Daily Bible Studies
Series Theme: Studies in Leviticus - "The Law of Offerings - Lev 1-7 2/3
Part 2 (Notes)
Part 3 (Ch.6,7)
LEVITICUS – The Notes
PART TWO: Explanatory Notes
Contents of the Notes:
(Click on reference to go to study)
The Difficulties of Leviticus
When approaching this particular set of studies, we need to face up to the difficulties, or at least perceived difficulties, of this book, and especially the first seven chapters that we will be considering. This is not a book for the faint-hearted. This is a book only for those who are utterly committed to learning all that God wishes to communicated through His word. This is a book that will drive you to prayer more than most. Pray before you come to study any of it.
Possibly more than any other part of the Old Testament these chapters about the Offerings seem antiquated to the modern mind:
First of all there is the horror in many modern minds, especially urban minds, of the thought of purposefully putting to death domesticated farm animals. To many of us this appears barbaric.
Second, there is the undertone of sin and the need for atonement, whatever that means, that is there in this sacrificial system, and sin makes us feel guilty.
Third there seems a complexity about these offerings and the meaning and purpose of them seems clouded in our thinking.
Fourth there seems an unnecessary repetition that occurs in them which, again, seems unnecessary and meaningless.
Fifth, and most importantly, all this seems so far from our modern lives that it seems totally irrelevant and so we are left wondering why it is in the Bible and why we should bother with it.
Approaching these Chapters
The fact of the matter is that Paul taught Timothy that “ All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work ” and the Jewish authorities and subsequently the Christian Church considered this book to be part of the canon of Scripture. We need to consider what it might teach us.
As we should approach all Scripture, we need to ask first of all, what did this mean to the original hearers? How were these seven chapters of Leviticus relevant to them? What did they say to them? How did they apply them? We have to say there have been some in the past who have so majored on ‘types' that they have so over spiritualised these chapters that you miss the reality of what this was about, in their eager desire to see it all fulfilled in Christ. Look for both.
After we have done that we might then consider how did these instructions fit into the whole scope of God's plans revealed through the whole of the Bible and, finally, what do they say to us today?
The Style of these Studies
As with the studies found elsewhere in this site, we will first of all ask some basic questions to ensure you, the reader, actually read the passages in your Bible. Because these passages may need greater explanation than most of the rest of the Scriptures, we will do away with the ‘Think' part of the studies and expand the ‘Comment' element, and then simplify the ‘Application' part of each one.
In addition to this, you will find a lot more explanatory notes that provide either background or additional thought, together with a number of tables that highlight the breakdown or contents of these chapters. In this way we hope you will be better able to come to grips with what you find in these chapters of your Bible and come to see the depth and wonder of God's dealings with mankind, and especially Israel in the formative years of their life as a nation.
The Historical Content
In Exodus we see Israel have been:
brought out of slavery in Egypt (see ‘Pharaoh's Fall' studies – chapters 1 to 12),
He also gave them instructions for the Tabernacle and its furniture (chapters 25 to 31 and 35 to 40). Once the Tabernacle has been built and erected and the priests consecrated and the initial offerings spoken of in Exodus have been offered, it appears that it is then that the Lord speaks to Moses about the sacrifices to be brought as Offerings: “The LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting.” (Lev 1:1) All of the instructions that follow assume the Tabernacle and its furniture is set up as previously prescribed in Exodus.
For greater consideration as to what had happened and how the Israelites would have felt about God, go to the special note, “Killing the Beast”. When you have read that section, come back here and you'll understand the title of this series: “Approaching a Holy God”.
The Name, Author & Direction of the Book
Originally the Hebrews tended to cal it by its opening words, “And He called” or “The Lord Called”, or by reference to its contents, “Book of the Priests” or “Law of the Offerings”. The Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament was “Relating to the Levites”, although that is not strictly accurate because it is more to the priests than the wider group. Leviticus came out of subsequent Bible versions in English.
Historically, ancient Hebrew tradition had Moses as the author of the first five books of the Bible.
2. SPECIAL NOTE: To whom instructions given
All prefaced by “the Lord said to Moses”
1:3 to 6:8 are to the people , seen from their perspective, general procedures for the Offerings
6:9 to 7:21 are to the priests , seen from their perspective, practical matters pertaining to the Offerings.
7:22 to 7:36 are again to the people generally.
3. SPECIAL NOTE: The Subject Matter of the Offering
4. SPECIAL NOTE: The Order of the Procedures
The procedures in each case involving meat (all except Grain Offering) are as follows:
Beast described that is to be brought (varied according to offering)
To be taken to the doorway, checked and approved by the priest. (true of all)
Offeror to kill the beast. (true of all)
Priest to take the blood and do various things with it. (true of all but use varied)
Beast to be cut up and the appropriate parts burnt on the bronze altar. (varied)
Where appropriate, rest to be burnt (cooked) (varied)
Where appropriate, part to be eaten by the priests (all except burnt offering)
Where a Fellowship Offering, part to be eaten by the Offeror.
5. SPECIAL NOTE: Distinctions between the Offerings as to Purpose
We thus see that the first three offerings are simply to be offerings of the heart. Yes, in Numbers 28 we find instructions when they should be offered, which is really a requirement, but the substance of the offering is a freewill action of the heart.
The fourth and fifth offerings are specifically to deal with unintentional sins, those things the person did not realise at the time were sins. There is therefore in these a strong element of atonement.
6. SPECIAL NOTE: The Person actually making the Offering
7. SPECIAL NOTE: Making Atonement
A definition of ‘atonement' is “ to make amends, paying the penalty to appease justice, bringing reconciliation ” Thus with the sin and guilt offerings, there is the recognition that the person bringing the offering is a sinner who needs to make amends, pay the penalty for his sin, appease God's desire for justice and bring reconciliation with God.
In each case the animal became a substitute, taking the penalty instead of the Offeror.
In the case of the Burnt Offering, atonement is only mentioned once in v.4. It is unclear whether that applied to each form of the burnt offering or was just required of the ‘big offering' where pride was most likely, in order to reinforce the awareness of inadequacy of right to approach God.
None of the other freewill offerings have an atonement aspect to them.
8. SPECIAL NOTE: Eaten, Burnt or Shared
i.e. None eaten – Burnt Offering only
Eaten by priests only – Grain, Sin & Guilt Offerings
Eaten by priests & Offeror – Fellowship Offering only
9. SPECIAL NOTE: How Often Offered
This is the offering made by fire that you are to present to the LORD: two lambs a year old without defect, as a regular burnt offering each day (Num 28:3)… Prepare one lamb in the morning and the other at twilight, together with a grain offering (v.4,5) …. The accompanying drink offering is to be a quarter of a hin of fermented drink with each lamb. Pour out the drink offering to the LORD at the sanctuary. (v.7)
i.e. each day – morning & evening burnt offerings with a grain offering & drink offering
On the Sabbath day , make an offering of two lambs a year old without defect, together with its drink offering and a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil. This is the burnt offering for every Sabbath, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering . (Num 28:9,10)
On the first of every month , present to the LORD a burnt offering of two young bulls , one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect . (Num 28:11)
With each bull there is to be a grain offering (v.12)
With each bull there is to be a drink offering (v.14)
Besides the regular burnt offering with its drink offering, one male goat is to be presented to the LORD as a sin offering . (v.15)
4. PASSOVER & FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
[ Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread ; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt . Ex 23:15 ]
On the fourteenth day of the first month the LORD's Passover is to be held … On the fifteenth day of this month there is to be a festival; for seven days …… Present to the LORD an offering made by fire, a burnt offering of two young bulls , one ram and seven male lambs a year old , all without defect. (Num 28:16,17,19)
With each bull prepare a grain offering (v.20)…. with the ram….. and with each of the seven lambs (v.20,21)
Include one male goat as a sin offering to make atonement for you . (v.22)
Prepare these in addition to the regular morning burnt offering. (v.23)
In this way prepare the food for the offering made by fire every day for seven days as an aroma pleasing to the LORD; it is to be prepared in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering . (v.24)
5. FEAST OF WEEKS (or of HARVEST)
[ Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the first fruits of the crops you sow in your field . Ex 23:16 ]
On the day of first fruits, when you present to the LORD an offering of new grain during the Feast of Weeks (Num 28:26)… [Seven weeks after Feast of Unleavened Bread]
Present a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. (v.27)
With each bull there is to be a grain offering ….. with the ram…. and with each of the seven lambs (v.28,29)
Include one male goat to make atonement for you . (v.30)
Prepare these together with their drink offerings , in addition to the regular burnt offering and its grain offering. Be sure the animals are without defect (v.31)
6. FEAST OF TRUMPETS
On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets. (Num 29:1)
As an aroma pleasing to the LORD, prepare a burnt offering of one young bull, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect . (v.2)
With the bull prepare a grain offering …. with the ram….and with each of the seven lambs … (v.3,4)
Include one male goat as a sin offering to make atonement for you . (v.5)
These are in addition to the monthly and daily burnt offerings with their grain offerings and drink offerings as specified. They are offerings made to the LORD by fire--a pleasing aroma (v.6)
7. DAY OF ATONEMENT
On the tenth day of this seventh month hold a sacred assembly. You must deny yourselves and do no work . (Num 29:7)
Present as an aroma pleasing to the LORD a burnt offering of one young bull, one ram and seven male lambs a year old , all without defect.( v.8)
With the bull prepare a grain offering ….with the ram…and with each of the seven lambs … (v.9,10)
Include one male goat as a sin offering , in addition to the sin offering for atonement and the regular burnt offering with its grain offering, and their drink offerings . (v.11)
8. FEAST OF TABERNACLES (or of INGATHERING)
[ Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field. Ex 23:16 ]
On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. Celebrate a festival to the LORD for seven days. (Num 29:12)
Present an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, a burnt offering of thirteen young bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect . (v.13)
With each of the thirteen bulls prepare a grain offering …with each of the two rams ….and with each of the fourteen lambs. (v.14,15)
Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering. (v.16)
On the second day prepare twelve young bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect. (v.17)
With the bulls, rams and lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. (v.18)
Include one male goat as a sin offering , in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering, and their drink offerings. (v.19)
v.20-34 Each day reducing number of bulls by 1 down to seven on seventh day. All other numbers remain the same.
On the eighth day hold an assembly and do no regular work. Present an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, a burnt offering of one bull, one ram and seven male lambs a year old , all without defect. (v.35,36)
With the bull, the ram and the lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. (v.37)
Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering. (v.39)
NB. The Seventh month:
1st day – Trumpets – to herald preparing for the coming month
10th day – Atonement – serious day of acknowledgement of need
15th -22nd days – Tabernacles – celebrating end of harvest
10. SPECIAL NOTE: The Tabernacle
Our notes here are not exhaustive and in fact only cover those things pertinent specifically to the offerings. The Courtyard of the Tabernacle was 150 feet long and 75 feet wide. The Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting erected within that enclosed area was a tent 45 feet long and 15 feet wide, located in the western half of the courtyard, probably with 30 feet all around it between it and the courtyard walls. (NB. Some have called the inner sanctuary ‘The Tent' and then refer to the whole, including the courtyard as ‘The Tabernacle')
The back fifteen feet of the Tent was separated off by a curtain and that end enclosed space was called the Most Holy Place or the Holy of Holies, where the Ark was located which indicated the place of God's presence. The front part of the Tent was called the Holy Place.
In the courtyard area to the front of the Tent was located the bronze altar for burnt offerings. In the Holy Place , in front of the curtain was a much smaller altar, the golden altar of Incense on which incense was burned morning and evening.
11. SPECIAL NOTE: Killing the Beast
Living in the West in the twenty first century, the thought of killing an animal purposefully is abhorrent to most of us (possibly not to those who are farmers or who work in slaughter houses), yet this is at the heart of the Laws of the Offerings and we need to understand what is happening.
When Israel were first formed, they were miraculously delivered from Egypt (the Exodus) by God as He brought increasingly devastating judgements on that pagan nation. They had witnessed these judgements and realised in a small measure at least, the power and awesomeness of the One with whom they were now following through the desert to an ‘Encounter of the Divine Kind' at Mount Sinai .
At Mount Sinai their experience of the Lord was observing thunder and fire upon the mountain and the warning that if they touched the mountain they would die. Subsequently when a number of them were involved in making and worshipping the Gold Calf while Moses was still on the mountain, they died. They, in their early primitive state as a holy nation, began to realise that the One with whom they had dealings was quite unlike any other so-called god that the surrounding nations worshipped. These gods were, in reality, merely gods in name. They were names to be superstitiously worshipped out of fear. This God who had revealed Himself to Moses, was seen to be real, a God who could bring real judgements on an entire nation leaving it devastated; this God spoke through thunder and lightning and fire and held sinners accountable and brought judgement on them.
Israel , in those early days, came to realise that sin, falling short of the stated requirements of the Lord, brought the most serious of consequences – death. Suddenly they were aware that they were all in a hopeless situation, for none of them (or us) could say they were totally free from sin. When they did sin, the expectation was death from this Holy God. But then He gave them the sacrificial system, similar to what many nations practiced out of superstition. For them they practiced it because it gave them a way out from under the hand of judgement of God.
They remembered that to escape Egypt , and the judgement that God brought on every unbelieving home in that land, there had to be a dead body. God had told them to sacrifice a lamb, one for every household and put its blood on the doorposts of the house. In every home where there was no dead lamb, a dead son was the result in the middle of the night. The picture was clear: for deliverance from judgement, a substitute life had to be given.
Now, in the new sacrificial system, when they became aware that they had sinned, they knew that to avoid the judgement of God, they needed a substitute, the beast decreed in the sacrificial laws. So far, so good; the theory seems simple. The practice was what counted. Yes, it cost the Offeror, it was something of real value, this beast to be offered, but it was the actual sacrifice that would have been the most important thing.
Imagine it if you will. You have been weighed down with the sense of guilt of what you have done and the fear of God's judgement – which you do deserve. You bring your offering to the Tabernacle (and subsequently the Temple in Jerusalem ) and hold your breath until the priest has checked it at the door, before God (will HE approve it?) to see it is without blemish. He approves it and you breathe a sigh of relief. Now comes the really hard part. Whether the animal was tied up and placed upside down on a platform as some suggest, or whether it merely stood there tethered (which I suggest is easier and probably likely), it doesn't matter; it is still an awful thing that is about the happen.
The priest hands you a long very sharp knife and you put one hand on its head and you cut its throat. The warm thick blood gushes out and the distressed animal struggles and lows or bleats desperately. You stand there aghast at what you have done. As the blood pours out, you collect it in a bowl for the priest to take. As the quantity of this thick, red liquid increases, the animal's struggles grow weaker and weaker. If it is standing hobbled, it probably starts to sway, falls on its knees and eventually topples over. Eventually there are no further movements. It is dead – and you did it!
You have not merely witnessed a death – the life leaving a living creature – you brought it about. For the first time ever you realise what life really is, and you realise the horribleness of taking it. You resolve never to have to do this again! As you think about this in the days that follow, you realise in a new way the awfulness of sin and the holiness of God and you resolve never to let sin get into your life again.
When you sacrificed a live animal, purposefully putting it to death for your sin, you were never the same again.
This same picture is what the New Testament applies to Jesus, the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29,36), who takes away the sin of the world.
12. SPECIAL NOTE: The Significance of the Blood
After the killing and before cutting up of the sacrificed animal, the priest took some of the blood and did various things with it. Note that it wasn't the Offeror who did it, because the Tabernacle things were considered holy and only the priest was allowed to touch what was holy.
Now the clue to the significance of the blood comes elsewhere in Leviticus: “Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, because the life of every creature is its blood . That is why I have said to the Israelites, "You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood ” (Lev 17:13 ,14).
Today we might say that life exists in a human body when the heart and brain are still working. When the heart stops and the blood stops being pumped round the body, it dies.
When the blood was drained off and taken and used, it was a visible sign of the substitute life. Now if, as we've seen in the consideration of the killing of the beast, God is only appeased when a life is given to satisfy the demands of justice, to pay for the Sin of the individual, anything to do with approaching God has to be given that same sign.
Thus even with the Burnt Offering , even before the bronze altar is used, the signs of the life given, its blood, has to be put on all four sides of the altar (Lev 1:5). This is a visible sign carried out by the holy priest, that this is no casual approach to the use of this altar, and that they only offer the meat after a life has been given. It is the life of this particular substitute animal that has to be applied to the altar even before the rest of it is offered.
With the Fellowship Offering the same thing happens with the bronze altar (Lev 3:2). Again the same message is being conveyed: an awareness that for sinful man to come into fellowship with Holy God, their sin has to be dealt with by the acceptance of a substitute life given for them. There is no casual approach to God.
With the Sin Offering, for the anointed priest (4:3) there is a threefold activity using the blood.
Exactly the same applies to the Sin Offering, for the whole Israelite community (4:13).
For the Sin Offering for the leader or the individual member of the community the difference is:
In each of the cases of the Sin Offering (except the first one) the use of the offering is to make atonement by the priest for the Offeror (see separate notes on ‘Making Atonement')
In the case of the Guilt Offering , made for three specific categories of wrong, the only blood mentioned is as for the Burnt Offering (7:2).
13. SPECIAL NOTE: THE LAW AND THE NEW TESTAMENT
A consideration of Hebrews Chapter 10
14. SPECIAL NOTE: Jesus – THE SUM OF ALL THINGS
Consideration of Jesus as the one who fulfils all the types – Offeror, Priest, Offering
In the study of types, we can see Jesus as representing all three of the same things above. In the same way as Jesus is sometimes observed to be Prophet, Priest AND King, so here we consider him as each of the three above things.
this person came aware of their distinction from God
this speaks of Jesus' humanity – he came as a human being (yet without sin, see below) and was very much aware of his Father in heaven
no more so is his humanity seen than in the Garden of Gethsemane when cries out against the ordeal ahead of him (e.g. Lk 22:42 -44)
prophetically he is seen as a distinct being (the Son) for whom God has prepared a body (Heb 10:5) – a distinction between he and the body (the sacrifice)
he comes and identifies with mankind and as an act of will, offers up this body.
2. The Priest
here Christ is seen as the mediator
Heb 9:11,12 “ When Christ came as high priest …... He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.”
The Most Holy Place that this priest entered was not an earthly tent, but heaven itself: Heb 9:24 “F or Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence.”
Heb 10:21,22 “ and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having ” . Because Jesus is our high priest we can come through him to God in great confidence.
3. The Offering
Jesus was referred to as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29 ,36)
Paul wrote: “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed .” (1 Cor 5:7)
Peter wrote: “ it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect ” (1 Pet 1:18,19)
The writer to the Hebrews wrote of Jesus: “ He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Heb 9:12-14)
Paul recorded: “ The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body (implying being offered as a sacrificial offering ), which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor 11:23 -25)
Paul also spoke of Jesus as follows: “ live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God ” (Eph 5:2) The implication is that Jesus' love and obedience acted as a fragrant offering.
Heb 10:11,12 “ Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” This Jesus was a sin offering.
Heb 10:5,6 “ when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased .” As seen elsewhere, Jesus body was given to act as the sacrifice covering all the sacrifices – here the burnt offering as well as the sin offering.
15. SPECIAL NOTE: Some Other Scriptural References to Offerings
1. Offerings Generally
Gen 4:2-5 Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favour on Abel and his offering , but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour .
Gen 35:14 Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it.
Ex 29:1-3 " This is what you are to do to consecrate them, so they may serve me as priests: Take a young bull and two rams without defect. And from fine wheat flour, without yeast, make bread, and cakes mixed with oil, and wafers spread with oil. Put them in a basket and present them in it--along with the bull and the two rams .
Gen 29:42 "For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the LORD. There I will meet you and speak to you;
2. Burnt Offerings
Gen 22:2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about ."
Gen 22:12,13 "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
Ex 18:12 Then Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God
1 Sam 7:9 Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it up as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. He cried out to the LORD on Israel 's behalf, and the LORD answered him.
1 Sam 13:9 So he said, "Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings." And Saul offered up the burnt offering.