A perfect sacrifice

“The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock. If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish…If his gift for a burnt offering is from the flock, from the sheep or goats, he shall bring a male without blemish’” (Leviticus 1:1-3,10 ESV).

Although the books of the Law are usually not our favorite scriptures to read, these are God’s word. Even though they were given to the Israelites as they were becoming God’s nation, they do contain principles and lessons for us as Christians who are living 3,500 years later. So they are worthy of our consideration.

There is a principle we see over and over again concerning the sacrifices the Israelites were to make. Whether it was the burnt offering (Leviticus 1), the grain offering (Leviticus 2), the peace offering (Leviticus 3), offerings for unintentional sin (Leviticus 4-5) or other sins (Leviticus 6), there was a common theme concerning what was to be offered. The animals which were to be offered had to be perfect, “without blemish.” Even the grain had to be “of your firstfruits fresh ears, roasted with fire, crushed new grain” (Leviticus 2:14). They had to give the Lord their best. We can see this principle in the New Testament, as well.

There is, what I think to be, an obvious parallel: Jesus is our perfect sacrifice. I’m not sure if we realize what all this means. Jesus lived on the earth as a human being (Hebrews 2:14-18). We might think that he did everything we do and sinned as we do. But if he did, he could not have been a perfect, unblemished sacrifice. When we look at Jesus we discover he lived a different life: “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:22-23).

Because he lived a perfect, sinless life, he could pay the price for our sins. Jesus was tempted, but he did not give in to the temptations he faced. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).

The second has to do with our lives. Jesus died so that we, too, can be perfect – at least in God’s sight. “Husbands, love your wives just as Messiah also loved His community and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, having cleansed her by immersion in the word. Messiah did this so that He might present to Himself His glorious community—not having stain or wrinkle or any such thing, but in order that she might be holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27 TLV). We have been cleansed through contact with Jesus’ blood when we went through a likeness of his death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:1-11).

Because we have been cleansed, we are to offer our lives to God as our sacrifice. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1 ESV).

Readings for next week:

For the first half of 2017 our readings will be the books of the Law and Joshua. We will try to make application from what we read to our lives as Christians.

2 January – Leviticus 1-2
3 January – Leviticus 3
4 January – Leviticus 4
5 January – Leviticus 5
6 January – Leviticus 6

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