THE BURNT OFFERING (Leviticus 1; cont)
What was brought for a burnt offering (cont)
The dove. The disciples were told to be as wise as serpents but as harmless as doves (Mt 10.16). The Lords gentleness made Him great. He was not only holy, but He was harmless. Misery and destruction are in the ways of those energised by Satan, but peace, healing and blessing were in His way. The Lord commanded the demon to come out of the man in the synagogue and then we read of the demon that "he came out of him, and hurt him not" (Lk 4.35).
The Lord performed many miracles on men and women but they all brought blessing. When He performed a miracle of judgment it was to curse a tree. James and John would have Him call down fire on the city that rejected Him but He would not. In Gethsemane He stated that He could pray to His Father who would have given Him twelve legions of angels (Mt 26.53). A legion could number between 3,000 and 6,000 men, therefore that would be perhaps about 70,000. Remember, that was the number slain by one angel sent when David numbered the people (1 Chr 21.14,15). To think of 12 times 70,000 slain by this powerful force is fearsome, but the Lord, as previously regarding the villages of the Samaritans (Lk 9.52ff), likewise did not ask His Father. He prayed rather for the forgiveness of those who rejected Him, but not for their destruction.
The dove, too, is noted for singleness of vision. The Lord Jesus "set the Lord always before (Him)" (Ps 16.8), and He was always about His Fathers business (Lk 2.49).
The pigeon - the homing bird. The Lord stated that He only came to sojourn: "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father" (Jn 16.28).
He would return to the Father but it must be by laying down His life, putting all on the altar of sacrifice. "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life" (Jn 10.17). Nothing was held back, anything less could not be a whole burnt offering: nothing less would do, nothing more was needed.
What was done with the offering
We must notice what was done with the offering, for in the order in which they are introduced in Leviticus 1 there was not only a lowering in the value of the offerings - bullock, sheep, goat, and down to doves and pigeons, but there was also less to be done as the value decreased. It started with the bullock, flayed and cut in pieces, until we come to the birds cleaved but not divided. We cannot speak or even think of differing values of Christ, so this seems to me to speak of our differing apprehensions and differing abilities in presenting Christ to God. We have not all the same insight into the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps the thought of the fathers, young men, and babes would account for this at times, but we should all strive to spend time with the Scriptures so as to advance in the knowledge of Him who has saved our souls and won our hearts.
It thrills my heart to notice that the same words are used after all the burnt offerings - bullock, sheep and dove: "an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord" (Lev 1.9,13,17). Our acceptance is not commensurate with our appreciation of Christ but is measured by Gods infinite knowledge of and satisfaction in Christ. He is to the Father, the beloved Son, and we are fully accepted in Him. How blessed to read that "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). Look at the words. "Put" means to lean upon; "accepted" means to be well pleased, delighted; "atonement" means to cover.
In Leviticus 16 the priest put his hands on the scapegoat and the nations sins were transferred to it (v.21). In ch.4 the hands were placed on the sin offering and by this means sins were transferred to the offering (vv.4,15,24,33). But with the burnt offering it is not our sins transferred to Christ, not Him being made sin for us, but rather His righteousness being remitted to us. As we think of these Scriptures and the meaning of the words we rejoice in the blessed, wonderful truth that we are seen in type there as coming to God boldly, yet reverently leaning on and depending on the merit of Christ, covered, clothed in His beauty, accepted (made lovely) in the beloved One (Eph 1.6). In ourselves we are vile, in Christ we are cleansed and made holy. By nature we are lepers, hideous, ugly, and black, but in Him we are lovely and comely. Christs work is the measure of our forgiveness. Here the altogether lovely One is the measure of my acceptance. If I could know, really know, how dear and how delightfully precious the Son is to the Father, then I would know the fullness of my acceptance in Him. As He is, so are we. We can but marvel and worship.
Details of the Offerings
A male without blemish (v.3). The Lord makes choice of the finest and the very best to tell us about the glories and the perfections of his blessed, precious, peerless Son. Think of some of these in other Scriptures fine twined linen, pure gold, refined silver without dross, pure olive oil, burnished brass.
The words "without blemish" mean perfect, whole, complete, nothing missing, and nothing superfluous. This is the opposite of what was being offered in Malachis day (Mal 1.8). In Numbers 19.2 the red heifer had not only to have no blemish but also no spot. Everything had to be there, and all that was there had to be clean and pure. The "wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores" depicting Israel in Isaiah 1.6 were not in Christ. The evil present and the good absent in us never marked Him. He never missed the mark. He never fell short or went beyond, was never measured and found short, never weighed and found wanting.
He shall offer it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord (v.3). There are two things that arrest my attention in this verse. The offering was presented living at the tabernacle before it was killed and placed on the altar. We will only get the full glory of the work of Christ when we appreciate the value of the person and the life of Christ, and that is just how He is presented to us in the Gospels. If we followed just how the Gospel writers speak of the person and life of Christ as they watch Him move steadily on to lay down that life on the cross, that would truly enrich the gathering at which the Lord specifically asked us to remember Him and declare His death till He come. Note well, it does not say remember His death; that is included, but the request is "this do in remembrance of me" (1 Cor 11.25). "Till He come" has more to do with the period of our remembering Him than with the fact of His coming. Some in the past have taught that the Breaking of Bread is not for this dispensation. This truth tells me it is only for this present dispensation. You cannot remember what has not been. We will not need bread and wine when we have Him, the memory of that life and death will never be banished.
But let us go back to the fact that the offering was presented at the gate living before it was killed. This, as suggested, is seen in type and precept. I see it in Isaac before he reached the appointed place to be offered up (Gen 22). I see it in the Passover kept from the tenth to the fourteenth day (Ex 12.3,6). I see it in the red heifer scrutinised before it was slain (Num 19.2). The four Gospels do not all begin at the same point, but all begin long before the cross and move on recording miracles, sayings, and testimonies of friends and foes until the appointed place and the appointed time is reached.
Luke, when writing the Acts, states to Theophilus as he refers back to the Gospel which he had formerly written to him, that it recorded what the Lord "began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up" (Acts 1.1-2). He had set the events in an orderly, progressive fashion. A disorderly jumble was not the hallmark of the leading of the Holy Spirit. We are seeing here that there was proven fitness as well as willingness which found fulfilment in Christ.
To be continued.