THE LAW OF THE OFFERINGS
.....And this measure of apprehension may vary, though the work
apprehended be the same. Thus, one Christian, with little
knowledge of his place in Jesus, sees himself as still in the
house of bondage; but there, hiding within the blood-sprinkled
door-posts, he waits with girded loins to depart from Egypt.
Another by faith sees further, even to the experience of the
wilderness, knowing that Pharaoh is judged, and the Red Sea
behind him. A third sees further still, even into the land, and
knows himself even now over Jordan.; In a word: one sees Exodus,
another Numbers, another Joshua. Yet the reality, though
differently apprehended is the same - salvation through the blood
of Jesus. The difference is in our apprehension of it, and it is
this difference that these books, if regarded typically, are so
full of. It is, I believe, precisely similar in these types of
Christ in His work as offering. The different offerings give us
the different aspects of His offering; the different grades in
the same offering, the different apprehensions of the same
The truth is, that Christ's work is so manifold, and has so many
different aspects, and each aspect maybe so differently
apprehended, according to the different measure of light in the
believer, that one type or one history, however full, can never
fully describe or represent Him. We see this unquestionably in
the Gospels, in reference to the person of the Lord. One Gospel
does not shew out all the glories of His person the subject
requires four distinct presentations. The Gospels are not mere
supplementary narratives of Christ in one relation. Each gives a
separate view of Him. Not of His work in saving - this we get in
the Epistles - but of Himself, His perfect character, His blessed
I do not here enter into the distinctions of the Gospels, though
few subjects of inquiry are more blessed, further than to refer
to them in illustration, of our subject, as shewing the way in
which the Word is written. Take but Luke and John. In their
narratives, as in the offerings, in each, as others have
observed, we have a distinct aspect of Jesus. Luke gives Him as
Son of Adam: John as Son of God. In the former of these,
therefore, I read His "genealogy," His "conception" of Mary, His
"birth" at Bethlehem; His "increase in wisdom and stature," and
His "subjection" to His earthly parents; His "baptism," His
"temptation" in the wilderness, and His "anointing with the Holy
Ghost." In John not a word about matters of this sort, but "the
Word which was with God, and was God." Take any event narrated
by the two Evangelists, not to say the general tone and tenor of
their writings, and see how perfectly each narrative will be in
keeping with the distinct character of each particular Gospel.
Take, for instance, a scene familiar to most of us, the agony in
the garden of Gethsemane. In Luke (chap.22:42) we see Jesus, the
suffering "Son of Adam," in all points, sin excepted, tempted as
we are; saying, "Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from
me." An angel appears strengthening Him. In an agony He prays
more fervently. He seems to seek sympathy from His disciples:
great drops of blood fall to the ground. Now turn to the same
scene in John, and mark the striking contrast. Not a word about
His prayer or agony; not a word about strength ministered to Him
by an angel; not a word of His drops of blood, or of His apparent
longing for sympathy in His trial. Throughout He is "the Word "
incarnate. "Jesus knowing all things that should come upon Him,
went forth and said, Whom seek ye?" "As soon as He had said unto
them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground." Here,
instead of weakness and agony, is power appalling His
adversaries. Then again, instead of seeking sympathy from His
disciples, He is seen rather as possessing the power to protect
them. "If therefore ye seek me, let these go their way; that the
saying might be fulfilled which He spake, 'Of those whom thou
bast given me I have lost none.'"
Some saints see nothing of this. Like Israel in Egypt, the only
truth for them is redemption. Little distinction can they see
either in the work or offices of Jesus. Still less do they see of
His character or person. But among those who do see these things,
how vast may be the difference of spiritual intelligence. It is
this distinction, I cannot doubt, which is brought out, as the
subject demands, in the varieties of the Offerings.
But it is time that we turn to THE BURNT-OFFERING. Let us examine
it, first, in its contrast to the other offerings; and then;
secondly, in its varieties.
I. IN ITS CONTRAST TO THE OTHER OFFERINGS:
at least four points may be enumerated. It was, (1.) A sweet
savour offering, and, (2.) Offered for acceptance; in these two
particulars it differed from the Sin-offerings, (3.) Thirdly, it
was the offering of a life: in this it differed from the
Meat-offering,(4.) Fourthly, it was wholly burnt; here it
differed from all, and particularly from the Peace-offering.
(1.) First, it was a sweet savour offering: "a sweet savour unto
Jehovah." (verses 9,13,17). I have already adverted to the
difference between the offerings, and that they were divided into
two great and distinctive classes, FIRST, the sweet savour
offerings, which were all, as we shall find, oblations for
acceptance; and SECONDLY, those offerings which were not of a
sweet savour, and which were required as an expiation for sin.
The FIRST class, the sweet savour offerings - comprising the
Burnt-offering, the Meat-offering. and the Peace-offering, were
offered on the brazen ALTAR which stood in the Court of the
Tabernacle. The SECOND class - the Sin and Trespass-offerings,
were NOT consumed on the altar: some of them were burnt on the
earth without the camp; others the priest ate, having first
sprinkled the blood for atonement. In the FIRST class, sin is not
seen or thought of: it is the faithful Israelite giving a sweet
offering to Jehovah. In the SIN-offerings it is just the reverse:
it is an offering charged with the sin of the offerer. Thus, in
the FIRST class - that is, the Burnt-offering, the Meat-offering,
and the Peace-offering - the offerer came for acceptance as a
worshipper. In the SECOND class, in the Sin and Trespass
offerings, he came as a sinner to pay the penalty of sin and
In EITHER case the offering was WITHOUT BLEMISH; for the
Sin-offerings required perfectness in the victim as much as the
Burnt-offering. But in the ONE the offerer appears as man in
perfectness, and in his offering stands the trial of fire,that
is, God's searching holiness; and accepted as a fragrant savour,
all ascends a sweet offering to Jehovah. In the OTHER, the
offerer appears as a sinner, and in his offering bears the
penalty due to his offenses.
Now the Burnt-offering was of the FIRST class, a sweet-smelling
savour; as such in perfect contrast with the Sin-offerings. We
are not here, therefore, to consider Christ as the Sin-bearer,
but as MAN IN PERFECTNESS MEETING GOD IN HOLINESS. The thought
here is not, "God hath made Him to be sin for us," (2 Cor.5:21)
but rather, "He loved us, and gave Himself for us an offering and
a sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savour" (Eph.5:2).
Jesus, blessed be His name, both in the Burnt-offering and
Sin-offering, stood as our representative. When He obeyed, He
obeyed "for us:" when He suffered, He suffered "for us." But in
the Burnt-offering He appears for us, not as our sin-bearer, but
as man offering to God something which is most precious to Him.
We have here what we may in vain search for elsewhere: man giving
to God what truly satisfies Him. The thought here is not that sin
has been judged, and that man in Christ has borne the judgment:
this would be the Sin-offering. The BURNT-offering shews us man
going even further, and giving to God an offering so pleasing to
Him that the sweet savour of it satisfies Him, and will satisfy
Him for ever. With our experience of what man is, it seems
wondrous that he should ever perfectly perform his part to
God-ward. But in Christ man has so performed it: His offering was
"a sweet savour unto the Lord."
Here, then, is the FIRST thought presented to us in the
Burnt-offering: God finds food, that is, satisfaction, in the
offering. In other oblations we have Christ as the faithful
Israelite, by His offering feeding and satisfying the priest.
HERE He is seen satisfying Jehovah. The altar is "the table of
the Lord:" whatever was put upon it was "the food of God" (Lev.
21:6,8,17,22, margin). The fire from heaven, emblem of God's
holiness, consumes the offering; and it all ascends as sweet
incense before Him ( the word used for the Burnt-offering,
literally 'ascending' is the same as that used for burning
incense. The burning of the Sin-offering is expressed by an
entirely different words).
And just as in the Burnt-offering the fire from heaven fell and
consumed the sacrifice of the altar - a pledge to him who offered
it that there was something in the offering which God found
pleasure in, so, typically speaking, did God find food in the
unblemished sacrifice of Jesus. His perfect spotlessness and
devotedness was a sweet feast to the God of heaven. Here was
something according to His taste. Here, at least, He found
We too often omit this thought when thinking of the offering of
Jesus. We think of His death; but little of His life. We look but
little into His ways. Yet it is His ways throughout His
pilgrimage, even to the way He laid down His life, which God so
delights in. Our views are so selfish and meagre. If we are
saved, we seek no further. Most saints, therefore, have very
little thought of Christ's offering, except as offered for sin,
"delivered for our offenses." God, however, puts the
Burnt-offering FIRST: for this was peculiarly His portion in
Jesus. And just in proportion as a believer grows in grace, we
shall find him turning intelligently to the Gospels; from them
adding to the knowledge he has of the work of Jesus, greater
knowledge of His ways and person; with earnest desire to know
more of the Lord Himself, and how in all things He was "a sweet
savour to Jehovah."
(2.) But the Burnt-offering was not only "a sweet savour;" it was
also an offering "for acceptance," that is, it was offered to God
to secure the acceptance of the offerer. So we read, I give the
more correct translation, "he shall offer it for his acceptance."
To understand this, we must recur for a moment to the position
Christ occupied as offerer. He stood for man as man under the
law, and, as under law, His acceptance depended on His
perfectness. God had made man upright; but he had sought out many
inventions. One dispensation after another had tried whether,
under any circumstances, man could render himself acceptable to
God. But age after age passed away: no son of Adam was found who
could meet God's standard. The law was man's last trial, whether,
with a revelation of God's mind, he could or would obey it. But
this trial, like the others, ended in failure: "there was none
righteous, no, not one."
How, then, was man to be reconciled to God? How could he be
brought to meet God's requirements? One way yet remained, and the
Son of God accepted it. "He took not on Him the nature of angels;
but He took the seed of Abraham;" and in His person, once and for
ever, man was reconciled to God. In effecting this, Jesus, as
man's representative, took man's place, where He found man, under
law; and there, in obedience to the law, He offered, "for His
* In the common version these words are translated, "He shall
offer it of his own voluntary will." (Ver. 3.) The Septuagint,
the Chaldee version, the Vulgate, and the Targum
Hierosolymitanum, all render this, "to be accepted;" which is
confirmed by ver.4: "it shall be accepted for him." The words
(Hebrew given here - Keith Hunt) are, and I may add, that the
same expression, where it occurs in Lev. xxxiii 11, is in our
version also, as well as in those referred to, translated "to be
The question was, could man bring an offering so acceptable as to
satisfy God? Jesus as man did bring such an offering. He offered
Himself, and His offering was accepted. Even with our poor
thoughts of what Jesus was to the Father, it seems wondrous that
He, the Blessed One, should ever have thus offered "for His
acceptance." But this was only one of the many steps of
humiliation which He took, as our representative, "for us."
And this explains the word "atonement" in the fourth verse: "It
shall be accepted for him to make atonement."
These words might suggest to some the thought of sin in connexion
with the Burnt-offering. Such a view of the case would be
erroneous. The word "atonement" here, as elsewhere, in itself
means simply making satisfaction: and satisfaction may be of two
sorts, depending on that which we have to satisfy. We may satisfy
a loving and holy requirement, or satisfy offended justice.
Either would be satisfaction: the BURNT-offering is the former;
the Sin-offering the latter.
And that the atonement of the Sin-offering is of a very different
nature from the atonement here spoken of in the Burnt-offering,
will at once be seen by any who will compare what is said of the
atonement of the Burnt-offering and of the Sin-offerings: for in
the Sin-offering we find it expressly added that the atonement is
an "atonement for the offerer's sin."
(* See chap.iv.20,26,31; chap.v.6,10,13,16,18; chap.vi.7; where
in every case the atonement of the Sin-offerings is expressly
connected with sin. There is nothing like this in the atonement
of the Burnt-offering, chap.i.4).
This is never said in the Burnt-offering: on the contrary, it is
said to be "offered for acceptance." The atonement of the
Burnt-offering is the satisfaction which God receives from the
perfectness which the offerer presents to Him. The atonement of
the Sin-offering is expiatory: the offerer by his offering
satisfies offended justice. In the Sin-offering the atonement is
for sin; the offering, therefore, is not presented for
acceptance; but as seen charged with the sin of the offerer, is
cast out, the victim of a broken law: thenceforth, as under the
imputation of sin, and regarded as unfit for a place among God's
people, it is east out from the midst of Israel, and burnt
without the camp.
In the BURNT-offering the ATONEMENT is made by one who comes as a
worshipper WITHOUT SIN, and in his sinless offering offers for
acceptance that which is received as a sweet savour by the Lord.
Man is under trial, indeed, and offering for acceptance: but he
is seen accepted, as having satisfied God. I need not say that
but One ever did this perfectly, and He gave Himself, and was
accepted for us.
(3.) The third point peculiar to the BURNT-offering was, that a
life was offered on the altar: "He shall kill the bullock before
the Lord, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar." In this
particular the BURNT-offering stands distinguished from the
MEAT-offering, which in OTHER respects it CLOSELY resembles.
In the Meat offering, however, the offering was "corn, oil, and
frankincense;" here the offering is a LIFE. The right
understanding of the precise import of this particular will help
us to the distinct character of the Burnt-offering.
Life was that part in creation which from the beginning God
claimed as His. As such - as being His claim on His creatures -
it stands as an emblem for what we owe Him. What we owe to God is
our duty to Him. And this, I doubt not, is the thought here
intended. Of course, the offering here, as elsewhere, is the body
of Jesus, that body which He took, and then gave for us: but in
giving God a life, in contradistinction to offering Him corn or
frankincense, the peculiar thought is the fulfilment of the first
table of the Decalogue. Thus the LIFE YIELDED is man's DUTY to
God, and man here is seen perfectly giving it.
Am I asked what man ever thus offered? I answer, none but One,
"the man Christ Jesus." (1 Tim.2:5). He alone of all the sons of
Adam in perfectness accomplished all man's duty to Godward; He in
His own blessed and perfect righteousness met every claim God
could make upon Him. Again, I say. He did it "for us;" and we are
"accepted in Him."
(4.) The fourth and last feature peculiar to the BURNT-offering
is, that it was WHOLLY BURNT on the altar. "The priest shall burn
all upon the altar; to be a burnt sacrifice unto the Lord."
In this particular the Burnt-offering differed from the Meat and
Peace-offerings, in which a PART ONLY was burnt with fire; nor
did it differ less from those offerings for Sin, which, though
wholly burnt, were not burnt upon the altar.
The import of this distinction is manifest, and in exact keeping
with the character of the offering. Man's duty to God is not the
giving up of one faculty, but the entire surrender of all. So
Christ sums up the First Commandment - all the mind, all the
soul, all the affections. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with
all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind."
I cannot doubt that the type refers to this in speaking so
particularly of the parts of the Burnt-offering; for "the head,"
"the fat," "the legs," "the inwards," are all distinctly
enumerated. "The head" is the well-known emblem of the
thoughts; "the legs " the emblem of the walk; and "the inwards"
the constant and familiar symbol of the feelings and affections
of the heart.
The meaning of "the fat" may not be quite so obvious, though here
also Scripture helps us to the solution (Ps.xcii.10; xcii.14;
cxix.70; Deut.xs.15). It represents the energy not of one limb
or faculty, but the general health and vigour of the whole.
In Jesus these were all surrendered, and all without spot or
blemish. Had there been but one thought in the mind of Jesus
which was not perfectly given to God: - had there been but one
affection in the heart of Jesus which was not yielded to His
Father's will; - had there been one step in the walk of Jesus
which was taken not for God, but for His own pleasure; - then He
could not have offered Himself or been accepted as "a whole
burnt-offering to Jehovah:"
But Jesus gave up all: He reserved nothing. All was burnt, all
consumed upon the altar.
I do not know that there is anything more remarkable than this in
the perfect offering of our blessed Master. Everything He did or
said was for God. From first to last self had no place: His
Father's work, His Father's will, were everything. The first
words recorded of Him as a child are, "I must be about my
Father's business." His last words on the cross, "It is
finished," proclaim how that business and that labour were
fulfilled and cared for.
So entirely was His whole life devoted to spend and be spent for
His Father, that in reading the Gospels the thought scarce occurs
to us that He could have had a will of His own. Yet Jesus was
perfect man, and as such had a human will as we have. In one
point only did it differ from ours: His will was always subject
to His Father. As a man, His thoughts were human thoughts; His
affections human affections. But how much of these did He reserve
for self, for His own ease, or credit, or pleasure? What one act
recorded of Him was for His own advancement? What one word which
was not in entire devotedness to His Father?
But it is vain to endeavour to describe His perfectness; words
cannot express it: God only knows it. Of this, however, I am
fully assured - the more we are in communion with God, the more
we shall estimate it. Out of God's presence we see no beauty in
Jesus: His very perfectness is so strange to our natural
Had He been less devoted, we should have better understood Him.
Nay, had His self-surrender been less complete, we should have
valued it higher. Had He, instead of always refusing to be
anything here, taken the glory of the world for a season, and
then resigned it, we should probably have thought more of His
humiliation in becoming the friend and companion of the poor.
But so it was, and so it is still; the more humble, the more
despised in man's eyes; the more faithful, the less accepted.
But the Burnt-offering was for God's acceptance, not for man's.
He at least could estimate the full value of the offering.
Such was "the whole burnt-offering:" The entire surrender of
self to God in everything.
How utterly in contrast to what the world thinks wisdom; "for men
will praise thee when thou doest well to thyself." Nay, how
utterly unlike anything which can be found even in believers.
With us how many thoughts are there for self; for our ease, our
pleasure, our interest. How much of our walk, how much of our
affections, is consumed on anything rather than the altar? It was
not so with the blessed Jesus. "With all His heart" He lived for
God, for "the inwards" were all consumed: with "all His soul and
with all His strength," for "the fat and head " were offered.
His offering was not the surrender of one part, while He kept
what He most valued for Himself. It was not the surrender of what
cost nothing, or what cost but little, or what was comparatively
worthless. "He gave Himself," in all His perfectness, and
satisfied the heart of God.
Such is the GENERAL ASPECT of the BURNT-offering, as
distinguished from the other offerings. It was a sweet savour, an
offering for acceptance, the offering of a life, and wholly burnt
upon the altar.
Let us now proceed to examine:
2. ITS VARIETIES. that is, the different measures of apprehension
with which it may be seen.
There were, then, three grades in the Burnt-offering. It might be
"of the herd," (verse 3) or "of the flock," (verse 10) or " of
fowls." (verse 14). These different grades gave rise to several
varieties in the offering, the import of which we shall now
TO BE CONTINUED