The Ultimate Sacrifice [Leviticus 1-2, Luke 23]
1Then the LORD called to Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, 2"Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When any man of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of animals from the herd or the flock.
3'If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer it, a male without defect; he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD.4'He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf. 5'He shall slay the young bull before the LORD; and Aaron's sons the priests shall offer up the blood and sprinkle the blood around on the altar that is at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 6'He shall then skin the burnt offering and cut it into its pieces. 7'The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. 8'Then Aaron's sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head and the suet over the wood which is on the fire that is on the altar. 9'Its entrails, however, and its legs he shall wash with water And the priest shall offer up in smoke all of it on the altar for a burnt offering, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.
The reading this morning about the sacrificial system that God set for the Israel nation left me feeling uncomfortable, and can I say it - squeamish? I really wanted to skim right through without taking the time to ponder what God thought was important. God's request seems bloody, barbaric and even wasteful. Think of the sheer number of bulls, goat and sheep that were dying each day. The sinner first had to lay his own hands on the head of the live animal, "that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf." The sinner then killed the bull himself, skinned it and cut it in pieces. (Somewhere I have missed this - I always thought that was the priest's job.) The blood, the cut pieces, and the entrails and legs (washed by his hands in water) were presented as part of the offering.
I grew up in a family that hunted deer and elk, so I have personally witnessed and participated in this process of skinning and cutting up meat. It wasn't pretty but it was our main source of meat throughout the year. We were careful not to waste any of it. My first thought while reading Exodus 1-2 this morning is that I am surprised that God had them burn the whole animal. I realize that I am uncomfortable with needless killing of animals.
Even as I am asking God "why?" I think about the person offering the sacrifice and I realize what a sacrifice it was for him. He took the best he had from his flock that would have been crucial for raising enough to feed his family. Instead he let that animal pay for his own sin, so he could be right with his holy God.
In light of this, reading about Jesus' death in Luke 24 is even more stunning. God took what was most precious to Him - His Son and killed Jesus, the perfect Lamb. That gruesome, bloody death made it so no more animals had to be killed on our behalf. God offered the ultimate sacrifice in order for us to have a right relationship with Him, once and for all.
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Jesus, we praise You for taking our sins upon Yourself and dying on our behalf. Thank You, God, for the new life You offer in Your Son. We are amazed at the sacrifice You made for us, so that we could be Your sons.