If Exodus was about the what concerning the tabernacle, then Leviticus is all about the how. Filled with detailed instructions on the rites and rituals for sacrifices and offerings, no question remains as to how God likes things done.
While some regard Leviticus as boring and irrelevant, the New Testament refers back to this book no less than 90 times, indicating there is indeed something worthwhile in its pages. In fact, it contains the Gospel in a nutshell. The requirements for fellowship with a holy God are laid out with precision: a cost and a sacrifice are mandatory. The problem of man’s inadequacy and sinful nature must be addressed. And lastly, the solution is found in the atonement or blood sacrifice, making the way for man to come into right relationship with God. The rest is detail.
Chapter 1 of Leviticus outlines the essentials for burnt offerings. The root of the word offering means to draw near and how appropriate that is to begin the book with, seeing that was God’s primary purpose for building the tabernacle in the first place.
The first few pages of Leviticus would enrage PETA to the point of picketing and lobbying the government. But sacrificing animals was the best way God could illustrate the high price He paid to send His only Son to the cross. In Old Testament times, animals were considered valuable tools and assets, essentials not only for work but for life and sustenance.
The purpose of the burnt offering was for atonement of sin for the Israelites, enabling an unholy people to approach a holy God. And God made sure that everyone was able to bring a suitable offering, regardless of their financial situation. For the upper class, it was a bull. For the middle class, a male sheep or goat and for the lower class, a pair of pigeons, also known as turtle doves. Whatever one had to give, large or small, it was all a sweet-smelling aroma, pleasing and acceptable to the Lord.
Since the offering was based on wealth right from its origin, we see the evidence of Mary and Joseph’s social status in Luke 2:24 when they bring Jesus to the temple along with a pair of turtle doves for an offering. Sorry, Pastor Prosperity, but your sermon leaks at this point in Scripture. Whatever happened to the gold, frankincense and myrrh that was brought to Jesus at his birth is unknown and undocumented. All I know is they weren’t driving a Mercedes that day.
The strong point of any relationship is communication. God set these words on paper to show us that there is a cost to having a relationship with Him. And it’s messy. The slaughtering of animals every time someone sins is not a pleasant thought, but God had a purpose in it. Sadly, many people are still trying to pay for their own sins when the Ultimate Sacrifice paid it all. It’s just a matter of realizing what Jesus did for you on the cross and accepting that as your atonement for sin.
Once a bill is paid, do you pay it a second time? When you accept Jesus’ work on the cross, your past, present and future sins are paid for. When God looks at you, He doesn’t see your sin – He sees His Son. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
So what do you do with that? Do you continue to try to make up for what you’ve done with good works or do you give up on that and simply say “Thank You, Father.” God’s love for you is unconditional. Whatever you’ve done or are doing, it’s been paid in full. Fulfilling your destiny, even if you consider yourself a good Christian, is not possible without realizing and acting on this simple truth.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Hebrews 10:19-23 NLT