THE BURNT OFFERING (Leviticus 1; cont)
Detail of the Offerings (cont)
Of his own voluntary will (v.3). The offerer brought his sacrifice voluntarily, but can it not be stated that the Lord offered Himself voluntarily? He was "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phil 2.8). Calvary was not the only act of obedience; rather it was the culmination of a life of obedience. The Psalmist wrote prophetically of Him, "I delight to do thy will, O my God" (Ps 40.8). He said, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me" (Jn 4.34). In Gethsemane He said, "Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done" (Lk 22.42). All this is seen in deed and not in word only. He came into the world, making Himself of no reputation. He took bondmans form and humbled Himself. He set His face to go to Jerusalem (Lk 9.51), and when His hour was come He went forth on the journey that would end at Calvary, going to the place that Judas the traitor knew, then permitting those who came to arrest Him to take Him. He allowed Himself to be bound by puny man, stood in silence in the judgment hall, and said to Pilate, "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above" (Jn 19.11). He had power to lay down His life and to take it again (Jn 10.18). The conversation on the holy mount was about the death that He should accomplish, that He would carry out and fully finish (Lk 9.28-36). That is why He bowed His head, cried with a loud voice, and dismissed His spirit. We cannot do any of these things, but He did because He offered of His own voluntary will.
Even Isaac was bound to the altar, but not He, except by cords of devotion to God and love to us. No, He was not trapped by Judas treachery. He was not outwitted by the Pharisees schemes. He was not overpowered by Roman might. He gave Himself. He offered Himself "without spot to God" (Heb 9.14).
We must not miss the fact that all this presenting, offering, flaying, and laying was done "before the Lord". In Genesis we read that "the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (6.5). There was not a "just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Eccl 7.20). What a stench for Gods nostrils and what grief for His heart. Only two of all the mature Israelites who left Egypt arrived in the Promised Land because with many of them God was not well pleased. King after king displeased Him and died under His judgment, and even the thing that David did displeased the Lord (see 2 Sam 11.27).
What grief, what disappointment of heart God must have felt as He looked down on men, the worst and the best; but what joy, what holy relish filled His heart as there moved before His face this sinless, submissive, obedient One, moving on devotedly and willing to offer Himself, without spot, a sweet smelling savour. How sweet the aroma, how lasting the fragrance! Heaven and earth will be filled with it forever. It will be the endless theme of the redeemed in glory. It will be the sure foundation of the coming universe of bliss. Reverently we pray that we might be able in measure to share the Fathers thoughts of His blessed, thrice blessed, Son.
The Preparation of the Offering
He shall flay the burnt offering (v.6). The words used in this chapter teach valuable and sweet lessons. The word "burnt" here is different from the one used in connection with the burning of the sin offering. There its meaning is to consume, to burn thoroughly, and is used of making bricks in Egypt. Here in the burnt offering, it is to burn as incense, to cause to ascend. In the sin offering I see Gods righteousness smiting and exacting the full price. In the burnt offering I see Gods holiness delighting, feeding on the lovely preciousness of the sacrifice, accepting it in all its unutterable sweetness. I see Gods righteousness in Romans, His holiness in Hebrews, but enough on that for the present.
To "flay" means to uncover, to make roads into. When we are uncovered, when roads are made into us, when the parts are exposed and scrutinised in Romans 1-3, we are found to be altogether unprofitable and useless. When Israel is flayed in Isaiah "the whole head is sick From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores" (1.5-6). When the nations are viewed in Daniel we have the head of gold but feet of clay and iron (2.31-35). When the churches are looked at in Acts and in the Epistle to the Ephesians we have wealth, power and love, but in the last days and in Laodicea we have poverty, weakness, and a lack of love and brotherly affection. Associated with men, Jew or Gentile, church or nations, there is always sin, shortcomings, weakness, and deterioration.
We are altogether unprofitable; He is altogether lovely. We are weak and sickly; He is vigorous and healthy. We are marked by deterioration; His value never decreases. We are exhorted to let love continue; His love never wanes. We are without strength; His strength never weakens. We do not keep ourselves unspotted; His life is never defiled. "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Eccl 7.20): God had a good, long look and found none.
The Son of God remains altogether different, not only above all but far above all; not only prominent but pre-eminent; not only in comparison but contrast. The closer we look at ourselves and at others, the greater is our disappointment. The longer the journey, the greater our disgust, but the closer we look at Christ, the longer the road, the more severe the test, the more we are convinced of His absolute perfection and the more we are captivated by His loveliness which is all excelling. He is sweeter as the days go by. No sin, no stain, no spot, no weakness, no waywardness. He is the concentration of loveliness.
The head the fat the inwards his legs (vv.8-9). These are charming lessons for our hearts as we notice not only the parts but also the two groups. The head speaks of the intelligence; the fat of the energy; the legs of the walk; the inwards of the affections. Paul, the scholar, states that He "knew no sin" (the head) (2 Cor 5.21). John, the one who leaned on Jesus breast and speaks much about love for His own states that "in him is no sin" (the inwards) (1 Jn 3.5). Peter, the man of action states that He "did no sin" (the legs) (1 Pet 2.22). What a contrast to the sad reading of Romans 1. God gave man up to vain imaginations and vile affections. He gave them up as to their actions. Minds, hearts, bodies were perverted and polluted and called down Gods disapproval and judgment. What infinite delight God found in the man Christ Jesus.
There was no wrong in His mind. There was no rebellion in His heart, but rather total submission. He meditated on the Law of the Lord day and night. His eye was single, focusing on Gods glory. He set the Lord always before Him. In His heart was hid the Law of the Lord. He loved the Lord with all His heart, His soul, His mind, and strength. His ear was open morning by morning to hear as He was instructed. His mouth and lips were most sweet. He spoke with grace and compassion. He spoke faithfully yet tenderly. He spoke as no man ever spoke, yet remained meek and lowly in heart. He walked in paths of righteousness, in the highways of holiness. His feet were always in an even place. He always did the thing that pleased His Father, and was always busy in the Fathers business, His feet were never defiled. His was
A perfect path of purest grace,
Unblemished and complete.
- M. Wylie
To be continued.