““Lay His Hand Upon The Head Of His Offering.””Categories: Blood, Crucifixion, Daily Living, Expository Study, God, Jesus Christ, Leviticus, New Testament, Old Testament, Peace, Sacrifice
The worship of the Old Testament was certainly a “hands-on” religion! Several times, beginning in Leviticus three, God tells the worshipper or sometimes the priest to “lay his hand” on the animal to be sacrificed before dealing the death-blow (Lev. 3:2, 8, 13 4:4, 24, 29, 33). Reading these passages made me pause and think about why God thought it necessary to say, “lay your hand on this animal and then kill it.”
Laying a hand on something produces a connection that is not felt in any other way. It is one thing to have an animal killed for you, or even to watch it done from a distance. It is a different thing entirely to actually touch the animal, realize it has life in it, and know that in a moment, you will take its life. Our society is very much “hands-off” when it comes to preparing animals for meals. I know many who enjoy the food they eat but become squeamish, and some become visibly sick when discussing the finer points of “food processing!” This aspect of getting your meal from the pasture, or woods, to the table is something that they cannot contemplate. When I read a passage like Leviticus 3, 4, or other similar passages, I think how these people would cringe and even wretch if they had to stand at the altar and touch their cow, lamb, or goat (Lev. 3:1, 7, 12) and then take its life and continue the process of offering it to God!
Why touch the animal? Why not just have the animal sent to the priest and let them do the “dirty work?” It is not stated in this text, but may I suggest that actually touching the animal before its death brings a personal aspect to the offering that might not be realized in any other way. This animal that belonged to you, that you raised and kept healthy (Lev. 3:1), must now die for something that you did! You must touch it! You must look into its eyes, and you must hear the last gurgling sounds as its life ebbs away before you. This animal had its blood poured out and sprinkled around the altar (Lev. 3:2, 8, 13) because you wish to have peace with God once more!
We know that we are no longer subject to the Old Law (Heb. 9:15-17, 10:9). Yet, a Lamb was offered for our sins (Jn. 1:29). His blood was poured out (Jn. 19:34; Heb. 9:14) that we might have salvation (Matt. 26:28; Lk. 19:10). No, we were not there to actually touch Him as He died, but we need to think about this event and make it personal. Realize that Jesus was not there because of His sins but because of ours (I Pet. 2:22). Realize that His death was the death of the innocent! Just as the animal in the Mosaic period was innocent, so also Christ was innocent when nailed to the cross – even Pilate said so (Matt. 27:23-24)! If one’s emotions are stirred at the thought of an animal dying, how much more ought we be stirred when we allow the crucifixion of Christ to fill our minds!
In your mind and with the eye of faith, see yourself laying your hand upon the thorn-pierced head of Christ. Look into His eyes and tell Him He has to die so you can be cleansed! Yet, unlike the animals who suffered unwillingly, it was Jesus who went willingly to the cross (Jn. 10:18; Titus 2:14)! He knew exactly what He was doing and why (Jn. 18:36-37)!
We do not know the mental attitude of those people in the Old Testament following the peace offering, but we can know our attitude toward Christ when we understand He fills that place in our lives today. “He is our peace” (Eph. 2:14-15; Col. 1:20)! What will you do now that you know Christ is our peace offering? Will you give your life to Him (II Cor. 5:14-15)? Will you obey His will and be saved (Mk. 16:16)? How could you refuse?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs