The Burnt-Offering.

Leviticus 1

Taken from The Bible Treasury Number 310 - March 1882


The Book of Leviticus opens with Jehovah calling to Moses out of the Tabernacle. It is a question of approach to Himself the offerings being the means of typifying the work of Christ by which we are brought to God.

There is a definite distinction between the first two sacrifices we have here (to which the third is an appendix), and those for sin. The burnt-offering and the meat-offering stand alone, and dependent on them the peace (or communion) offering; and then follow those of another character, the sin and trespass offerings. Such are the two classes.

Wherever we meet the actual use and application of the offerings, it is in a different order from the revelation of them here. In the revelation we get them as God presents them, looking at Christ: but in the use of them man's need comes first. Here it is God's Fide, and the burnt-offering, like the meat and peace offerings, is a sacrifice by fire of a sweet savour to the Lord: an expression never used of the sin-offering, except in one single verse.

It gives a very definite character to these two first, that it is their aspect towards God, His character and nature. When we come as sinners, it is in respect of what our sins are; but our apprehension of the meaning and value of Christ's death is greatly enhanced by seeing God's part in it. I must confess my sins—it is the only tree way of coming, but there is propitiation through faith in His blood; and then I find all that is essential in these sacrifices as regards God in their proper nature and value.

There is no particular sin here: it, was for sin of course, but it was nht an individual confessing some particular sin. It is striking enough that until the institution of the law, you never get sin offerings; except in the case of Cain, of which I do not doubt myself (though I know it is a question of interpretation) that it is, " a sin-offering lieth at the door," sin and sin-:offering being the same word. But the word is never used again in that way, till the law. We have burnt-offerings and peace-offerings often.

The burnt-offering is the great basis, because it is God's glory in what has been done for sin., We must come, as has been said, by the sin-offering. "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." But it is another thing when I look at Christ's offering and sacrifice ac glorifying God perfectly in all that He is, and that in respect of sin. He said, "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life;" a very remarkable word, for none could give a "therefore-" to God for His love but Christ. The difference between divine love and human love is, that God commendeth His love towardus, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us: whereas scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for the good man some one would even dare to die. If man gets sufficient motive, he will sacrifice his life; but without any motive Christ gave Himself, God gave His Son: it characterises the love. In John a. 11 He lays down His life "for the sheep;" but in verse 17 He does not say it is for the sheep. He has glorified God in death, in the place of sin; and He is glorified as man at the right hand of God. He goes up into that place where we get morally what the sacrifice was in God's sight.

Nothing is said about sins in this chapter, though sin was there, blood, shedding, death, showing sin was the thing in question; and yet the sacrifice was absolutely a sweet savour, that blessed character of the sacrifice of Christ which settles every question of good and evil in God's sight. The terrible fact was that in the creature of God's predilection sin had come in. People say that Adam learned to know evil, whereas he had only known. good before; but that is not at all the point. " The man is become as one of us, knowing good and evil." ' It is knowing the difference between right and wrong.

Man was the one in whom God was going to be perfectly glorified; His delights were with the sons of men. He did not take up angels, but the seed of Abraham. We are to be eternally conformed to the image of God's Son. In the mean time, Satan had prevailed over the first man; after lust came transgression, and all was over as regards his resρόnsibilιty. His state was made to depend on one single thing that required obedience. He might have eaten of all the trees in the garden, if God bad not forbidden one; it was not a question of any positive sin, but the claim of obedience.. It was a thing to put angels to confusion, God's beautiful creature mined! Lust and violence came in, till God bad to destroy it all. Everybody knows what the evil is: you cannot go into a great city like this, without knowing that the evil is such that none but God Himself could have patience with it. It has been truly said, if trusted to one of us, we should destroy it in an hour. Man, in the hand of Satan, degraded himself end turned everything to confusion.

Another thing is to be observed: God tried man in every way. The question was raised, Was there any remedy for this? In the first place He destroyed them with a judgment; then He called Abraham; then came the test of the law. All the things required by the law were duties already. The law did not make them duties; but it was God's statement of the obligation of those duties and God's claim upon man to fulfil them. The sacrifices were introduced consequent upon that. As to the state of man's heart, nothing could have been more decided than when he cast God οff for the one thing he was told not to do. Then came a totally distinct thing. Man being not only a sinner but a transgressor, God was here in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing trespasses. He came in perfect goodness close to man He touched man, so to speak—holiness in all His walk, but divine love in everything He did. Made flesh He dwelt among us; not visiting merely as with Abraham, but He was down here as a man, manifesting what He is towards men. This was the last trial to which God put man, to see whether there was anything He could awaken in man towards God, come in goodness from His Father, walking amongst men in grace, so that there was no sorrow He did nit meet. But we know how it ended fοτ the time: He was totally rejected; and this closed man's history, his moral history. Not only had he sinned, so that he must be turned out of an innocent paradise because he was net innocent, but he had rejected God's Son come in love.

But now came the accomplishment of the divine work of redemption; there was a sacrifice. I get the blessed Son of God giving Himself, made sin in God's sight, totally alone, and, as to the suffering of His soul, forsakeniof God. The sin is dealt with: I must come by my guilt; but this presents it from God's side and view. Absolute evil is in man; and God met man with the perfect revelation of good. But it drew out hatred —such was the effect: the carnal mind, enmity against God, hatred against Him manifested in goodness. Satan's power is complete over man, Christ's own disciples forsaking Him, the rest wagging their heads at Him, glad to get rid of God and good. He had gone .so low for our guilt and God's glory, that even the thief hung with Him could insult Him!

With the blessed Lord Himself is just the opposite: man in perfect goodness, love to the Father, and obedience at all cost. "That the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do." Perfect in the place of sin, where this question had been brought to an issue, made in in God's sight in perfect love to His Father and perfect obedience. But further, in the cross I see God in absolute righteousness against sin, yet in perfect love to the sinner; man in absolute badness, and Satan's power complete, but in Christ man in absolute obedience.

This laid the basis of it all; it brought angels desiring to look into it, to see the Just suffering for the unjust! It was not weak mercy giving up holiness and righteousness, but the absolute expression of majesty and righteousness. "It became Him," that if God's Son were made sin, He must be dealt with as such. There was no escape l He gave Himself for it; "a body hart thou prepared me." Totally alone there, with none to comfort Him, and strong bulls of Bashan around, He says, "Be not thou far from me, 0 LORD," and He had to be forsaken of God.

Such was the condition man was in that it was his delight to get rid of God—and God too, not come to judge man, but to reconcile him to Himself!

But God's eternal counsels were in it, and Christ gave Himself. All that God is was brought out and made good there, when man under Satan's power had succeeded in getting rid of Christ. He giving up Himself, God was glorified in Him. There was the secret work of God, who used it to accomplish the very thing by which Satan sought to frustrate it. Satan's power seemed to have its way when he got rid of Christ from the world; but all was then brought to an issue before God. And this gives the immutability of the blessing. All was finished on which everlasting righteousness is founded. It was not a state of innocence whose preservation hung on yet unsatisfied responsibility: the unchanging blessing of the new heavens and the new earth depends on that whose worth cannot change.

Morally speaking, the cross maintains it all. The question of good and evil, raised in the garden of Eden, was settled in the cross. We see the blessed Son of God never using- His divine power to screen Himself from suffering, not using it to hinder the suffering but to sustain Him in it, enabling Him to bear what none could have gone through without it. When I come to God in this way, I apprehend what sin is, not merely my actual sins, but that in me dwelleth no good thing.

There is One hanging upon the cross, made sin before God at the very moment when the full character of sin was manifested in the rejection of Christ. And there, where man was wholly a sinner and Christ stood in that place for him, all that God is was brought out: Where could you find full righteousness against sin? In no place but the cross, which gives perfect righteousness against sin and love to the sinner in that same blessed work, and this in a man, and when sin was brought out in its worst character.

Look at Him at the grave of Lazarus, a wonderful scene! The Lord was there in perfect obedience, fοτ when they sent the tenderest message to Him ("Lord, he whom thou loveth is sick "), He abode still two days where He was. Death was weighing upon their spirits: what made Him weep? He was not weeping for Lazarus. Death was there, and it seemed all over; but no, "I am the resurrection and the life "—I am come into this scene where death is lying on your hearts; I am the resurrection and the life in the midst of it. And when this was shown, which even Thomas saw was οn His path, He goes out Himself to die! There did not remain a slur or stain upon what God is. Not only was His righteous judgment against sin shown, as it could be nowhere else, but His love in that He spared not His own Son. That work and act of Christ went up as a sweet savour to God. He gives Himself in perfect devoted love to His Father. Perfect love was manifested, and all that God is. "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him." Outward dishonour, but moral glory; what was in the nature of God, and what was in man as hatred against God, was all brought out, Christ giving Himself up wholly and totally, that God should be perfectly glorified; so that in that sense of the word God was a debtor to man for the infinite glory brought to Him, and this where sin and death had come in 1 He hung there as made sin, and God is more glorified than if sin had never come in. It is a wonderful thing. There is nothing like it 1 He does bear our sins, blessed be His Name; but when we see the blessed Son of God made sin, is there anything like that? None of us can speak of it properly, but I trust your hearts will look at it and feed upon it.

But what I have not yet referred to is, that the offerer was to do it (not exactly " of his own voluntary will," but) for his acceptance. I leave the offering now for the man who comes by it. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts." Coming by that sacrifice—it is important our hearts should get hold of it—I am accepted in the Beloved; I go to God in the sweet savour of all that Christ is. It is not simply that my sins are put away— there I can stand in righteousness as to my sins before God—but, coming by that in which God delights, He delights in me as in it, and I am loved as Christ is loved. It brings into fellowship with God as to the value of Christ's place. I know He takes perfect delight in me. I am a worthless creature in myself, and the more Ι know it the better; but there is no condemnation for them that are in Christ Jesus. I go to God in faith, in the perfect sweet savour of Christ. It is not a question of any particular sin, but I go to God with the consciousness of being received, and delighted in; I go as the fruit of the travail of His soul. God sees in me the perfection of Christ's work, and it is for ever and ever; but it rests upon our hearts now.

We must come by the sin-offering, but we have in the burnt-offering a great deal more. No actual sin is spoken of, but the sense of what His glory requires accomplished in Christ, where sin was; that there is nothing also in the character of God not perfectly glorified, and this in love to us. It is not merely that my sins are put away, but I go offering Christ, so to speak. I present Christ, and God testifies of the gift. What is the measure of my righteousness? Christ; and therefore we are received to the glory of God. And now, in weakness and infirmity here, speaking of our standing before God, it is in all the delight He bad, not merely in Christ as a living Man, but in all the perfection of His work in the place of sin, where all that He is was glorified—obedient unto dead;.

One may not like saying, Where are your hearts about it? but—what I do desire for us all—Does my soul go to God, owning that righteousness of God, that love of God, the gift of God in it, and that He testifies of the gifts?

May He give us to see, though we never can fathom it, what it was to that Holy One, who was the delight of His Father's bosom, to be made sin; that our souls may feed on Him, eating His flesh and drinking His blood, and not only know that we are washed from our sins.