0LAH is the Hebrew word ordinarily used for burnt offering. It means that which goes up, or ascends.. Another word used at times is kallil, which means whole. The Douay Version has the word holocaust, that which is entirely burned up.
The chief source of information concerning the individual burnt offerings is found in the first chapter of the book of Leviticus. There is given the instruction: When any man of you offers an oblation unto Jehovah, you shall offer your oblation of the cattle, even of the herd and of the flock. If his oblation be a burnt-offering of the herd, he shall offer it a male without blemish: he shall offer it at the door of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before Jehovah. And he shall lay 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 Jehovah: and Aaron's sons, the priests, shall present the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is at the door of the tent of meeting. Leviticus 1:2-5, AR.V.
The burnt offering was a voluntary offering (verse 3) in contrast to other offerings, which were mandatory. A man might bring not only a bullock, as in the above verses, but also a sheep, or goat, and even turtledoves or young pigeons. (Verses 10, 14) It must, however, be a clean animal, as in all offerings, and in the case of animals, a male. Bringing it to the place prepared for slaughtering sacrifices, near the door of the tabernacle, the offerer was to lay his hand on the head of the animal as it was accepted for him to make atonement for him. (Verse 4) He would then kill the sacrifice, flay it, and cut it into pieces. (Verses 5, 6) As the animal was killed, the priest caught the blood in a vessel and sprinkled it round about upon the altar. Verse 5. After the animal had been cut into pieces, the inwards and the legs were washed in water, then the pieces were reassembled and placed in order upon the altar and burned. (Verses 8, g.) The whole animal,' including the head and the fat, was entirely consumed on the altar. This, however, did not include the skin, which was given to the officiating priest. (Leviticus 7:8)
In case turtledoves or young pigeons were used, the priest did the killing by wringing off the head and sprinkling or squeezing out the blood on the side of the altar. (Leviticus 1:15, A.R.V.) After this, the body of the bird was placed on the altar and was there consumed as the ordinary burnt offering, the feathers and the crop being first removed. (Leviticus 1: 16)
Burnt offerings were the most characteristic of all offerings, containing, as they did, the essential qualities of the other sacrifices. Before Sinai all offerings were burnt offerings. They were not sin offerings; yet atonement was effected through them. (Verse 4) This is clearly indicated in the case of job. He offered burnt offerings for his children, for, said he, it may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Job 1:5. Burnt offerings are singled out as ordained in Mount Sinai for a sweet savor, a sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord. Numbers 28:1. In this they were like the meat and peace offerings, which were also sweet savor offerings. (Leviticus 2:2; 3:5) Whatever other sacrifice was made, it was appropriate to add to it a burnt offering as a matter of confirmation and dedication. It denoted complete consecration. It was offered wholly to God. Nothing was withheld by the offerer. It was wholly consumed on the altar. (Leviticus 1:9, 13, 17)
Burnt offerings could be offered by themselves, but the most common custom was to add them to sin or trespass offerings. In such cases the other offering was presented first, followed by the burnt offering. (Leviticus 9:7,15,16)
Burnt offerings were used on many occasions, such as the cleansing of lepers (Leviticus 14:19, 20), the cleansing of women after childbirth (Leviticus 12:6-8), and also for ceremonial defilement (Leviticus 15:15, 30). In these cases a sin offering was used as well as a burnt offering. The first atoned for sin; the second showed the offerer's attitude toward God in wholehearted consecration.
The burnt offering was prominent in the consecration of Aaron and his sons (Exodus 29:15-25; Leviticus 8:18), as well as in their induction into the ministry (Leviticus 9:12-14). It was also used in connection with the Nazarite vow. (Numbers 6:14) In all these instances it stood for complete consecration of the individual to God. The offerer placed himself symbolically on the altar, his life wholly devoted to God.
It is not hard to see the connection between these ceremonies and the statement made in Romans 12:1: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, 'holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. We are to be wholly dedicated to God. We are to be perfect. Only when all filth was removed from the burnt offering was it acceptable to God and was it permitted to come upon the altar, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Lord. So with sin. All sin, all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, must be removed before we can be acceptable to God. (2 Corinthians 7:1.)
As an offering wholly consumed on the altar, the burnt sacrifice in a special sense represents Christ, who gave Himself fully, completely, to God's service. In thus representing Christ it constitutes an example for man to follow in His steps. It teaches complete consecration. It is rightly placed first in the list of offerings enumerated in Leviticus. It tells us in no uncertain tones that, to be a sweet savor unto God, a sacrifice must be one of entire surrender. All must be put on 'the altar. Nothing must be held back.
In the burnt sacrifice we are taught that God is no respecter of persons. The poor man who brings his two turtledoves is just as acceptable as the rich man who brings an ox, or as Solomon, who offered a thousand offerings. (1 Kings 3:15.) The two mites are as pleasing to God as the abundance of the wealthy. According to his ability each is accepted.
Another lesson from the burnt offering is that of order. God wants order in His work. He gives specific directions regarding this. The wood is to be laid in order upon the fire, not merely piled up. The pieces of the animal are to be laid in order on the wood, not just thrown somewhere on the fire. (Leviticus 1:7, 8, 12) Order is heaven's first law. God is not the author of confusion. He wants His people to do things decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40.
Another important lesson is that of cleanliness. Before the pieces of the animal were burned on the altar, his inwards and his legs were to be washed in water. (Leviticus 1:9) This would seem unnecessary. These pieces were to be consumed on the altar. It was merely a waste of time to wash them before burning them. Such, however, is not God's reasoning. The command is, Wash each piece; nothing unclean must come upon the altar. And so the pieces were washed and carefully laid in order on the wood, which was laid in order on the altar.
Three elements of purification were used in the service: fire, water, and blood. Fire, emblematic of the Holy Spirit, is a purifying agency. When Christ comes to His temple He is like a refiner's fire. He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Mal. 3:2, 3. He shall purge His people by the spirit of burning. Isaiah 4:4.
The question is asked: Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? Isaiah 33:14. Our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:29. The fire is God's presence, which consumes or purifies.
The fire on the altar was not common fire. It came originally from God. There came a fire out from before the Lord and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people and they shouted, and fell on their faces. Leviticus 9:24.
The had accepted their sacrifice. It was clean, washed, and in order, ready for the fire; and the fire came out from before the Lord. This fire on the altar was always kept burning and not permitted to go out; as it had come from God it was called sacred as opposed common fire, and was to be used only in the service. Water is emblematic both of baptism and of the Lord, two cleansing agencies. Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. Ephesians 5:25, 26. According to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. Titus 3:5, 6. Paul was told to be baptized, and wash away his sins. (Acts 22:16) When the pieces of the animal used a burnt offering were washed before being put on the altar, it taught the people not only order and cleanliness but also the spiritual lesson that before anything is placed upon the altar, before it is accepted by God, it must be clean, washed, pure, holy.
In the burnt offering-as in all offerings-the blood as the vital, the important element. It is that which makes atonement for the soul. The classical passage dealing with this is found in Leviticus 17: 11: The life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you -upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life. (A.R.V.)
The life of the flesh is in the blood. It is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life. When the blood was sprinkled on the altar and the fire came down and consumed the sacrifice, it indicated God's acceptance of the substitute. It shall be accepted for him, or instead of him, to make atonement for him. Leviticus 1:4. This atonement was made by reason of the life that was in the blood. But this blood, which represented the life, was efficacious only after the death of the victim. Had God intended to convey the idea that it was the blood as such that was useful without death, He would have so stated. A certain amount of blood could have been withdrawn from an animal without killing it-as is now done in blood transfusions. Blood could thus have been provided without death.
But this was not God's plan. The blood was not used until death had taken place. So with Christ. It was not until after His death that there flowed out blood and water. (John l9:34.) Christ came by water and blood. . . . not by water only, but by water and blood. 1 John 5:6. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that it is by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, that they which are called receive the promise of eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 9:15)
It was Christ's atoning death that made possible our salvation. Thus the cross must always be central in Christianity. But the power in the blood to cleanse and save is dependent upon the life of the One who gave it. It is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life which He lived who died for us. That life was a sinless life. In such a life there is power. No man is saved by law. No man is saved by good works. No man is saved merely by conforming to rules. We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:10.
The burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, was a sweet savor unto the Lord. Leviticus 1: 17. It pleased the Lord. It was acceptable to Him. Some of the reasons for this have been given. They will now be emphasized.
As the burnt sacrifice was, first and foremost, a type of the perfect offering of Christ, it is natural that it should be pleasing to God. As the sacrifice must be without blemish, perfect, so Christ was the Lamb without blemish and without spot, who has 1oved us, and hath given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. 1 Peter 1:19; Ephesians 5:2. Christ, as portrayed in the burnt offering, stands for complete consecration, entire dedication, full surrender, a giving, of all, that He might save some.
The burnt sacrifice was pleasing to God because it revealed a desire in the heart of the offerer to dedicate himself to God. The offerer said in effect: Lord, I want to serve Thee. I am placing myself unreservedly on the altar. I am holding nothing for myself. Accept me in the substitute. Such an attitude is a sweet savor unto the Lord.
The burnt sacrifice was a sweet savor to God because is was a voluntary offering. It was not required except in connection with other offerings. If a man had sinned God demanded a sin offering and its accompanying burnt offering, but never a burnt sacrifice alone. If a man offered it, it was of his own voluntary will. Leviticus 1:3. There was no compulsion. It was therefore a most significant offering and indicated a thankful heart.
There is danger that Christians do too many things pertaining to religion not because they have an intense desire to do them, but because it is the custom or because it is required. Duty is a great word; love is a greater. We should not minimize duty; rather, we must emphasize it. But we ought not to forget that love is a still greater force, and that, rightly understood and applied, it fulfills duty because it includes it. Love is voluntary, free; duty is exacting, compulsory. Duty is law; love is grace. Both are necessary, and one must not be stressed to the exclusion of the other, but the greater of these is love.
As there was no command concerning the offering of a burnt sacrifice, it was in reality an offering of love, of dedication, of consecration. It was something done over and, above what was required. This was
pleasing to God.
God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7. Some read this as if it said that God loves a liberal, or a large, giver. While this may be true, the statement says that God loves one who gives cheerfully and of his free will. The gift may be small or great, but if it is offered willingly, it is pleasing to God.
It would be well if the spirit of happy, joyful service was more common than it is. Often we do resignedly what God would like to see done cheerfully. God loves a cheerful giver not merely of money but of service. There are tasks to be done that are not always pleasant or agreeable. We do them not because we like to do them but because we feel we ought. God appreciates this; but He would be greatly pleased if we did His work without feeling that we are sacrificing much to do it, and that it is a burden rather than a joy.
Too many Christians wait to be urged, admonished, encouraged, and even bribed before doing what they should do without any urging. Isaiah complains, 'There is none . . . that stirs up himself. Isaiah 64:7. Such an attitude must weary God. Nothing is more wearisome than to have to admonish again and again, and have but little response. It was from a full heart and from personal experience that the apostle said that God loves a cheerful giver.
It was doubtless because David was cheerful and willing that he was beloved of God. He had sinned, and sinned grievously, but he repented as deeply as he had sinned, and God forgave him. The experience left a vivid impression upon David's mind, and ever after he was anxious to please God and do something for Him.
It was this spirit that led him to propose the building of a temple for God to dwell in. The tabernacle erected in the wilderness was several hundred years old and must have been in a dilapidated condition. God would have been pleased to have someone build Him a temple, but decided to wait until someone thought of it himself.
This David did, and felt happy in the anticipation of building God a temple. Great must have been his disappointment when he was told that he would not be permitted to do this; but in appreciation of what David had in mind to do, God said that instead of David's building God a house, God would build David a house. (1 Chronicles 17:6-10) It was in this connection that God gave him the promise that his throne should be established for evermore.
This promise finds its fulfillment in Christ, who, when He comes, will sit upon the throne of His father David. Luke 1:32. This is a most wonderful and unusual promise. Abraham, Moses, and Elijah are passed by, and the honor is given to David. One reason for this, we believe, is found in the willingness of David to do something for God over and above what was required.
This is strikingly illustrated in David's experience with the temple. God had told him that he could not build the temple. David, however, greatly desired to do so; and as he thought the matter over found several ways of making preparation for the building without doing the actual building himself. David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be built for the Lord must be exceeding magnificent, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death. 1 Chronicles 22:5. .
The first thing David did was to gather money for the building. The figures given in 1 Chronicles 22:14 total many millions of dollars in our money, which David either gave or collected. Next he began to hew wrought stones to build the house of God. Verse 2. He also prepared iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates, and for the joining; and brass in abundance without weight. Verse 3.
Before he could do any of this, however, it was necessary for him to have a pattern, or blueprint. This pattern, David tells us, he received from the Lord. All this, said David, the Lord made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern. 1 Chronicles 28:19. We can almost imagine David's saying to the Lord, Lord, Thou has told me that I may not build the temple. I would much like to do this, but I am content to abide by Thy decision. May I make a pattern? That would not be building, Would it, Lord? So the Lord helped him make a Pattern, being pleased with David's willingness to do something for Him.
In this connection there is an interesting statement in 1 Chronicles 28:4: Howbeit the Lord God of Israel chose me before all the house of my father to be king over Israel for ever: for He hath chosen Judah to be the ruler. And of the house of Judah, the house of my father; and among the sons of my father
He liked me to make me king over all Israel. This unique expression shows God's high regard for David. And so David got permission to prepare the stone, the timber, and the iron for the temple of the Lord, as well as the plan itself. This may be the reason why later, in the erection of the temple, the sound of a hammer was not heard. David had prepared the material beforehand.
David, however, was not satisfied with making preparation for the building of the temple. He wanted also to prepare the music for the dedication. As this was not building, he felt free to go ahead. David was the sweet singer in Israel; he loved music with his whole heart. So David began to prepare for the occasion by gathering together a band of four thousand who praised the ' Lord with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise therewith. 1 Chronicles 23:5. He also brought the singers together and trained them, as recorded in the twenty-fifth chapter of the same book. It is pleasing to think of David after the sad experience of his life, passing a few years in peace and contentment, making preparation for building the temple of the Lord and training the singers and musicians for its dedication.
Still David was not satisfied. The Lord had told him that he could not build the temple, but that his son Solomon should do so. What should hinder David from abdicating and making his son Solomon king of Israel? So when David was old and full of days, he made Solomon his son king over Israel. Verse 1. Though there were also political reasons for doing this, the setting of the statement indicates that the building of the temple was a vital factor.
No wonder God liked David. He kept pressing God to be permitted to do more for Him. He thought of the plan of making preparation for building the temple. He collected unheard-of sums of money. He trained the musicians-all that he might do something for God, who had done so much for him. David was a cheerful giver of money and of service, and God liked him. We do not know how long David lived after Solomon became king, but when he did die they made Solomon the son of David king the second time. 1 Chronicles 29:22.
Would that we had more men and churches like David, willing to sacrifice and work, and anxious to do still more! There would then be no more need of pushing the people or the churches to arise and finish. If David were here and were asked to give the work he would doubtless ask: May 1 not give $20 or $100. And the Lord would be pleased, and would say, Yes, David, you may. It was because of this spirit that David, in spite of 6his sin, was chosen to be the earthly forefather of Christ. It was the same spirit that led Christ to give willingly, to suffer all, and at last to make the supreme sacrifice. God loves a cheerful giver.
All this was symbolized by the burnt offering. As been stated, it was not a required offering. It as a gift of love, of dedication, of consecration. It as offered in a spirit of cheerful sacrifice to God. It is the giving of a gift; it was the giving of oneself. The offerer laid all on the altar to be consumed, and with this he gave himself, a living sacrifice.
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