Offerings, The

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The sacrifices described in the Old Testament show the ground and means of approach to God. They are all typical, having no intrinsic value, but they foreshadowed Christ, who, as antitype, fulfilled them all. The principal offerings are four: the Burnt offering, the Meat offering, the Peace offering, and the Sin offering, with which the Trespass offering may be associated. This is the order in which they are given in the opening chapters of Leviticus, where we have their significance presented from God’s side, beginning with Christ in devotedness to God’s glory even unto death, and coming down to the need of guilty man. If the question be of a sinner’s approach to God, the sin offering must necessarily come first: the question of sin must be met for the conscience before the one who approaches can be in the position of a worshipper.
The offerings, in one respect, divide themselves into two classes, namely, the sweet-savor offerings, presented by worshippers, and the sin offerings, presented by those who having sinned needed to be restored to the position of worshippers. But even in the sin offering the fat was burnt on the brazen altar, and it is once said to be for a sweet savor (Lev. 4:31), thus forming a link with the burnt offering. The sweet-savor offerings represent Christ’s perfect offering of Himself to God, rather than the laying of sins on the substitute by Jehovah.
The various kinds and the sex of the animals presented in the sin offerings are proportioned to the measure of responsibility in Leviticus 4, and to the offerer’s ability in Leviticus 5. Thus the priest or the whole congregation for a sin offering had to bring a bullock, but a goat or a lamb sufficed for one of the people. In the sweet-savor offerings the offerer was left free to choose a victim, and the different value of the animals offered gave evidence to the measure of appreciation of the sacrifice: thus if a rich man brought a sheep instead of a bullock, it would show that he undervalued the privileges within his reach.
The blood was sprinkled and poured out; it might not be eaten; the blood was the life, and God claimed it (compare Lev. 17:11). The fat of the offerings was always to be burnt, for it represented the spontaneous and energetic action of the heart of Christ godward (Psa. 40:7-8). Leaven, which always signifies what is human and hence evil (for if the human element is introduced into and works in the things of God it is evil), might never be burnt on the altar to God, nor be in any of the offerings except in one special form of the meat offering (Lev. 23:16-21), and in the bread accompanying a peace offering (Lev. 7:13). Honey was forbidden in the meat offering, as denoting mere human sweetness. Salt was to be added to the meat offering and used in the corbans (Lev. 2:13; Ezek. 43:24). Salt is preservative and gives a savor (Num. 18:19; 2 Chron. 13:5; Col. 4:6). The breast of the victim may be taken as emblematic of love, and the shoulder of strength.
The principal Hebrew words used in reference to the offerings are:
1. Olah, Alah, from “to make to ascend.” Translated burnt offering.
2. Minchah, from “a present, gift, oblation.” Translated meat offering. Others prefer to translate it meal offering.
3. Shelem, from “to be whole, complete,” to be at peace, in friendship with anyone. Translated peace offering. The ordinary form is plural, and may be rendered “prosperities offering.”
4. Chattath, from “to sin.” Constantly translated sin offering.
5. Asham, from “to be guilty.” Translated trespass offering.
6. Tenuphah, from “to lift up and down, wave.” Translated wave offering.
7. Terumah, from “to be lifted up.” Translated heave offering.
As to the burning of the sacrifices different Hebrew words are employed. Besides the word alah, mentioned above, the word qatar is commonly used for burning on the altar: it signifies “to burn incense,” “to fumigate.” But where the carcass of the sin offering was burnt, the word used is saraph, which signifies “to burn up, consume.” Thus what ascends as a sweet savor is distinguished from what is consumed under the judgment of God.
THE BURNT OFFERING. This is typical of Christ presenting Himself according to the divine will for the accomplishment of the purpose and maintenance of the glory of God where sin was taken account of. In the type, the victim and the offerer were essentially distinct, but in Christ the two were necessarily combined. The burnt offering, where not specifically prescribed, was brought for a man’s acceptance. The expression “of his own voluntary will” in Leviticus 1:3 is better translated, “He shall offer it for his acceptance.” The victim might be a male of the herd, or a sheep or a goat of the flock, or be turtle doves or young pigeons, according to the ability of the offerer, or the appreciation he had of the offering. These offerings were different in degree, but the same in kind. The male is the highest type of offering: no female is mentioned in the burnt offering.
After the offerer had laid his hands on the victim, he killed it (except in the case of birds, which the priest killed). From Leviticus 1 it would appear that the offerer also flayed it, cut it in pieces, and washed the inward parts and legs in water; but the expressions can be taken in an impersonal sense, “Let it be flayed,” and these acts may have been done by the priests or the Levites. (The Levites flayed the sacrifices in 2 Chronicles 29:34, when the priests were too few.) The priest sprinkled the blood round about upon the altar, and, except the skin which was the priest’s, the whole of the animal was burnt as a sweet savor on the altar. It made atonement for the offerer, who found acceptance in its value. It was typical of Christ’s perfect offering up of Himself, being tested in His inmost parts by the searching fire of divine judgment (Lev. 1). This aspect of the cross is seen in such passages as Philippians 2:8; John 10:14-17; John 13:31; John 17:4; Rom. 5:18.
Leviticus 6 gives the law of the burnt offering. “It is the burnt offering because of the burning upon the altar all night unto the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be burning in shall not be put out.” This refers to the morning and evening lambs; they formed a perpetual burnt offering (Ex. 29:38-41). It is to be remarked that it was “all night unto the morning” (although it was perpetual), doubtless to point out that Christ is for Israel ever a sweet savor to God, even during the present period of Israel’s darkness and forgetfulness. Aaron had to put on his linen garments to remove the ashes from the altar to “the place of ashes” beside the altar: he then changed his dress and carried the ashes outside the camp. The ashes were the proof that the sacrifice had been completely accepted (Psalm 20:3, margin). In “the morning” Israel will know that their acceptance and blessing is through the work of their Messiah on the cross. The daily sacrifice was offered by the priest as acting for the whole nation, and presented typically the ground of its blessings and privileges. Hence faith made much of it (Ezra 3:3; Dan. 8:11, 13,26; Dan. 9:27).
THE MEAT OFFERING. In Leviticus 2 the intrinsic character of this offering is given, though in offering the burnt offering a meat offering was added. Here was no blood-shedding, and consequently no atonement. The burnt offering typified the Lord Jesus in devotedness to death; the meat offering represents Him in His life—the pure humanity of Christ—in the power and energy of the Holy Ghost. It consisted of fine flour, unleavened, mingled with oil, and anointed with oil and with frankincense: in its simple elements a handful of flour with oil poured on was burnt on the altar; but it might, in the form of cakes, be baked in an oven, or in a pan, or frying pan. Only a part of the flour and of the oil but all the frankincense was burnt upon the altar, as a sweet savor unto Jehovah: the rest was food for the priest and his sons, not his daughters. The excellence of Christ as a man, in whom every motion even to death was for God, can only be enjoyed in priestly nearness: it is an offering which essentially belonged to the sanctuary.
All the savor of the Lord’s life was to God. He lived not to men or for their praise: hence all the frankincense was to ascend from the altar. The fine flour is typical of the evenness of character in the Lord: in Him no special trait had undue prominence, as in man generally. With the Lord as man all was perfection, all evenness, and to the glory of God. He was begotten of the power of the Holy Ghost (antitype of the oil), and anointed at His baptism; His graces and moral glory answer to the frankincense. In beautiful connection with the perpetual burnt offering every morning and evening, there was a perpetual meat offering. It was “most holy”; neither leaven nor honey might be burnt with the meat offering, but salt must accompany it. The traits here symbolized were remarkably witnessed in the life of the Lord (Lev. 2; Lev. 6:14-18; Ex. 29:40-41).
In Leviticus 23:17 there is leaven with the meat offering because it there represents the church, the first-fruits of God’s creatures, presented at Pentecost in the sanctification of the Spirit.
THE PEACE OFFERING. This is distinct from both the burnt offering and the meat offering, though founded upon them. Its object was not to show how a sinner might get peace, nor to make atonement: it was rather the outcome of his having been blessed—the response of his heart to that blessing. The soul enters into the devotedness of Christ to God, the love and power of Christ as the blessing of the priestly family, and its own sustainment in life where death has come in. The peace offering might be of the herd or of the flock, male or female. The offerer laid his hands on the head of the offering and killed it. The blood was sprinkled round about the altar. All the fat, the two kidneys, and the caul above the liver were burnt upon the altar, an offering made by fire of a sweet savor unto the Lord. These were God’s portions, literally His bread. The breast of the offering was waved for a wave offering, and was then food for Aaron and his sons and daughters. The right shoulder was a heave offering, and was for the offering priest. The offerer and his friends also ate of the offering on the same day; or, if it were a vow or a voluntary offering, it might be eaten on the second day. What remained was burnt with fire: indicating that communion to be real must be fresh, and not too far separated from the work of the altar.
The peace offering was accompanied by a meat offering, namely, unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil; together with leavened bread. The last named recognized the existence of sin in the worshipper (1 John 1:8), which, if inactive did not disqualify, though sin on him did disqualify. All that typified Christ was without leaven. That the peace offering typified communion is plain from the directions as to its disposal: part of it was accepted of God on the altar, called “the food of the offering”; part was the food of the priest (Christ), and the priest’s sons (Christians); and part was eaten by the offerer and his friends (the people, and perhaps also the Gentiles, who in the kingdom will “rejoice with his people”). This thought of communion finds expression in the Lord’s table, in the communion of the blood and of the body of the Lord (1 Cor. 10:16). It is said of the peace offering that it “pertains to Jehovah”; so all worship pertains to God: it is the fruit and expression of Christ in believers (Lev. 3; Lev. 7:11-21, 28-34).
THE SIN OFFERING. This and the trespass offering stand apart from all the other offerings. In the burnt offering and the peace offering the offerer came as a worshipper, and by the imposition of hands became identified with the acceptability and acceptance of the victim: whereas in the sin offering the victim was identified with the sin of the offerer.
The sin offering was to make an atonement for sin—to avert judgment from the offerer. This general characteristic is always the same, though the details differ, as will be seen in the following table:
When/For Whom The Animal Offered Placement of Blood Use of the Fat
On the day of atonement (Lev. 16). Bullock for Aaron; two goats for the people. Blood sprinkled on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat; also placed on the horns of the brazen altar and sprinkled there. All the fat was burnt upon the altar, and the whole carcass consumed without the camp.
For the anointed priest (Lev. 4) Bullock. Blood sprinkled in the holy place, and placed on the horns of the altar of incense, and poured out at the bottom of the brazen altar. (Same as on the day of atonement.)
For the whole congregation. Bullock. (Same as for the priest.) (Same as on the day of atonement.)
For a ruler. Male kid of the goats. Blood placed on the horns of the brazen altar, and the blood poured out at the bottom. The fat burnt on the altar, the rest eaten by the offering priests (Lev. 6:26, 29).
One of the common people. Female kid of the goats, or female lamb. (Same as for a ruler.) (Same as for a ruler.)
The Day of Atonement stands alone—the blood of the sin offering being taken then into the holy of holies, and sprinkled on and before the mercy seat. Atonement had to be made according to the requirement of the nature and majesty of God’s throne. This type was repeated yearly to maintain the relationship of the people with God, because the tabernacle of Jehovah remained among them in the midst of their uncleanness. Atonement was also made for the holy place and the altar: all were reconciled by the blood of the sin offering, and on the ground of the same blood the sins of the people were administratively borne away into a land not inhabited (Lev. 16).
In the case of sin on the part of the priest or the whole congregation, all approach was interrupted: so the blood had to be carried into the holy place, sprinkled there seven times, and placed on the horns of the altar of incense—the place of the priest’s approach—for the re-establishment of approach. See ATONEMENT, DAY OF. In the case of a ruler or of one of the people, the blood was sprinkled on the brazen altar, the place where the people approached: this also was to restore approach for the individual.
The sin offering is not, as a whole, said to be a sweet savor: sin is the prominent idea, yet the fat was burnt upon the altar for a sweet savor (Lev. 4:31). Christ was at all times (on the cross as elsewhere) a delight to God. The sin offering that was eaten by the priest is declared to be “most holy” (Lev. 6:29). This is typical of Christ, priest as well as victim, having our cause at heart.
In the cases provided for in Leviticus 5:1-13, where it was chiefly for acts which were sins by reason of infraction of some enactment or ordinance, the ability of the offerer was considered. If a person was unable to bring a goat for a sin offering, he was allowed to bring two doves; and if he were unable to bring even these, then he might bring the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour. This does not seem to agree with the necessity of bloodshedding for remission, but the memorial burnt upon the altar typified the judgment of God in dealing with sin. It brought the offering within the reach of all, so that the very poorest soul could have a way of meeting God as to its sin. Poverty represents little light or ignorance, not rejection of or indifference to Christ. And as the flour reached the fire of judgment on the altar, the death of Christ for sin was not left out in this most simple form of sin offering.
THE TRESPASS OFFERING differs from the sin offering in that it contemplates God’s government, whereas the sin offering refers to God’s holy nature, and hence His necessary dealing with sin in judgment. The Lord is also the true trespass offering, as seen in Isaiah 53:10-12 and Psalm 69. He restores more to God than the wrong done to Him by man’s sin, and the effects of the trespass offering will be manifested in the kingdom.
The trespass offering is first found in Leviticus 5-6 concerning cases of wrong done to the Lord or to a neighbor. In these cases a man needed to offer a trespass offering—for a trespass against a neighbor encroached on the rights of God—and to make restitution also, with a fifth added. In Leviticus 5:6-9 the same offering is called both a trespass offering and a sin offering; but in Leviticus 14, for the cleansing of a leper, both a sin offering and a trespass offering were needful; and the same two offerings were to be brought if a Nazarite were defiled (Num. 6:10-12). It appears therefore that the trespass offering is a variety of sin offering.
THE RED HEIFER was also a sin offering. In the AV it is called “a purification for sin” in Numbers 19:9, 17, but the meaning is a sin offering. It was for defilement by the way. See HEIFER, RED.
THE DRINK OFFERING. This was not usually offered alone, but see Genesis 35:14. It was offered with the morning and evening sacrifice, which was a burnt offering, accompanied by a meat offering. It consisted of wine, the quantity varying with the animal offered (Num. 28:14). “In the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the Lord for a drink offering” (Num 28:7). In the land of Canaan a drink offering was to be joined to the sweet savor oblations. The quantity of oil and of wine was equal, and proportionate to the importance of the victim (Num. 15:1-11). The drink offering may be typical of joy in the Spirit in the sense of the value of Christ’s work as done to God’s glory. Philippians 2:17 may allude to the drink offering.
THE HEAVE AND THE WAVE OFFERINGS. These are not separate offerings, but on some occasions certain portions of an offering were heaved or waved before the Lord. Thus at the consecration of Aaron and his sons, the fat, the fat tail, the caul, the kidneys, and the right shoulder of the ram, together with one loaf of bread, one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, were placed in the hands of Aaron, and in the hands of his sons, to wave them for a wave offering before the Lord, and then they were burnt on the altar for a burnt offering (Lev. 8). The breast of the ram was also waved for a wave offering before the Lord, and the shoulder was heaved up for a heave offering; these were eaten by Aaron and his sons (Ex. 29:23-28). Of the peace offerings, the breast was always a wave offering, and the right shoulder a heave offering, and were for the priests (Lev. 7:30-34).
The rabbis explain that the heave shoulder was moved up and down, and the wave breast waved from side to side. The actions were done “before the Lord,” and seem to symbolize that those who moved the offerings were really in His presence, with their hands filled with Christ.
Christ is thus the antitype of all the sacrifices: in them is foreshadowed His devotedness unto death; the perfection and purity of His life of consecration to God; the ground and subject of communion of His people; and, finally, the removal of sin by sacrifice. In the Epistle to the Hebrews is brought out in detail the contrast between the status of the Jew, for whom all the sacrifices needed to be repeated (the typical system existing on repetition), and that of Christians, who by the one sacrifice of Christ (non-repetition) are perfected forever, and also have access to the holiest, because the great high Priest has entered in.
In the New Testament offerings are also alluded to in a moral sense. Christians being priests are exhorted to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1); and are to lay down their lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16). Having come as living stones to the living Stone, they are a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices (1 Peter 2:5; compare Phi. 4:18; Heb. 13:15-16; Mark 9:49).