Lovin' Leviticus, part 1
A Survival Guide to Reading Through Leviticus
A Soothing Aroma - Leviticus 1-3
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!