Giving is Worship February 16 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Introduction to Leviticus. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Leviticus 1, 2, 3, 4 (Note: Although the readings of Leviticus can be challenging to comprehend, be patient and persevere! In each Bible study you will learn the significance of the offerings and sacrifices, and you will find them to have rich spiritual meaning that applies to your daily life)

Our Offerings

If we offend someone, how do we get back in their good graces? What actions are required? What do we do if we offend God? What does he require? The Israelites did not have to ask; the LORD told them what he demands—holiness (separating from all evil and separating to God, who is perfect in every way). But, if we offend his holiness, what do we do? The book of Leviticus is a teaching manual, visually and physically demonstrating rituals the Israelites must perform with particular obedience to get back into the LORD's good graces. Today, we do not have to perform rituals, but through symbolic pictures this book leads us to the answers of how he makes us holy and what is required of us.

The Israelites are God’s people. After 430 years of enslavement to the Egyptians, he miraculously delivers them using ten awful plagues against Egypt and her “gods”. At least two million Israelites are crossing the Sinai desert wilderness with only God to provide for their needs. Shortly after their deliverance, the LORD establishes a covenant relationship with them. They receive his laws, build a tabernacle (portable tent for worship), and his magnificent presence is among them. However, they (like everyone else) are sinners. They offend God by their words or deeds, or by failing to do something they ought to do. How are they to get back into his good graces?

Other so called “gods” from other religions require offerings. Does the God of the Israelites, the creator of the heavens and the earth, their deliverer, their covenant God require the same? Yes, he does but in a different way and for different purposes. Today, we will look at the individual responsibilities of the Israelites in dealing with their offerings. We will look at four of the five basic offerings and their significance: the burnt offerings, the fellowship offerings, the grain offerings, and the sin offerings. Finally, we will look at what kind of offerings we should bring to God.

The individual responsibilities of the Israelites who bring their burnt, fellowship, or sin offerings to the LORD at the tabernacle include bringing an acceptable sacrifice or offering, placing his hand upon it (a symbol of identification and transference of sin or guilt), slaughtering it, skinning it, and dividing it. The priests then take some blood from the slaughtered animal or bird, wipe some of it upon the horns of the altar, sprinkle some upon all the sides of the bronze altar, pour the rest of it at the base of the altar, and then burn only the good parts of it on the altar (except for the burnt offerings). The remainder of the animal is taken outside the tabernacle area and burned. The procedure and offerings differ slightly according to the type of offerings. We also bear the responsibilities for our sins, but there is good news—Jesus paid the price for our sins (Romans 3:23-24; Romans 6:23; Hebrews 10:14)—we do not have to offer animal sacrifices!

The burnt offering is primarily a dedication offering. Although it is often done in conjunction with sin offerings and grain offerings, the primary emphasis is on the dedication of an entire male animal from a person's herd or flock (always one without defect). In the case of a poor person, a dove or pigeon may be offered. Only the hide of the animal or the crop of the bird is not offered. What kind of dedication offering does God require of us today? Our sins are already forgiven by the blood of Christ. He gave himself in complete obedience to the will of his heavenly Father when he died as a sacrifice on the cross of Calvary for our sins. After we believe and accept his sacrifice in payment for our sins, we in turn should give our lives in total dedication to God (Romans 12:1; Philippians 1:21).

The grain offering always accompanies the burnt offering and fellowship offerings; or in the case of a very poor person, the grain offering may be given in place of these. The ingredients for the grain offering are fine flour with oil and incense but no yeast or honey. It can be offered in its dry form or baked, grilled, or pan fried as unleavened cakes, but on the altar it must be sprinkled with salt (presumably, typifying eternal forgiveness of the covenant—it is the only thing not burned up Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5; The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.177). Some of the grain offering is offered in dedication and burned up, and some is given to the priests for their food. It, too, is a dedication offering and typifies Christ’s dedication, the bread of life who gives himself for the world, offering us eternal spiritual life (John 6:48-63).

The fellowship or peace offering is a voluntary offering (except for Thanksgiving time, the Feast of Weeks, which celebrates the harvest of their crops). It is an offering expressing thanks for some blessing of the Lord or the fulfillment of a vow (Leviticus 7:16; 27:9-10). Unlike the burnt offering, the animal from the herd or flock may be male or female, so long as it is unblemished. Like the burnt offering, blood is sprinkled on the altar, and the rest is poured out at the base of the altar. Again, unlike the burnt offering, just the fat and the kidneys are consumed. The rest of the animal is cooked on the altar and shared with the priest and the one who brings the offering plus his family. Although as Christians we are not required to offer sacrifices, we, too, need to give offerings of thanks to God for the blessings he bestows upon us (Psalm 107:1,2,8; Philippians 4:6). It is good to share times of celebration at Thanksgiving and other days when we remember the goodness of the LORD.

The sin offering is given for committing unintentional sins. The requirements differ somewhat depending on whether a priest, the entire community, a community leader, or just a member of the community sins. The blood of the animal in this case, unlike the previous offerings, is sprinkled by the priest before the curtain of the sanctuary (Holy Place). Like the fellowship offering, only the fat of the animal and the kidneys are offered as an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. All this is done to make amends or atonement for one’s sin by the substitution of the animal’s life for his life. Unlike the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, however, the rest of the animal is not burned up or shared; it is taken outside the camp and burned. Thus, forgiveness for the one offering the sacrifice is granted and his relationship with God is restored (Leviticus 4:20, 26, 31, 35). The sin offering of the Old Testament typifies the sin offering of Christ.

The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering [on the Day of Atonement, which we will discuss later], but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. (Hebrews 13:11-12, NIV)

God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin or us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2Corinthians 5:21, NIV).

God presented him [Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. (Romans 3:25, NIV)

…live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2, NIV)

He [Jesus Christ] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John 2:2, NIV)

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1John 4:10, NIV)

Lessons to Live By

  • As the Israelites, we also bear the responsibilities for our sins, but there is good news—Jesus paid the price for our sins—we do not have to offer animal sacrifices.
  • Jesus Christ gave himself in total dedication when he died on the cross of Calvary for our sins. We, in turn, should give our lives in total dedication to God (Romans 12:1).
  • The grain offering typified Christ’s dedication, the bread of life who gave himself for the world, offering us eternal spiritual life.
  • Although we do not offer animal sacrifices or grain offerings, we Christians do need to give offerings of thanks to God for the blessings he gives us.
  • Christ is our sin offering who died in our place so we might be made righteous. He makes it possible that we might be forgiven and have peace with God (more...).

Focus Verse

Psalm 118:19-21 (NIV)

Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.

Note: For a detailed but very helpful understanding of the Old Testament sacrifices and their significance, consult the study on Leviticus in The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the Old Testament by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, pp. 163-214. The charts on pages 168-171 are particularly helpful.

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A Look Ahead: What can we do about our Guilt? After we confess our sins, do we have any other Responsibilities? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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