The Burnt Offering: Leviticus 1:1-7

Leviticus 1:1‑7  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 11
The book of Leviticus, while somewhat difficult, is very interesting and instructive if we read it carefully and prayerfully. God is not telling us about “Jewish customs” simply to satisfy our curiosity, but all this ritual and these sacrifices were given of God and have a meaning which is most precious for us. They all point on to Christ, the blessed Antitype of all these “shadows of good things to come.”
If you or I had been writing the book of Leviticus, we would have put the sin offering and the trespass offering first, because we would first think of our own need, but those whom God used to write the Bible did not write according to their own thoughts, for “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:2121For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:21)). They wrote what God told them, for “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:1616All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16)). It is God’s Word, not man’s.
Why the Burnt Offering Comes First
The burnt offering comes first because it typifies what the work of Christ on Calvary is to God. The book begins then by giving God’s side first, for if God has been fully satisfied and glorified about the question of sin, surely we can be satisfied too. This is what we see, in type, presented to us in the burnt offering, and how precious it is to our hearts to meditate upon Christ in this way. God not only puts the burnt offering first, but He begins with the very highest aspect of it — the bullock. It was a voluntary sacrifice too, that is, the one who brought it did not have to do so, and so we love to think of the Lord Jesus willingly doing the Father’s will even unto death, and that the death of the cross. We hear Him saying, “I come to do Thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:99Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. (Hebrews 10:9)), and nothing turned Him back from this.
The offerer then placed his hands on the head of the bullock, which was without blemish, and in this way the value of the sacrifice was, as it were, transferred to him. When we think of the perfect delight the Father found in the work of His Son, that blessed One who became a man in order to glorify God, how marvelous it is that we should be brought to God in all the perfect acceptance of His Person and work, for we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:66To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:6)). We then read that “he shall kill the bullock before the Lord,” and how beautifully this typifies the Lord Jesus offering Himself “without spot to God” (Hebrews 9:1414How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)). No one took His life from Him — He laid it down of Himself (John 10:1818No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10:18)). The blood of the bullock, the sign that it had died, was then taken and sprinkled upon the altar, “for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:1111For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11)).
Fire and Judgment
The body of the bullock was then cut in pieces to be offered upon the brazen altar. Fire in Scripture is a figure of judgment, and so we see the Lord Jesus exposed to the judgment of God in those three dark hours on the cross. Just as all this offering went up as a sweet savor to God, so we know that the work of the Lord Jesus was most pleasing to the heart of God His Father. Sinful men and women from Adam onward had dishonored God in every way possible, but as God looked down upon His blessed Son, He saw nothing but that which gave fullest joy to His heart. It was never more so than when He glorified Him in His atoning sufferings and death.
For Further Meditation
1. What does the burnt offering represent in Scripture?
2. Why is it so important to our souls to understand the value God the Father places on His Son? Why isn’t it even more important what He thinks about us?
3. Christ as Seen in the Offerings by R. F. Kingscote provides an excellent overview of the various offerings in a slender book that presents Christ to the heart.