The Atonement: Jesus Christ in the Levitical Offerings.

“…but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:15-16)

With the arrival of each New Year, many believers in Christ resolve to read the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation. There are many plans and procedures offered which seek to help people accomplish this noble task. For example, I read a portion from the Old Testament and the New Testament each day. My church suggests the reading of five chapters over a weekly five day period, beginning the plan with Genesis. Having two days off allows for the occasional lapse of scheduled reading because of busy calendars and unplanned interruptions such as illness.

However, what begins as an enthusiastic endeavor often tends to lose steam, so to speak, when one reaches the Book of Leviticus. Where Genesis and Exodus are filled with interesting stories and characters, Leviticus seems to bog down and become boring with the endless instructional litany of sacrifices and offerings. That type of response is most unfortunate.

The entire setting for the book is Israel’s encampment at Mount Sinai, where God gives His chosen people instructions on how to become a holy nation. Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “Much of Leviticus underlines the moral standards that God expects of His people in for them to be holy as He is holy. While the coming of Jesus Christ and the creation of the church as a new dwelling-place for god impacts some of God’s instructions in Leviticus, the underlying moral expectations do no change. God still demands that His people should be holy as He is holy.”

The Book of Leviticus contains many rich, biblical themes. These themes include God’s divine presence in the lives of His people (26:12), His holiness and the aim of God’s people to “therefore, be holy, for I am holy” (11:45), and atonement through sacrifice (chs.1-7).

In fact, the theme of atonement through sacrifice begins the Book of Leviticus. Dr. Sproul says, “Caught between divine holiness and human sinfulness, the people’s paramount need is for atonement and cleansing. It is here that Leviticus has the most to teach Christians, since its ideas help explain the New Testament description of the atoning work of Christ, which is based primarily on the Passover sacrifice.”

 The following chart helps explain the relationship between the five Old Testament sacrificial offerings. These five offerings include (1) the Burnt offering; (2) the Grain Offering; (3) the Peace Offering; (4) the Sin Offering; and (5) the Guilt Offering.


Christ in the Levitical Offerings

Leviticus 1-7. 
Offering Christ’s Provision Christ’s Character
1. Burnt Offering Atonement Christ’s sinless nature.  
(Lev. 1:3–17; 6:8–13) (John 8:46; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
2. Grain Offering Dedication/Consecration Christ was wholly devoted to the Father’s purposes.
(Lev. 2:1–16; 6:14–23) (John 4:34; 8:28-29)
3. Peace Offering Reconciliation/Fellowship Christ was at peace with God.
(Lev. 3:1–17; 7:11–36) (John 17:1-5; Romans 3:21-26; 5:1-5; 12-21; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20)
4. Sin Offering Propitiation Christ’s substitutionary death.
(Lev. 4:1–5:13; 6:24–30; 16:15) (Romans 3:21-26; I John 2:1-2; 4:7-11)
5. Guilt Offering Repentance Christ paid it all for redemption
(Lev. 5:14–6:7; 7:1–10) (Romans 3:21-26; I Corinthians 1:30-31; Galatians 3:13-14; 4:1-5; Ephesians 1:7-10; Colossians 1:13-14; Titus 2:11-14)
© 1997 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

 Let me encourage you to reread Leviticus with a renewed sense of appreciation for the pictures of Christ in every sacrifice and offering.

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

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