The Burnt Offering
Arthur G. Clarke
Other Names. Ascending offering; approach offering; (Hebrew 'olak'), Lev. 1. 6. 8-13.
Relevant Scriptures. Psalm 40; Gospel of John.
I. PRIMARY PURPOSE
ACCEPTANCE OF THE APPROACHING ISRAELITE as an approved worshipper. Acceptableness of the offering became the measure of the offerer's acceptance with God. The worshipper, recognizing Jehovah's righteous claims to an entire self-surrender of his life, Deut. 6. 5 (cited Matt. 22. 73), acknowledged his failure and offered an unblemished substitute. God found delight in the burnt offering not because of any intrinsic value it possessed but because it spoke to Him of the person and work of His beloved Son. To Him this offering was 'a savour of rest', Gen. 8. 21, literal translation (compare Eph. 5. 2).
II. TYPICAL SIGNIFICANCE
Christ's perfect consecration to God in His death; the cross seen as an expression of His whole-hearted devotion to the accomplishment of the divine will, delighting thus the Father's heart, John 10. 17, 18; Heb. 9. 14; 10. 5ft; Phil. 2. 8. For our Lord's first recorded words on earth see Luke 2. 49; for His last, John 19. 30 with Luke 23. 46. In the work of the cross there was that which meant more to God than even the salvation of sinners. He found at last a Man who fully glorified Him in all things, John 17. 4, even in respect of sin, which has so grievously dishonoured Him, and in a world where He had been so misrepresented by Adam's race. God's holy character was vindicated by the second Man 'from heaven', 1 Cor. 15. 47, R.V., who alone could do this. The primary aspect therefore of Christ's work was Godward, John 4. 34.
III. ATONING BLOOD
This met the deficiency in the offerer's character as coming short of the glory of God, Rom. 3. 23b. All personal unfitness was covered in the death of the substitute victim. The believer's acceptance with God does not rest solely upon the perfect obedience of the Saviour as such but upon the value in the sight of God of the Saviour's atoning blood.
IV. APPOINTED SACRIFICES
i. Of herds and flocks, a male without blemish, see Lev. 22. 19, 20;
ii. Of birds, turtledoves or young pigeons, and in both cases accompanied always by the prescribed food and drink offerings. The different grades were intended to meet the offerer's ability so that the poorest Israelite would not be debarred from approach to God. With certain modifications in the ritual they represent differing degrees of spiritual apprehension by faith of the preciousness of Christ's sacrifice. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that the Christian's acceptance rests not upon man's estimate but upon God's. Compare the five classes in the victims offered by Abram by divine command, Gen. 15. 9.
a. Ox (a young bull) literally 'son of the herd', v. 5, typically suggests Christ's prompt service, Ps. 144. 14; Prov. 14. 4. The ox was available either for service or for sacrifice (see 2 Sam. 24. 22). The Saviour's toil and trial are emphasized throughout Mark's Gospel, where He is presented as the Servant of Jehovah (note 3. 20; 6. 31; 10. 45). In this, the highest grade offering, Christ is set forth as the Strong One.
b. Sheep, v. 10, typically suggests Christ's patient submission, Isa, 53. 7 (cited Acts 8. 32). Christ is set forth as the Subject One. The ordinary burnt offering in the time of our Lord was a male lamb of the first year.
c. Goat, v. 10, typically suggests Christ's planned substitution, Lev. 16. 5ff. Christ is set forth as the Sin-bearing One. Many fail to differentiate clearly between the sin offering and the burnt offering aspects of Christ's work on the cross.
d. Turtledove or young pigeon, v. 14 (see John 2. 13-16; Matt. 21. 12). These birds typically suggest Christ's patient sincerity, i.e. His guileless character, 1 Pet. 2. 22 (compare Matt. 10.16). He is set forth as the Sorrowing One, Isa 38.14; 59- 11; 53- 3, 4; Matt. 26. 37, 38. We may summarize thus,
a. the Persevering Servant, Isa. 42. 1;
b. the Patient Sufferer;
c. the Promised Sin-bearer, Isa. 53. 5, 11;
d. the Perfect Sympathizer, John II. 35.
V. ADDED INGREDIENT
Salt, Lev. 2. 13; Exod. 43. 24 (see corresponding note under meal offering).
VI. PRESCRIBED RITUAL
i. The Offerer's Work.
a.. Presentation of the sacrificial victim 'at the entrance of the tent of meeting' where was situated the brazen altar, vv. 3, 10, 14;
b. Identification with his offering by the laying on (literally 'leaning') of a hand upon its head, v. 4, in token of complete reliance upon the substitute for the worshipper's own acceptance with God. With the birds a similar thought would be conveyed by being brought in the hand.
c. Immolation, i.e. slaying, 'before the Lord', v. 5, by cutting the victim's throat on the north side of die altar. Significantly our Lord was crucified outside Jerusalem on the north side.
d. Dissection, v. 6, i.e. flaying, jointing (not hacking in pieces), washing the inwards and legs with water, v. 9, this last, to suit it the better as representing the antitype, and indicating that the secrets of the Saviour's inner life disclosed nothing inconsistent with God's will, no imperfection whatever in His character or conduct.
ii. The Priest's Work.
a. Presenting the blood, v. 5;
b. Scattering the blood round about upon the altar, proclaiming thus on every hand the fact of atonement, v. 5. In the case of the birds, he 'pinched off' the head, v. 15, R.V., pressed out the small quantity of blood on the side of the altar, deposited feathers and filth as indicated, v. 16, and rent open the little body without separating the parts.
c. Attending the altar, vv. 7-9, i.e. arranging fuel, fire and sacrifice.
d. Removing the ashes, 6. 10, 11. Note that priestly activity began only upon the death of the victim, except when the priest was acting for himself or his family or for the whole congregation, in which event he first undertook the duties of representative offerer before continuing in a priestly capacity.
VII ALLOTTED PORTIONS
i. Jehovah's share. To Him belonged the whole of the flayed and jointed sacrifice consumed on the altar.
ii. The Priest's share. To him was granted the animal's skin, Lev. 7. 8 (compare Gen. 3. 21).
iii. The Offerer's share was absolutely nothing. Both he and the priest might apprehend the meaning of the burnt offering, entering to some degree into God's thoughts concerning it, but they could not appropriate any part as food as with other offerings. Special burnt offerings for the nation were offered on the Day of Atonement, Lev. 16. 3, 24, at the beginning of each month and on the occasion of three great festivals, Num. 28, 11 29-40.
We regret that lack of space prevents the inclusion of 'THE CONTINUAL BURNT OFFERING' submitted as part of this article. It will be included in our next issue, and toe trust you mill re-read the two instalments as one to gather the full benefit of the author's remarks.