Leviticus 1 – 23 Sep 2012
Ladies & Gentlemen, I want you to know that the God whom this Church worships is not a God of our own imagination.
The Bible says in Heb 11:1-2 that “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.”
Hence, the God whom we worship has revealed Himself through His prophets.
And these words of His prophets are recorded in the Bible.
God has also revealed Himself through Jesus Christ when He was on earth just over 2,000 years ago.
Therefore, reading the bible will help us know God, what He is like and what He requires of us.
2 Tim 3:15 tells us that reading “the bible is able to make us wise for salvation by faith in Christ Jesus”.
So I encourage all of us to read the bible so that you will know what God has to say to you.
Today, I want to share with you what God says to us in Leviticus chapter 1.
The book of Leviticus teaches us what is required to approach God & what is required to walk with God.
To approach God, there must be 2 things:
First, there must always be a sacrifice.
This sacrifice was a foreshadow of what Jesus did on the Cross as the ultimate sacrifice for His people.
Secondly, this sacrifice must be made through a priest.
And Jesus was also the great High Priest who represented His people before God.
This is the prescribed way by which God is to be approached and worshipped.
It is not something that we imagined and conjured ourselves.
It is recorded in the bible so that man who is sinful can understand the way back to our holy God.
And in this way, you can know Him and return to Him if you are His child.
Now, I shall cover Leviticus chapter 1 by asking the following 3 questions:
1) What did God tell us about the offering to be made in order to approach Him?
2) What did the offerer need to do with the offering?
3) What do we need to do in response to all these information God has given to us?
Question 1: What did God tell us about the offering required in order to approach Him?
There are altogether 5 types of offerings mentioned in the book of Leviticus chapter 6.
There are 5 types because each individual type cannot completely represent the ultimate offering made by Jesus.
Leviticus 1 tells us specifically about the burnt offering and so we shall focus on this today.
There are 2 things I want to highlight concerning the burnt offering:
First, we are told that the burnt offering can be of 3 different types of animals.
In verse 3, we are told that this animal can be of the herd.
In this case, it would be a bull as indicated in verse 5.
In verse 10, we are told that this burnt offering animal could also be of the livestock.
If that was the case, it had to be either a male sheep or a goat.
Finally, we are told in verse 14 that this burnt offering could also be a bird.
And if it was a bird, it should be either a turtledove or a pigeon.
Now, what is the significance of having these 3 types of animals?
Very simply, each type of animal represented the “affordability” of the person making the offering.
A wealthy person ought to bring a bull as an offering because this was what he could afford.
A middle class person ought to bring a sheep as an offering because this was what he could afford.
A materially poor person had no excuse for not seeking God because of poverty.
This is because he could simply bring a turtledove or a pigeon.
So, here is the good news preached from the law of Moses.
No person is excluded from approaching God regardless of his material status in society.
You need to get right with God whether you are a rich man or a poor man.
And God stated His requirement clearly on what you need to do in order to approach Him.
And no one has any excuse for not approaching God because of his material circumstances.
God has made it possible for every person to approach Him.
And in our case, Jesus became the sacrifice for those who put their faith in Him.
He alone made it possible for us to approach God.
So here is the gospel call to all of you:
Whether you are a student, a blue-collared worker, a home-maker, a professional or a middle-class person, God calls you to make right your relationship with Him.
You don’t even need to bring any sacrifice to Him now.
He has provided the way for you to do so in Jesus Christ – who was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.
All that is needed is a sincere heart to get right with God, a broken & contrite spirit – which God will not despise.
The 2nd thing I want to tell you about the burnt offering is a phrase that appears in verses 9, 13 & 17.
The phrase “….a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the Lord.” is repeated in each of these verses 9, 13 & 17.
Each time the burnt offering was made in accordance to God’s prescribed way, it was a sweet aroma to Him.
Each time the burnt offering was made in a manner that is not in accordance to what He prescribed, it received His condemnation.
For example, the sons of Aaron offered profane fire in Leviticus 10.
This means they offered something that God did not command them to.
And they were struck dead immediately.
In 1 Sam 13:9, Saul made an offering when he was not the appointed priest of the people.
He was rejected by God.
In 2 Sam 6:7 Uzzah touch the ark of God in a manner that God did not prescribe.
He was struck dead immediately.
In 1 Sam 6:19, the people of Beth Shemesh looked into the ark of God in an irreverent manner.
They were struck dead immediately.
All these incidents convey to us the holiness of the God whom we worship.
God is in heaven and we are on earth.
God is the Creator and we are the Created.
God is holy and we are sinful.
Therefore you cannot approach God on your terms.
You have to approach Him in the exact manner that He has prescribed and dictated.
Then it becomes a sweet aroma to Him.
Otherwise, you will not be accepted by Him.
And there will only be a fearful expectation.
So let’s summarise our answers for question 1.
What did God tell us about the offering required in order to approach Him?
First, the offering did not exclude any class of people.
Regardless of what your material circumstance is, God requires you to worship Him as your Creator.
Secondly, the offering that was made in God’s prescribed way is a sweet aroma to Him.
God’s prescribed way for us to approach Him is through Jesus Christ.
Therefore, only approaching God through Jesus Christ is “a sweet aroma” to Him.
We come now to our 2nd question for today: What did the offerer need to do with the offering?
Once again, there are 2 things I want to highlight to you.
The first is what is stated in verse 4:
Verse 4 – “He shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him”.
The Hebrew word for the phrase “put his hand on the head of the burnt offering” literally meant “press hard’ on the head of the burnt offering.
The idea is similar to someone who was pressing a stamp or a seal on a document.
He has to press hard to imprint his initials there.
Hence, they idea conveyed is that the offerer was putting his stamp on the offering.
And in this way, he was symbolically transferring his guilt to the animal that was offered.
And the animal became the party that bore the sin of the offerer.
The animal died on behalf of the offerer.
And it became clear to the offerer that his approach to God was made possible because of a life laid down.
The bible says in Rom 3:23 that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
And “the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:33.
We are all sinners and we are all spiritually dead.
And eventually we will experience a physical death and end up in hell, unless our sins are being paid for.
Unless someone dies on our behalf and have our sins transferred to him.
The bible tells us in 1 Pet 2:24 that Jesus “…bore our sins in His own body on the tree that we, having died to sins, might live….”
Jesus was the offering for our sins.
When we believe in Him, our sins are symbolically transferred to Him and He bore our sins for us.
And in this way, our Holy God can accept us on the basis of a life laid down.
Secondly, I want you to notice that it says in verse 5 that the offerer had to “kill the bull before the LORD”.
Contrary to what many perceive, it was actually not the job of the priest to kill the burnt offering.
The offerer had to do it himself.
I don’t know about you, but I am certainly glad that I don’t live in the old testament to have to do this.
First, there is this unenviable task of having to personally kill the burnt offering.
And as soon as you have done this, you will probably have to be back to do the same thing again because we constantly sin against God.
And anyone who had to go through that ceremonial sequence will soon understand the meaning of Heb 10:4.
Heb 10:4 says “..it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”
Because these sacrifices are merely “a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things…” – Heb 10:1.
God in His mercy used these ceremonial sequences to illustrate to us this awful task that His Son Jesus Christ had to do for us on the Cross.
And He did this once and that was all that was necessary, so that we can be reconciled to Him.
We thank God that the new testament dispensation is so much gentler on us.
We need not make any offering because Jesus had made the ultimate offering for our sins.
What we are required to do is to simply to believe that Jesus Christ died for us sins.
Now, let me summarise our answers to question 2: what did the offerer have to do with the offering?
First, he had to “press hard” on the head of the offering.
This was to symbolise that his sins are transferred to the animal being offered.
And the lesson we learn is that God accepts us only on the basis of a life laid-down.
Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.
Our sins are transferred to Him when we believe in Him as our Saviour.
And God accepts us through Jesus Christ because He laid down His life for us.
Secondly, the offerer had to kill the offering himself.
We thank God that the old testament ceremonial sequence of offering need not be done anymore.
Jesus, our sacrifice and our High Priest has done everything necessary for us to be accepted by God.
But we must not take what God has revealed to us in Leviticus for granted.
Because it cost Jesus His life so that we can be reconciled to God.
And so, let us now consider our 3rd question for today: “What do we need to do in response to all these information God has given to us?”
Let me first speak to the Christians who have professed faith in Jesus.
Rom 12:1 “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service”.
Here, the Apostle Paul is NOT telling us to MAKE sacrifices.
Instead, he is telling us to BE sacrifices.
We are to BE sacrifices, much in the same way a burnt offering is unto to God.
The entire burnt offering was given to God, not just parts of it.
And it was only when the entire offering was given to God, that it was a sweet aroma to Him.
So we ought to give of ourselves entirely to serve God.
Some of us may say, “I’ve done my part, it is enough that I am in Church on Sunday”.
Others may say, “I have already given my tithes; I need not help anymore”.
Dear believers, I want you to understand that when Jesus redeemed us, he did not just redeem part of us.
He redeemed our whole being, our body and our soul & spirit.
1 Cor 6: 20 “..for you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body & in your spirit, which are God’s”.
That means that your whole being does not belong to you, but to God.
We are only a custodian of this redeemed body for the time that God has given us on earth.
And the bible says that “To him who is given much, much is expected” – Luk 12:48.
If you can afford a bull, God will not be pleased if you brought to Him a turtledove.
This is because He has given you the means of bringing a bull.
I urge all of you believers “to present yourselves a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God because this is your reasonable service” to the God who redeemed you.
Now, there are lots of areas and ways in which you can serve God here in this church.
Please talk to me after worship today if you want to know how you can serve God.
Now, let me now speak to the unbelievers and with that, we will close.
One of the things I had to do when I was the manager of Dell Singapore was something called the 360degrees-survey.
The company wanted to ensure that their representative head in Singapore was well received by people in general.
And so, a specific questionnaire called the-360 was sent to my customers, suppliers, partners, employees, my peers as well as supporting counter-parts to determine how they perceived me.
And most importantly, my immediate boss also had to complete the questionnaire.
You can imagine how stressful such an exercise can be.
So, when the scores were tabulated, I was very thankful that by and large, the results were very positive.
However, the only questionnaire that was negative came from my immediate boss.
And I soon realised that actually his opinion was what really mattered.
I had spent my time and energy managing downwards and sideways well, but neglected the most important relationship, which was whether my boss was pleased with me.
And of course, I realised that this relationship had the ultimate impact on my career future.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys & girls, when God looks down from heaven and He sees you, have you wondered what He thinks of you?
I want to tell you that your relationship with God, who is the ultimate “boss” of heaven and earth, is the most important relationship you need to manage.
When God looks at you, does He see you as a rebel?
Have you ever wondered if He is angry with you?
And if He is, do you tremble over what He may do to you as a result?
Do you realise that your eternal future is determined by how God perceives you.
Let me say it again: your relationship with God is the most important relationship you have to resolve.
It doesn’t matter if you are the most popular or the most successful person in every possible way.
It doesn’t matter if you have managed to change the world and make a recognised impact in society.
As long as God does not receive you, you have no eternal future.
As long as you have not repented of your sins and publicly profess your faith in Jesus Christ, you are not reconciled to God.
And that means, God views you as a sinner and you will die and you will end up in hell.
But it doesn’t have to happen that way.
I have shared with you that God will receive you only on the basis of a life laid-down.
I did not invent this requirement; God made it clear in the book of Leviticus.
And it is also clear in Heb 9:22 that “without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sin”.
And God will receive you if you believe that Jesus laid down His life for you.
And God will think highly of you if you are humble to acknowledge that you have sinned against Him and will turn from your sins to follow Him.
The bible says that the angels rejoice in heaven when a sinner turns away from sin and returns to God.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys & girls; here is the call of the gospel:
Repent and believe in Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
God will hear your prayer for help if you heed the call of the gospel & turn to Jesus Christ.
Please talk to me or our Pastor Paul Chong after worship today so that we can tell you more about this great salvation of Jesus Christ.
Oh, may this day be a day of salvation for those of you who have not professed faith in Jesus Christ. Amen.
We shall sing Hymn 226 – He Hideth my soul.