William Kelly Major Works Commentary
And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,Leviticus Chapter 1
THE BURNT OFFERING.
Let it be noticed that Lev. 1-3 are one utterance of Jehovah. They are the three offerings of a sweet odour to Him, though differing in other respects. They are the positive side of Christ as a Fire offering, a savour of rest to Jehovah. They are not for inadvertent sin against any of His commandments, or for guilt where His name and ritual may enter, or for reparation in His holy things, or in neighbourly wrongs. The first were God's appointed ground and means of approach to Him Who had come down to dwell in their midst, but in His sanctuary, the tent of meeting for His people. From Lev. 4 to Leviticus 6:7 are sin and guilt offerings, to remove hindrances or restore interrupted communion with Him Who on the day of atonement established the title of His people to draw near Him.
The most important of the sweet savour gifts or presentations was the Burnt offering. With this the Olah or Holocaust Jehovah began.
"And Jehovah called unto Moses and spoke to him out of the tent of meeting, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them, When a man of you presenteth an offering to Jehovah, ye shall present your offering of the cattle, of the herd and of the flock. If his offering [be] a burnt offering of the herd, he shall present it a male, perfect; at the entrance of the tent of meeting he shall present it for his acceptance before Jehovah. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to atone for him. And he shall slay the bullock before Jehovah; and Aaron's sons, the priests, shall present the blood and sprinkle the blood round about on the altar that [is] at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it up into its pieces. And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay wood in order on the fire; and Aaron's sons, the priests shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order on the wood that [is] on the fire which [is] on the altar. But its inwards and its legs shall he wash in water; and the priest shall burn all on the altar, a burnt offering, a fire offering of sweet odour to Jehovah."
Had there been no sin in man, or death through it, we could scarce conceive of a Burnt offering. Yet it is an offering neither for sin nor for guilt, but God glorified where sin was by a victim, the blood of which covered it from God's eyes, as the fire consumed it and brought out nothing but sweet savour. The steer, which the offerer brought near as an offering, presented in type the perfectness of Christ in giving Himself up to death in love and for the glory of God, unreservedly surrendering His life yet in obedience, the plainest contrast with Adam forfeiting his by disobedience. It was for the offerer's acceptance, and it made atonement for him; which could not be without death and the shedding of blood, and the fire-testing of divine judgment which consumed all with no other consequence than a savour of rest to Him.
A sinful man can approach God on this ground only. It foreshadowed Christ, Who through the Spirit eternal offered Himself spotless to God; or as He said beforehand, Therefore doth the Father love Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again: this commandment I received of My Father. So in Heb. 10 quoting Ps. 40, He says, Lo! I am come to do Thy will, O God. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. He came thus to replace what the first man wrought in wronging God, by His perfect giving Himself up to death and judgment that God might he glorified in Him, now man, and thus clothe with His own acceptance those who believed in Him. Now the Son of man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. Great as was Adam's sin, infinitely greater is the Second man's obedience unto death; and who can sum up the immense and countless results in blessing for faith now, as for ever and for the universe when power will act publicly to God's glory?
It was not the priest's part but the offerer's to present the victim at the entrance of the tent of meeting, or at the brazen altar (ver. 3). It was he too who laid his hand on the head of the burnt offering (ver. 4). This signified identification by grace with the offering. The acceptance of the Holocaust was transferred to the offerer. As the Son emptied Himself to become not man only but a bondman, and, when so found, humbled Himself in obedience as far as death on a cross, God answered, not by reconciling and forgiving only but, by setting man in His person and through His work in His own glory. Only none share the blessedness but those who believe, certainly not such as despise Himself and God's call by unbelief. After the animal was slain, the proper priestly work began in sprinkling the blood round about on the altar (ver. 5); as it was theirs to put fire on and lay wood to feed it (vers. 7, 8). The washing in water accomplished for the offering inwardly and outwardly the purity which was intrinsically true only of Christ. And this under His absolutely searching judgment went up to God an odour of rest (ver. 9). It has been justly remarked that the word for "burn" here, not in the offerings for sin or trespass, is the same as for burning the incense: a striking if minute proof of their essential difference, though both coalesce in setting forth fully the wondrous death of Christ.
It is observable that not only in the Holocaust but in all the offerings of, sweet savour, variety within prescribed limits was left to the offerer. In the Sin offerings it was not so: the offering was fixed by the ordinance of Jehovah, save that a slight degree of licence was permitted to one of the people of the land (Lev. 4). Where sin was not the urgent question, grace exercised the heart which gave according to its means. And special consideration was had of the poor that they should not be debarred from an offering which rose up to God acceptably, the shadow of the infinite excellency which He was in due time to provide, as well as find, in the Son giving Himself to death for His glory. For it was to meet Him from the place and race where sin reigned by death; and this could only be in such a sacrifice as presented Christ in His death of entire and acceptable self-surrender.
Two things were thus, made evident, and each of them most precious. If the several forms of the offering represent the differing degrees of faith in the offerers, as we may suppose, Jehovah as truly accepted the least measure of the Burnt offering, as the greatest; His eye beheld the same perfect sacrifice in all. The acceptance of the offerer did not vary, because the offering did that typified Christ. The offering of Christ's body was one and the same perfect value for all that are His.
"And if his offering be of the flock, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt offering, he shall present it a male perfect. And he shall slay it on the side of the altar northward before Jehovah; and Aaron's sons the priests shall sprinkle its blood on the altar round about. And he shall cut it into its pieces, and its head, and its fat; and the priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire on the altar. But the inwards and the legs shall be washed with water. And the priest shall present all and burn on the altar; it is a burnt offering, a fire offering of sweet savour to Jehovah."
But faith, be it ever so real, is not equally simple or strong in those that believe. And our estimate of Christ is as our faith. It varies in the saints, as their faith does. Happy they who rest on God's estimate of Him and His work.
Where this is the childlike yet unwavering conviction by the word and Spirit of God, rest and liberty, and the deepest enjoyment follow. We know, as the apostle Peter wrote, that we were redeemed, not with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ as a lamb without blemish and without spot, fore-known as He was before the world's foundation, but manifested at the end of the times for our sakes, that through Him believe in God Who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory that our faith and hope should be in God. Scripture is clear and conclusive, as the apostle Paul preached without reserve, that in (or, in virtue of) Christ every believer is justified from all things from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses.
But feebleness of faith has its effect nevertheless in proportionately impairing the soul's present happiness and power. How many saints, instead of looking for peace outside themselves in Christ and His work for them, occupy themselves with searching within for signs of the Spirit's work in them as born anew! Peace is thus an impossibility; for it was only made by the blood of Christ's cross. Thus only have we peace with God as justified by faith. Where one sees new birth on the contrary the Spirit gives one to see and abhor, not only past sins, but this evil and wilful nature, the old man, which gave them being.
No doubt the Christian is called to prove himself, and thus to partake of the Lord's supper; and if we scrutinised ourselves, instead of walking carelessly, we should not fall under His faithful discipline, that we may not be condemned with the world. But peace with God by the faith of Christ, is intended to strengthen salutary self-judgment, which in itself, if thorough, could only produce misery or despair. For it would then rest on the mistaken basis of our state, and therefore must fluctuate as we see fruits of the Spirit or the lack of them. The more upright in this case, the less could we be satisfied with what we find, and should be therefore exposed to any illusive nostrum which ministered self-complacency under the name of holiness.
It is obvious in the second and third alternatives that there is no such declaration of acceptance before Jehovah, and of atonement made for the offerer as in vers. 3 and 4. The rest is pretty much the same. Faith in every case is blessed; but the fully known result is according to the fuller estimate of Christ and His work.
The least form of this offering is mentioned naturally in the last place. How gracious of God not only to accept it as distinctly as the greatest, but to give the offerers the express assurance that so it was!
"And if his offering to Jehovah be a burnt offering of fowls, then he shall present his offering of turtle- doves or of young pigeons. And the priest shall bring it near to the altar, and wring [or, pinch] off its head, and burn it on the altar; and its blood shall be drained [or, pressed] out at the side of the altar. And he shall take away its crop with its feathers [or, refuse] and cast it beside the altar on the east into the place of the ashes; and he shall split it at its wings, [but] not divide [it] asunder; and the priest shall burn it on the altar on the wood that is on the fire: it is a Burnt offering, a fire offering of sweet savour to Jehovah "
Jehovah would give the poorest of His people the means of presenting to Himself the shadow of what was most precious in Christ's offering of Himself to God. For among the ordinary sacrifices the Burnt offering had an unequalled place. All the others were partaken of more or less by man; the Meal offering was largely for the use of the priests; of course also the Peace offering, which pre-eminently expressed the privilege of fellowship; and even of the Sin offering or of the trespass offering, unless in the special form when the blood was put within the veil, every male among the priests was enjoined to eat in a holy place, as they ate of the Meal offering. But in no case did a soul of man, not even the high priest, eat of the burnt offering. It was offered to God, assuredly on behalf of His people for their acceptance, but only to God.
But if the offering of turtle-doves or of young pigeons, as truly brought before the eyes of Jehovah the efficacious death of His Son as that of the bullock or of the sheep, it is the more remarkable that part, not of the larger, but of the smallest Burnt offering, was thrown away. It was to be split, not divided; but the offerer was to take away the crop with the feathers, or refuse, and cast it beside the altar on the east into the place of the ashes.
Thus there is a marked falling short of the complete idea of the Burnt offering where all rose up to God as a savour of rest. Poverty of faith has its effect now at any rate. Christ is the same perfect Saviour of all that are His. The acceptance of each is according to all that God appreciated in Him and His work. All have been and are not only sanctified as a settled fact through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, but He has thereby perfected the sanctified without even a break, not for ever merely but continuously. Their standing is secured uninterruptedly.
How is it then that feebleness of faith works? It fails to give adequate glory to God. It detracts from the soul's fulness of enjoyment of Christ and His work. Part of the fowls was "cast away," and "into the place of the ashes." Weak faith does not undo the perfecting of the saints before God. The acceptance which Christ's work confers on the believer abides untouched. God sees all that are His according to Christ, His standard; but the weaker the faith, the more the believer mingles the sense of drawback because of his failures with the blessedness to which the Holy Spirit bears His testimony. Hence the distinctness of what the Burnt offering means is impaired. In the soul's apprehension it is made to approach an offering for sin. Of God glorified in Christ's death, and ourselves identified with Christ thereby, such a one enters into little if at all. One is content then to look at no more than His bearing our sins in His own body on the tree: in itself a most necessary blessing, but assuredly short of appropriating the distinctive truth of the Burnt offering.
Deterioration as well as difference of degree appears in others of these types as may be shown in due time. This tends to confirm the thought here. But, however this may be judged, the fact is certain among believers; and the result of not entering into the various aspects and relations of Christ's sacrifice is that souls lose not a little in clear and bright perception of the truth, and of their own blessing consequently. Hence the importance of heeding every divine intimation of the revealed mind of Christ, that we may thus grow in and by the knowledge of God.
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.
If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.
And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.
And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
And he shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces.
And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire:
And the priests, Aaron's sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar:
But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
And if his offering be of the flocks, namely, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt sacrifice; he shall bring it a male without blemish.
And he shall kill it on the side of the altar northward before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall sprinkle his blood round about upon the altar.
And he shall cut it into his pieces, with his head and his fat: and the priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar:
But he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.
And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the LORD be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons.
And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring off his head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar:
And he shall pluck away his crop with his feathers, and cast it beside the altar on the east part, by the place of the ashes:
And he shall cleave it with the wings thereof, but shall not divide it asunder: and the priest shall burn it upon the altar, upon the wood that is upon the fire: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.