The Grace of the Cross from the Valley of Vision
O My Savior,
By thy cross crucify my every sin; use it to increase my intimacy with thy self; make it the ground of all my comfort, the liveliness of all my duties, the sum of all thy gospel promises, the comfort of all my afflictions, the vigor of my love, thankfulness, graces, the very essence of my religion; and by it give me that rest without rest, the rest of ceaseless praise.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for taking my sin upon thy shoulders and taking the Father’s wrath upon thy soul for my sake. May my heart grow in love and desire for thee through the contemplation of thy sacrifice. Amen.
Leviticus 1: 3-9 The Perpetual Sacrifice
3 “If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord. 4 He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. 5 Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 6 Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, 7 and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. 8 And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; 9 but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
In Numbers 28 we find out that this sacrifice, what is called the burnt offering in the ESV, was offered twice a day, every day. In those two offering times it was performed by the priests, but what is described in Leviticus 1 is a normal Israelite who comes to make an offering. This is the most fundamental of all the sacrifices in the Old Testament, simply because it most closely resembles what the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph) did before the Tabernacle.
Look at the description in the passage above. It says “he shall offer a male without blemish”. He means the worshiper. The act of laying his hands on the head of the animal demonstrates that this sacrifice, this animal’s death, is going to happen because of his sin. The sacrifice is a substitute. Then follow through to verse 6— “he shall kill the bull” and “he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces”. This means that after the animal has been accepted to be this man’s substitute, he then kills it.
He kills it, probably in a prescribed way so as to catch the blood in a basin so that the priests can throw the blood against the sides of the altar (v.5). Then he has to dismember the animal (“flay and cut it into pieces”) making sure to remove the entrails so they can be washed before they are burned. So, what happens is that by the time the Israelite worshiper is done, he is literally covered in the blood of the sacrifice. Through this ritual he is made experientially aware of the pain of sin (imagine the sound of the animal being killed) as well as the guilt, the pollution, and corruption sin causes (that’s the reason for all the blood).
They would have been painfully aware of what God’s grace costs. They would have been reminded of Adam’s sin and God’s sacrifice in the garden. Part of their bringing the offering forward and placing his hand on it would have included a confession, understanding their perpetual need for grace. And this sacrifice was always burning in the camp—one in the morning and one in the evening, at least.
The effect of that would have reminded the Israelites of God’s great mercy he’s shown them so many times. The times they grumbled. The times they disbelieved. The times they worshiped other gods. In one sense we can sometimes think that having that smell and sight of smoke in their presence all the time must have been better than what we have. But even though our perceptions aren’t always aware of God’s grace through the sacrifices, we have the Holy Spirit! The Spirit who was only given because Jesus, our perfect sacrifice came and died for us!
With the Israelites, we should keep in mind that sin brings death. Death in guilt before God. Death in the corruption of our souls and depravity we live in daily. Death in the pollution of the sinful world around us. Our Savior, through his cross, gives life through forgiveness, life by renewing our minds, and life by giving us a place of rest away from the broken and fallen world.
May God show you grace and peace today.