Five Offerings That Point To One

The Bible’s epicentre is the person and work of Jesus Christ. We could unpack that a little by saying that in the Old Testament Jesus’ person and work are predicted, while in the New his person is revealed and his work accomplished.

In terms of Jesus’ work, the cross of course is key. Calvary was the supreme place where our redemption was accomplished. It was on the accursed tree that Jesus blood was shed, the blood that “obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12).

Hebrews also makes it clear that Jesus sin offering was “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). The offering was unique; one-of-a-kind.

However just because of an offering a single, doesn’t imply that it is simple. Christ’s offering is multi-faceted in terms of its glory! So much is this the case that the Jewish sacrificial system had to forecast the one offering by way of five previews! No one Old Testament offering could alone encapsulate the brilliance of Christ’s atonement.

So without further ado let me  summarise the five main offerings found in Leviticus(chapters 1 -7). I’ve made some suggestions as to these offerings relate to Christ and then to the Christian/church.*Screenshot (140)

The Burnt Offering

Key features:

The basic offering that made atonement. The whole offering was burned on the altar and totally consumed. Everything goes to God.

Relation to Christ:

Christ is our burnt offering. His death made atonement for our sin. On the cross, Christ offered himself up completely. He was totally consumed but his sacrifice was pleasing to the Father.

RELATION TO THE CHRISTIAN:

Praise! “This the power of the cross, Christ became sin for us; took the blame, bore the wrath, we stand forgiven at the cross.” In view of God’s mercies, our lives are now to be wholly consecrated to God.

The Grain Offering

Key features:

The only bloodless offering. Small amount of grain burned on the altar; most of the grain eaten by the priests and their families. Emphasises the bountiful provision of God to us and our response of thanksgiving and worship.

Relation to Christ:

Jesus is the perfect grain offering. He is the bread who has come down from heaven. He is the fine flour that is offered to God: a picture of his sinless life.

RELATION TO THE CHRISTIAN:

We give thanks to God not only for the death of Christ but the life of Christ. We express thankfulness to God, not only as our Creator but as our redeemer. Note that this offering usually followed the burnt offering (ie. it was a response to the atonement that had been made). We’re in Romans 12:1-2 territory again.

The Fellowship Offering

Key features:

The only offering where the sacrifice was split three ways. Part goes to the LORD, part to the priest, and part to the worshipper. An emphasis on fellowship with God following on from atonement (burnt offering).

Relation to Christ:

Christ died in order to reconcile sinners to God. He brings us into fellowship with Himself, the Father and the Spirit.

Relation to the Christian

Fellowship with God is the goal of our salvation. Our sins having been forgiven, we have the prospect of feasting with our priest (Jesus) in the presence of the LORD. Communion is a foretaste of what is to come. The new heavens and earth is pictured as a great wedding feast.

The Sin Offering

Key features:

An offering that emphasised the need for cleansing and purification. Used for unintentional sins and also in the case of ritual uncleanness. In some cases of the sin offering, the tabernacle had to be cleansed because the priest’s sins had defiled it. This offering also involved taking part of the animal “outside the camp” to burn it.

Relation to Christ:

Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness. To make us clean, Jesus was taken outside the camp (Jerusalem) to be crucified.

Relation to the Christian:

Sin is an objective category (even unintentional sins need to be forgiven). We can only be cleansed through the blood of Christ. We are loved to the very core of our being (cleansed consciences).

The Guilt Offering:

KEY FEATURES:

Sometimes called the ‘reparation’ offering, this offering carried a commercial notion. Where God’s “holy things” had been wrongly taken or misused, this offering had to be made; and in any cases where an individual defrauded another financially. A ram had to be offered, the money had to be repaid in full, and a 20% additional charge had to be given on top.

Relation to Christ:

Christ is the one who pays the price for our sins. He pays not just over and above; his blood has infinite value.

Relation to the Christian:

In salvation terms, there is no more to pay…The invoice from heaven reads “paid in full.” Nevertheless, the one who has been forgiven much, loves much. A heart set free from sin will turn from sin and joyfully demonstrate both repentance and generosity. The story of Zacchaeus is exhibit A in this regard.


* Which, by the way, is how one should read Leviticus. To interpret the book properly, we need to firstly draw the line of interpretation to Christ and ask “how does he fulfil this passage?” And then, having done that, we draw the line through Christ to ourselves. On this latter point we will pay particular attention to how the NT seems to apply the Levitical ideas to the New Testament Christian.

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