The Continual Burnt Offering

Arthur G. Clarke

Part 3 of 8 of the series Concise Notes on Levitical Offerings

Category: Exposition

As indicated in our last issue, we now include the second half of the article on THE BURNT OFFERING.    We trust you will re-read the first part to gain full benefit from the article.
This is called also the  'whole  burnt offering'   (Hebrew alii'), Deut. 33. 10; Ps. 51. 19, and is referred to as 'the daily sacrifice', Dan. 8. 11; 11. 31; 12. 11, in Authorized Version but see Revised Version. It was instituted immediately upon the induction of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood, Exod. 29. The divine command concerning it was first given to Moses (Exod. 29. 38 'thou'), then through him to the priests, Lev. 6. 9, and finally communicated by him to the people, Num. 28. 2, where the Lord speaks of it as 'My oblation', R.V.
The continual burnt offering was a daily reminder to Israel of their abiding acceptance with God based upon the ex¬cellencies of the repeated sacrifices in which Jehovah foresaw the character of the offering of Christ. It was on this ground that God met, spoke to, and dwelt with His redeemed people, Exod. 29. 42-46.
Clearly foreshadowed is the ever-abiding efficacy of the Saviour's once-for-all sacrifice of Himself on the cross, which affords believers a perpetual standing in acceptance with God, Heb. 10. 14.
This consisted of two first-year lambs daily, males without blemish, one offered in the morning (the third hour, i.e. about 9 o'clock), the other in the evening (literally 'between the evenings') in later practice about 3 p.m. ('the ninth hour'). At these same times incense was offered at the golden altar within the holy place of the sanctuary before the beautiful veil. These were the hours of prayer in the days of the temple, Luke 1. 9, 10; Acts 3. 1; 10. 30. With the burnt offering there was also offered the requisite meal offering of one-tenth ephah (i.e. an omer, about hall" a gallon, of fine flour mingled with a quarter hin (about one and a half pints) of 'beaten' (the purest) olive oil, and a drink offering of a quarter hin of wine, Exod. 29. 40, 41. On the sabbath days these offerings were all doubled, Num. 28. 9, 10.
This was the same as the usual burnt offering of the individual except that the priests acted both as offerers representing the congregation and as ministrants at the altar. It was one of their principal duties, Deut. 33. 10. Certain instructions were added regarding
i. The Wood for the altar fire. This was supplied by the people and stored in the sacred precincts (compare Neh. 10. 34; 13. 31). Attention is drawn to the words 'in order'. Both wood and sacrifice were to be carefully arranged upon the altar fire, Lev. 1. 7, 8, 12; 6. 12 (compare Gen. 22. 9; Lev. 24. 8; 1 Kings 18. 33). In all His works and ways God reveals Himself to be a lover of order and He enjoins orderliness in the daily lives of His children, in their families and particularly in all gadierings of His saints (compare Gen. 18. 19; Col. 2. 5; 1 Tim. 3. 2, R.V.; 4. 12; 1 Cor. 14. 33, 40).
ii. The Fire was of divine origin, Lev. 9. 24, and God strictly enjoined that it must never be allowed to go out, Lev. 6. 9, 12, 13. It was maintained by adding a fresh supply of wood each morning and it required priestly attention all through the night as well as the day time. Jewish tradition as it that the altar lire was in fact never extinguished until the captivity of Israel and the temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. The daily repeated sacrifices and the continual altar fire feeding thereon witnessed to all that no victim had yet appeared on earth of sufficient worth fully to meet the holy requirements and righteous claims of God. The sacrifice of Christ alone did this, and since the death of the cross no further blood offering has been needed.
iii. The Ashes from the altar. For their removal the priest on duty donned his official garments and taking up the ashes of the sacrifice deposited them on the east side of the altar in the brazen ash-pans belonging to it, Exod. 27. 3; Lev. 6. 10; 1. 16. Then, changing into 'other garments' (his ordinary clothes?) he conveyed the ashes through the camp to 'a clean place' outside, 6. 11, thus witnessing to the  people of a  completed   work,  an accepted sacrifice. The typical meaning as referring to the death of Christ is readily apprehended. God saw to it that the precious body of His beloved Son should be taken down from the cross by loving hands and reverently borne to a rich disciple's new tomb, a 'clean' resting-place, John 19. 38fF. There may be a reference by David to the altar ritual in Ps. 26. 6, for in the ministrations connected with the continual burnt offering the altar was literally encompassed by the officiating priest. After washing his hands at the laver, Exod. 30. 20, he presented the sacrificial victim on the east side, just inside the entrance to the court of the tabernacle, Lev. 1. 3. The slaying took place on the north side v. 11, the wash¬ing of the inwards and the legs on the west side (the laver side and facing the sanctuary - the Godward side) and the jointed carcass was then carried up an earthen slope on the south side (Jewish tradition). Finally, the ashes were deposited later on the east side as stated above. Thus the 'compassing' of the altar was completed.