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Samuel Kuo
September 21, 2020
This entry is part [part not set] of 24 in the series 156 Pictures of Christ in the Old Testament
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Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

Fact About Christ from page 17: Christ is the real burnt offering

Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God

– Hebrews 9:14

Each of the offerings and sacrifices described in Leviticus show us a different aspect of who Jesus is and what His death on the cross means for us. The worship of the Israelites begins with the burnt offering. The burnt offering is completely for God. It is entirely consumed on the altar and becomes the base for all the other offerings. 

If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

– Leviticus 1:3-9

The burnt offering should be a male cow without blemish. While there are provisions for the poor to offer alternatives (such as a sheep, a goat, or even a dove or young pigeon), we will focus on the ideal offering. The one who offers lays their hand on the head of the offering in front of the tent of meeting. The priests then prepare it for the altar. The head and the fat are burned. The entrails and legs are washed and burned. Unlike the other offerings, the burnt offering is entirely for God. No part of it is consumed by the priests or the one who offers. The whole of the animal is set apart for a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 

Then Aaron’s sons shall burn [the peace offering] on the altar on top of the burnt offering, which is on the wood on the fire; it is a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

– Leviticus 3:5

And all the fat of the bull of the sin offering he shall remove from it, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys (just as these are taken from the ox of the sacrifice of the peace offerings); and the priest shall burn them on the altar of burnt offering.

– Leviticus 4:8-10

The burnt offering also becomes the base upon which all the other offerings are burnt. When one wants to give a peace offering or a sin offering, the burnt offering, signifying all is the Lord’s, comes first. Any other offering is only accepted on top of a burnt offering. 

What does the New Testament say about it?

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

Hebrews 9:14

Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

John 7:18

I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

John 14:30-31

Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” 

John 5:19

By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

John 5:30

From these New Testament verses, we see that Jesus is free from falsehood (John 7:18) and any satanic claims (John 14:30). He alone is uniquely able to offer Himself to God as the unblemished burnt offering. This is a voluntary act of worship. Jesus was under no compulsion from God to die on the cross. He had no sin to atone for. Yet, He gave Himself fully to the altar of the cross as a pleasing savor to God. Christ sought not His own will but the will of Him who sent Him. He did nothing by Himself—only what He sees the Father doing. 

So what does this picture say about Christ? 

Christ is completely for God! Just as the burnt offering is completely consumed upon the altar, so Christ completely gives His life to be a sweet smelling savor to the Father. Not only in His death on the cross, but throughout His entire life, there was no hint of self, of living according to His own will, desires, or wants. He simply sought the Father’s glory. 

Before His death and resurrection, Jesus had disciples, but He did not live to multiply followers. He performed miracles, but did not labor to uplift Himself. He interacted with the governing authorities, but sought to appease neither the Roman or Jewish leaders. Instead, He walked the path the Father set before Him. 

All the offerings lie on the base of this sinless burnt offering. There can be no worship or atonement, no peace or sin offering, without a burnt offering being given first. Everything depends on this. Our offerings cannot stand without Christ, the One fully for the Father and the Father’s glory. His absolute surrender and abandonment to the will of God show us that nothing else can be done without Him. 

What does this mean for me as a Christian? 

The burnt offering asks us this: Are you totally for the Father’s will? Are you willing to be completely consumed on the altar? 

Even for those who serve God, this is not a simple thing. How often our egos are attached to our service! We aim to serve God but end up mixing pride and self in. Oh, brothers and sisters, how we need to consecrate ourselves wholly unto the Lord! To be someone who is completely for God. Just as in the Old Testament where all other sacrifices were laid on top of the burnt offering, before offering any other service to God, we must first set ourselves as the burnt offering for the Lord.

Does this seem too difficult? Be comforted! This very Christ who is completely for God also lives in you! Turn to your spirit! This kind of life is available to us! Try not to overthink it, but just enjoy more of Christ! May Paul’s declaration in Galatians 2:20 be yours as well, “Yet not I, but Christ who lives in me!” 

Have any inspirations or questions about the content of the article? Or do you just want to say hello and introduce yourself? We’d love to hear from all our readers! Leave a comment or send an email to with the title of this post in the subject line. If you are burning to engage with us, but don’t know what to say, here are some questions that could be a help: 

  1. Some believers might have literally been burnt for their faith in Christ, yet this is not a common experience, nor does being literally burnt mean you are living the reality of the burnt offering. What might our experience of the burnt offering, or of Christ as the burnt offering, look like today? 
  2. Jesus’s life on the earth was like no other. Is there anything from Jesus’s words or deeds that, to you, seem completely different than a normal person’s actions? How does this fit with His fulfillment of the burnt offering?
  3. Worship in popular usage is often limited to a time of singing. How does this offering fit with or adjust that conception?
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