As I am reading Leviticus, I see there are 5 sacrifices that God instructed for his people: burnt offering, peace offering, grain offering, sin offering, and guilt offering. We still depend on these sacrifices today! Before you virtually stone me for some kind of false doctrine, no, I am not talking about literally slaughtering animals and burning them on an altar before God.I’m saying that each of these laws of sacrifice have been replaced in the new covenant and are still being fulfilled today.
The first three sacrifices that God lays out to Moses are sacrifices of worship, thanksgiving, and consecration to God. They were to be burned on the altar as, “a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the Lord.” In previous years, God really highlighted this portion to me, challenging me to ask of myself, “Is my aroma of worship pleasing to the Lord?” As I look at these acts of worship, I am reminded what Paul says in Romans 12, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.”(12:1 NIV). We, our bodies, hearts, and minds, have replaced these three sacrifices; our lives are to be an aroma of worship to God.
The last two sacrifices are the sin offering and the guilt offering. These were not sacrifices of worship, but of repentance and atonement. They are what made the Israelites right before God. These were to be burned outside the city, and they would purify them from their sinful nature as well as their sinful actions. These sacrifices are summed up and forever completed under the blood Jesus shed on the cross. What I find completely fascinating to really bridge the gap and seal the deal that Jesus was our sin and guilt offering is that he was crucified outside the city. God completely fulfilled the law when Jesus died, but having overcome death, his sacrifice was once and for all.
There is a daily sacrifice that must happen in us. We must choose to put fuel on the fires of our worship, on the altar of our heart (just like the priests had to daily put wood on the fire of the alter for the fire was to never go out). This fuel is the word of God. We have to also sacrifice of our desires and selfish nature every day. And we have to acknowledge and embrace the work of the cross by making Jesus Lord, by choosing to surrender to His way of living and not our own. When we daily do this, the law is fulfilled in the new covenant and we are positioned to hear from God and to know God more intimately.
Yep, Leviticus can be hard to read, but it can also be so beautiful and powerful.