Introduction to the Offerings

Arthur G. Clarke

Part 1 of 8 of the series Concise Notes onLevitical Offerings

It is recognized that these 'Notes' are far from exhaustive. They are suggestive only and it is fervently hoped that many will be stimulated to further study of this much neglected yet immensely profitable section of the Word of God. Other writers have been drawn upon freely and with grateful appreciation for some of the notes, but it is believed that the tabulated set-up intended to facilitate reference by Bible students is something new. For these studies the use of the English Revised Version is recommended.
INTRODUCTION
I.  IMPORTANCE OF THE OFFERINGS
This is indicated by the many chapters devoted to the subject, and by the many references thereto in other parts of Scripture. Leviticus is not a mere record of bygone institutions belonging only to Israel, as some ignorantly maintain, but is a storehouse of spiritual wealth for Christians today, Rom. 15. 4; 2 Tim. 3.16.
II.  COMMUNICATION OF THE OFFERINGS
Divine instructions to Israel concerning the offerings arc recorded mainly in the opening chapters of the book of Leviticus. They are contained in a series of communications given through Moses, Israel's divinely-chosen leader and mediator. Each communication is introduced by a characteristic formula, the repetition of which plainly gives the source of the oracle, 'And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying . . .', I. i; 4. 1; 5. 14; 6. 1, 8, 19, 24; 7. 22, 28; 8. 1. The extended form at 1. 1 beginning with 'And' indicates a narrative following on from the last chapter in Exodus. This is more clearly seen in the Hebrew.
The tabernacle, called the 'tent of meeting', was the dwelling-place of Jehovah in the midst of His redeemed people, Exod. 25. 8; 29. 45, 46. It had been constructed with the voluntary gifts and by the willing-hearted labour of the people under leaders appointed and equipped by God. On the day chosen by Him it was duly set up after the prescribed order, Exod. 40, and anointed with the holy oil. Thereupon the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle, v. 35, from which Moses received the communications referred to above. The law was communicated from Sinai, the fiery mount, Exod. 19. 3 with 20. 1; the directions concerning the offerings were given from the sanctuary, from the mercy-seat, Lev. 1. 1; Exod. 25. 21, 22; Num. 7, 89. General instructions to the people are found in Lev. 1 to 6. 7 and 7. 22-38, and special instructions for the priests (the laws of the offerings) in 6. 8 to 7. 21.
III. PURPOSE OF THE OFFERINGS
It is important to remember that these offerings were enjoined upon a people already redeemed, Exod. 12, and in covenant relationship with Jehovah, Exod. 24. Israel is instructed as to the way of approach to God in worship and communion, a way befitting His holy character. In Christian worship approach to God requires not only a title to do so, Heb. 10. 19-22, but a nature capable of enjoying fellowship with Him, John 1. 12, 13; 4. 23, 24; Phil. 3. 3; Rom. 8. 15, 16; Gal. 4. 6; 1 John 1. 3, 6, 7. Israel's service was according to Jehovah's own proclaimed purpose for them, Exod. 4. 23.
As with the tabernacle itself, so with the offerings, everything down to the last detail was to be according to the divine pattern and instructions. Nothing whatever was left to human devising or arrangement, Exod. 25. 9, 40; 26. 30; 27. 8; Num. 8. 4; Acts 7. 44; Heb. 8. 5 (see also Lev. 8. 36; 9. 6, 7, etc.). Here is a divine principle that stands for all time, including the manner of Christian worship and of church order.
IV. TEACHING  OF THE OFFERINGS
As another has said, 'Christ is the key to all the types, Luke 24. 44, the sum of all the offerings, Heb. 10. 5-10'. These latter prefigure the once-for-all offering of 'the body of Jesus'. In the past dispensation God was teaching His people their letters; now He is teaching believers to put the letters together. However we may arrange them they always spell 'Christ'. It has been said that they who best know the Substance will soonest recognize the shadow, Col. 2. 17; Heb. 8. 5; 10. i.
By means of the offerings God brings within the range of our finite capacity some understanding of the high standards of His holiness and of the heinousness of man's sin, but we see that inflexible holiness united with infinite grace in meeting man's need. There is also provided for us a detailed survey of the comprehensive work of the cross of Christ. In the Gospels we are given the historical account; in the epistles, the doctrine of the cross. In many prophetic Scriptures, particularly in the Psalms, we are permitted to learn something of the Saviour's inward exercise of soul when on the cross, and in the offerings, by what one may call a 'dissecting process', God opens up to our view precious aspects of the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ. Some of God's thoughts concerning the person and work of His beloved Son on earth are here revealed to attuned hearts. It may be added that an intelligent study of these offerings will safeguard the Christian from much of the false teaching so prevalent today concerning our Lord's holy person and the true significance of His death.
V.  DIVISION  OF THE OFFERINGS
There are four 'blood' offerings, namely, the burnt offering, the peace offering, the sin offering and the trespass offering, and two bloodless ones, the meal offering and the drink offering.
i. Sweet savour offerings were the burnt offering and the peace offering with their accompanying meal and drink offerings. These were primarily for the acceptance of the offerer's person. They were voluntary according to his choice and ability. 'Sweet savour' is literally 'savour of rest' (compare Gen. 8. 21).
ii. Non-savour offerings were the sin and trespass offerings, which were primarily for the removal of the offerer's sin. They were necessary in every case of wrong-doing, compulsory according to the holy requirements of Jehovah and the conscious need of the offerer.
VI.  ORDER OF THE OFFERINGS
In communicating His mind God begins with the offering highest in His estimation (the burnt offering) and ends with that which meets the worshipper's deepest need, namely, the trespass offering. In Christian experience the truth is appreĀ¬hended in the reverse order, first trespasses forgiven then sin judged, followed by peace enjoyed and acceptance known.