In the opening chapters of Leviticus, we find that there were particular men from the tribe of Levi and part of Aaron’s family who were to serve as priests for God’s people. These men were to offer the sacrifices to God for the Israelites.
“This is the law of the guilt offering. It is most holy. In the place where they kill the burnt offering they shall kill the guilt offering, and its blood shall be thrown against the sides of the altar…The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering to the LORD; it is a guilt offering” (Leviticus 7:1-5 ESV).
These men were to offer up the various sacrifices of the people to God: the guilt offerings, the peace offerings, the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, and the sin offerings. God gave them specific instructions about what was to be offered and how they were to make the offerings.
In the New Testament, we find that this has been changed. No longer is there one group of men who stand between God and his people. Instead, we find that all Christians, male and female, are priests of God. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
The priests in the Old Testament went through a ceremony in which the blood of animals and anointing oil were used to set them apart for God’s service (see Leviticus 8). When a person becomes a Christian and a priest of God, it is Jesus’ own blood that cleanses us and sets us apart for God.
“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 1:5-6).
The sacrifices we are to offer as God’s priests today are not animal and grain offerings. Throughout the New Testament we read of various sacrifices that we are to offer as Christians. These are referred to as our spiritual sacrifices: “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5).
We have some more specific descriptions of our sacrifices, as well. “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:15-16).
Our praise to God, our doing good, our sharing what we have are sacrifices that we make that are pleasing to God. In Philippians 4:14-18, Paul spoke of the gifts he had received from the Christians in Philippi as being “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”
Ultimately, all we do with our lives is to be our sacrifice to God. “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, see also Philippians 2:17).
As Christians, we have been called to serve God and offer spiritual sacrifices. Let us realize that how we live is important, because this is our offering to God. Let us ensure that our lives are “holy and acceptable to God.”
Readings for next week:
9 January – Leviticus 7
10 January – Leviticus 8
11 January – Leviticus 9-10
12 January – Leviticus 11
13 January – Leviticus 12