A Soothing Aroma
When reading through Leviticus, you will not run into a story line. What you will experience is instructions about offerings. If that is all you look for in this volume of the Scriptures, you will tend to get lost in exactly what a burnt, grain, or peace offering is. But the most important thing we should consider is how all these offerings and instructions point us to Christ. That is what will transform the book of Leviticus from endless instructions about preparing sacrifices to a reminder of what the sacrifice of Jesus means to God and to us.
The first thing we see about the sacrifices presented in these first two chapters is the phrase, “without defect.” Any sacrifice had to be this way. It is because they are a foreshadowing of Christ - who was sinless. When we read this we should be reminded of Christ’s perfections - and thank God for His perfect, sinless Son who came to be our sacrifice. When it comes to the grain offering in chapter 2 we read that the sacrifice had to have “frankincense” added to it. Frankincense was a substance that was used as a type of incense in preparation of a body for burial. It gave off a soothing smell that replaced the smell of death and decay. As a type it is a reminder of the death of Christ and how it is a soothing kind of smell to God.
A Soothing Aroma
Every single one of these first three offerings is referred to as a “soothing aroma to Jehovah.” Eight times this is mentioned in the first three chapters of these series of offerings. The Hebrew word here is “nichoach” which means something quieting or soothing. The first time it is used is after Noah’s flood. God smelled the offerings that Noah made after departing the Ark. He said after smelling the soothing aroma of the sacrifices that He would never again destroy every living thing on the earth. These “soothing aroma” sacrifices were to be made every morning and every evening before God according to Exodus 29. They were a reminder of God’s mercies and grace given to Israel - that He would not consume them for their sin. They were also a wonderful precursor to what God would do through Jesus Christ. The only time a purpose for the offering is given is in Leviticus 1:4 where we read that this was done, “that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.” The soothing aroma was what God experienced when these offerings were made. It was a wonderful type of how God viewed and received the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
God’s wrath was upon us because of our sin. The glory of the gospel is that because of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross - God was soothed. He looked upon that offering of His Son and it had a soothing, quieting effect on Him and His wrath toward sinful mankind. Thus, these three offerings in the first three chapters of Leviticus remind us of how the sacrifice of Jesus was pleasing and soothing to God. It is how God viewed the offering of His Son. Each of these offerings were presented at the “doorway of the tent of meeting.” One could not enter and be acceptable to God without these sacrifices. Unless the blood of a sacrifice without defect - or a grain offering with the embalming substance of frankincense was offered (all pictures of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross) the worshipper could not enter. But when the type of Christ was offered (of which Jesus would be the ultimate fulfillment) there was the ability to come before God.
My hope is that in knowing these things we can read Leviticus with a new gratefulness as we read of the types of Christ represented in these offerings. It is my hope and strong desire that a thankful worship will rise in our hearts. It is my hope that in our minds we would meditate on the sights and smells associated - and remember that as the true burnt offering, the true grain offering, the true peace offering was made - that it pleased God and made atonement for us. Hallelujah!
Lovin’ Leviticus, part 1
“Have you ever survived reading through Leviticus?” That is a question that is passed around by people when they are encouraged to read through the entire Bible. It is an unfortunate question though, because it approaches the book from the standpoint that everything in Bible reading needs to have a story – or be exciting. If it is not – then maybe it is something we should set aside for the theologians or for Bible nerds who like that kind of stuff.
Leviticus is part of a progression in God’s revelation of Himself. Whether we realize it first or not, without Leviticus we are going to miss and very important part of that revelation. Let me explain and hopefully give you some encouragement as we read this book together over the next couple of weeks.
Leviticus is the third book in the series of books that God had Moses give us as in His revelation of Himself. Genesis is a book of beginnings as well as a book that helped us to understand the problem mankind faces in approaching and knowing God. That problem is sin – and in Genesis we are exposed to how sin came into humanity and the extent to which it prevents us from having an ability to approach and know God. We are also introduced to God’s remedy for sin, the Seed of the woman (Jesus). Exodus is a book of deliverance as God recused a people from slavery. The key to the book is how we have been brought near to God through the blood of the lamb slain for us (Jesus). That is seen in the Passover as we are introduced to how a blood sacrifice delivers us from dead. Leviticus takes us further in the revelation of God – and is absolutely vital in helping us understand Who God is.
When God revealed Himself to us in Exodus He is the God who dwelt on a mountain covered in fire. He was a God who was up there – apart from us. But by the end of the book God has provided a place here among us where we can approach Him – the Tabernacle. By the end of Exodus the Tabernacle is in place and becomes the place where mankind can approach God. Salvation came through the Paschal Lamb, but now we are taught to understand how we can fellowship with God through the blood that provides forgiveness of sins. This is where Leviticus takes up God’s revelation of Himself and does so by helping us understand two important things. Here we are introduced to the holiness of God as well as the sacrifices that bring us near Him.
In understanding the types that are in Leviticus we are given a wonderful unfolding of the sacrifice of Christ in all of its many-sided facets. Each of these sacrifices has a meaning for us – and all point to Jesus and what He will do for us by His death on the cross.
As God reveals the way of fellowship to us through Leviticus we are brought to two main realities. First is the “Ground of Fellowship” which we learn is the sacrifices. These sacrifices are given in two types – those that are voluntary and those, which are mandatory. The voluntary ones reveal how Christ was a sweet savor to God – whereas the non-voluntary ones are how Christ brings us to God. Before the first section is finished – we are presented with the sacrifices, the priesthood, and the altar that allows us to have fellowship with God.
The second half of Leviticus presents to us the “Walk of Fellowship” which involves a separation to God. This is where we come to understand that God calls us with a holy calling – to be a people holy and separated unto Him. This is where we will be confronted with what God considers holy and what He reveals to be sin. We will also be reminded that sin requires punishment. In the New Testament we will learn that Jesus Christ has taken this punishment for us so that we can be a people separated unto God – so that we can be holy as He is holy.
What we have before us is a book that will present to us both God’s Way and Walk of Fellowship. It is given to us in basic colors that will leave us with the basic impressions that God is holy, we need a blood sacrifice to bring us near to Him, and that fellowship with Him will involve being made a people who embrace and walk in holiness before Him. It is my hope that in understanding these basics about Leviticus that we can not approach this reading with a sense of dread and fear – but rather that we will be “lovin’ Leviticus” as we read through this very important part of God’s revelation of Who He is.
Most of these articles are taken from the Calvary Courier, a weekly newsletter that is sent to the folks who attend Calvary Chapel Jonesboro. Due to the response to these articles, we've decided to print some of them which proved to be very helpful to God's people at the fellowship.
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