THE DEVOTION OF THE LORD JESUS
It has been said that he who could expound Leviticus in its fulness would give a fifth Gospel to the world. For the five great offerings of the Law are so many mirrors set round the central Christ, giving five portraits of our Lord from different angles. The Burnt Offering is the life of Christ; the Meal Offering is the character of Christ; the Peace Offering is the work of Christ; and the Sin Offerings are the death of Christ. This fivefold ritual is the first portrait of Messiah ever given.
The five great offerings were divided into two classes - the Sweet-savour offerings, for acceptance, an expression never used of the sin-offerings; and the Sin-offerings, to make atonement, an expression almost exclusively confined to them: the one class arose as a sweet aroma; the other disappeared in a burning consumption. Characteristically, separate words sunder their significance in the fire: in the Sweet-savour offerings the word means to burn as incense, to burn for deliciousness; in the Sin-offerings, the word means to consume, to destroy in wrath.
Now the Burnt Offering, the oldest and greatest of
the Offerings, dating back to Abraham and Noah, and probably to
So the first portrait of Christ in the Bible is the sudden picture of a sinless life. He shall offer it a male, without blemish (Lev. 1: 10). The Rabbis reckoned fifty possible blemishes, any one of which would disqualify a sacrifice; five in the ear, three in the eyelid, eight in the eye, and so on. But the Burnt Offering went further. In order to ascertain the internal perfection, as well as the outward symmetry, the animal was flayed he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into its pieces - so that it might be scrutinized through and through. The plucking and tearing off of the skin made naked the inner life and the deepest secrets of the soul. So the Lord Jesus was not only of that external moral beauty a Lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Pet. 1: 19) - which has made Him the admiration of the world; but sifted by man, sifted by Satan, sifted by God, His thoughts, emotions, will - all torn open - all bore the test. Scripture records the flayed Sacrifice. His judge says:- I find no fault in him: His Betrayer says:- I have betrayed innocent blood: His Tempter cometh and hath nothing in Him. But incalculably the most important is the flaying by God. Thou hast proved mine heart, Thou hast visited me in the night season; Thou hast tried me, and findest nothing (Ps. 17: 3).
Now the Burnt Offering is life offered to God, as the Sin Offering is a death offered to God; and therefore the Burnt Offering (
Now the consuming of the sacrifice by fire is its absorption by God: our God is a consuming fire, which absorbs the sinless life, but destroys the sinful: and so critical, so vital to the whole offering, was the fire that it shall not be put out; it shall ever be burning; IT SHALL NEVER GO OUT. So, in the Sin Offering, not one moment did the wrath of God lift from the hanging Christ. The priest shall offer the whole, and BURN it upon the altar. The fire, searching the whole, produces, in this sweet-savour offering, nothing but delicious aroma: utterly analyzed - for there was no avenue to pain unopened, in the dissected and vivisected Lord - Jesus (as it was said of the Burnt Offering by God) - is my oblation, my food (Num. 28: 2.): it is the Lord Jesus as the satisfaction of the heart of God. The Lord remember all thy offerings, and accept - literally, turn to ashes thy burnt sacrifice (Ps. 20: 3). A total devotion, a vindicated Law, a glorified God, a perfect substitution - all lay in the little heap of holy ash. So the fire never ceases to consume, nor the aroma to delight. The burnt offering shall be upon the altar all night unto the morning - all through the midnight ages, until Eternity dawns: fire shall be kept burning on the altar CONTINUALLY; it shall not go out (Lev. 6: 9, 13) day or night - so burning for all eternity. The extinction of the Fire would be the ruin of salvation, and the damnation of the saved. Gods eye and heart are feasted perpetually by the Perfect Man, and through the long night and through all the Eternity beyond His perpetual joy is CHRIST.
Now we encounter a forecast of the actual historical
fulfilment beyond all coincidence. Two
wholly sundered actions the Priest performed over the Ashes. And the priest,
robed in his sacrificial linen, shall take up the
ashes - the body when the fire has finished with it; it is all that the
fire has left; God has absorbed the sacrifice and he
shall put them beside the altar (Lev. 6:
10); and there the ashes are poured
out (Lev. 4: 12). Now in the place
where he was crucified there was a garden and in the garden a new tomb;
there then (for the tomb was nigh
at hand) they laid Jesus (John 19:
41). But now, after the ash had
thus been deposited near the Cross, or altar, the
priest shall put off his garments, and shall put on other garments - sudden
change of extraordinary significance. Leaving
his discarded garments where he had sprinkled the blood - the linen clothes in
which the Lord had been swathed, now left in the tomb - the ashes which he had
deposited beside the Altar the priest now removes, but not before he has
divested himself of the simple white ephod, and has assumed his robes of glory
and beauty. He
shall carry forth the ashes
without the camp - Jesus leaves
So now we arrive at the critical, the saying point of the Burnt Offering. Almost alone among the offerings, the skin - the only part of the sacrifice that had not been given to God upon the Altar - was handed over to the priest for his personal possession as wearing apparel. And the priest that offereth any mans burnt offering, even the priest shall have to himself THE SKIN of the burnt offering which he hath offered (Lev. 7: 8). The skin had been taken off before the animal was burnt: it is the product of the animals life, not of its death: it is all that the world sees of the living creature - its character and conduct. It is the active righteousness of Christ, the imputed obedience: it is that of which He cried It is finished! before blood-atonement had even begun - the skin detached whole, before the carcase was fired. The Skin had been the clothing of the sacrifice, so that, after death, it can become the clothing of the priest: all that was visible of the life of Christ - clothing that is part of Him, and that exactly expresses His person - becomes my clothing; His righteous conduct becomes my righteous conduct: I put on the Skin, and I am clothed with Christ. He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness (Isa. 61: 10).
So, then, in the Burnt Offering the righteousness of the living Substitute is transferred to the guilty offerer: in the Sin Offering the guilt of the doomed offerer is transferred to the slaughtered Sacrifice. Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf [the Sin Offering], that we might become [not righteous, but] the righteousness of God [the Burnt Oftering] in Him (2 Cor. 5: 21). The moment after the sinner laid his hand on the Sin Offering, it was put to death - instantly it incurred the knife; but before the Burnt Offering as killed it was pronounced an atonement, that is, a covering - the skin, which, since the offerer is the sinner and the priest is the believer, is given to the priest.* It is the very Skin with which (symbolically) God clothed the fallen race in the dawn of the world. His blood it is which removes all curse; but it is His obedience which merits all glory (Dean Law). The intrinsic value of a cloak depends in no way whatever on the character of its wearer, its entire value turns both on its own exquisiteness - some sables and sealskins, for example, being enormously costly - and also (as with the silver fox) on the rarity of the animal from which it is taken; and a cloak is entirely valueless unless worn. Thus Paul has defined saving action for all ages. I count all things to be loss, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that [righteousness, that active obedience to the Law, that perfect life] which is [obtained] through faith in Christ, THE RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH - like a woven cloak IS FROM GOD UPON - let fall upon the shoulders of FAITH (Phil. 3: 8).
[* Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness (Ps. 132: 9).]
OUR WHOLE BURNT OFFERING
When I looked into his face and saw him brush back
his hair from his brow, heard him speak of the trials and conflicts and the
victories, I said:- General Booth, tell me what has been
the secret of your success. He
hesitated a second, and I saw the tears come into his eyes and steal down his
cheeks, and then he said:- I will tell you the
secret. God has had all there was of me
to have. There have been men with greater
opportunities; but from the day I got the poor of
‑ WILBUR CHAPMAN, D.D.