By Titus Chu
One of the provisions God gave those who would be priests was the offerings. He told Moses:
“Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them to minister as priests to Me: take one young bull and two rams without blemish, and unleavened bread and unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil; you shall make them of fine wheat flour”
– Exodus 29:1-2
These offerings each represent an aspect of Christ, and their application to us is very meaningful.
First, the Lord gives us a bull; second, a ram; third, another ram; finally, a basket of unleavened bread. These provisions are very interesting, but they are only for the priests, His serving ones. If we have no desire for the priesthood, we do not need, nor can we have, these things. If we do desire to serve, we cannot even begin our serving life without them. These provisions are for the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offering, each of which are needed for our own strength and enjoyment.
The Bull—Christ Becoming Sin for Us
If we want to serve the Lord, we first need a big bull for a sin offering. How big the bull is may be different for each of us. How much sin do we have? How evil do we know ourselves to be? Those who are young may not be too aware of their sin and so think they only need a small bull. But those who are my age know that their bull must be really big. In my experience, the older I am, the more I grow, the more I learn to serve, the more I minister, the more I have to tell the Lord that I need an ever bigger bull.
The Bible says, “But the flesh of the bull and its hide and its refuse, you shall burn with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering” (Exo. 29:14). The Hebrew of this last phrase can be translated “It is sin.” This is much stronger and shows our true need. We are not just good people with a little sin. We are not just sinful people who are full of sin. We are sin itself. If we are to serve God, we need more than an offering to take our sins away, we need an offering that becomes sin for us. Paul wrote, “He [God] made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
It is hard for young people to believe this about themselves, but at my age, I can genuinely confess that I am just sin. I am composed of sin, I am saturated with sin, my view is sin, my living is the fruit of sin. I am just sin. But praise the Lord, He was made sin on my behalf that I might become the righteousness of God In Him!
Because this bull became sin on our behalf, its flesh, hide, and refuse were burnt outside the camp. This was because the whole thing was disgraceful, degraded, apart from God, and of no use or value to Him. God had nothing to do with it because it was sin.
When I was young, I had the most marvelous prayer, and amazingly the Lord accepted it. I prayed, “Lord, I am such a hopeful young man. At this young age, I’d like to give my whole person to you and serve you. Aren’t you happy?” This was my real prayer. As I prayed, I didn’t get blamed by God at all. It seemed God was very happy. Afterward, the Lord’s presence and leading was with me, and He granted me a lot of experience of the laver and the altar. But as I grew more, I began to see myself differently. My prayer changed to be more like, “Lord you made a big mistake. The one you handpicked, the one you called, the one you attracted, the one you asked to be one with You, is so terrible. Lord, have mercy on me!” Of course I did not rob anyone or steal anything, but my sensation in the Lord’s light was that I was really terrible. To argue with the Lord is foolish. Whenever I feel like this, Christ becomes my big bull that becomes sin for me. Only then can I continue serving.
Everyone in principle is sin. If we do not have this realization, we cannot serve because we will be too bold—let’s do this, let’s do that. We will try to carry out whatever we think is right until we realize that every part of us, including our plans and ideas, is against God’s interest. Then we will realize that we don’t have a choice, God has a choice. We don’t have a way, God has a way. We dare not move and we dare not do because we are who we are. If we want to serve, the first thing we must do is burn everything outside the camp. We dare not bring in anything of ourselves, our abilities, our smartness, or our creativity. God says He doesn’t need it. He wants to be fully in control. He wants to be everything in our serving life.
The First Ram—Christ as God’s Satisfaction
“You shall also take the one ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram….You shall offer up in smoke the whole ram on the altar; it is a burnt offering to the Lord: it is a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the Lord”
Exodus 29:15, 18
After the bull, God told Moses to take a ram. Aaron and his sons fully identified with this ram by laying their hands on it. Then when the ram was burnt on the altar, they in figure were burnt with it. When the ram ascended to the heavens as a soothing aroma to the Lord, they in figure ascended with it.
Jesus as the bull died for us, bearing all our shame, suffering, and sin. But He is also the ram Who died, and in ascension became the sweet aroma that satisfied God. The Hebrew word translated “burnt” could be translated “ascension,” so the emphasis here is not on the death of the ram, but on the soothing aroma it provides God.
We have already seen in a previous message that every priest must wash at the laver in the outer court, and that this laver is a place of exposing. The laver shows us who we are, and how unqualified we are to serve. Because we see how sinful we are, God gave us Christ as a bull. Because we see how natural we are, God gave us Christ as a ram. By this we are able to live absolutely unto God in Christ.
Not only do our bad parts need to be burned, but also our good parts. Our weaknesses, strengths, shameful things, and our boasts all need to be burned. Nothing can be left but ashes and a sweet fragrance to God. Then He will be satisfied.
This fragrance will stay with us and will be sensed by others. Our help to them will not come from what we know or do, but from who we are. Real service to God and man comes from being in ascension with Christ.
The Second Ram—Christ as Strength and Love
Our first problem was sin, so God gave us Christ as a bull to take away our sin. Our second problem was our natural life, so God gave us a ram to consume our natural life and turn us into a sweet aroma pleasing to God. Our third problem is weakness, so God gave us another ram.
“Then you shall take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram”
– Exodus 29:19
This ram was also sacrificed on the altar, but unlike the first ram, it was not totally consumed. Two parts were left—the right thigh (v. 22), and the breast (v. 26). These parts were given to Aaron and his sons as their portion and nourishment forever (v. 28, 32). They belong uniquely to those who serve as priests (v. 33). The thigh is the strongest part of the ram and signifies Christ as strength to us, and the breast contains the heart and signifies Christ as love to us.
We are all so weak. As Paul said:
For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate….For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
– Romans 7:15, 18
Even though we want to serve as priests and have offered ourselves to God for this service, we constantly fail. We lack the heart and strength to carry through according to our consecration.
I have given many trainings, but I do not trust in these because I know how weak we all are. We change so easily. Without strength we can do nothing. Without love we will not want to do anything. We need Christ as the second ram to strengthen us with His thigh and to motivate us with love from His breast.
If we do not love people with the love of Christ, we can never serve them. No one should simply be the object of our work. If this is the case, everyone will sense it because it gives off the wrong aroma. Work smells like flesh but love smells like Christ. People can smell our motivation and will instinctively reject the one and receive the other. How we need the breast of the second ram!
Yet laboring out of love is slow and full of disappointment. It is so easy to give up and move on to something that seems more profitable. We need to be strengthened by Christ to continue in the labor. Thank the Lord that the thigh and the breast come together.
Unleavened Bread—Proper Humanity
We serve as those with just a little strength, always dependent on the Lord. We should never become powerful. Those who think their speaking is powerful are often scary. It seems they can say anything. They do not need God, the Bible, or the brothers. I know a man who taught that the Chinese are the chosen race of God and that the Garden of Eden was in China. When I asked him if he had any verses to back this up, he just stormed out of the room shouting that we were not qualified to hear him. This kind of power is not Christ.
If we are too self assured and zealous, we will be just like this, although we may manifest it in a different way. We will say, “If you just follow my lead, it will work! If you just do it my way, it will work!” But the strength the Lord gives us comes from the thigh of the ram that was consumed for God. It is not our strength. It is the strength of Christ.
Because we’re so small, even the little strength we have can become a big and powerful thing in our own eyes. This is why God told Moses to give the thigh of the ram to Aaron along with a cake of unleavened bread (Exo. 29:23). This indicates that those who serve must care for their humanity. If our humanity is not right, we cannot serve. Whenever we are with the brothers and sisters, we must care for our humanity.
We might think that the conclusion of the offerings would be divinity, but instead it is humanity. New Testament priests must not give others the feeling that they are so heavenly, divine, and out of reach. Instead we must be so approachable and human. Praise the Lord for the unleavened bread.