The entrails and legs must be washed with water, and the priest shall burn all of it on the altar as a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, a pleasing aroma to the LORD.
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.
— A personal friend asked Wendell Phillips not long before his death, "Mr. Phillips, did you ever consecrate yourself to God?" "Yes," he answered, "when I was a boy, fourteen years of age, in the old church at the north end, I heard Lyman Beecher preach on the theme, 'You belong to God,' and I went home after that service, threw myself on the floor in my room, with locked doors, and prayed, 'O God, I belong to Thee; take what is Thine own. I ask this, that whenever a thing be wrong it may have no power of temptation over me; whenever a thing to be right it may take no courage to do it.' From that day to this it has been so. Whenever I have known a thing to be wrong it has held no temptation. Whenever I have known a thing to be right it has taken no courage to do it."
The priest shall burn all on the altar.Leviticus 9:24), the fire which consumed it came forth from before Jehovah, lighted by no human hand, and was thus a visible representation of God accepting and appropriating the offering to Himself. The symbolism of the burning thus understood, we can now perceive what must have been the special meaning of this sacrifice. As regarded by the believing Israelite of those days, not yet discerning clearly the deeper truth it shadowed forth as to the great Burnt Sacrifice of the future, it must have symbolically taught him that complete consecration unto God is essential to right worship. There were sacrifices having a different special import, in which, while a part was burnt, the offerer might even himself join in eating the remaining part, taking that for his own use. But in the burnt-offering nothing was for himself: all was for God; and in the fire of the altar God took the whole in such a way that the offering for ever passed beyond the offerer's recall. In so far as the offerer entered into this conception, and his inward experience corresponded to this out, ward rite, it was for him an act of worship. But to the thoughtful worshipper, one would think, it must sometimes have occurred that, after all, it was not himself or his gift that thus ascended in full consecration to God, but a victim appointed by God to represent him in death on the altar. And thus it was that, whether understood or not, the offering in its very nature pointed to a Victim of the future, in whoso person and work, as the one only fully consecrated Man, the burnt-offering should receive its full explication. And this brings us to the question, What aspect of the person and work of our Lord was herein specially typified? It cannot be the resultant fellowship with God, as in the peace-offering; for the sacrificial feast which set this forth was in this case wanting. Neither can it be expiation for sin; for although this is expressly represented here, yet it is not the chief thing. The principal thing in the burnt-offering was the burning, the complete consumption of the victim in the sacrificial fire. Hence what is represented chiefly here, is not so much Christ representing His people in atoning death as Christ representing His people in perfect consecration and entire self-surrender unto God; in a word, in perfect obedience. How much is made of this aspect of our Lord's work in the Gospels! The first words we hear from His lips are to this effect (Luke 2:49); and after His official work began in the first cleansing of the Temple, this manifestation of His character was such as to remind His disciples that it was written, "The zeal of Thy house shall eat me up" — phraseology which brings the burnt-offering at once to mind. And His constant testimony concerning Himself, to which His whole life bare witness, was in such words as these: "I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me ...." And so the burnt-offering teaches us to remember that Christ has not only died for our sins, but also consecrated Himself for us to God in full self-surrender in our behalf. We are therefore to plead not only His atoning death, but also the transcendent merit of His life of full consecration to the Father's will. To this the words three times repeated concerning the burnt-offering (vers. 9, 13, 17) blessedly apply: it is "an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord." That is, this full self-surrender of the holy Son of God unto the Father is exceedingly delightful and acceptable unto God. And for this reason it is for us an ever-prevailing argument for our own acceptance, and for the gracious bestowment for Christ's sake of all that there is in Him for us. Only let us ever remember that we cannot argue, as in the case of the atoning death, that as Christ died that we might not die, so He offered Himself in full consecration unto God, that we might thus be released from this obligation. Here the exact opposite is the truth; for Christ Himself said in His memorable prayer, just before His offering of Himself to death, "For their sakes I sanctify (consecrate) Myself, that they also might be sanctified in truth." And thus is brought before us the thought, that if the sin-offering emphasised the substitutionary death of Christ, whereby He became our righteousness, the burnt-offering as distinctively brings before us Christ as our sanctification, offering Himself without spot, a whole burnt-offering to God. And as by that one life of sinless obedience to the will of the Father He procured our salvation by His merit, so in this respect He has also become our one perfect example of what consecration to God really is.
(S. H. Kellogg, D. D.)
(G. S. Reaney.)
(W. Y. Fullerton, "Sword and Trowel.")
1. A full surrender of the will to God.
2. The removal of a burden of sin gradually or suddenly.
3. A new love to Christians and to Jesus.
4. Anew relish for the Word of God.
5. Pleasure in secret prayer, at least at times.
6. Sin or sinful thoughts will cause pain.
7. Desire and efforts for the salvation of others.
8. A desire to obey Christ in His commands and ordinances.
9. Deep humility and self-abasement.
10. A growing desire to be holy and like Christ.
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