|Leviticus 7:37-38 – “These, then, are the regulations for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the ordination offering and the fellowship offering, which the Lord gave Moses at Mount Sinai on the day he commanded the Israelites to bring their offerings to the Lord.”|
Have you ever wondered why Israelites had to offer sacrifices? Imagine with me for a moment, a condensed version of what it might look like if we had to offer sacrifices today:
For starters, if you wish to express your dedication to the Lord, you would give a BURNT OFFERING. This would cause you to find the time to get a bull, kill and butcher it, then ensure that it is completely incinerated on an altar where the fire burns consistently for 24/7. The priests job is to keep the fire going nonstop.
Suppose you accidentally swore today, or you heard a warning that you should pass along to others but chose not to tell anyone. (hmm, maybe even a warning message from the Bible). Perhaps you promised your neighbors that you would babysit their kids last night, but you completely forgot about it and went to bed early. The accidental sin of speaking thoughtlessly, not warning others, or not keeping your promise requires an appeal to God for forgiveness. You must admit to whoever is involved, that what you did was wrong, and get a female lamb or a baby goat to sacrifice as a TRESPASS OFFERING. Two turtle doves (like in the Christmas song) or two young pigeons were also used as a sacrifice if you were poor and unable to afford it.
By the way, did you know that your offerings are how the priest feeds his family? He takes the offering and gives a portion to the Lord and keeps the rest of it to feed his family. Wow, considering the number of sacrifices…Now I understand why Eli the priest was so heavy! (I Sam. 4:18)
Now we have the GUILT OFFERING! You have already guessed this is for intentional sins on our part! Suppose that you found $50 and then overheard a man say that he lost $50, yet you remain quiet. You must return the full price along with an extra 1/5 of the value. Now you pay him $60, AND you must kill a perfect ram before the Lord.
Eek! You may think we are done here, but nope, wait…we still have THE FELLOWSHIP/PEACE OFFERING (a voluntary offering) which symbolizes peace and fellowship between you and God as in sharing a meal together. This requires a sacrificed goat and a baked unleavened cake mixed with oil. You must burn what you do not eat before the third day. If you ignore that command and eat it on the third day, God will not accept the sacrifice, and you are still guilty. Reminds me of Ecclesiastes 5:5 “It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.”
I found an offering that does not require blood! We are thankful for that precious new baby, or the new home we found, for that new friend we have, or for that job we have been looking for. To show our gratitude to the Lord for supplying all our needs, we give a GRAIN OFFERING by either giving a certain kind of baked bread, or just the ingredients to the priest. The priest burns a handful of our offering for the Lord and takes the rest to feed his family.
Sacrifices were not simply a punishment, but the clear message was to make God the center of life in every circumstance. Today, our obedience is a sweet aroma to Him, and He always stands ready to accept us. Through the blood of Jesus, we now have direct access to God, and do not have to go through a priest. We are a blessed, highly favored and beloved people.
Vicki Rance, Executive Director, Woe2Wow.org