When we read through the first six chapters of Leviticus, we learn about five sacrifices. These are the burnt offering, grain (meat) offering, peace offering, the sin offering, and guilt offering. These offerings were essential to the lives of the Jews. Each one served a purpose in obtaining forgiveness for those who lived under the Mosaic law. In God’s mind, though, these things not only served an immediate purpose in the lives of the people, but also served the purpose of pointing people toward the ultimate sacrifice, the true culmination of all of God’s plans – Christ!
We see Christ in all of those sacrifices. For example, Christ is seen in …
- The burnt offering. Just as this offering was utterly consumed, so He gave Himself completely at the cross (Phil. 2:8; Matt. 20:28).
- The grain offering. Just as this sacrifice required bread, so Christ is “the bread of life” (Jn. 6:35).
- The peace offering. Just as this sacrifice symbolized the Jews’ fellowship restored, so Christ “is our peace” between us and God (Eph. 2:14; Col. 1:20).
- The sin offering. Just as this sacrifice was burned outside the camp, Christ was also sacrificed “outside the gate” of Jerusalem (Heb. 13:11-12).
- The guilt offering. Just as this demanded restitution of the guilty, Christ purchased us from Satan, “not with corruptible things … but with the precious blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1:18-19).
Is it not amazing to consider the seamlessness of God’s word? The things that occurred in the Old Testament pointed to the greatest sacrifice to ever walk the earth. Jesus fills this role as a sacrifice for mankind (and many others). He offered Himself that we might be free from sin, cleansed, and allowed to start again as “babes in Christ” (I Pet. 2:2)!
Yet the comparison in those Old Testament sacrifices does not end here. Just as we can see a spiritual connection between Christ and those sacrifices, remember, Christians are also a “royal priesthood,” and God intends for us to offer “spiritual sacrifices” (I Pet. 2:9, 5). Let us look at those sacrifices and see where the comparisons can be made in our lives.
- As a burnt offering, we are to offer ourselves to God completely (Gal. 2:20).
- As a grain offering (the only sacrifice without blood), we are to be living sacrifices, not dead ones (Rom. 12:1-2; II Cor. 5:14-15).
- As a peace offering, we enjoy fellowship with God now that we are forgiven (II Jn. 9; I Jn. 1:7; Matt. 5:9).
- As a sin offering, we “take up (our) cross daily and follow” Him (Lk. 9:23). Since we are following Him, where did He go? We need to follow Christ and “be separate” from the world (II Cor. 6:17)!
- As a guilt offering, we strive to make restitution for our sins. We cannot earn our salvation (Lk. 17:10), but we can repent of our sins (Acts 2:38) and be His servant so long as we live (Rom. 6:16-18)!
Christ is our sacrifice, but how have we responded to Him? The beauty and poetry of Scripture show us how the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to Christ. We now need to offer sacrifices but in a spiritual way. These also point us to Christ! Are we doing this? Do we give God all that He deserves?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When the Jews offered sacrifices, we note that God has something to say about what happened to the blood of the sacrifices. Eight times in Leviticus, we read where God expected the priests (or Moses) to put blood on the horns of the altar, and then the rest of the blood was to be poured “at the bottom of the altar” (Lev. 4:7, 18, 25, 30, 34, 5:9, 8:15, 9:9).
As I read these passages and thought about the animals offered, I got to thinking that it would not take long for this area to stink and, on occasion, have blood pooled up around the altar after the priests had offered many sacrifices. In the days of Solomon when the Temple was built, the Bible speaks of 22,000 oxen, and 120,000 sheep offered to God (I Kings 8:63)! Think of feast days such as the Passover and other times when the multitudes had gathered and offered their sacrifices! Can we fathom the volume of blood that poured from that altar?
Is there any wonder why God required the numerous washings by the priests and commanded them to wash their hands and feet before going into the Tabernacle and Temple? Their hands and feet would have been coated in blood! I wonder how long it would be before the laver itself, once filled with water for their purification, had become blood-red?
Why did God require blood in connection with the sacrifices? “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). Blood was necessary in God’s plan. These people needed to see the price of sin. They needed to understand that the consequences of sin were bloody and ugly. They needed to know that sin affected more than just the individual and that, yes, sometimes the innocent will suffer for the deeds of the wicked!
Don’t we also need to understand the price of sin? Don’t we also need to see that the consequences of our sins are bloody, ugly, and affect other people besides ourselves? Don’t we need an object lesson that our sins will hurt innocent people? I believe if we truly faced what our sins do, then sin would not look the same to us anymore! It would repulse us, and we would want to get away from it. Just like when Judas threw the money back at the chief priests and elders in the Temple after Jesus was condemned to death (Matt. 27:1-5), we also would run away from our sins when we understand what it did to the innocent One!
Remember that Christ, the “Lamb of God” (Jn. 1:29), died as the sacrifice for man’s sin. He suffered, and His blood poured out from His various wounds as He died on the cross (Zech. 13:1)! Look with the eye of faith to His sacrifice and understand “How 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?” (Heb. 9:14). Yes, the “Just” suffered for the “unjust” (I Pet. 3:18)! His blood was shed “for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). After He died, a cruel soldier pierced His side “and forthwith came there out blood and water” (Jn. 19:34).
Every time blood was shed and poured at the altar in Old Testament days, it pointed to the blood of the innocent One whose blood could take away sin (Heb. 9:24-26, 10:4)! His blood poured down to the ground and pooled around the cross for a time. Perhaps folks there stepped in it? We know there were many gathered around His cross (Jn. 19:24-27; Mk. 15:29-32; Matt. 27:47-49). I am sure some Roman soldiers had Christ’s literal blood on their hands and clothes since some argued and gambled over His bloody garment (Matt. 27:35, Jn. 19:24), and others had whipped and beat Jesus’ back (Matt. 27:26; Mk. 15:15; Jn. 19:1)! No doubt Christ’s blood could be seen at the whipping post, and from here, one could follow His blood trail to Golgotha! Now, as Christ is suspended between heaven and earth, we see Jesus’ blood drip down and pool at the ground! What a bloody altar the cross is!
The people of the Old Testament knew something about blood and something about the cost of sin. Do we appreciate that cost? Jesus died so we might live (II Cor. 5:14-15; Rom. 12:1-2). His stripes heal us (Isa. 53:5; I Pet. 2:24)! His blood cleanses us (Rev. 1:5, 7:14)! His blood purchased the church (Acts 20:28; I Pet. 1:18-19)! Have we ever paused to consider the actual cost of sin and the magnificence of Christ’s sacrifice?
When the Jewish people looked at the bloody altar at the Tabernacle or Temple, they came to realize the reality of sin. What will we do when we look at Christ’s blood?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
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
The book of Mark is the shortest book of those comprising the “gospel records.” It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that Mark doesn’t wait long before showing us the opposition Jesus faced in His preaching. In Mark 2, we see scribes and Pharisees opposing Him and His work. Among their common complaints was that Jesus associated with sinners. Mark 2:15-17 says, “And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his (Matthew’s, JMJ) house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Seeing as Jesus just invited a publican (Matthew) to follow Him (Mk. 2:14), it shouldn’t be a surprise that when Jesus went to Matthew’s house, publican friends would be invited to listen to Jesus! Jesus treated this man just as He had earlier treated four fishermen (Mk. 1:16-20). He simply requested that they “follow Him.” This would change their lives far beyond anything we could describe on this page.
The point being that Jesus looked at five sinners (Rom. 3:23) and saw not what they were, but what they could become! He saw people who’d do much good for the Lord’s cause and kingdom, but they had to be taught! Jesus was willing to teach. In fact, Jesus was willing to teach all that would listen to Him. This is why we see multitudes coming to Him and listening (Mk. 1:28, 33, 37, 45, 2:1-2, 13, etc.).
In contrast, the scribes and Pharisees had no time, no compassion, and gave no thought to the lives and concerns of the sinners around them. I’m reminded of Christ’s parable in Luke 18:11-12. Therefore, when they saw Jesus spending time with publicans, sinners, and the like, this was scandalous to them! If He claims to be God’s prophet, and people claim He is the Messiah, surely even He would know the kind of people He is around! (For more study, please read Luke 7:36-50 and see the attitude of Simon toward Christ.)
In Mark’s short book, we see Christ’s attitude toward sinners as one of respect, one of compassion, and one of love. He never berated them for their bad decisions or sins. He never acted as if they were beneath Him (though they were -- all of us are!). He did, however, tell the truth and told it unapologetically. He told the truth in a manner that they (and all) could understand. Please read Mark 2:15-17 and see that when Jesus was criticized for even associating with publicans, sinners, and others, His answer was not a defense of their sin. He didn’t say, “At least they’re not hypocrites!” as some might’ve been tempted to say. His answer was straight-forward: “they need Me!”.
Notice Jesus called them sick. He called them sinners and said they needed to repent (Mk. 2:17)! Can you imagine such language coming from the lips of the Lord? Yet, there it is. What impresses me is that these people seemed to follow Him in greater numbers the longer He was on earth. What had Jesus done? As we observe Jesus in Mark 2 and the rest of the book, we see Someone who showed compassion (Mk. 1:41, 5:19, 6:34, 8:2). He saw people who needed direction (Mk. 6:34) and saw sinners who needed salvation. The people responded to this genuine action and listened intently. What Jesus said in Mark 2:17 was not “new news” to them. They knew they were in sin, and now they knew that they had come to the right Person who could bring them salvation!
What can I learn from this short reading? I can learn first to not be like the scribes and Pharisees. No one is “beneath” you. All of us have sinned (Rom. 3:23). If you’ve been saved from your sins, then thank God for the salvation (Lk. 19:10; Mk. 16:16)! When you see people who aren’t saved, realize that you were in their shoes not that long ago. Someone loved you enough to tell you the truth. Now, love them enough to do the same (II Tim. 2:2; Eph. 4:15)!
The second lesson I learn in Mark 2:15-17 is to be like Jesus in my speech! Folks who are in sin need to know it! Friend, “no greater injustice can be done to a person than to leave them with the impression they are saved, when in fact, they aren’t!” Jesus called the people sick, sinners, and in need of salvation. This is precisely what they needed to hear. If they hadn’t been told this, they might’ve left the presence of Jesus thinking that they were just fine. Dear one, when you talk to someone about their soul, remember that this part needs to be said. You can talk about the weather, crops, children, the government, and 1000 other things, but if you miss the chance to talk to someone about his soul, you’ve missed it! There’s nothing more important than the condition of one’s soul (Matt. 16:26)! Pleasant smiles, hugs, and being neighborly will mean little when on Judgment, they look at you and say in so many words, “You met me day by day and knew I was astray, yet you never mentioned Him to me!” I would much rather thousands of people on Judgment Day cry that I told them about Jesus and warned them about sin but hurt their feelings than to have one person say, “You never mentioned Him to me!” What about you?
A third thing I learn from Jesus was even when He spoke of people being sick and sinners, He didn’t seem happy about it! May we never take a condescending view of others in sin (Matt. 7:12, 22:39; Gal. 6:1; Jas. 5:19-20; etc.). As we noted earlier, it wasn’t that long ago that we were in their position as well.
Lastly, I have to note that the message of Christ was a message for all. While it would’ve been easy for the Pharisees, scribes, and others to listen to Mark 2:17 and then think, “OK, this is why Jesus is with them.” If we listen closely to the response, it was actually a rebuke to those people as well. Think about it! Jesus said He came to call the sinners to repentance. Amen. Was He not also preaching to the Pharisees, scribes, and others when He was preaching those three years? Was there ever a time from Matthew-John where Jesus stopped His preaching to say, “Scribes and Pharisees, what I’m about to say doesn’t apply to you”? Jesus’ attitude was that those self-righteous people were as guilty of sin as the rest (Mk. 7:6-9)! They needed the same message because they needed the same Savior! Jesus suffered as a sacrifice for all men, not just for the ones on the “wrong side of the tracks”! They would’ve understood Jesus’ message here if they’d cared to listen, instead of wasting time pointing their fingers at others!
Much more could be said, but take what we’ve learned here and think seriously about our attitude. What kind of attitude are we displaying? Who’ve we told about Jesus this week? What efforts do we make to bring others to the Lord, beginning with those under our own roof (Eph. 6:4; Titus 2:3-5)? Think seriously about this, my friend, because the souls of those we love as well as our own souls hang in the balance (Ezek. 33:7-9)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In Song of Solomon 2:4, the Shulammite declares that her beloved has placed a banner over her; and this banner is love. In context, we see a woman who was considered beautiful by this future husband, so he brought her before friends and others (1:12, 2:4a). She demurely says she is but the Rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys, or lily among thorns (2:1-2). She sees herself as a sunburnt maiden (1:5-6) but is reassured when her future husband compliments her true beauty (1:8-10, 15-17) and puts his banner of love over her (2:4).
Oh, the beauty of true love! True love looks deeper than the skin. True love looks within the person. It reminds me of the statements made about God. For example, “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart (I Sam. 16:7). The Holy Spirit said, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). When we remember that “God is love” (I Jn. 4:8), then we understand even more how God has the ability to look upon the inward person.
What causes two people to live a life together for decades? Love (Eph. 5:22-33)! What is the motivation for a person to stay with another despite disease, disability, dementia, until separated by death? Love! True love causes us to see beyond the flesh, beyond the coif, beyond the “painted up and powdered up” person at work or on a date. True love says I will accept this person regardless of what the outward “package” looks like or what might happen to it through the years! Ladies, there is a reason God wants “the hidden man of the heart” to be revealed to others, and part of the reason is that “the hidden man of the heart” is “of great price” in God’s sight (I Pet. 3:4). Ladies, this what your spouse truly loves and not what the outside looks like!
Long after the world has dismissed someone, the one who truly loves is still there! Matthew 22:39 means much more to us when we realize this passage applies in our homes, among those we have known for years, as well as among the strangers we meet for a few seconds one day and never see again. Love looks deeper than the skin. How “deeply” do you look at a person?
Look again at Song of Solomon 2:4 for a spiritual application. The “banner” over the Shulammite was love because this man loved his future bride. He loved her so deeply that his loved wrapped or covered her! Thus it is with God! His love surrounds us, as well. Think about it -- All of us have sinned and have been stained by it (Rom. 3:23; Isa. 1:18-19). Yet, when God looks upon us, He looks in love (Jn. 3:16). Because He loves us, He made a way by which we can be free from sin (Rom. 5:6-8; Matt. 20:28, 26:28; Acts 2:38).
At the same time, love cannot be forced! The Shulammite and her beloved loved each other freely. Thus it is with God. He loves us freely and wants us to do the same (Matt. 11:18-20; Rev. 22:14; etc.). His banner of love covers us; will we accept it? Will we tell others about this love? Indeed, “the greatest” is love (I Cor. 13:13), and this passage gives us a glimpse as to why!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs