Summary: Can Christians, who worship in a very different manner from ancient Israel, learn anything about worship from the book of Leviticus? What are important principles of worship from Leviticus?
The book of Leviticus is about worship. Can Christians, who worship in a very different manner from ancient Israel, learn anything about worship from the book of Leviticus? What are important principles of worship from Leviticus?
Purpose: Let’s learn to worship God from the first inspired worship book.
Plan: Let’s take part 1 of a journey through the book of Leviticus, teasing out important worship principles.
Leviticus 1 Burnt Offering
God spoke to Moses in Leviticus 1 about the burnt offering. It pictures Jesus’ total sacrifice and giving ourselves entirely to God. Rich and poor must offer something. Worship should not be sloppy but organized. God expects the best we have. These are private freewill offerings, but given in public worship (verse 3). The fire pictures the Holy Spirit cleansing us from sin. Without this substitute burnt sacrifice, an atonement for sins, God will not accept our lives (verse 4). It was to be an unblemished male offering, because it pictures Jesus, the Lamb of God. Because of the cross, God accepts our lives as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).
Leviticus 2 Grain Offering
The grain offering in Leviticus 2 was of fine flour. We should produce the finest work, offering the product of our work to God. Olive oil pictures the Holy Spirit, consecrating our secular work as an act of worship. It was seasoned with salt a symbol of the covenant (verse 13). Frankincense for incense, pictures prayer. Our secular work covered with prayer, is worship. No leaven was allowed, picturing sin. No honey was allowed. The minister of God cannot worship distracted by carnal pleasures and corruption. Most of it was food for the priests. In the same way those who preach the Gospel should eat from it (1 Corinthians 9:14).
Leviticus 3 Peace Offering
The peace offering from Leviticus 3 pictures our fellowship with God and man. The animal eaten may be male or female, picturing fellowship that is not segregated. It must also be without blemish, picturing how avoiding sin promotes peace. It also reminds us of the Lord’s sacrifice. As we partake of the Bread and Wine, we partake of the Lord, fellowship with the Lord and offer each other peace. In the peace offering, we give God the fat that He asks for and Jews were forbidden to eat, and we give our guests the best portions. Leviticus 7 shows how the peace offering may also be used for a thanksgiving offering.
Leviticus 4 Sin Offering
In Leviticus 4, the sin offering is for unintentional sins or sins of ignorance. A young bull, a young goat or a lamb without blemish is offered. From a priest is expected a larger offering because of his role in society. Controversies exist in our Christian world over whether certain acts are sin or not. This sacrifice was designed for just such situations, when we sin in ignorance of the will of God. Today we offer the sacrifice of forgiveness, asking God, “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12) Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Leviticus 5 Guilt Offering
In Leviticus 5 is the guilt offering, also called the trespass offering and the reparation offering. It involves situations where restitution is needed. It also involves situations of someone sinning in ignorance, and later realizes it. It involves confession that he has sinned in that thing. It involves an offering appropriate to one’s level of wealth. It included a twenty percent fine to be paid above reparations. The guilt offering reminds us that some sins carry a responsibility to fix what we have broken, even though we have repented and been forgiven. This is the true intent of indulgences, not the scam run by Tetzel which led to the Protestant Reformation.
Hebrews 10 Superior Sacrifice
The sacrifices were not permanent, but pointed to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The law was limited, providing only a temporary solution to sin. Offerings had to be repeated. It was more of a continual reminder of sin than permanent solution to it (verse 3). The Levitical sacrifices were a temporary measure and not God’s ultimate will. God took no pleasure in them (verse 8). His ultimate plan was “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (verse 10) Jesus, “by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (verse 14) The Savior’s sacrifice was perfect and the forgiveness of sin is complete (verses 17-18).
Jesus death was the end of animal sacrifices, “for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself” (Hebrews 7:27). Now “the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). We are to follow Jesus’ example. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service [“spiritual worship” ESV][“true and proper worship” NIV].” (Romans 12:1)