Major Lessons of the Levitical Offerings
The following are some of the major lessons of the Levitical offerings by way of review and application:
1. Man is a sinner and is separated from the holy Creator God by his sin against God’s law.
2. Only through an acceptable sacrifice can man be reconciled to God. The sacrifice required both the blood and death of a perfect, innocent victim, which was fulfilled in Christ. God paid a great price for man’s salvation in that He gave His only begotten Son to suffer on the cross. Salvation is not by good works or sincerity or religion.
3. There is only one way of salvation. Just as the Israelite had to bring the right sacrifice to the right place in the right way, so the sinner must come to God in the prescribed way through the one gospel and the one Saviour.
4. The same salvation is available for all men, rich and poor, rulers and servants (Lev. 1:14; 4:22, 27).
5. All of the Levitical sacrifices point to Christ and the various characteristics of His salvation. He is everything the sinner needs before God, and in Christ the believing sinner is fully accepted. See 1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:3. The believer needs to live in awareness of the benefit of Christ and His sacrifice.
“We need to always most thankfully receive His inestimable benefit. In other words, we must by faith accept Christ as our five-fold offering, on the basis of which alone we are saved and have our standing before God. Morning by morning as we awaken let it be with the consciousness that in the burnt offering and meat offering of Christ we are accepted and blessed of God, that in His peace offering we have the right to commune with Him, that through His sin and trespass offering every defect is remedied and every fault will find pardon” (James Gray, Concise Bible Commentary).
6. The perfection and sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice is emphasized in many ways, such as the manifold aspect of the sacrifices (burnt, peace, meal, trespass, sin), the spotlessness of the sacrifice (Lev. 1:3), the blood sprinkled seven times (Lev. 4:6), and the continual burning of the sacrifice (Lev. 6:13). In all of these ways Leviticus is teaching that “Christ is all I need.” See Hebrews 10:10, 14.
7. Though God has provided the way of reconciliation, the individual sinner must obtain reconciliation. Each individual had to bring the sacrifice before God in the prescribed way. This signifies the fact that each sinner must come to God and acknowledge his sin and put his faith in Jesus Christ. God has provided the Sacrifice, Jesus has died for the sins of the world, but men must receive Him. When the worshiper put his hands on the sacrifice he was signifying his need of it and his identification with it (Lev. 1:4). This is symbolic of repentance and faith. Likewise, the believer must come before God when he sins and obtain mercy day-by-day (Heb. 4:16; 1 John 1:9).
8. Salvation is an exchange. Christ took the place of the sinner, and the sinner takes the place of Christ. See 2 Corinthians 5:21.
9. Christ’s life and sacrifice was a sweet savor to God the Father (Lev. 1:17; 2:9; 3:5). God testified that He was well pleased with the Son both through the prophets and directly with a voice from Heaven (Isa. 42:1; Mat. 3:17; 17:5). Christ is the beloved of God, and the believer is accepted in the beloved (Eph. 1:3).
10. Salvation is not merely a matter of being forgiven of sin; it is a matter of being devoted to God, walking with Him in sweet fellowship, and serving Him. Thus, there was not only the sin offering but also the burnt offering and the meal offering. Salvation is not a ticket to heaven whereby one prays a sinner’s prayer and then lives his or her life as before. Salvation is to come into a right and intimate relationship with God through Christ as an adopted son and to serve Him as a disciple, a priest, an ambassador, a soldier.
11. The believer is to give his best to Christ. This was signified by the wave offering, whereby the breast and right shoulder of the peace offering were to be waved before the Lord (Lev. 9:21). The breast signified the passion and devotion of one’s heart and the shoulder signified one’s strength and fervor of service. Compare Romans 12:1-2.
12. The believer is to emulate Christ’s life and follow His example. Christ is the believer’s law and rule of life. While Christ is the Great High Priest, every believer is also a priest who is to walk in Christ’s holy ways and to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God (1 Pet. 2:5, 9).
“Then let us remember that we should also daily endeavor ourselves to follow the blessed steps of His most holy life. After we have accepted Him and represented Him to God as our sacrifice by faith then we can follow His example. We are not in a position to do this before. He is our burnt offering, a perfect dedication to God, but we are also bidden in Him to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service (Rom. 12:1). He is our meal offering presented to God for the service of man, but we too are to ‘please his neighbor for his good to edification’ (Rom. 15:2). He is our peace offering, making and maintaining peace between God and us, but we are also to be peacemakers (Mat. 5:9; Rom. 12:18; 14:19; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 3:11). It is impossible that we should make atonement for sin as He did, but there is a sense in which we may ‘bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ’ (Gal. 6:2)” (James Gray, Concise Bible Commentary).
13. The believer follows Christ by yielding to Him. The Christian life is not a matter merely of imitating Christ and following His example; it is a matter of yielding to the Christ who dwells in us by His Spirit. See Galatians 2:20. This was depicted by the eating of the appointed offerings (Lev. 10:12-15). The breast and shoulder of the peace offering signified Christ’s character and strength, and in eating it the priest signified that he was internalizing Christ so that Christ’s heart and Christ’s strength would flow through him. We see the same picture in the Lord’s Supper. In eating and drinking, the believer signifies his unity with Christ and His Sacrifice, both for salvation and for living.