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The Sacrifice that Could Not be Eaten
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, saying, This is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD: it is most holy. The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation. Whatsoever shall touch the flesh thereof shall be holy: and when there is sprinkled of the blood thereof upon any garment, thou shalt wash that whereon it was sprinkled in the holy place. But the earthen vessel wherein it is sodden shall be broken: and if it be sodden in a brasen pot, it shall be both scoured, and rinsed in water. All the males among the priests shall eat thereof: it is most holy. And no sin offering, whereof any of the blood is brought into the tabernacle of the congregation to reconcile withal in the holy place, shall be eaten: it shall be burnt in the fire.” (Leviticus 6:24-30)
Here we are given specific instructions concerning the sacrifice of the sin-offering and the priests, Aaron’s sons, who presented the sacrifice before the Lord. The regulations relating to the sin-offering, in so far as the worshippers themselves were concerned, are given in chapter four. Here the regulations specifically relate to the priests.
Both the sacrifice and all the regulations concerning it, all the regulations of divine worship in that legal age, were designed and given as types and pictures of redemption and grace by our Lord Jesus Christ.
In reading the Old Testament, we must never forget this. The Old Testament Scriptures make sense and have application to us only as we see how they speak of Christ. But, when we see Christ in them, these pictures are instructive, comforting, and delightful.
Our attention is directed first to the place of the sacrifice.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, saying, This is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD: it is most holy.” (vv. 24-25)
Everything relating to the worship of God in the Old Testament was marked with the utmost reverence. During the Mosaic age, men and women understood that the holy Lord God was to be had in reverence by all who drew near to him. Those who did not approach him reverently, but dared to presume upon his goodness, incurred his hot displeasure (Leviticus 10:1-7; Numbers 3:4; 26:61; 2 Chronicles 26:16-21). After the Lord God killed Uzzah, he brought a breach upon Israel and David, their king, “because,” as David put it, “we sought him not after the due order” (1 Chronicles 15:13).
If God demanded reverence in those days of types, pictures, and ceremonies, how much more ought he to be reverenced by us in this day! — “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him” (Psalms 89:7). That which men and women call “contemporary worship” is nothing but contempt for God. Reverence for God or the lack of it, contempt for him, is displayed in many ways by our attitude toward his Word and ordinances, our preparation or lack of preparation for divine worship, punctuality or carelessness, our attire, and our attitude in the house of God.
It was required that the sacrifice be brought to and slain at the place God required. It was not enough that the right sacrifice be brought; it had to be brought to the specific place and slain at the specific place God required. It must be brought before the Lord, to the door of the tabernacle, at the altar, and slain on the north side of the altar (Leviticus 1:3, 5, 11).
Why all this fuss? Surely it would be acceptable, so long as the person was sincere. Ask Uzzah about that! If we are sincere in worshipping God, we will reverently worship him as he has prescribed.
Why all this fuss, and bother, and close attention to detail? Read the last line of verse 25. — “It is most holy!” The sin-offering, like the burnt-offering, pointed to the great sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom God has redeemed and saved his people. It had to be brought to the same place, killed on the same spot, on the north side of the altar, because it was most holy. It was most holy because it pointed to Christ, our great sin-atoning Sacrifice and his death at Calvary, which is not merely ceremonially most holy but, indeed, most holy!
The sacrifice was killed on the very spot of ground where the Lord Jesus Christ was sacrificed for us, Mt. Calvary, which was on the north side of Jerusalem (Psalm 48:2). It was as if the priest and the worshipper were standing at the foot of the cross, where those holy women stood, watching the Savior die in their stead. How holy that place was to them, for there God’s holy Son died to satisfy God’s holy justice to make them perfectly holy. It was as if they stood at the door of heaven with the heavenly host when they saw the Lord of Glory return to heaven as a man with his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption for his people by the sacrifice of himself. It was as if they stood in the presence of God himself, all his holy angels, and all the ransomed in heaven, and heard the Son of God cry, as the blood of the sacrifice was caught in the basin, “It is finished!” It was as if they saw here the holy Lord God himself revealed in the sacrifice he required, provided, and accepted. — Indeed, that is precisely what the believing worshipper saw in the sacrifice (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Never was there such an hour, such an event, such a place as that which is here portrayed. God’s own dear Son was made sin for us, so that God might be just and justify chosen sinners by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. — “It is most holy!”
Christ is most holy as the Sacrifice that is required of God, the Sacrifice offered to God, and the Sacrifice accepted by God. This is what Isaiah saw. (Isaiah 6:1-6). This is what every believer sees when he receives by faith the blessedness of redemption accomplished. This is the thing that makes us and our sacrifices (v. 17) “most holy” before the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 1:12; 2:9-10; Ecclesiastes 9:7). It is the worthiness of our Sacrifice that makes us worthy to come to God and worship him (1 Corinthians 11:26-29).
Verses 26 and 29 describe the eating of the sacrifice.
“The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation.” (v. 26)
“All the males among the priests shall eat thereof: it is most holy.” (v. 29)
There are three things presented to us in these two verses.
1. Substitution is portrayed in the offering made by the priest. The opening words of verse 26, “The priest that offereth it for sin,” might be better translated, “The priest that makes it sin.” By receiving the sacrifice from the sinner who had come to worship God, the sacrifice upon which the sinner had laid his hands, the priest ceremonially took the sacrifice as a mass of sin to be slain.
So our Lord Jesus Christ died “the Just for the unjust that he might bring us to God.” But when he died under the wrath of God, he was reckoned to be unjust, a horrid mass of sin, because our sins which were made his were justly imputed to him.
2. The eating of the sacrifice by God’s priest is a picture of faith feeding upon Christ, and thereby drawing life from him (John 6:53-58).
3. This is also a picture of that sweet communion saved sinners have with the holy Christ by faith. The Lord Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior, who by himself purged away our sins, holds intimate, sweet communion with those whose sins he purged away, as we feed upon his sacrifice.
The sacrifice was not eaten by one man alone, but by all the priests (v. 29) ministering in the court of the tabernacle. All God’s priests (all believing sinners) feed upon the same sacrifice and have the same provision of grace. That provision is Christ.
The sacrifice was to be eaten “in the holy place, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation.”
Aaron and his sons feeding upon the sacrifice of the sin-offering are representatives of God’s “royal priesthood,” believers in Christ, feeding and finding nourishment for their souls in the house of God, the church of the living God. Believers feed upon the bountiful provisions of God’s house at his banqueting table, by the gospel, in our assemblies of worship, in the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). This is the place where God meets with his people (Matthew 18:20). This is the place where the holy Lord God spreads his table and feeds his people (Jeremiah 3:15).
In verses 27 and 28 we read about the demands of the sacrifice.
“Whatsoever shall touch the flesh thereof shall be holy: and when there is sprinkled of the blood thereof upon any garment, thou shalt wash that whereon it was sprinkled in the holy place. But the earthen vessel wherein it is sodden shall be broken: and if it be sodden in a brazen pot, it shall be both scoured, and rinsed in water.”
What an awesome sight the blood of the sacrifice must have been! What an awesome sight the blood of God’s true sacrifice for sin is! As it was represented in the sin-offering, even those lifeless, inanimate things which came in contact with the blood of the sacrifice were revered as holy, sacred things because of the blood of the sacrifice. Once they had come into contact with the sacrifice, they were never to be used for any common, ordinary thing again.
Anything and anyone that touched the sacrifice were, by the sacrifice, made holy (v. 18). So God’s elect were made holy by the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, not by our touching him in faith but by him touching us in covenant grace.
This chapter does not declare that men would be made holy by touching the sacrifice, but that they must be holy to touch the sacrifice (vv. 18, 27). Only those who had been sanctified could touch the sacrifice. So it is in this gospel day. Only those who have been made holy by God’s work of grace can and will lay hold of Christ.
Š Those Sanctified in Election — By the Purpose of God the Father
Š Those Sanctified in Redemption — By the Blood of God the Son
Š Those Sanctified in Regeneration — By the Grace of God the Holy Spirit
We are manifestly made holy, (we experience the blessedness of our holiness in Christ) when we lay hold of him and thereby enjoy the peace of divine acceptance and approval (Romans 4:25-5:2). Being united to Christ, being consecrated to God, having touched and having been touched by God’s Sacrifice, we now must henceforth and forever serve God alone in the holy place (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 19-20).
The priest’s garments, when splattered with blood, had to be washed in the holy place. I see two things here:
The vessels that carried the sacrifice and the blood had to either be smashed to pieces or scoured. There is much instruction here. Because of the limitations of my own heart and mind, I can only scratch the surface.
First, this tells us that there was a deficiency in those sacrifices. They could never take away sin (Hebrews 10:1-4). The sacrifices themselves left a defilement that had to be cleansed. There was an iniquity about the holy things themselves that had to be cleansed. But there is no deficiency in Christ’s Sacrifice (Hebrews 1:1-3).
Second, the breaking of the earthen vessel which carried the sacrifice certainly showed that our Lord’s holy humanity, his earthen vessel, had to be crushed in death for us.
Third, it seems obvious to me that there is a reference here to gospel preachers (2 Corinthians 4:7). God’s servants are but earthen vessels, frail, broken pieces of clay.
Fourth, the treatment of these vessels also portrayed and intimated the complete restoration of all things to the glory of our God by the sacrifice of Christ, the restitution to be made unto God by the merit of Christ’s blood.
That earthen vessel in which the sacrifice was offered had to be broken and never used for anything else. Why is this specified? — This earth, which soaked up the blood of God’s darling Son, shall be utterly destroyed and made completely new so that it shall be used for him, exclusively for him, whose blood was shed upon it.
As the brazen vessel had to be scoured and scrubbed completely clean, freed from all that dimmed its beauty, so God’s creation shall, by the fire of God, be scoured and made completely clean of all that dims its beauty. This place, sanctified by the blood of God’s own Son which dropped upon it 2000 years ago, shall yet be made God’s holy mountain, covered with righteousness (Isaiah 11:9).
These are the demands of the sacrifice. All who touch it must be holy. The vessels carrying it must be God’s alone. The earth itself, touched by the blood, must be restored to God. As the earthen vessel touched by the sacrifice must be broken, so all who are touched by the crucified Christ are broken before him. As the priests’ garments stained with blood had to be washed and the vessel of brass had to be scoured, so all who were redeemed by the blood of Christ at Calvary must be cleansed by the grace and power of God the Holy Ghost in the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5-6). And as the vessels sanctified by the sacrifice could never be used for any other purpose, so God’s elect, once saved by his grace, are by his grace utterly consecrated to him alone (Romans 12:1-2).
The Other Sacrifice
In verse 30 the Holy Spirit speaks of the other sacrifice, the sacrifice that could not be eaten.
“And no sin offering, whereof any of the blood is brought into the tabernacle of the congregation to reconcile withal in the holy place, shall be eaten: it shall be burnt in the fire.”
Again, everything is spoken of and treated with the highest reverence. The blood of the sacrifice of the sin-offering has expiated the transgression. The flesh of the animal sacrificed is, by virtue of its sacrifice, holy, as our risen Redeemer was “justified in the Spirit.” As such, it has been eaten in the holy place. But there was another offering, a sin-offering and a burnt-offering, by which reconciliation was made between the holy Lord God and his sinful people.
The first sacrifice was to be eaten by the priests in the court of the tabernacle, identifying themselves with the sacrifice (vv. 26 and 29). That eating portrayed our faith in Christ, faith feeding upon the Lamb of God (John 6:53-58).
This sacrifice is for God alone. The blood of this offering, on that great holy day in Israel, the day of atonement (Leviticus 16), was sprinkled on the mercy-seat. The carcass of this sacrifice was not to be eaten by any man, under any circumstances, but was burned without the camp, totally consumed by the fire (Psalms 99:1-3). This other sacrifice, of course, typified our great Savior, as did the others. The fact that it was burned without the camp spoke of the completeness of Christ’s great sacrifice. He was the sacrifice of God in the totality of his holy being offered up to God, utterly consumed by the fire of God’s holy wrath.
But why was this sacrifice not to be eaten by any man? What is the significance of that prohibition? God the Holy Spirit tells us the reason for this prohibition in Hebrews 13:10-12.
“We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.”
Christ is that one Sacrifice by whom justice has been fully and perfectly satisfied, by whom the veil has been ripped open, by whom sinners now have the right, yes, the right, to enter into the holiest of all within the veil in perfect fellowship with the holy Lord God (Hebrews 10:14-22).
Our faith in Christ does not make his sacrifice effectual for the saving of our souls. The efficacy of his sacrifice is that which brings us faith and makes our faith effectual to the saving of our souls (Hebrews 13:13-15).
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)