Chapter 6 The Burnt Offering

It is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD (Leviticus 1:17).

The five offerings in the beginning of the book of Leviticus foreshadow the sacrifice of our Lord on Calvary’s cross. In Exodus we read of God’s people groaning under bondage. In Leviticus, after redemption is effected, they become a worshiping people. Within a divinely patterned and erected Tabernacle, they worship in God’s appointed way. The golden key to these offerings is Christ in His grace and work. All the action honors God, and the burnt offering takes the lead.

The Sacrifice

There were degrees of devotion in what was offered by the offerer. It could be a male from the herd, a sheep, or even a small bird. If the offering was from the herd (Leviticus 1:3), it had to be an unblemished male, which spoke of perfection and strength. It was choice and prime. It represented strength in fullest vigor and beauty unto perfection. That was the highest degree of devotion.

The quality of the offering itself pointed to the suitability of the Lord Jesus as the only acceptable offering to God. He is as strong as God can be—and needed to be so in order to bear the awful burden of human sin. Only He who was girded with omnipotence could carry such a load—for sin was the weightiest of all burdens.

The offerer had to exercise his personal desire to present his offering. There was no compulsion. There was to be no reluctance. It was to be a willing offering. Here we see the free and happy offering of a devoted heart. Such a one knows sin’s miserable burden. He also knows the value of redeeming love. There is nothing formal here. There is nothing cold and dead. Faith is a willing grace.

The offerer then put his hand on the offering’s head (Leviticus 1:4). This was an act of transference. It was the only way he could be rid of his burden. In figure all his sin was placed on the head of his offering. Nothing was to be retained. The whole sum of his sins was transferred to that which typified the Saviour’s head. This, again, was the exercise of faith. There was no way for sin to be dealt with save as it was placed on the head of the offering. This sets forth the Lord Jesus as being alone able to bear our sins.

The Sacrifice Slain

“He shall kill the bullock before the LORD” (Leviticus 1:5). That which would be an offering for sin, and the sinner’s surety, cannot be spared. Death alone can pay the debt, satisfy the wrath, bear the guilt, and expiate the sin. Thus we see clearly in this type how Christ must die for our sins so that Satan’s accusations may be silenced and conscience may end its strife.

The blood of the sacrifice was then sprinkled “round about upon the altar” (Leviticus 1:5). This was a sprinkling of it over a wide area, and here we learn the wide use of the blood to gain all covenant blessings, and the full reward and fruit of the finished work.

The sacrifice was next flayed (1:6). The skin provided raiment for the offerer, which sets forth Christ, our Lord, as “the Lord our righteousness” through whose sacrifice we are clothed with the best robe Heaven can provide—the pure robe of God’s own righteousness given the offerer as a free gift.

The limbs of the sacrifice were all separated and thoroughly washed (1:9). That which stands as a type of Jesus must be perfectly clean. There must be no speck of impurity, for “[God] is of purer eyes than to behold … iniquity.” All the sacrifice, in all its parts, was then placed on the altar and the fire consumed it all to ashes (1:9). The fire speaks of wrath from God against sin. It is a token of His righteous judgment. Sin cannot be spared, though it is God’s beloved Son who bears it. Justice demands that sin be punished—each sin—every sin.

But Jesus bears it all. The agony of His sacrifice is in bearing this wrath of God. Every part of the sacrifice of old was wrapped in awful flame of fire until each part was fully consumed. That is the picture of the awful price paid by our Lord for our redemption; because He has borne it, such fire can never rekindle upon us.

The Sacrifice Sealed

It is “a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD” (Leviticus 1:9). This is the witness of God’s Holy Spirit, written for the everlasting comfort of the redeemed. It is the witness of Heaven, the seal of God, the sweet assurance that the sacrifice of God’s beloved Son is fully acceptable to God. It is “a sweet savour.” It satisfies every attribute of the divine nature. It provides God ground upon which He can forgive in a righteous way. It gives Him a channel to communicate His peace and joy to the offerer. What wisdom! What love!

We should never come to the Lord’s supper without some solemn thought of what is sin’s due. What a terrible end it must be to be without Christ, when He, the Son of God, had to suffer so. Who could bear God’s awful wrath? That is what hell is! How thankful we should be that the Lord Jesus has borne that for us.

How we should extoll God’s wondrous grace! All our sins were laid upon Jesus our Lord, and no more remain to fall upon our heads. What marvelous grace that He, who is the Lord of glory, would condescend to take up our vile sins and bear their awful doom. This is what John Bunyan called “grace abounding to the chief of sinners.”

Lord, e’en to death Thy love could go,
A death of shame and loss,
To vanquish for us every foe,
And break the strong man’s force.

O, what a load was Thine to bear,
Alone in that dark hour,
Our sins in all their terror there,
God’s wrath and Satan’s pow’r!

The storm that bowed Thy blessed head,
Is hushed forever now,
And rest divine is ours instead,
Whilst glory crowns Thy brow.