And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD. And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.
(Lev 1:1-4 KJV)
Do you understand the requirement of worship and its impossibility for us?
The Picture of the Sacrifice
Every person must face God for eternal judgment–the complete and final accounting for all of their life. The King on His throne will winnow away all evil with his eyes. All those who laid their hands on the sacrifice of the burnt offering were accounting themselves guilty of capital offenses. The laying on hands symbolized the transference of their sin to the sacrificial animal. Ultimately, it represented the transference of their sin to the sacrifice that God would provide, which was Christ.
Beyond that picture, this sacrifice depicted that a life of total sacrifice is required of man. Life for life, all that we have, all that we are is to be devoted to the will and glory of God. We have all heard the great commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. All of our desires and motivations are to be fixated and driven by His glory. Our will is not just to be submitted to His will, but to embrace it with fiery love and fervor. Our thoughts and plans, our creativity is to be focused on Him, our efforts are to be inexhaustible toward Him. Such words barely scratch the surface of being His children. To do His will is to be our food, our drink, our satisfaction, our privelege, and our glory.
This then, is a life of total worship, wherein every act is to be approached as an act of worship to the Lord. We are to look at nothing as mundane or unimportant. The Old Testament prophets spoke of the day when even a horse’s bridle would say “Holiness to the Lord.” These words were written on the headdress of the High Priest of Israel, a proclamation of the only way God could be approached: the beauty of holiness.
The truth is that the covenant required the death of the one who broke the covenant. As man and men broke the covenant, death was required of all. Human sacrifice was prohibited by God because, although the covenant allowed for a representative to be sacrificed, no man was worthy, because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. God graciously allowed the substitute of animals for the required sacrifice until the time of His choosing, when He would provide the sacrifice of His Son. Unto us a Child is born, A son is given, the government shall be upon His shoulders. We see that verse and we think of the eschaton, but its basic meaning is that God gave His Son to be that representative sacrifice, that substitution of one for all, in order that the constitution of God’s government, the covenant, would be fulfilled.
The covenant required the death of the testator who broke the covenant. This death does not mean the mere death of the body. To die means to be subject to the eternal wrath and punishment of God. Just as a dead body is impotent and has nothing ahead but rot and decay, so eternal death means to be impotent before God and nothing ahead but ever increasing degradation and torment. The sacrificial animal was made to be the sin of the testator and it was consumed on the altar of the fire of the wrath of God. So too, was Christ then our burnt offering, made subject to the eternal wrath of God on the cross. In those hours His infinite wrath was poured out on Jesus. All the fire of Gehenna for eternity was upon Him.
This is what the sacrifice pictures, this is what Christ endured, this is what He saved us from, this is how He loved us.
May God have mercy on us and open our eyes to His glory.