Exodus 28 records when God told Moses to choose people to make the garment to be worn by Aaron (and all high priests that would follow). This garment was to be worn by Aaron when he entered the Tabernacle. This outfit included (Ex. 28:4) a breastplate, ephod (shoulder-piece), robe, woven tunic, turban (mitre/hat), and sash (girdle/belt). This outfit would set him apart from the other priests and certainly set him apart from any priest or high priest among the pagan worshippers.
As we continue reading the chapter, God speaks specifically that the ephod (shoulder-piece) would have onyx stones attached to it that had the names of the tribes on it – six on each stone (v. 9-10). The breastplate would contain twelve gemstones and have the name of the tribe on each stone (v. 15-21), and the Urim and Thummim would be placed in that breastplate. Upon the turban was to be a plate that said, “Holiness to the Lord” (v. 36). These things, as well as a robe, the linen breeches, and all that pertained to this garment, were worn by the high priest.
When we read Leviticus 8:7-9, we see Aaron wear this outfit for the first time. Leviticus 8-9 describes for us the first time that the sacrifices and work described from Exodus and Leviticus become a reality. By the end of Leviticus 9, Moses and Aaron had successfully offered the sin offering, burnt offering, and peace offering and blessed the people (v. 22-23). God then “lit the fire” that consumed the burnt offering on the altar (Lev. 9:24).
What a day that must have been! What loveliness on that day in Leviticus nine! What majesty as men observed God Himself light a fire on the altar and accept His offering (Lev. 9:24)! What beauty when Aaron had walked into the Tabernacle bearing the tribes upon his shoulders and his heart (Lev. 9:23; Ex. 28:12, 29) as he did his holy duty. As we continue to read Leviticus, we will see this man carry the blood of the sacrifices into the Most Holy Place (Lev. 16) to obtain forgiveness for the people.
This Old Testament “shadow” looked forward to the day in which a high priest with an “unchangeable priesthood” (Heb. 7:23-24) would come and offer a sacrifice “once and for all” (Heb. 10:10, 7:27, 9:26)! The numerous high priests serving in the Tabernacle and later the Temple “foreshadowed” the One who serves in the “true Tabernacle” that God pitched (Heb. 8:2, 9:11)!
This same high priest came into the “true Tabernacle” with blood, but not the blood of bulls and goats. He entered with His own blood for man’s forgiveness (Heb. 9:12, 14, 10:19-22)! This is the only time in history when the high priest was also the sacrifice! The unchangeable high priest entered, not merely bearing the names of twelve tribes on His heart and shoulders. Instead, the living embodiment of “Holiness” entered (Heb. 10:12, 14) bearing the names of humanity (Matt. 20:28; Heb. 2:9b; I Pet. 1:18-19; Matt. 26:28; I Jn. 2:2; Col. 1:18-23)!
Unlike the sacrifices of the Old Testament that pertained only to the Jews, the sacrifice of Christ pertained to the entire world! The only question left to answer is will you accept the Lord’s salvation? In Old Testament times, children were taught to “know the Lord” because they were already Jews and had circumcised their sons on the eighth day of life (Lev. 12:2-3; Heb. 8:11). Today, we accept the Lord’s adoption willingly when we believe on Jesus as the Son of God, repent of our sins, confess our faith in Christ, and are baptized for the remission of sins (Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3; Rom. 10:10; Acts 2:38).
Have you done this? Have you accepted the Lord’s plan and been washed in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 1:5; Matt. 26:28; Acts 22:16)? If not, why not? There is no other way to be saved! There are no other priests to offer a sacrifice because no other sacrifice will be made (Heb. 10:26b)! The high priests under the Mosaic period looked forward to the time in which we live! Will you accept the sacrifice of God’s unchangeable high priest (Heb. 6:20)? I beg you to do it today!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
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
I am sure we are familiar with the words of Christ in Matthew 5:23-24 where He said if someone was going to offer something to God, but remembers that he needs to correct something between him and a brother, he needed to take care of this first and then offer the gift. This is similar to what Moses taught in Leviticus 6:1-7! God said if a man has sinned against his brother (v. 2-4), he needed to “make restitution” and then come to God and offer his sacrifice (v. 6). Only after this has happened will God forgive the man (v. 7). When reading Leviticus (and Exodus), we see where God demands men make restitution for their sins and not merely check something off of their proverbial “checklist.”
In this text, God taught men the proper order of things. It was not appropriate for the man to offer a sacrifice to God and then worry about the neighbor later, if ever. I am reminded of passages such as James 3:9-10 and I John 4:20-21 that tell us how we ought to treat our fellow man, God’s creation. The point is made by asking how can we mistreat someone on earth but proclaim our love for the Creator? We shout our love for a God we hadn’t seen, but our hatred for the people we do! Something is not right about that!
Turn your attention to Leviticus 6:1-7 again and notice the pains God expected this person to take in order to be right with his neighbor. Only by first making corrections with his neighbor could he go to the Father and offer his trespass offering and expect it to be accepted. He could not “skip a step”!
Dear one, do you have something between a brother or sister that you need to correct? What is stopping you from taking care of it? I ask this, not because we live under the Old Testament, but because we live under the New! Jesus taught this same principle we read in Leviticus 6. Even in Matthew 18:15, He makes a point of saying if you have some trespass (sin) against another, then go and deal with it one-on-one and try to gain a brother. How many problems might be avoided, how many misunderstandings and hurt feelings might be resolved if we dealt with the person one-on-one instead of telling the “world” about the issue or speaking in vague ways on social media about the person?
In like manner, how many relationships might have been salvaged in Moses’ day if people did what was taught in Leviticus 6 and they tried to make it right between themselves? The Old Testament has much to teach us (Rom. 15:4). Are we listening?
- 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