New European Commentary

 

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Deeper Commentary

 

Lev 1:1 Yahweh called to Moses and spoke to him out of the Tent of Meeting, saying-
The style of Moses' writing in Num. 20:12-14 reveals this submerging of his own pain. He speaks of himself in the third person, omitting any personal reflection on his own feelings: "The Lord spake unto Moses... Because you believed me not... you shall not bring the congregation into the land... and Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the King of Edom...". Likewise all the references to “the Lord spake unto Moses” (Lev. 1:1). Moses submerged his own personality in writing his books. It could of course be argued that these are the words of a Divinely inspired editor. But consider this alternative. 

Lev 1:2 Speak to the children of Israel and tell them, ‘When anyone of you offers an offering to Yahweh, you shall offer your offering of the livestock, from the herd and from the flock-

They were not to keep some animals specially for sacrifice; they were to take the sacrificial animals out of the herd. We are to be living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1), not reserving just part of our lives for God. The Lord Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, and He was taken out of the common herd of humanity, not preserved specially for His work.


Lev 1:3 If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall offer it at the door of the Tent of Meeting, that he may be accepted before Yahweh-

No animal actually is without blemish. God recognizes that we will not attain perfection in this life, but we are to do our best towards it; and His love imputes righteousness to us, counting us as unblemished because of our status in Christ. For only Christ was the sacrifice totally without moral blemish (1 Pet. 1:19).

 


Lev 1:4 He shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him-

Putting the hand on the animal’s head was to show that the animal represented the offerer. He showed thereby that he deserved to die, and wished to give his total life to God just as the animal would be totally offered to God. We see here God’s principle of accepting us on the basis of the representative sacrifice of Christ; the equivalent of our putting our hand on the head of the sacrifice is the act of baptism into Christ and abiding “in Christ”, He being our representative and we being His.


Lev 1:5 He shall slaughter the bull before Yahweh. Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall present the blood and sprinkle the blood around on the altar that is at the door of the Tent of Meeting.
Lev 1:6 He shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into pieces.
Lev 1:7 The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay wood in order on the fire;
Lev 1:8 and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall lay the pieces, the head, and the fat in order on the wood that is on the fire which is on the altar;
Lev 1:9 but its inward parts and its legs he shall wash with water. The priest shall burn the whole on the altar, for a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, of a pleasant aroma to Yahweh-

Every part of our lives, including our most inward parts, are to be offered to God. The process of splitting the offering into its parts speaks of our self-examination, defining each part of our lives and offering them to God consciously.

 


Lev 1:10 If his offering is from the flock, from the sheep, or from the goats, for a burnt offering, he shall offer a male without blemish-

This looked ahead to the unblemished character of the Lord Jesus. The offering of sacrifices "without blemish" uses a word which is used about Abraham and Noah being "without blemish" (AV "perfect") before God (Gen. 6:9; 17:1). Although the word is used about the sacrifices, it is really more appropriate to persons- "you shall be perfect with Yahweh your God" (Dt. 18:13), "serve Him in sincerity (s.w. "without blemish")" (Josh. 24:14). The idea, therefore, was that the offerer was invited to see the animal as representative of himself. Our lives too are to be as "living sacrifices" (Rom. 12:1). And yet in practical terms, no animal is without blemish. They were to give the best they could, and God would count it as without blemish; as He does with us. David frequently uses the term in the Psalms about himself and the "upright", even though he was far from unblemished in moral terms.


Lev 1:11 He shall kill it on the north side of the altar before Yahweh. Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar.
Lev 1:12 He shall cut it into its pieces, with its head and its fat. The priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire which is on the altar,
Lev 1:13 but the inward parts and the legs he shall wash with water. The priest shall offer the whole, and burn it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, of a pleasant aroma to Yahweh-

“A pleasant aroma” is a very common phrase. This concept is important to God. It first occurs in Gen. 8:21 where it means that God accepted Noah's sacrifice and vowed that the pole of saving mercy in His character was going to triumph over that of necessary judgment. Under the new covenant, it is persons and not sacrifices or incense which are accepted as a "pleasant aroma" (Ez. 20:41). The word for "pleasant" means strong delight; this is how God's heart can be touched by genuine sacrifice. Those pleasing offerings represented us, the living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1). And so it is applied to us in 2 Cor. 2:15- if we are in Christ, we are counted as a pleasant aroma to God. The offering of ourselves to Him is nothing of itself, but because we are in Christ and counted as Him, we are a delight to God. Hence the colossal importance of being “in Christ”. "Aroma" or "smell" is a form of the Hebrew word ruach, the word for spirit or breath. God discerns the spirit of sacrifices, that was what pleased Him rather than the burning flesh of animals. Our attitude of mind in sacrifice can touch Him. Sacrifice is therefore accepted, Paul says, according to what a person has to give, but the essence is the attitude of mind behind it. We think of the two coins sacrificed by the widow.
Lev 1:14 If his offering to Yahweh is a burnt offering of birds, then he shall offer his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons.
Lev 1:15 The priest shall bring it to the altar, and wring off its head, and burn it on the altar; and its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar;
Lev 1:16 and he shall take away its crop with its filth, and throw it beside the altar on the east side, in the place of the ashes.
Lev 1:17 He shall tear it by its wings, but shall not divide it apart. The priest shall burn it on the altar, on the wood that is on the fire. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, of a pleasant aroma to Yahweh’.