches them must be holy.”
Back in Leviticus 2 we noted a contrast between the Burnt Offering and the Grain Offering. While the first was to be utterly devoured by flame upon the altar, the offering of grain was different. Not only was the amount of “fine flour” never specified, but only a “memorial portion” was offered to the Lord with the remaining share being allotted for the priests.
In the verses we just read it would appear the priests were then required to offer from their share of your Grain Offering a “memorial portion” of their own in an act of thanksgiving as well. I contend a pastor who fails to tithe is disqualified from asking others to give.
While we’ve already covered these things in detail, there is another spiritual Law God is establishing in this Grain Offering worth our examination. Of the Twelve Tribes of Israel only the Tribe of Levi was not given a specific portion of the Promised Land. Instead, God structured things whereby the Levites were to focus exclusively on the affairs of the tabernacle with their practical needs being met through their service. This was God’s order!
The reason this is significant boils down to the reality it’s counter to what you’d expect. Admittedly, if you or I were drawing this up it would make complete sense to stipulate an offering made to God should be reserved for God alone. I mean the audacity it would take for a sinful man to demand a cut or portion of what was given specifically to the Lord.
And yet, within the Grain Offering, God is once again establishing a Law whereby it’s ok for someone engaged in full time ministry to have his needs met by the ministry. There are those who’ll say, “What right does a pastor have to take a percentage of my tithes and offerings made to the Lord for himself?” In fact, a few years ago we had a family leave the church and make a stink because they thought it was wrong I took a salary. They contended I should work a full time job and care for the needs of the church in my spare time. Ironically, in the few years they came to our church they never once tithed or supported the ministry.
While I think it’s fair to have a conversation as to what percentage a pastor should be paid in proportion to the ministry budget and in consideration of the needs of the minister and his family, the foundational precedent for a pastor taking a salary is found right here in Leviticus. God set it up this way! Friend, please know your financial support enables me the necessary time to adequately serve you and your family by pastoring your church.
In a discussion with a group of Corinthians raising these very issues Paul writes, “Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:13-14)
In his first letter to a young pastor named Timothy Paul will again invoke the Law and then add the words of Jesus writing, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says (then he quotes Deuteronomy 25:4), ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,’ and (quoting Jesus in Luke 10:7), ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.” (1 Timothy 5:17-18)
Leviticus 6:19-23, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘This is the offering of Aaron and his sons (we’re still discussing the Grain Offering), which they shall offer to the Lord, beginning on the day when he is anointed (the Levites served on a rotated schedule): one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a daily grain offering, (this was a daily Grain Offering the priests was make every day they were serving in the tabernacle) half of it in the morning and half of it at night. It shall be made in a pan with oil.
When it is mixed, you shall bring it in. The baked pieces of the grain offering you shall offer for a sweet aroma to the Lord. The priest from among his sons, who is anointed in his place, shall offer it. It is a statute forever to the Lord. It shall be wholly burned. For every grain offering for the priest shall be wholly burned. It shall not be eaten.”
Whether or not you’re a pastor, since we’re all priests, there is a particular aspect to these procedures I find specifically meaningful… Don’t miss their Grain Offering was split in half and was to be offered every morning and evening. Before they did any work and then when all their work for the day was completed they were to make this offering reminding them everything they did for the Lord was to be motivated as a response to His grace!
Leviticus 6:24-26, “Also the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed, the sin offering shall be killed before the Lord. It is most holy. The priest who offers it for sin shall eat it. In a holy place it shall be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of meeting.” (The priests can eat the meat, but only while on the job.)
Leviticus 6:27-30, “Everyone who touches its flesh must be holy. And when its blood is sprinkled on any garment (splashed), you shall wash that on which it was sprinkled, in a holy place. But the earthen vessel in which it is boiled shall be broken. And if it (bloody garment) is boiled in a bronze pot, it shall be both scoured and rinsed in water. All the males among the priests may eat it. It is most holy. But no sin offering from which any of the blood is brought into the tabernacle of meeting, to make atonement in the holy place, shall be eaten. It shall be burned in the fire.”
As we’ve mentioned before the details played a significant role in God establishing much larger concepts the people needed to understand. Because this particular offering was made on account of sin (one’s sin nature), God establishes a clear delineation between the way what was considered “holy” was to interact with what was unclean.
If “blood” from the Sin Offering “splattered on any of his garments” while the priest was going through the rituals, the Lord specifically instructed those garments be immediately cleaned. This was such a serious matter to the Lord He even specifies that in cleaning process if you used an “earthen vessel” or a clay pot, because the vessel was porous “it was to be broken” because it would be impossible to remove the blood from it. Since a “bronze pot” was impermeable, if it was used it simply needed to be “scoured and rinsed in water.”
Since we are now part of a special priesthood, there are two things I find encouraging about this passage. First, God knew in the process of going about our priestly duties we’d end up getting splattered and defiled. God knows the challenge we face living in a fallen world. And yet, what grace there is in the fact God made a concession for what we’re to do when our righteous garments get soiled! We’re to be “both scoured and rinsed in the water!”
Leviticus 7:1-7, “Likewise this is the law of the trespass offering (it is most holy): In the place where they kill the burnt offering they shall kill the trespass offering. And its blood he shall sprinkle all around on the altar. (Again, you can’t help but notice the atonement for our intentional sins brings us back to Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for all of sin.)
And he (the one who committed the trespass) shall offer from it all its fat. The fat tail and the fat that covers the entrails, the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; and the priest shall burn them on the altar as an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a trespass offering. Every male among the priests may eat it. It shall be eaten in a holy place. It is most holy. The trespass offering is like the sin offering; there is one law for them both: the priest who makes atonement with it shall have it.
Leviticus 7:8-10, “And the priest who offers anyone’s burnt offering, that priest shall have for himself the skin of the burnt offering which he has offered. Also every grain offering that is baked in the oven and all that is prepared in the covered pan, or in a pan, shall be the priest’s who offers it. Every grain offering, whether mixed with oil or dry, shall belong to all the sons of Aaron, to one as much as the other.”
Like the Sin Offering the Lord is clear the meat of a Trespass Offering was also to be eaten by the priests — which to me has a particular significance. While there is no doubt there was a bloody and barbaric nature to the sacrificial system with so many innocent animals being butchered at the tabernacle — and while it’s true this was God’s way of emphasizing the nature of man’s sin… It’s worth pointing out the animals themselves were not waisted.
With the one exception of the Burnt Offering where the entire animal was given to the Lord, in most every other instance the animals were used to feed the priests. If fact, in the case of the Burnt Offering, the priests were even given “the skin” of the animal — which would be used for tents (housing) as well as clothing. My point is that God created a system whereby a necessary sacrifice was made and at the same time the priests were fed.
One interesting side point… Don’t forget the Burnt Offering was all about the sacrifice Jesus would make to atone for our sin or to literally provide a covering. How interesting the only part of this sacrifice leftover and given to the priests was the skin that would act as a covering? The first mention of this word is in Genesis 3:21 we’re we read, “For Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” How beautiful!
Leviticus 7:11-13, “This is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings which he shall offer to the Lord: If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer, with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, or cakes of blended flour mixed with oil. Besides the cakes, as his offering he shall offer leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offering.”
As noted the Peace Offering was all about celebrating the life of peace we have through our oneness with God. Part of the sacrifice was given to the Lord with the rest being enjoyed by the priests and the worshipper. It was an offering we shared with God and each other.
Back in Leviticus 3 the procedures for the Peace Offering focused on what should be done when the worshipper came with a sacrifice “of the herd or flock.” That said, in this section of “the law of the peace offerings” non-blood sacrifices are specifically addressed.
One interesting thing about this passage is the bizarre allowance for “leavened bread.” While “leaven” being a picture of the corrupting nature of sin meant it was excluded from the Grain Offering, in this instance God says “leaven” could be used in the Peace Offering!
I believe this unique exception to a larger rule was God’s way of illustrating the reality that while we may be positionally clean before Him, He knows practically it’s impossible for us to offer anything without the sin of self. To this point J. Vernon McGee says this emphasizes, “Peace with God does not depend on the believer attaining sinless perfection!”
Leviticus 7:14-17, “And from it (Peace Offering) he shall offer one cake from each offering as a heave offering to the Lord (we’ll get to this in a moment). It shall belong to the priest who sprinkles the blood of the peace offering. The flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day it is offered. He shall not leave any of it until morning. But if the sacrifice of his offering is a vow or a voluntary offering, it shall be eaten the same day that he offers his sacrifice; but on the next day the remainder of it also may be eaten; the remainder of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day must be burned with fire.”
Keep in mind, there was no such thing as refrigeration and therefore meat wouldn’t last very long. As such God lays out the process by which some of the meat was to be eaten the day of the offering, some could be held over for a second day, but by day three what was left was to be burned. Note: Because the meat was holy it couldn’t be thrown away and discarded.
Leviticus 7:18-21, “And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, nor shall it be imputed to him; it shall be an abomination to him who offers it, and the person who eats of it shall bear guilt. The flesh that touches any unclean thing shall not be eaten. It shall be burned with fire. And as for the clean flesh, all who are clean may eat of it.
But the person who eats the flesh of the sacrifice of the peace offering that belongs to the Lord, while he is unclean, that person shall be cut off from his people. Moreover the person who touches any unclean thing, such as human uncleanness, an unclean animal, or any abominable unclean thing, and who eats the flesh of the sacrifice of the peace offering that belongs to the Lord, that person shall be cut off from his people.”
There are two fundamental ideas you can’t escape here… First, horizontal sin is always a vertical violation. In fact, the core principle at play in these instructions about eating the meat of the Peace Offering is the idea that what is impure always defiles what was pure and not the other way around. In 1 Corinthians 15:33 Paul writes, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’” Ever wondered why? Now you know!
The second idea that hits you between the eyes as you read this section of Scripture is the reality that failing to obey God’s commands had severe consequences. Because the Peace Offering was a meal shared with God celebrating the oneness we have with Him, any violation of His instructions resulted in a separation from oneness. “Cut off from his people!”
Leviticus 7:22-27, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Speak to the children of Israel (we’re now transitioning from the priests back to the population at large), saying: ‘You shall not eat any fat, of ox or sheep or goat. And the fat of an animal that dies naturally, and the fat of what is torn by wild beasts, may be used in any other way; but you shall by no means eat it. For whoever eats the fat of the animal of which men offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, the person who eats it shall be cut off from his people. Moreover you shall not eat any blood in any of your dwellings, whether of bird or beast. Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people.”
Leviticus 7:28-32, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Speak to the children of Israel: ‘He who offers the sacrifice of his peace offering to the Lord shall bring his offering to the Lord from the sacrifice of his peace offering. His own hands shall bring the offerings made by fire to the Lord. The fat with the breast he shall bring, that the breast may be waved as a wave offering before the Lord. And the priest shall burn the fat on the altar, but the breast shall be Aaron’s and his sons’. Also the right thigh you shall give to the priest as a heave offering from the sacrifices of your peace offerings.”
As the part of the Peace Offering the priest would eat the “wave offering” occurred when you took “the breast” and literally waved it “before the Lord” to the right and left. In a “heave offering” you’d distinguish the “right thigh” by heaving it up and down. Typologically, in both the right and left and up and down motions we have presented a picture of the cross.
Leviticus 7:33-34, “He among the sons of Aaron, who offers the blood of the peace offering and the fat, shall have the right thigh for his part. For the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the heave offering I have taken from the children of Israel, from the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and I have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons from the children of Israel by a statute forever.”
Leviticus 7:35-38, (Summary statement…) “This is the consecrated portion for Aaron and his sons, from the offerings made by fire to the Lord, on the day when Moses presented them to minister to the Lord as priests (this happens in the next few chapters). The Lord commanded this to be given to them by the children of Israel, on the day that He anointed them, by a statute forever throughout their generations.
This is the law of the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the trespass offering, the consecrations, and the sacrifice of the peace offering, which the Lord commanded Moses on Mount Sinai, on the day when He commanded the children of Israel to offer their offerings to the Lord in the Wilderness of Sinai.”
In way of wrapping up this entire section let me leave you with an overarching observation. As a general rule of thumb when it comes to studying the Bible, God only repeats the things He finds to be of the utmost importance. He repeats not to be redundant, but as a way of emphasizing what is most significant. Beyond this, when God repeats Himself literally back to back as we find in Leviticus 1-7 this only serves to heighten the emphasis.
The fact seven chapters are dedicated to these five offerings with the final two chapters largely recapping the previous 5 should tell you these things are serious and consequential. Not only is God highlighting the seriousness of sin and the incredible cost necessary for atonement, but He’s clear a relationship with Him demanded sacrifice!
I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating… Leviticus opens with God descending from Sinai to dwell in the midst of His people. Most incredibly, God then invites humanity to come and have a relationship with Him at this tent of meeting. And yet, God is clear right from the jump there was a right and a wrong way for this to happen! These sacrifices were not optional. They were required and repeated to hammer this point home.
Did you happen to notice the one big difference in the repeating of these five offerings? It centered upon their ordering. While in the first listing the Peace Offering was third in sequence because it was one of the three free-will offerings, in the repeating of these sacrifices in chapters 6-7 the Peace Offering came last for its typological implications.
In Matthew 5:17 Jesus said He did not come “to destroy the Law,” but “to fulfill” it! Not only does this mean Jesus satisfied the righteous demands of the Law, but He embodied all of the types and shadows established therein. One scholar writes, “The Levitical system was a picture gallery of the coming Savior!” God was clear if you wanted a relationship with Him these five offering were required! And most amazingly, in Jesus we find all their fulfillment.
In the Burnt Offering we see the necessity of Jesus death on the cross as the sole mechanism by which our atonement is provided through His bloodshed. In the Grain Offering we find a picture of Jesus being the Bread of Life! Through His sacrifice we have sustenance to live a life of consecration in response to His grace. Tying all of this imagery to Christ it makes since why He’d refer to the “unleavened bread” as being His body broken for us!
In the Sin and Trespass Offerings we see how Jesus’ sacrifice not only atones for our fallen nature, but our sinful choices. By His blood we’ve been forgiven and made clean! In the end it is the culmination of the previous four that reconciles us with God — the Peace Offering.
According to Hebrew tradition it was customary that when a person was finally able to make their yearly pilgrimage to the tabernacle and later temple they would typically offer all five sacrifices at once. What’s interesting about this is when a priest finally completed the long day of work such a task required they’d end the process by declaring, “It is finished!”
It’s not an accident that in John 19:30 we read that Jesus — acting as both our Priest and our Sacrifice — declared from the cross when His work was finally done, “It is finished!” You see in Leviticus 1-7 God was clear these five sacrifices had to be offered if we wanted to be reconciled with Him. What we now know is that they all pointed to Jesus illustrating the totality of what His sacrifice would really accomplish for you and I.
All Questions can be sent to ZacharyAdams@mac.com.