THE BURNT OFFERING
by Henry Law, 1855
"Then he will burn it on top of the wood fire on the altar. It is a whole burnt offering made by fire, very pleasing to the Lord." Leviticus 1:17
Reader, you are invited here to take your stand within the tabernacle's court. A crowded and a busy scene appears. Many worshipers bring many offerings. All is activity. But all the active zeal has one great object—to honor God in God's appointed way.
Each offering in this court is a full page of Gospel-truth. Christ in His grace and work is the golden key to open every part. Leviticus is Calvary fore-shown. Calvary is Leviticus unfolded. The one casts forward the morning ray. The other pours down the mid-day blaze. But the early and the brighter beams stream from one Sun—Christ Jesus. The brazen altar is the herald of the cross. The cross re-echoes to the brazen altar's voice.
In a long train of ceremonial teaching the Burnt offering takes the lead. Let this, then, first be noticed.
An offerer comes. Mark what he brings. If his offering be from the herd, it must be an unblemished male. Lev. 1:3. It must be the choicest produce from his pastures—the primest flower from his fields. There must be strength in fullest vigor, and beauty without one alloy. Such are the properties required.
The meaning is distinct. Jesus is here. The victim chosen before worlds were framed is thus portrayed. Strength and perfection are main colors in His portrait. He is as strong as God can be. The shield of omnipotence is on His arm. Hence He is able to achieve the grandest of all victories—even to tread down Satan and his empire. Hence He is able to bear away the weightiest of all burdens—even the vast mass of all His people's sin!
Perfection finds embodiment in Him. His every aspect is beauty, without one flaw. All evil buffeted Him, but it left no stain. Sin could not touch Him, though He sojourned in its home. Earth saw in Him one sinless inhabitant. From the manger to the cross, He shone one ray of godlike purity.
O my soul, you need strong help. Repose on Jesus: His strength suffices, and it cannot fail. You need a perfect ransom and a perfect robe. Repose on Jesus; He gave to God a spotless life, a spotless soul, to be your price. He gives to you a spotless righteousness to be your clothing. Thus the unblemished male pictures the beauteous and the strong Redeemer.
We next approach the chambers of the offerer's heart. We read, "He shall offer it of his own voluntary will." Lev. 1:3. There is no compulsion. There is no reluctance. His step is willingness.
This is a picture of faith's happy actings. Its chariot-wheels move swiftly. It feels sin's miserable need. It knows the value of redeeming blood. So it flies, with rapid wing, to plead it at the mercy-seat. Formalists may frequent God's courts. Habit's cold chains may drag them. Self-righteousness may urge them to the heartless task. But faith is a willing grace.
The eager offerer puts his hand upon the victim's head. Lev. 1:4. Do any ask the meaning of this rite? It graphically shows a transfer. Some load oppresses, which is thus cast on the victim. Some burden passes to another's person. Here is again the happy work of faith. It brings all guilt, and heaps it on the Savior's head. One sin retained is misery now, and hell at last. All must be pardoned by being brought to Christ. And He is waiting to receive. His office is to be this burden-bearer. His love constrains, and He cannot draw back.
Do any read this, who never have thus dealt with Christ? Sirs, where are your sins? They adhere tighter than your very skin. They have a millstone weight. They press to misery's unfathomable depths. But flee to Jesus. He can remove them all, and He alone.
Believer, where are your sins? On Jesus they are placed, and you are free. I ask again, Where are your sins? You answer, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." Ps. 103:12. You may rejoice and sing aloud, Christ is accepted as a substitute for me; I shall not be condemned. Thus with one hand faith casts away all misery, and with the other grasps all joy.
The victim, to which sins thus typically pass, must DIE. "He shall kill the young bull before the Lord." Lev. 1:5. Can Jesus, who in reality receives our guilt, not lay down life? It cannot be. The holy Word stands sure; "In the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die." Gen. 2:17. The sinner's surety, then, cannot be spared. He gives His life to pay the debt—to satisfy the wrath—to bear the curse—to expiate the guilt.
O my soul, "Christ died" is all your hope—your plea—your remedy—your life. "Christ died" opens your path to God. "Christ died" turns every frown into approving smiles. When the law thunders, and conscience quakes, and Satan accuses, interpose "Christ died," and fear no more. When the grave opens, whisper "Christ died," and sleep in peace. When the white throne is set, shout "Christ died," and take the crown of righteousness!
The victim's blood is SPRINKLED "round about upon the altar." Lev. 1:5. The blood is evidence that life is paid. This token then is profusely scattered. The priestly hands bedewed the altar with it. Thus Jesus enters with His own blood into the holy place. Heb. 9:12. He strews it round, and claims the purchased flock, the covenanted blessings—the full reward, the fruit of His completed work.
O my soul, you are bought, and cleansed, and comforted by blood. Your every blessing is a blood-bought gift. Let every prayer, and praise, and work, and service, be a blood-sprinkled offering.
The victim is next SKINNED. Lev. 1:6. The skin is torn away. The sacrificing priest received this, as his portion. It gave supplies of clothing. Is there no Gospel here?—say you, who joy in Jesus as "the Lord your righteousness." Yes, here is a picture of that heaven-pure robe, in which Christ decks each child of faith. His blood, indeed, removes all curse. But it is His obedience, which merits all glory. Because He died, we live. Because He lived, we reign.
The piercing knife divides the limbs. Members are torn from members, and all the parts, without, within, to which defilement usually adheres, are diligently washed. Lev. 1:9. The type of Jesus must be clean. No shadow of impurity may darken it. Again and again the truth resounds, that God's eye can only rest on perfect purity. How, then, shall the sinner stand, who ventures near apart from Christ? Reader, consider this at once! Oh! never rest until you know, that you are cleansed without by cleansing blood, and cleansed within by sanctifying grace.
The parts thus severed, and thus washed, are placed upon the altar. Consuming fire is brought. It preys on every limb. The raging flame devours, until this fuel is reduced to ashes. Lev. 1:9.
Let us now seek the truth, which echoes from this blazing fire. The garden and the cross unfold it. There Jesus presents Himself, laden with all the sins of all His chosen race. O my soul, have you a saving interest in Him? If it be so, He there appears, bearing the guilt of all your guilty life. The Sinless is accounted sinful, that the sinful may be spared as sinless.
What then occurs? Sin merits wrath. This wrath must fall. Justice must claim its due. Truth must be true. Holiness must show how evil is abhorred. The majesty and honor of God's empire cannot descend from their high throne. Sinner, be sure that sin cannot be spared. You must take woe, except this Surety take it for you.
What then occurs? See Jesus crushed to the earth beneath the load of anguish. Each bleeding pore proclaims, that more cannot be borne.
But whence is the God-man's mighty agony? The fire of heaven's wrath has fallen on Him. Vengeance has seized its prey. He undergoes the every pang, which would have tortured His redeemed people, if they had tossed in hottest flames forever. The fire burns—the anger rages—until each sin has infinitely suffered what it infinitely earned. No fuel then remains. All is consumed. The fire dies. The wrath expires. Hark! Jesus utters the wondrous word, "It is finished!"
O my soul, in calm and holy reverence, survey this dreadful scene. It is your ransom. It is your escape. It is your rescue from eternal ruin. It is another draining hell's cup for you. This one Burnt offering receives all vengeance. The fire of justice, that died in Christ, cannot revive to injure you.
The Spirit seals the record with this approving seal—"It is a Burnt offering, a sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Lord." Lev. 1:9. Here is witness worth ten thousand worlds. Here is the sweetest cordial, which the lips of faith can drink. The dying Jesus is heaven's "sweet savor." When the God-man victim burns upon the altar of the cross, each attribute is satisfied; no more, exults with ever-exulting joy; no more, is magnified to the highest heights; no more, is glorified until glory overflows.
Reader, the type blazes to win you to the saving cross. Whatever be your state or grade, be wise, and seek your richest pleasures here. The rite distinctly shows, that rich and poor alike need pardon, and alike must come. Sin has soiled all. All, then, must wash in expiating blood. The wealthy brought their victim from the herd. He, who had less of worldly wealth, offered his lamb or kid. The poorest inhabitant of the poorest hut gave the young pigeon or the turtle-dove. All placed upon the altar a burnt-sacrifice. A Savior is the one need of rich and poor. The richest is most poor, until Christ be found. The poorest is most rich, when once this pearl be clasped.
Such is the Gospel of the Burnt offering. Reader, leave it not without three solemn thoughts deep written in your heart.
1. Fire burns there. It burns to tell us what is sin's due. It frightfully portrays what all must bear, on whom that plague abides. Look at the consuming blaze and meditate on the tossings of the fiery lake—the flames, which cannot die—the gnawings of the ever-gnawing worm—the raging of relentless wrath—the agony, which tortures mind, and soul, and body. See in this sight God's utmost power put forth to inflict utmost pains through endless ages. See sin's sure doom. May the sight drive you rapidly to Christ!
2. Mark here God's wondrous grace. To save lost souls He gives the Son of His love to the fury of His wrath. He heaps all woe on Him, that no woe may remain for the redeemed. His frown is pitiless towards Him, that He may smile unceasingly on them. How dear must they be to His heart! He, who is the preciousness of heaven, descends to bear the worst of their vile doom. The Burnt offering sweetly cries, Abundant grace exceeds abundant sin.
3. What shall the ransomed render to salvation's Lord? The Burnt offering demands from them self offering. Let all heaven hear—let all earth take knowledge, that they give themselves, their souls, their bodies, their every faculty and gift, all influence, all means, their morning, midday, evening hours, to be a free-will sacrifice to free grace. Let the high altar of self-consecrating gratitude be raised. Let the whole life be one clear blaze of flaming love and ever-brightening service!