Our reading for this week from Leviticus 6-10 could be viewed as some of the most mundane reading in the Old Testament. However, the struggle we might have is viewing the instructions as “performance of Sacrifices” on the Altar. This would be very short-sighted on our part because the focus is not on the sacrifices but what they really are: Offerings to the LORD Almighty. I have to admit I to got caught up in the repeated instructions of preparations and all; and lost sight of the WHY of the offerings. There are voluntary offerings and mandatory offerings. But all the offerings were to the LORD. As I read the various instructions of what to bring and burn, there is the constant view that the “Fat is the LORD’s.” Since I like to BBQ I know that the fat in the meat makes it smell and taste so good. This was the point – that offerings would be a “sweet-smelling savor” in the nostrils of God. Yes, the offerings dealt with infractions of the Law and the sins of men; but the point was that God would be pleased with the offerings and His grace and mercy would be evident, for the fellowship would be restored. The various offerings are: Peace, Sin, Burnt, Guilt, Free Will and Wave. The offerings were prescribed according to the sin or circumstances around breaking the Law. The Offerings to the LORD could range from sheep, goats, bread or birds; the point was the condition of the heart bringing the offering, and the authenticity of seeking restoration. Of course our reading also delineates the portion for the Priests to have as their sustenance.
Raymond Campbell [http://biblecentre.org/content.php] has made charts and such description the purpose and Old/New Testament correlation. As the Offerings were for the restoration of relationship between God and Man; each had their own direct purpose. The Burnt Offering was for the single purpose of Glorifying God; with parallels in Gospel of John and Psalm 40. The Meal or grain offering was for the Perfect Man, usually Unleavened Bread denoting absence of sin; parallels in Psalm 16. The Peace Offering was an offering for fellowship; it could be either sex , with the fat and kidneys to God, and the breast & right shoulder for the one offering it; parallels in Gospel of Luke and Psalm 85. The Sin offering obviously for the Judgment of Sin; here a bull was burnt outside the camp, sort of like the Scape Goat being the sin bearer. Parallels in Mark’s Gospel and Psalm 22. The the Guilt Offering, sometimes called the Trespass offering; the offering of restoration; with it the requirement of 1/5 more than what was taken. This is probably best seen a “restitution” for the sin; recompense for the loss of another. While it seems like a great ordeal to have the offerings all the time, we can see that the offering was necessary to “cover sin” until the ultimate Offering Sacrifice of Jesus came; which didn’t cover over the sin, but dealt with it and removed the sin forever. When we think of our lives – Romans 12:1-2; we are to be an offering to the LORD; a living and holy sacrifice which is our reasonable service. We are an “Offering to the LORD” – we must be a holy sacrifice just as the animals were in the Old Testament. God is serious about doing “offering and sacrifices” that are holy. Check out Leviticus 10 and Acts 5 to find out what happens when there is no reverence for the Holy things of God.
Beginning in Exodus 25 we find the instructions for building the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was used by the Israelites until the time of Solomon’s building the 1st Temple at Jerusalem. The Tabernacle was the outdoor “sanctuary” for worship, sacrifices and where Moses sat for listening to judgements for the people. It was permanently set-up at Shiloh and forgotten; that is the Ark of the Covenant, until David retrieves it and brings it to Jerusalem. The Tabernacle was intricate and expensive. As one reads through the various furniture and curtains that make-up the entire Worship Center; one might wonder where in the world would they get such materials and of that great quantity. We must remember that God enabled the Israelites to “ransack” the Egyptians of all the gold, silver and various other precious resources. As a side note, while Moses is in the mountain getting all the instructions; we have Aaron and the people below making a Golden Idol Calf to worship. The very same materials that were to be used for Yahweh and worship – now was being used to produce a “cultic” worship. Which just goes to show that if we aren’t careful, we can take what God meant for good and turn it into a detestable abomination to Him. There is great detail and specifications for each artifact to be in the Tabernacle. The construction begins with the Ark of the Covenant. We have all watched the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and saw the representation of the Ark, with the Mercy Seat of Cherubim’s. There is no expense spared as gold is either overlaid or solid in the making of the Ark. The Mercy Seat can be confusing, it is nothing other than the lid for the Ark of the Covenant. Inside the Ark are three things: Aaron’s rod that budded, bowl of manna and the Tablets. It is called the Ark of Testimony – for it is the place where God will meet the High Priest. It is the Holy of Holies place where atonement will be done once a year, for the sins of the nation. Inside the Tent of Meeting, also inside the veil is the Table of Showbread, golden lamp-stands [known better at Menorah]. Then there is the outer Court, but still inside the tent, the place where daily sacrifices will take place. There are curtains that are 39 feet tall and 6 feet wide that will be joined together by loops of gold. The flooring is described as a 30 foot square. Then there is the veil and screen that is so famously torn from top to bottom, however that was in the Temple not the Tabernacle. The construction of the Bronze Altar is quite a feat; some 9 1/2 feet x 4 1/2 feet rectangular table. Then there is the Court of Tabernacle that is separated from the Holy of Holies that measures 150×75 ft. When I was reading about the High Priest’s clothing I could help but visualize what the pope in the Roman Catholic church looks like all dressed up in regalia. Moving on to chapter 30; we find the instruction on how to get anointing oil. The spices and such can be found today and I actually made some one time, quite interesting smell and concoction. We know that Aaron had two sons that violated the Altar of incense, for they burned “strange incense” to the Lord. [Lev. 10:1] I often wondered why the incense, but when I thought of the blood sacrifices and all the burning of flesh and grain, I can understand the need for a sweet-smelling aroma. I know this didn’t make for good reading – but the House of worship to the Lord even today should be held in such I regard; but somehow we have “cheapened” the place of Worship where people are to meet the Lord. If there was such particular detail about what was acceptable, shouldn’t we be maybe just a little more reverent with the places that are chosen to bring our sacrifices of praise?