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…
The burnt offering appears to have been the most general of the sacrifices presented to Jehovah, and to have had the widest significance. Its spiritual counterpart is furnished in Romans 12:1. Meditation upon the prophetic symbol will abed light upon the "living sacrifice" of the gospel dispensation.
I. THE NATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN OFFERING AS THUS SYMBOLIZED.
1. It is a surrender to God of something that belongs to us. Property inherited and acquired is the material of the sacrifice. Not only what has come to us by natural endowment, but that which is the result of toil - the cattle that were given to us, and the produce we have reared. God demands our hearts, our minds, our talents; and he looks for the devotion to him of any increment that effort may secure. Just as Barnabas sold his land and laid the price at the apostles' feet, and the Apostle Paul commanded that each Corinthian should "lay by him in store as God hath prospered him."
2. It is a voluntary surrender. The man "shall put his band upon the head of the burnt offering," to evince his willingness to part with the animal. All "the cattle on a thousand bills" are really owned by Jehovah, yet does he treat man as proprietor, and does not take by violence the necessary sacrifices for his glory, but leaves it to man freely to recognize his God, and to pay his just dues. "Voluntary" in no wise excludes the force of motives, since every decision has motives, as an antecedent if not as an efficient cause. Freedom implies absence, not of inducements, but of constraint. Man has the power to withhold from the service of God his faculties and possessions. He is ever appealed to in Scripture as a reasonable individual, capable of deciding to what purposes his abilities shall be devoted. "Yield yourselves unto God."
3. The surrender must be complete. It was not possible to offer part of a goat or lamb, the victim must be given in its entirety. The blood is sprinkled round about, and "all" the parts are burnt upon the altar. The disciple must follow the Lord fully. No putting of the hand to the plough and looking hack. No keeping back part of the price. The believer is bought by Christ, body and soul. The reason why many seem to have offered themselves to God in vain, is because they have done it in a half-hearted way, they have not "sought him with their whole desire."
II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THE OFFERING IS DEVOTED TO GOD.
1. By the death of the victim. Death is the total renunciation of present enjoyment - the extremest proof of an intention to set one's self apart for a certain object. If it does not suffice to prove sincerity and entire consecration, then proof is impossible. "All that a man hath will he give for his life." Like the apostle, it behoves Christians to "die daily." At baptism there was the emblem of death to the world. "Old things have passed away." Our death to sin, however, resembles the crucifixion of our Lord, a lingering painful death. We mortify the deeds of the body, crucify the flesh, deny ourselves. "If any man will lose his life he shall save it."
2. By cleansing water and purifying fire. "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." "Having these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit." "Every one shall be salted with fire." "The trial of your faith which is much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire." All that is earthly is consumed. The smoke, rising from the material sacrifice, reminds us of the pure metal that is free from dross, and remains to "praise, honour, and glory." Learn to welcome the tribulations of your lot as being the discipline that makes the surrender of yourselves complete. Martyrs have experienced actual flames, the fire may assume another shape to you. Perhaps temptations assail you, and difficulties wear away your strength. Glorify God in the fires. Fire is an emblem of the Holy Spirit, and as Christ offered himself through the Eternal Spirit, so does his Spirit abide with his people, to hallow them, to put away sin, to make them pleasing unto God.
3. By means of the ordained mediator. The priest must take the slain animal to perform the necessary rites. Otherwise, however free from fault, the offering will bring loss, not gain, to the offerer. If all believers are now "a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices," they are only "acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." Our Saviour must be our "Daysman," to come between us and God, and present us to his Father. His life, death, and intercession must be the inspiration of our lives, the spring of our hopes, the constraining influence that shall make us dedicate all we have and are to God. "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." We determine to know nothing save Christ and him crucified. "In Christ Jesus" we "are made nigh."
III. THE EFFECT OF THE OFFERING.
1. It pleases God. Anthropomorphic expressions are employed, not to degrade the Almighty, but to clarify our conceptions, and to make the truth plain to the dullest eyed. "It is a sweet savour unto the Lord." The smell is repulsive, and cannot be supposed to be grateful in itself to him who is a Spirit. But it is the disposition to honour and please God that he delights to observe in his children. A parent may admire the rudest sketch if his little one brings it as a token of love, and may esteem the commonest fare a banquet, and ill-dressed food a feast, if regard and affection have contributed to its preparation. The agony and wounds of the Redeemer were not watched by the Father with unmingled delight. As we shudder at the spectacle of the Holy One made a curse for us, and yet rejoice in the all-sufficiency of his burden-bearing; so the Father felt the keenest pangs that rent the breast of his beloved Son, and only joyed in the sublime manifestation of filial devotion, content to endure torture and insult that the blot on his Father's world through the presence of sin might be erased even at such infinite cost. Wherein we are partakers if the sufferings of Christ our Sacrifice is fragrant to the Father. The apostles, in preaching the gospel, became "unto God a sweet savour of Christ." If we walk in love, we cause the incense of love to ascend with sweet odour to heaven (Ephesians 5:2). Jesus ministered to the wants of many, and the Philippians, in supplying the necessities of Paul, Christ's servant, were an "odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice well-pleasing unto God."
2. It procures for the offerer satisfaction of conscience and the favour of God. The sacrifice is accepted, communion is re-established, sin is covered. There is an inward contentment in all religious acts that is of itself evidence of the reality of religion, and its adaptation to our circumstances. Never did any man abstain from selfish, sinful gratification, or pursue the rugged path of holiness and virtue, without being solaced by the consciousness of having done what was right, what was in harmony with the noblest dictates of his nature. The self-denying, God-serving life is the happiest and most blessed life. Then do we walk in the light of God's countenance, and drink of the river of his pleasures. - S.R.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.