The Offerings of Sacrifice
February 9th, 1958 @ 8:15 AM
THE OFFERINGS FOR SACRIFICE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-9-58 8:15 a.m.
I cannot help but remark on that teenage choir. These youngsters – they’re getting to where they sing anthems like our big choir. I wish the boy – I do not know who he is – I wish he’d hold up his hand who sang that solo. I’d like to see what boy it is. Stand up, son. My – is that right? Oh, that was just beautiful, that teenage boy. Billy said he goes into the hospital in the morning for an operation, and we’ll be praying for you that God will make you well. Then when he gets out, may he be a better singer than ever for the Lord. God bless this bunch of youngsters – the most faithful group you could ever know.
Now, we all turn to the Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus – the third book of the Pentateuch, the third book of the Law of Moses – the book of Leviticus. I would suppose that your life as a Christian and your education, if you have been taught in the Word of the Lord, has been largely like mine. The book of Leviticus was looked upon and considered as the driest and most uninteresting and without pertinency for us today as much so as any piece of literature that you could read in this world. But if you look at it carefully, it has in it some of the great, great messages and some of the great revelations of the whole Book and Word of God.
Now, by no means, by no means would anyone consider – and least of all I – that what I say this morning is exhaustive. We are going to take the five sacrificial offerings and just look at them just cursorily – briefly, summarily, not exhaustively. We have been for these Sundays and Sundays speaking of the types in the Old Testament; and these five offerings, the offerings of the sacrifice, the sacrificial system of the tabernacle and later of the temple – all of those offerings were types. They were typical of the great, great sacrificial offering, sacrifice, of our Lord Jesus. They all tell of Him. They all speak of Him. They all present Him.
Now, the offering will be different, and the way it is offered will be different: how it is burned, how it is cut up, how it is offered, whether it is eaten, whether it is burnt, whether part of it is burnt, whether part of it is eaten, whether all of it is eaten, all of it is burned. There will be many, many ways of making the sacrifice, but they all tell the same story. They all speak of Christ; they all point to Him. And these ancient rituals, established of the Lord 1,500 years before Jesus died, all of them have a meaning. And what the Lord inspired Moses to write here in the book was not just something, or nothing, but it had a meaning. And that meaning can be found as we read it and then as we ask the Holy Spirit to teach us. And there you will find one of the most rewarding of all of the studies in the world, that is, if you love the Lord and love the Book. And these early morning services in the First Baptist Church in Dallas are dedicated to people who love the Lord and love the Book – just looking at it and seeing what God hath writ large here on the page of the sacred Scriptures.
Now, with your book of Leviticus before you, you will notice that the first chapter tells of the burnt offerings. Then the second chapter tells of the meal offering. You have it translated, we have it translated in the King James Version "meat offering." The Old English word for "meat" referred to food, a food offering. We’d call it a meal offering. Now, the third chapter of Leviticus, the next one, is the peace offering. Then the fourth chapter, the next chapter, is the sin offering. Then the fifth chapter through the first part of the sixth tells of the trespass offering. And those are the five offerings of the Leviticus sacrificial system: the burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering – these five.
Now, may I say a preliminary word that I have said before but a word which cannot be mentioned too much? The great purpose of all of this system, the sacrificial ritual, the worship in the temple, how it was set up in the tabernacle, all of this was to emphasize that we are a sinful people and that without the shedding of blood there is no expiation of sin [Hebrews 9:22], there is no atonement [Hebrews 9:6-7], and there is no approach to God. All of that was for that one great enduring purpose [Hebrews 9:9].
Now, may I say a corollary? May I draw a conclusion from that? Whenever sin is minimized, then the sacrifice or the offering or the ritual or the atonement that could take it away is also minimized. Don’t you see that? If sin is a slight thing, then what could take it away is also a slight thing. But if sin is an awful thing and a terrible thing, then the sacrifice that could take it away is a most marvelous and precious thing.
Now, let’s apply that to Christ. When sin is minimized – it’s a peccadillo; it’s nothing. When sin is looked upon with just the raising of an eye, just almost overlooked, then the work of Christ is also minimized and almost overlooked. It is practically optional. The purpose of these old rituals and these old systems was to teach the people of the enormity, the awfulness, the terribleness, the damnableness of sin. All of these things, all of them, teach that sin builds, creates, an awful abyss between the soul and God [Isaiah 59:2].
Now, the sacrificial system was to teach how that abyss is bridged – how a sinful man comes to God. And all of that is in the atoning work of Christ. If we are damned and our souls condemned to eternal perdition and separation and damnation and hellfire, if we are a lost people, then He that could save us to God from the flames of judgment and the fires of fury and the damnation of hell – He that could save us is above all in this earth, glorious and precious. And that becomes the love we have toward our Savior. He saved our souls [1 Peter 1:9], delivered us from damnation [1 Thessalonians 1:10], saved us to God from the flames and the fires of an eternal hell [Matthew 13:41-42; 1 Thessalonians 5:9]. How wonderfully precious becomes Jesus.
But if sin is nothing and if we don’t need atonement and washing in blood, if sin is a little something, maybe a stumbling upward in the progress of life, and if it is to be overlooked, and if one can sin with impunity, without judgment, then the one that could deliver us from that judgment is also as nothing because the judgment is nothing, the penalty is nothing. If we’re saved anyway without the blood of Christ, without the sacrifice of Jesus, if we all going to heaven anyway, if all mankind are just universally to be saved, or there’s not any judgment to come, then the expiating work of Christ, the atoning work of Christ is also nothing.
I am just trying to emphasize that our judgment of the Lord, how we feel about Christ, is conditional upon this one thing: how we feel about sin. If sin is nothing, Christ is nothing. But if sin damns our souls, He that could take it away is of all gifts most unsearchably, indescribably precious.
So when you come to this sacrificial system, that’s what the purpose of it was: teaching God’s people of the abyss between them and the great mighty God – and God is beyond the veil, and the sinner is outside the court, and the only way he has access to God is through the blood of expiation [Hebrews 10:1, 10]. Beyond the veil, the only way he could ever come to the Mercy Seat through the blood of atonement. And that’s why the whole purpose of this sacrificial system.
Now, when you study it, when you read it, when you look at it, that’s what you’re looking at: God’s judgment upon us and how in the sacrifice of the Lord we have access to the throne of God – how a lost man can be saved, how vile sinners could ever walk into the gates of glory [Hebrews 10:13-22]. That’s the Levitical sacrificial system [Hebrews 9:1-10:39]. Now let’s take it, and, I say, in the little moment of time I have this morning, there are just some things that I can point out about it; and some time we’ll take it up and really look at it.
All right, the first offering. The first offering is the whole burnt offering [Leviticus 1:1-17]; that is, it was all burned up. When you entered into the tabernacle grounds, the first thing you came to was the great altar. The burnt offerings were laid upon that altar. They were of the herd, in the third verse [Leviticus 1:3], they were of the herd. If they were of the herd, they had to be cut up and washed and laid in order [Leviticus 1:5-9]. They could be of the flock. That’s the tenth verse – could be a sheep or a goat [Leviticus 1:10], or, in the fourteenth verse, they could be of the fowls [Leviticus 1:14]: a turtledove or a pigeon. There might be someone who was poor and couldn’t afford to offer a bullock or to offer a sheep or a goat; and for the poor, that poor one could offer a turtledove or a little pigeon [Leviticus 5:7].
Now, that offering was wholly burned [Leviticus 1:13]. All of it was consumed on the altar. And its meaning is made clear. In the sixth chapter of the Book of Leviticus, in the ninth verse and the tenth verse, you have the commandment of how they were to make that sacrifice – your further instructions about it. And it says in Leviticus 6:9: "Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the burnt offering . . .’" Now then, the tenth verse: ". . . and he shall take up the ashes which the fire hath consumed with the burnt offering on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar" [Leviticus 6:10]. After the sacrifice was burned up, they took the ashes and placed them beside the altar. Then, of course, as the days passed and the ashes accumulated, they were instructed to take them outside the camp and place them in a clean place [Leviticus 6:11]. But first, they were placed beside the altar, the burned up ashes.
Well, what does that mean this burnt sacrifice and the ashes placed there beside the altar? It meant, it referred to the fact, that the consuming wrath of God has spent its force. The fire has burned out and the whole thing is consumed, and there it is, the burnt ashes by the side of the altar. Or if I could say it in the words of Jesus: "It is finished" [John 19:30]. There it is, the sacrifice made. The fire has burned. This is the end of the way and there the ashes are. The fire of God, the judgment of God, the wrath of God, has done its utmost. "It is finished" [John 19:30]. The ashes there speak of the justification of the sinner [Romans 5:1]. That’s a picture of the wrath of God against our sin, our iniquity [Isaiah 53:10]. On Calvary, it did its worst; it did its utmost [Colossians 2:13-15]. This is the end of it, and there are the ashes by the side of the altar speaking of the justification now of a poor lost sinner no more under the wrath of God, no more under the judgment of God, no more facing the awful penalties of our sins from the hands of God. The fire is burned out. It is finished. This is the end of it, and now we are justified in His sight.
I came across, in my studying, a thing that I thought was one of the most beautifully effective ideas I have ever read of in my life, and it was this. The author took those ashes there by the side of the altar and compared them with the Mercy Seat on the other side of the temple grounds [Exodus 25:17-22]. And this is what he said. He said, "As a poor, lost sinner enters in to the tabernacle grounds, the first thing he comes to is the altar of burnt sacrifice; and there he stands, a poor, lost sinner. On the other side, farthest on the other side is the Mercy Seat of God beyond the veil where the Lord dwells in the Holy of Holies."
Now, he said, always in the building of the tabernacle and in the building of the temple, always, he said," The entrance is on the east, always, and that far beyond, the veil, throne, and presence of God was always on the west, always on the west." And he said, "The poor lost sinner always enters from the east, and he stands there before the judgment and the fire and the wrath of Almighty God. On the other side from him, on the west side from him, beyond the veil is the throne and presence of God, dwelling between the cherubim."
And he said, "That burnt sacrifice, with its blood first offered, then the body burned up, and the ashes there by the side of the altar," he said, "that means that as far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us [Psalm 103:12] – as far as the ashes are from the Mercy Seat, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us" [author unknown].
I thought that was one of the finest, finest pictures I had ever read in my life, and it moved my soul. The ashes of the burnt sacrifice: God’s wrath has done its utmost and the sinner now is justified, and now let him come boldly through the veil to the throne of grace – just walk into the presence of God [Hebrews 10:19-22]. You’re justified now by the sacrifice of our Lord [Hebrews 10:14], wholly given unto God. Well, that’s the burnt offering. Now, we go on to the meal offering.
The meal offering speaks of three things of our Lord – in the second chapter of the book of Leviticus [Leviticus 2:1-16], the meal offering. First, do you notice it is to be a fine flour, fine flour? In the second chapter of Leviticus, in the first verse, it is fine flour [Leviticus 2:1]. In the fourth verse, it is repeated again: "It is a fine flour" [Leviticus 2:4]. In the fifth verse, repeated again: "a fine flour" [Leviticus 2:5]. In the seventh verse, repeated again, "made of fine flour" [Leviticus 2:7]. Now, that fine flour refers to the beauty, the symmetry, of our Lord’s life throughout.
All of us, without exception, all of us have good points and bad points, every one of us. There’ll be a wonderful man, and when you get to know him, there’ll be some things that are especially beautiful and acceptable about him; but if you get to know him real well, he’ll have feet of clay. There’ll be a piece of coal in the diamond. All of us are that way. But our Savior was beautiful throughout. If you had fine flour, like you precious women would make a cake out of, and you sift it, and that sifted flour, the same [consistency] all the way through, that’s a picture of the life and character of our Savior. He was fine and wonderful in every measure, in every degree [Matthew 12:17-21; Luke 4:22]: in His temperament, in His manners, in His speech, in His life, in His uprisings and downsittings, in His goings forth and His returnings back. In all of His life, whether it was of His mind, intellectual, or of His heart, emotional, or of His will, volitional, all through His life, He was beautifully perfect [1 Peter 1:18-19] – "fine flour."
Now, look again: this offering was made without leaven [Leviticus 2:4] – nothing in it of the corruption of the world [1 Corinthians 5:6]. And it was brought there to the priests and some of it was eaten – not all of it, but some of it was eaten. In the tenth verse: "That which is left of the meal offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’" [Leviticus 2:10]. And when we eat of these loaves made with oil, the Holy Spirit, why immediately there comes a flood of things into our hearts of the communion we have with our Lord as we eat His flesh and drink His blood [John 6:54].
Then, will you notice in the fourteenth and the fifteenth verses and the sixteenth verses, it speaks of it as being beaten and as being crushed and as being bruised? [Leviticus 2:14-16]. All of that speaks of the suffering of our Lord. The loaves were made and the offerings were made of grain that was crushed, and bruised, and beaten – all of it a picture of the pure life offered in sacrifice and eaten by the people who find His word and His life to be manna from heaven and water of life.
Now, let’s take, hastily, the third one, the peace offering [Leviticus 3:1-17]. If I could, I would rename that. Over here in the seventh chapter of the Book of Leviticus, in the eleventh and twelfth verses, you will see a name that I’d like to call those offerings: "And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto the Lord. If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then shall he . . . " [Leviticus 7:11-12] so and so, and then in the sixteenth: "for a vow" [Leviticus 7:16] and on and on. If I would name them, I would call them "thanksgiving offerings, a thanksgiving offering," called here "the peace offering" – a thanksgiving offering.
There is something that God has done especially for you, and I want to thank God for it. And the way they did was to offer a thanksgiving offering, and they shared it there in the tabernacle grounds together [Leviticus 7:15-16]. Now, taking that as being pleasing to the Lord, I think it is a wonderful thing for us to follow that today, don’t you? There is something that God has done especially for us, and this is a thanksgiving offering. "God, just a little token of appreciation."
Now, that’s the way we do to one another, isn’t it? If somebody has done something nice for you, why, if it is possible and you can, just a token of appreciation, we give them a gift. Like if you go to be a guest in a home and stay in the home a little while, maybe a weekend, then when you go away, why you send back, maybe, a little gift, a thanksgiving gift, or, to apply it to the courts of heaven, an appreciation offering – something God’s done for you and you’re doubly grateful.
I have often thought that one of the most beautiful things I ever heard a father or mother saying and doing was when the preacher was taking up a collection for the new building, and they were subscribing, the people were, to the new building, to the new church house; and a man stood up and said, "We lost our boy in the war" – like this boy to whom one of these bouquets of flowers is dedicated today, lost his life in the war. He stood up and said, "We have lost our boy in the war, and in memory of our boy, we subscribe ten thousand dollars to the building fund, to the building of the house of God." And when he sat down, another couple there, the wife turned to her husband and said, "Husband, stand up, stand up and tell them that we will give ten thousand dollars for our boy." And the husband said, "Well, wife, why, I don’t understand. We didn’t lose our boy. Our boy came back home alive." And the wife replied, "Husband, that’s what I’m saying. Let’s give ten thousand dollars for our boy – that God spared him and brought him back home alive."
That’s exactly what that is, a thanksgiving offering. God has done something good, and we thank Him for it. And they were taught to come to the house of the Lord with a special sacrifice. Why, bless you, I could not think of a more precious thing to do in our lives. God has done something good for us; therefore, therefore, I am making a special gift. Give it to missions, give it to one of our missions, or put it in the building fund, or give it to the church where it’s divided half for the work here and half for God’s work around this earth.
Now, we hasten to this fourth one, the sin offering [Leviticus 4:1-35]. I just point out one thing to you in the sin offering. I want you to look in the fourth chapter of Leviticus. I want you to look at the twelfth, at the twelfth verse. I want to show you there the difference in this sin offering and all the other offerings. Now, look at the twelfth verse. Do you see it? "That whole bullock that is offered shall he carry forth without the camp, where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall he be burnt" [from Leviticus 4:12].
Now, do you see the difference there? Why, we’ve just been speaking of the whole burnt offering on that altar [Leviticus 1:5-17], but the sin offering could not be burned there. For what was on that burnt offering ascended up to God, an acceptable and sweet savor in His sight [Leviticus 5:17]. But this sin offering is to be taken outside the camp and burned there with fire [Leviticus 4:12]. Now, what does the Lord say in this Book? "He was taken outside the camp; let us therefore go forth unto Him outside the camp, bearing his reproach" [from Hebrews 13:12-13]. He was crucified outside the gates, outside the city, outside the camp: the sin offering. And even God turned His face, and the sun forgot to shine [Mark 15:33], and the Son of God cried, "My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" [Matthew 27:46]: the sin offering.
I want to do one other thing in this little brief minute, then we have to close. The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah has all five of these offerings in it. The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. I do not have time to speak of it. I just want you to turn to the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, and I’m going to point them out to you, then I’ll have to close. The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah which is the great, great, chapter of the crucifixion of our Lord.
This man Isaiah lived 750 years before Jesus died. Yet you would think he was standing by the cross when he wrote this. All right, look at it.
That third verse there is the meal offering [Isaiah 53:3]. Didn’t I tell you a moment ago that the meal was ground and bruised and crushed? "Despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief . . . He was despised, and we esteemed Him not" [Isaiah 53:3] – crushed and bruised.
All right, now look at the fifth verse: "But He was wounded for our transgressions" – there is the trespass offering. Now, look: "The chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed" [Isaiah 53:5]. That is the peace offering. Now look at the next, the sin offering, in the sixth verse: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" [from Isaiah 53:6].
Look in the tenth verse: "When thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin" [from Isaiah 53:10]. Look in the twelfth verse: "Because He poured out His soul unto death" [from Isaiah 53:12]. That’s the sin offering.
Now, look at the burnt offering: "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities" [Isaiah 53:11]. There is the burnt offering, the ashes by the side of the altar; the wrath and judgment of God is spent: "and by His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many" [Isaiah 53:11]. It’s done its works. It’s over, and we are free and forgiven and justified in His sight.
Well, we must close. While we sing our song this morning, somebody to give his heart to the Lord, somebody a family or one somebody you to put his life in the church, while we sing the song, would you come? Anyone? Someone? As God shall say the word and lead the way, into that aisle and down here to the front, would you come while we stand and sing?