New European Commentary


About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan

Deeper Commentary


Lev 9:1 It happened on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel-
The sequence of sin offering, burnt offering and peace offering had been gone through before the seven days of inauguration (Lev. 8:35), as described in Lev. 8. But now they are repeated. Such was the importance of grasping the lessons involved; see on :2.

Lev 9:2 and he said to Aaron, Take a calf from the herd for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before Yahweh-
This repeats the usual progression from sin offering to burnt offering to peace offering, although in this case the equivalent of the peace offering was fire coming from Heaven in response to the sin and burnt offering. Conviction of sin leads to a desire to make complete dedication to God, which results in the peace with God celebrated in the peace offering. So the priests were being convicted of their sin, so that their dedication to Yahweh's service was no mere ritual, but a from the heart desire to serve Him from gratitude for the forgiveness of sin.  

Lev 9:3 You shall speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘Take a male goat for a sin offering; and a calf and a lamb, both a year old, without blemish, for a burnt offering-
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).

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.

This was to remind them that the Passover deliverance through the lamb was effectively ongoing. The Passover lamb was likewise to be a year old (Ex. 12:5). We too are to live constantly under the impression of the Lord's sacrifice and redemption of us. Israel were asked to use a lamb of the first year to record various times when they should be thankful for God's redemption of them in the events which comprise life (Lev. 9:3; 12:6; 23:12,18,19; Num. 6:12,14; 7:15,17,21; 28:3,9,11,19; 29:2,8,13). This was to continually recall to them the events of their great redemption through the Red Sea. And the essence of our redemption, our baptism and salvation through the blood of the lamb, must likewise be brought ever before us.

Lev 9:4 and a bull and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before Yahweh; and a grain offering mixed with oil-
The peace offerings are nearly always mentioned as coming after the sin offerings. The peace which they commemorate is spiritual peace with God due to forgiveness. See on :18. God has "tempered" the whole body together (1 Cor. 12:24). This is alluding to the way in which the unleavened cakes of flour were "mingled" or "tempered" with the oil (cp. the Spirit) in order to be an acceptable offering (Lev. 2:4,5; 7:10; 9:4 etc.). Paul has already likened his Corinthian ecclesia to a lump of unleavened flour (1 Cor. 5:7); he is now saying that they have been "tempered" together by the oil of God's Spirit. If we break apart from our brethren, we are breaking apart, or denying, that "tempering" of the body which God has made.

For today Yahweh appears to you’-
“The glory of the Lord became manifest before the whole people" (Heb.). It could be argued that when the fire came down and consumed the sacrifices when the tabernacle was established, this was the specific, one time fulfilment of Ex. 29:43 "There I will meet with the children of Israel; and the place shall be sanctified by My glory". The appearing of Yahweh to His people required that they made themselves right with Him through a sequence of offerings which dealt with their sin and made them acceptable to Him. We in our day are to live in daily expectation of God’s appearing to us through the return of Christ; and we too must ensure we are right with Him and can go to meet Him acceptably (Mt. 25:6).

Lev 9:5 They brought what Moses commanded before the Tent of Meeting: and all the congregation drew near and stood before Yahweh-
"Come near before Yahweh" is usually translated "offer [sacrifice] before Yahweh", and is translated that way multiple times. Although rarely (Ex. 16:9; Lev. 9:5) it is used of the congregation coming near before Yahweh. But the congregation didn't generally want to come before Yahweh, and so He chose just the Levites to come before Yahweh (Num. 8:10; 16:9 s.w.). It was God's intention that all Israel should be His servants, a nation of priests. But He changed and ammended His approach, and chose just the Levites for this. We see here how open God is to change, so that by all means He may have relationship with His people. Under the new covenant, all believers are part of a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5) as He initially intended even under the old covenant. And yet there is always the tendency to leave the priestly work to specialists rather than perceiving our personal call to do it.

Lev 9:6 Moses said, This is the thing which Yahweh commanded that you should do: and the glory of Yahweh shall appear to you-
The appearing of Yahweh's glory was conditional upon the recognition of sin which is being underlined in :7 and the subsequent rituals. We cannot perceive the wonder of His glory without conviction of our own sinfulness. For His glory is supremely seen in His forgiveness and grace to sinners.

Lev 9:7 Moses said to Aaron, Draw near to the altar, and offer your sin offering, and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself, and for the people; and offer the offering of the people, and make atonement for them as Yahweh commanded-
We sense a reticence within Aaron to accept the calling to priesthood and to make the sin offering. Perhaps he felt so much guilt over the sin of the golden calf; see on :8. Or perhaps the alcohol abuse of his sons we will meet in Lev. 10 was in fact known to him ahead of time. And we can identify with this reserve and struggle to really believe we have been forgiven and can move on in Divine service. Or perhaps he still clung to the idea that his sin with the golden calf was not really his fault and that he had been manipulated by the people.

Lev 9:8 So Aaron drew near to the altar, and killed the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself-
"For himself" suggests the calf was offered in recognition of his sin with the golden calf. See in :8. It is in my view mistaken to assume that Aaron's offering for himself somehow points forward to the Lord Jesus gaining forgiveness for His own nature. This isn't taught in the Bible. The Lord Jesus was perfect, harmless and undefiled- and yet He had human nature. All we posit about human nature we say about the Lord Jesus. It is no sin to be alive, to be human.  It is actual, committed sin, in thought and action, which is the barrier between God and man. The character and person of the Lord Jesus is an endless challenge to us as to what is possible within human nature and for humanity.

Lev 9:9 The sons of Aaron presented the blood to him; and he dipped his finger in the blood, and put it on the horns of the altar, and poured out the blood at the base of the altar-
The sin offering involved putting the blood on the horns of the altar of incense in the holy place (Lev. 4:7,16-18) but it seems Aaron could not yet have access there, as Moses was still priest. Aaron could only be in the outer court, where the altar of burnt offering was, until he was fully ordained as high priest.

Lev 9:10 but the fat, and the kidneys, and the cover from the liver of the sin offering, he burned upon the altar; as Yahweh commanded Moses-
These internal organs were not to be eaten by the priests, but were to be wholly offered to God. For our inner things are to be wholly His. David came to understand that all the Mosaic emphasis upon the "kidneys" was because they represented the inner heart or mind. He often uses the word to describe his innermost thoughts (Ps. 7:9; 16:7; 26:2; 73:21; 139:13). Jeremiah likewise (Jer. 11:20; 12:2; 17:10; 20:12). The Hebrew for "kidneys" is a form of the word for "jewel"; for the innermost core thoughts of a person are so precious to God.  Likewise the Hebrew for "liver" is literally 'that which he heaviest / most valuable'. For the innermost thoughts are the weighty things to God. We see here the supreme importance of being spiritually minded.

Lev 9:11 The flesh and the skin he burned with fire outside the camp-
The Lord Jesus suffered and died, shedding the blood of atonement, "outside the camp" (Heb. 13:13). We are bidden go forth to the Lord Jesus "outside the camp", just as those who "sought Yahweh" did when there was no tabernacle (Ex. 33:7). The people watching Moses as he walked out to it, without the camp, therefore looks ahead to a faithless Israel lining the via Dolorosa and watching the Lord walk out to His place of crucifixion. And we are to get behind Him and follow Him there, stepping out from the mass of Israel. As the Lord Jesus suffered "outside the camp", so various parts of the Mosaic sacrifices were to be burnt there (Lev. 4:12,21; 8:17; 9:11; 16:27); and yet it was the blood of those sacrifices which achieved atonement (Heb. 13:11; Num. 19:3,9). "Outside the camp" was the place of excluded, condemned sinners (Lev. 13:46; 24:14; Num. 5:3,4; 15:35,36; 31:13,19), and it was here that the Lord Jesus died, in identification with us. 

Lev 9:12 He killed the burnt offering; and Aaron’s sons delivered the blood to him, and he sprinkled it around on the altar-
To sprinkle blood upon something didn't necessarily mean the object was forgiven. For an inanimate altar didn't need forgiving. The blood of the covenant was sprinkled (s.w.) upon the people as a sign of their involvement with the covenant process of salvation, rather than as a statement of their forgiveness (Ex. 24:8). Likewise with the sprinkling of the blood of the Passover lamb (2 Chron. 35:11). This was an act of identification rather than forgiveness of sin. The function of the altar was valid before God, or efficacious, because of its association with the blood of Christ; for the blood of the animals slain upon it couldn't bring salvation of itself, but only through God's way of looking at that blood is looking ahead to that of His Son (Heb. 10:4). And so the altar was associated with the blood which represented His blood.     

Lev 9:13 They delivered the burnt offering to him, piece by piece, and the head: and he burned them upon the altar-
We note the continual Mosaic requirement that sacrifices be cut into parts. 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 9:14 He washed the inward parts and the legs, and burned them on the burnt offering on the altar-
See on :10. The Mosaic idea of washing the priests and inner parts of the sacrifices is alluded to in Eph. 5:26; the Lord died that "he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word". The Lord's death provided the water which cleanses and sanctifies; and that water which came from His death refers to the gift of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 4:14; 7:39). This was the significance of the water flowing from His side when He was crucified.     

There is huge emphasis upon the “inward parts” in the regulations about sacrifices. Our inward parts and thoughts of the heart are laid open before God and should be offered to Him, not just the externalities which men see (Heb. 4:12). The same word is used of Sarah's laughing "within herself" (Gen. 18:12). The sacrifice of Christ was so perfect because His innermost thoughts were offered to God. And it is our thoughts when nobody else is watching which are of the essence to God; "to be spiritually minded", as the New Testament expresses it. This is why Yahweh could not go up in "the midst" of Israel (Ex. 33:3; Num. 14:42; Dt. 1:42), because they didn't have Him in their midst. Thus to marry unbelievers would be a snare "in the midst of you" (Ex. 34:12), right in the inner mind which is what God seeks above all. David in the Psalms speaks of the "inward parts" of the human mind, which are critical in God's judgment of a person as wicked or righteous (e.g. Ps. 5:9; 36:1; 49:11 and Ps. 64:6, where "inward thought" is s.w. "inward parts"). It is those inward parts which were to be washed (Lev. 1:13), just as our innermost heart can be washed by the Spirit which is given at baptism. For this is the gift of the Spirit in the new covenant, whereby God's law is placed within our inward parts (s.w. Jer. 31:33; Ez. 36:26,27) by the God who can form the spirit of man in man's inward parts, the God who can work directly upon the human heart (Zech. 12:1).  

Lev 9:15 He presented the people’s offering, and took the goat of the sin offering which was for the people, and killed it, and offered it for sin, like the first-
Jesus spoke of the righteous as sheep and the sinners as goats (Mt. 25:33). A goat rather than a sheep was required because the goat was the representative of the sinful people; it was killed as a recognition by them that their sin deserved death. In baptism we make the same recognition- that I should die, and I identify myself with the dead body of Christ, and come alive again in Him.

Lev 9:16 He presented the burnt offering, and offered it according to the regulation-
Conviction of sin, taught by the sin offering, leads to a desire to make complete dedication to God, which results in the peace with God celebrated in the peace offering.

Lev 9:17 He presented the grain offering, and filled his hand from there, and burned it upon the altar, besides the burnt offering of the morning-
The stress upon "he presented" (:16,17) suggests that now Aaron is taking over from Moses as the high priest. We note that the daily burnt offering was never overlooked even when there were additional sacrifices required on that day. Likewise our basic daily devotions to God must never be allowed to slip regardless of whatever other work we are doing for the Lord.

Lev 9:18 He also killed the bull and the ram, the sacrifice of peace offerings, which was for the people; and Aaron’s sons delivered to him the blood, which he sprinkled around on the altar-
The peace offerings are nearly always mentioned as coming after the sin offerings. The peace which they commemorate is spiritual peace with God due to forgiveness. The Law always lists the sacrifices in a specific order: sin offering, burnt offering, peace offering (e.g. Lev. 9:2-4). This may foreshadow the New Testament trio: "Grace, mercy and peace". Thus the peace offering is a result of having received mercy. Therefore we keep our peace offering, the memorial meeting, to recall the mercy which we have received. We do not specifically come there to find mercy. We do not need to break bread in order to be forgiven. Ps. 100:4,5 seems to allude to the peace offerings: "Enter into his gates (the peace offering was to be offered at the gate of the tabernacle) with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto Him... for the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting". The peace offering was "the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and in practice it was offered in thanks and praise of God's mercy towards human sin. In similar vein, Ps. 107:17- 21 exults in the wonder of God's mercy in forgiving men. The spirit told Israel to respond by making voluntary peace offerings: "Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving" (v.22), i.e. peace offerings (Lev. 7:12).

Lev 9:19 and the fat of the bull and of the ram, the fat tail, and that which covers the inward parts, and the kidneys, and the cover of the liver-
The idea is as in LXX "the fact [even] the fat tail" (as Lev. 3:9; 7:3). There were species of sheep with a large fatty tail, which was considered in their culture to be a great delicacy. We see here how the law of Moses was limited in application to an immediate context, and was simply not intended to be a global law for all time. But the take away lesson is that we are to give to God whatever is for us, in our culture and worldview, the best and most desirous.

Lev 9:20 and they put the fat upon the breasts, and he burned the fat on the altar-
The fire which burned up the fat came down from God in :24. So we have here an example of a situation being presented which is a summary of future events. The picture is given, and then we later read the explanation of how it came about. This is typical of so much Biblical writing.

Lev 9:21 and the breasts and the right thigh Aaron waved for a wave offering before Yahweh, as Moses commanded-
The portion to be waved was placed on the priests hands (Ex. 29:25), and then 'waved' or 'swung' towards the altar and then back- not from right to left. The idea was that the offerings were first given to God, recognizing they should be consumed on the altar to God; but then given back to the priest by God. So they ate them having first recognized that their food was really God's, all was of Him, and He had given it back to them to eat. This should be our spirit in partaking of any food, as we are the new priesthood. Our prayers of thanks for daily food should include this feature. All things are God's and anything we 'offer' to Him is only giving Him what He has given to us (1 Chron. 29:14,16).

Lev 9:22 Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people, and blessed them-
When the offerings are spoken of together, they are always in this order- sin offering, then burnt offering and then peace offering. Firstly we must deal with our sin; then dedicate ourselves to God, as spoken of in the burnt offering. Only then can we have peace with God and fellowship freely with Him, as exemplified in the peace offering.

Within the Pentateuch, the idea of blessing creation paves the way for God promising to “bless” the children of Abraham, and the blessings upon them with which Deuteronomy concludes (see too Lev. 9:22; Num. 6:22-24). The pagan creation stories sometimes spoke of the things created by the gods then blessing them. The Sumerians recorded that at ‘creation’, “The whole universe, the people in unison, to Enlil in one tongue gave praise”. But the true God, the God of all grace, not only creates His people and other creatures, but then blesses them! And the spirit of that grace should be seen in all our relationships. The Sumerian and Babylonian myths speak of people being created in order to serve the gods, “to bear the yoke of the gods” (S.G.F. Brandon), to relieve them in their everyday work. But the Genesis creation has God creating man and giving him great freedom, and blessing him.

And he came down from offering the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and the peace offerings-
Although the altar was very low, only three cubits (45 cm.) high (Ex. 27:1), Aaron "came down" from it (Lev. 9:22). This may be understood in the same way as people "went up" and "came down" from the temple. Sacrifice was a 'height'.

Lev 9:23 Moses and Aaron went into the Tent of Meeting, and came out, and blessed the people; and the glory of Yahweh appeared to all the people-
Blessing is often associated with forgiveness and acceptance with God. The blessings promised to Abraham and his seed likewise (Acts 3:25,26). If we are Abraham’s seed by baptism (Gal. 3:27-29) then we are to be a blessing to the world in that we offer them the way to God’s forgiveness and fellowship with Him. The glory of God is only perceptible by those who have been genuinely convicted of their sin.

Lev 9:24 There came forth fire from before Yahweh, and consumed the burnt offering and the fat upon the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted, and fell on their faces-
Jewish tradition has it that the fire which came down from Heaven in Lev. 9:24 remained burning; and this fire was preserved burning all night and day. Hence the need for "fire pans" (Ex. 27:3) to keep the fire burning whilst the altar was being cleaned or the remains of sacrifices removed from it. The fire which never went out or was 'quenched' (Lev. 6:13) is a double symbol. The phrase is used multiple times with reference to the wrath of God in condemning sinners; it is the basis of the idea of eternal fire which will not be quenched. Rather like the cup of wine from the Lord being a symbol of either condemnation or blessing. So we have a choice- be consumed by the eternal fire now as living sacrifices, or be consumed by it anyway at the last day.