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Samuel Kuo
August 31, 2020
This entry is part 8 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 16: Christ is the fulfillment of all the offerings

Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me. In burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.

– Hebrews 10:5-6

The Book of Leviticus follows immediately after the construction of the Tabernacle at the end of Exodus and begins with God speaking to Moses from the tent of meeting. No longer does Moses have to climb up to the top of the mountain to speak with the Lord, but the Lord has His sanctuary there among his people. From the tent of meeting, the Lord lays out requirements for living with a holy God, beginning with the rules for offerings in chapters 1-7. Thus, we see that the life and worship of the Israelites is very centered around the sacrifices at the altar. We will cover each offering in detail in future posts, but today, we will simply note that there are five major offerings―burnt, grain (or meal), peace (or fellowship), sin, and guilt (or trespass)―with two major purposes, for worship and for atonement. 

The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.”

– Leviticus 1:1-2
A Pleasing Aroma

…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 1:9b

And the priest shall take from the grain offering its memorial portion and burn this on the altar, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 

– Leviticus 2:9

If his offering is a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offers an animal from the herd, male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord…. Then Aaron’s sons shall burn it 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 3:1, 5

In the first of the Lord’s addresses to Moses, He covers the first three offerings, the burnt offering, the grain offering, and the peace offering. Each of these offerings are voluntary and for a pleasing aroma (or a sweet savour in the classic King James translation!) to the Lord. These offerings are concerned with worship. One would offer because they have a heart to please the Lord. When it comes to the offerings, many people only think of atoning for sin. Yet, this is not their primary purpose. Before any sacrifice for sin is mentioned, God details three different offerings that could be made for a pleasing aroma to Him. Atonement for sin alone does not capture God’s full desire for the life and worship of His people. 

Atonement for sin alone does not capture God’s full desire for the life and worship of His people. 

Atonement

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the Lord’s commandments about things not to be done, and does any one of them, if it is the anointed priest who sins, thus bringing guilt on the people, then he shall offer for the sin that he has committed a bull from the herd without blemish to the Lord for a sin offering…. And all its fat he shall burn on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings. So the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin, and he shall be forgiven.”

– Leviticus 4:1-3, 26

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “If anyone commits a breach of faith and sins unintentionally in any of the holy things of the Lord, he shall bring to the Lord as his compensation, a ram without blemish out of the flock, valued in silver shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering. He shall also make restitution for what he has done amiss in the holy thing and shall add a fifth to it and give it to the priest. And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and he shall be forgiven.”

– Leviticus 5:14-16

Yet, because of man’s sin, there is the necessity for atonement. God in His holiness could not receive an unholy people in worship without this provision for sin. Before you could worship, you needed to have the right standing before God. Thus, the sin offering and the guilt (or trespass) offering are also given to the people of Israel. So, in these offerings, both sides of an Israelites relationship with God could be touched, the positive and the negative. 

What does the New Testament say about it?

For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,

“Sacrifice and offering You have not desired,
But a body You have prepared for Me;
In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure.
“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come
(In the scroll of the book it is written of Me)
To do Your will, O God.’”

After saying above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

– Hebrews 10:1-10

In this pivotal section in the book of Hebrews, the writer points out the lack in the sacrifices of the Law. They are unable to make the offerers perfect, and need to be offered continually. In fact, rather than cleansing the conscious of the worshippers, they become a reminder of sins, year after year. Therefore there needs to be something better. 

And so, Jesus comes into the world. 

The author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 40, “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me.” This quote reveals what is really in God’s heart when it comes to the sacrifices and offerings of the Law. It says that those sacrifices and offerings―the whole burnt offerings representing all worship and the sacrifices for sin all atonement―are not what God really desired. He has taken no pleasure in them. They are just a shadow of the real thing. Instead, He desires and takes pleasure in this: He prepared a body for Jesus, who has come to do His will. 

So what does this picture say about Christ? 

The first thing God speaks about from the tabernacle, His dwelling place among the people, is the matter of offerings. The church as the body of Christ is the fulfillment of the tabernacle today (cf. Christ as the Tabernacle). What does God desire to speak out from within the church? He speaks of a true offering on a true altar―Jesus, who had a body prepared for Him, who was obedient unto death on a cross.

Without Jesus on the cross, there is no forgiveness or removal of the consciousness of sin. Without Jesus on the cross, there is no acceptable worship of God. All the worship of the Israelites only foreshadowed the real act of worship that was pleasing to God; that is, the sweet smelling savor of Jesus’s obedience and sacrifice. 

All the worship of the Israelites only foreshadowed the real act of worship that was pleasing to God; that is, the sweet smelling savor of Jesus’s obedience and sacrifice. 

What does this mean for me as a Christian?

Just as the life and worship of the ancient Israelites revolve around the offerings of the altar, the life and worship of a Christian has one focal point: Jesus at Calvary. God desires no worship that is apart from Christ, nor any reconciliation divorced from the cross. 

We should also remember that the offerings were for more than just atonement for sin. Christ died not just to bring us out of a negative situation, but to bring us into a positive relationship with Him. There is a life of worship, of obedience, of living in the good of the cross that goes further than forgiveness. This life is only found in Christ, in being joined with Him as the offerings for a pleasing aroma to God. 

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 editors@asweetsavor.org 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. It’s easy to think of the offerings as simply for dealing with sin, yet, the offerings were for so much more than that. How can we not relegate Christ’s death on the cross to be only about sin as well?
  2. The bronze altar that the sacrifices were burned upon is a picture of the cross. True worship is crucified worship. To come to God having died to our opinions, our preferences, and our self-centeredness. What might God be asking you to lay aside before you can come before Him in worship?
  3. Christ Himself is the real sweet savor that pleases God. Have you ever tried to offer something to God that was lacking in Christ? Consider the story of Cain and Abel. Who’s offering was accepted, and why? 
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