For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000, 2004 James Melough

1:1.  “And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation,”


Moses speaks of law, as Aaron does of grace.  When therefore God speaks through Moses He is speaking in law.  When He speaks through Aaron He is speaking in grace; and when He speaks through both, His pronouncements are of law and grace together, and as such, are fitted to our human frailty.


The commandments relative to the offerings are given through Moses.  God is speaking in law.  Every word is to be obeyed, which makes it clear that what He commands is within our ability to perform.  If it were otherwise He would have spoken through Moses and Aaron. 


“... out of the tabernacle of the congregation.”  The tabernacle was synonymous with the presence of God in the midst of His redeemed people.  Today He dwells in the midst of His people through the indwelling Holy Spirit, and His voice is heard in the written Word, we, through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit unquenched and ungrieved, being enabled to understand what is written.


1:2.  “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.”


Only the children of Israel were addressed, for they represent believers, and only believers can give something to God.  The unbeliever can give Him nothing until he first gives himself by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior, that is, by presenting Christ to God as his trespass offering.


Only the animals from the herd or flock were clean by God’s standard, i.e., they were ruminants (cud chewers), and cloven-hoofed, the cloven hoof speaking of a separated walk; and the rumination speaking not only of reading God’s Word, but also of meditating upon, and obeying what has been read.  The Lord Jesus Christ lived His whole life in perfect obedience to Scripture.  The believer is likewise to obey God’s Word, and to nurture his new spiritual life on that same spiritual food.


Furthermore they were all domestic animals, and therefore easily available to man, and given by God to serve man.  This speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ’s coming down to earth in the form of a servant, and making Himself easily available to men for the cleansing of their sin, and thereby making them acceptable to God as declared in verse 3, for “he shall offer it of his own voluntary will” is more accurately translated “he shall offer it for his acceptance.”  It is a miracle of grace transcending comprehension that the Lord came to earth, not only to serve God, but also to serve man by taking our sins upon Himself, and dying for them on the cross.


1:3  "If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord.”


As noted already the burnt offering speaks of Christ doing everything first for His Father’s glory, and then for the salvation of sinners.  Every part of the burnt offering (except the skin, which went to the officiating priest, and which will be discussed when we come to verse 6) went up in smoke to God.  It was all for Him; and since the bullock is the type or symbol of patient service, God would have us see in it a picture of the perfect Servant presented in the Gospel of Mark. 


Its being a sacrifice reminds us first that it cost the Lord Jesus Christ His life to give us acceptance with God, and secondly it teaches us that worship costs something.  In those days wealth was measured in terms of animals, so that when a man sacrificed an animal to God it was the equivalent of taking money out of his wallet.  It cost him something, and the principle hasn’t changed.  If we would worship God in Spirit and in truth, it will cost us something.  It will require us to give up time that might have been spent in making money; time that might have been spent in the enjoyment of some worldly pleasure.  Nor need that activity be inherently sinful.  Paul warns “... lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1.  A similar warning against these “weights” is given symbolically in Canticles 2:15, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines....”  The “weights” come in all kinds of disguises, e.g., reading, listening to music, hobbies, athletics, sports, etc.  The standard to be applied to everything that occupies my time is not necessarily whether it could be classed as sinful, but whether it makes me a more spiritual Christian, a better servant of Christ, a help or a hindrance to the assembly of which I am a member.  It is to be feared that it is “weights,” rather than outright sins that have vitiated the life of many an assembly.


It is a very profitable exercise to subtract from the twenty-four hours of each day the time that must be given to legitimate necessary things such as working, eating, sleeping, etc., and then to record for a week the activities which filled the remaining hours of each day, asking relative to each such activity, Is this likely to elicit Christ’s commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when I stand before His judgment seat?  It may shock us to discover how little time we devote to prayer for one another, for the elders, for the Lord’s servants, for the young, the elderly, the sick, the bereaved, the lonely, etc., to Bible study, to spreading the Gospel, to preparation for the Lord’s Supper, for the prayer meeting, for the Bible study meeting, etc.  


Its being a bullock points to the costliness of Christ’s sacrifice, for the bullock was by far the most valuable of the animals.  Its being a male speaks of the activity of Christ’s will in doing the Father’s will.  (Where a female offering was specified, as it sometimes was for other offerings, the emphasis is upon the submissiveness of Christ’s will to that of the Father.  Both characteristics were perfectly combined in Christ, the activity portrayed by the male being demonstrated in His setting His face to go to Jerusalem and permitting nothing to turn him aside, while His perfect submission to the Father’s will is declared in His words, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not my will, but thine be done”).


“... without blemish,” scarcely needs comment.  The physical perfection of the animal simply points symbolically to the moral perfection of Christ.


“... he shall offer it of his own voluntary will,” may also be translated, “he shall offer it for his acceptance.”  The voluntary will reminds us that everything the Lord Jesus Christ did was of His Own voluntary will, as He Himself assured His disciples, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.  No man taketh it from, but I lay it down of myself.  I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again,” John 10:17-18.


Relative to the other equally valid translation “he shall offer it for his acceptance,” we have the declaration of the truth that as God’s acceptance of the offering implied also His acceptance of the offerer, so is the believer accepted by God because of His acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Offering presented by each repentant sinner, as it is written of us, “... He hath made us accepted in the beloved.  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace....” Ephesians 1:6-7.


“... at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.”  This declares the truth that man cannot approach God apart from the presentation of the appointed sacrifice, i.e., Christ, the Lord Himself declaring, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” John 14:6.


“... before the Lord,” reminds us that as the presentation of the prescribed offering brought the offerer symbolically into the very presence of God, so does faith in the Lord Jesus Christ immediately bring that person spiritually into the very presence of God.


1:4.  “And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.”


The hand in Scripture speaks of work, and in this part of the ritual God would teach us that the first and only work a man can do to make himself right with God is to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, as it is written, “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?  Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent,” John 6:28-29.  The placing of the offerer’s hands on the head of the animal signified his complete identification with it, the type being fulfilled when we see ourselves completely identified with Christ, our sins having been transferred to Him, and His righteousness being transferred to us.  So complete was the identification of the offerer with his offering that they were as one, and so is it with the Lord Jesus Christ and us.  All our sins were transferred to Him, and He having been made sin for us, died in our place; but having been delivered for (because of) our offences, He has been raised again for (because of) our justification (His resurrection is the proof that we are justified), and God now graciously imputes His life and His righteousness to us.


Another translation of “... to make atonement for him,” is “to put a propitiatory covering over him,” and that is exactly what happens to every man the moment he trusts Christ as Savior: he is clothed or covered with Christ’s righteousness.


1:5.  “And he shall kill the bullock before the Lord; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.”


The need to kill the bullock assures us of the necessity of the Lord’s atoning death, apart from which the gift of eternal life would be unavailable to sinful men.  Verse 11 indicates that all the animals were to be killed on the north side of the altar, and since the north is the biblical direction which speaks of intelligence, the lesson is that God is here declaring in symbol what is stated explicitly in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”  A man’s first wise act is to see his need of a Savior, and to put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.


The moment the man had killed the bullock, the priests, Aaron’s sons sprinkled the blood on the four sides of the altar, the lesson taught in this being that the moment I see Christ’s death as being for me, I cease to be a sinner, having become a saint (one set apart for God), a royal priest (1 Peter 2:9), a son of the true Aaron, the Lord Jesus Christ our great High Priest, my privilege now being to worship and serve Him.


The sprinkling of the blood on the altar reminds us of the value God sets on Christ’s blood, that value being explicitly declared in 1 Peter 1:18-19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation (manner of life), received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”


Its being said that the altar was “by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” reminds us of the Lord’s words, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” John 10:9.  We should note also the order mentioned here.  First, we go in to worship, and then go out to serve.


1:6.  “And he shall flay (skin) the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces,”


From 7:8 we learn that the skin of the burnt offering always went to the officiating priest, and the lesson being taught in this is that since the animal’s skin is the equivalent of clothing, and clothing represents righteousness (the righteousness of Christ which clothes the believer; or the “filthy rags” which clothe the man who is depending on his own good works), we who through faith have become royal priests, have the perfect righteousness of Christ as our covering.


A further lesson connected with the skinning and dissecting of the animal is related to Bible study.  In the removal of the skin we are being taught the need of more than just casual reading of Scripture.  We are to look for the hidden spiritual meaning which underlies the literal language of Scripture.  And in the dissection of the offering we are taught the need to become students of the Word, as it is written, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,” 2 Timothy 2:15.  But transcending the development of skill in handling the written Word is the ability to see Christ in the Scriptures, for the written Word is the revelation of Him Who is the living Word, and God’s desire is that each passing day should see us become more adept at seeing the Lord in every page.


Reading Scripture is good, but it isn’t enough.  We must also meditate upon what we read.  Believers are to be spiritual ruminants (cud chewers).  The ruminant first grazes, sending the grass into a storage stomach, but then it lies down and chews the cud, i.e., it brings the grass out of the storage stomach, and chews it.  The counterpart of the animal’s grazing is our reading, and the equivalent of the cud chewing is our meditation on what we have read.  The importance of meditation becomes apparent when we remember that it is the process through which the Holy Spirit has opportunity to reveal to us the deeper spiritual truths being conveyed in the literal language of Scripture.  Sadly, it is very apparent that meditation is fast becoming a lost art. 


It is to be noted that the animal was to be “cut into his pieces,” i.e., it was to be separated at the joints rather than hacked into pieces, and in this we see first the truth that though the Lord suffered terribly, yet not one of His bones was to be broken, see John 19:32-36; Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; Psalm 34:20.  We learn also that every part of His life, under the scrutiny of God, evoked the Father’s announcement, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” Matthew 3:17.  And second, we are being taught that Bible study involves the careful examination of every part and every word of Scripture, for the written Word is simply the presentation of Him Who is the Living Word.


1:7.  And the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire;”


Since the altar fire had been kindled by God with fire from heaven when the tabernacle was first set up, (Leviticus 9:24), and was never to be allowed to go out, the reference here to putting fire upon the altar can refer only to the adding of wood to keep the fire burning.  That perpetually burning fire is one of the symbols, not only of the holiness of God, but also of the Holy Spirit.


The wood wasn’t just to be thrown haphazardly on the fire: it was to be laid “in order” upon it.  Since, however, wood represents humanity, and in the present context the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, the truth being presented symbolically is that His whole life was perfectly ordered according to His Father’s will, the crowning act of His obedience being when He “through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God” Hebrews 9:14.  It is that sacrifice which is being presented here in the burnt offering.


A further practical lesson is also being taught in that this daily ritual was to be performed by “the sons of Aaron the priest.”  We are the sons of the true Aaron, and are being reminded here that it is our privilege to begin each day by also “laying the wood in order upon the fire,” i.e., by consciously consecrating our lives to God for His glory, as Paul exhorts, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service (spiritual worship).  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” Romans 12:1-2.


1:8.  “And the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar:” 


The arranging of the wood on the altar fire was to be followed by the laying of the parts of the burnt offering upon the fire, but since the whole animal was to be burnt, the special mention of the head and the fat is obviously meant to emphasize truth relative to what these two parts represent.  The head, in Scripture, speaks of the intellect; and the fat, of the inward life which is known only to God, and also that element of Christ’s sacrifice which is beyond human comprehension, just as pure fat (except in very small amounts) can’t be digested by the human body.  The mention of the head first reminds us that all Christ did was with a perfect knowledge of His Father's will, and in obedience to all that was written in Scripture.  The fat speaks of that which only God could comprehend in connection with Christ.  As fat is too rich for human digestion, so is there in the sacrifice of Christ that which is beyond man's comprehension.


The placing of the head and fat on the fire is the symbolic announcement of the truth that everything the Lord did was at the impulse of the Holy Spirit, of Whom the fire speaks.  As already noted, it was through the Holy Spirit that He offered Himself without spot to God.


There is, however, a practical application to us.  We are to emulate Christ.  We too are to lay upon the altar that which corresponds to the head and fat of the burnt offering.  Our minds are to be dedicated to God, Paul’s injunction being, “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” Romans 12:2, and again, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” Philippians 2:5-8.  As an aid to the transformation of our minds we are further commanded, “Whatsoever things are true ... honest ... just ... pure ... lovely ... of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,” Philippians 4:8.


The inward life, which only God can see, is likewise to be devoted to Him. Must we not confess with sorrow that too often the moral exterior seen by man is very different from what God sees in our minds?


As the Lord’s every thought, word, and deed were at the impulse of the Holy Spirit, so are ours also to be under that same control.


1:9.  "But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Lord.”


Christ's inward thoughts, here represented by the inwards, as well as his public walk represented by the legs, were "washed in water," i.e., governed by the Word of God.  The Church (and we comprise the Church) is to be similarly cleansed, as it is written, “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” Ephesians 5:25-26.  If our study of Scripture doesn’t result in that daily spiritual cleansing, then we are engaging in a mere academic activity in which the Holy Spirit is denied a part.


A further lesson being taught in this part of the ritual relates to Bible study.  Each part we study must be “washed in the water of the Word,” i.e., each part must be understood in the context of the whole of Scripture. 


"... the priest shall burn all on the altar."  The skin wasn't burnt.  It was given to the officiating priest (7:8).  It represents Christ's righteousness as the possession of the one-time sinner now become a royal priest.  But all the rest was burnt, ascending up to God in smoke, reminding us that the Lord’s sacrifice of Himself was first for the Father’s glory, and then for the redemption of our souls.  The combined activity of the man and the priest in presenting the sacrifice reminds us that though we are mere men still in bodies of flesh, we are also spiritual priests, as it is written, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light,” 1 Peter 2:9.  As men, we must “wash” our inward life and our walk with the water of the Word, for only then can we as royal priests present ourselves as a sacrifice acceptable to God, and then gather around the Lord’s table on the first day of each week to present our corporate worship.


"... made by fire."  Fire represents, not only the holiness of God, but also the Holy Spirit, through Whom Christ offered Himself without spot to God.  If we would present our lives as a burnt offering to God it can only be as we permit the Holy Spirit to control every aspect of our lives.  The fire tests the reality of our lives.  We may deceive men, but we can’t deceive God.


“... a sweet savor unto the Lord.”  The Lord’s sacrifice of Himself was a “sweet savor” to God, i.e., it delighted His heart. The offerings were also called the food or bread of God, i.e., they satisfied Him.  He is perfectly satisfied with Christ’s finished work.  Only as the Holy Spirit is allowed to control our lives will they also be a sweet savor to God, bringing Him satisfaction.


It is to be noted also that the man had to personally bring his offering: no one could act for him, and the lesson being taught in this is that our salvation and our worship are personal matters between us and God.  No one can act for us either in the matter of our salvation or our worship.


1:10.  “And if his offering be of the flocks, namely, of the sheep, or of the goats, for a burnt sacrifice; he shall bring it a male without blemish.”  


Sheep and goats are also cloven-hoofed ruminants, the sheep here portraying the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God bearing away the sin of the world; while in the goat (the animal most frequently used for the expiation of sin), God would have us see Christ made sin for us, as it is written, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21.  And again the male speaks of the complete dedication of the Lord’s will to that of His Father, while its being unblemished continues to point to the moral perfection of Christ.


1:11.  “And he shall kill it on the side of the altar northward before the Lord: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall sprinkle his blood round about upon the altar." 


It seems, in fact, that all the sacrifices were to be killed on the north side of the altar, and for good reason: the north is the biblical direction which speaks of the intellect, and reminds us that it is the height of wisdom for the sinner to come to God presenting Christ as his trespass and sin offering; but since the burnt offering speaks of worship, the lesson here is that worship isn't an emotional thing divorced from intelligence: it requires both emotion (love) and intelligence.  See Canticles 4:16, “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south (wind); blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out,” but in verse 12 of that same chapter the bride is likened unto a garden.  As noted already the north speaks of intelligence; and the south, of faith, while the wind is one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit; and spices represent worship (see Exodus 30:34-38), so that the invocation is for the Holy Spirit to use both the worshiper’s intelligence and emotions to set forth in worship the spiritual fragrance of Christ.


For the significance of Aaron’s sons sprinkling the blood upon the altar see comments on verse 5.


1:12.  “And he shall cut it into his pieces, with his head and his fat: and the priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar.”


The spiritual lesson here is the same as in verses 6-8; but it is not just mere needless repetition.  The different grades of the offerings, ranging from the costly bullock to the relatively inexpensive turtledove or pigeon, reflect the financial status of the offerers; but the Israelite’s financial state is symbolic of our spiritual state.  The rich man who could afford to offer a bullock, represents the spiritually rich believer who has much to offer God in worship; while he who could afford only a turtledove or pigeon represents the believer who is spiritually impoverished, and who therefore has little to offer in worship.  It must be remembered, however, that spiritual poverty doesn’t always reflect adversely on the believer himself.  It can’t be expected, for example, that the new convert could possibly have the same understanding of Scripture as the one who has had the opportunity to devote years to study; and it is to be further noted that we are not all endowed with the same mental capacity. It must never be forgotten that the poor man’s pigeon was just as precious to God as was the rich man’s bullock, for the one as much as the other was a type of Christ.  The worship of the young immature believer is no less precious to God than is that of the most mature saint.  It is tragic, however, when spiritual poverty is the result of carnality. 


1:13.  “But he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Lord.”


The spiritual significance of this is the same as in verse 9.


1:14.  “And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the Lord be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons.”


This was the burnt offering of poverty, and as noted already, speaks of spiritual immaturity, that poverty being unjustified only when it is the result of carnality.  It is to be remembered, however, that in proportion to his financial state the poor man’s pigeon might have cost him as much or even more than did the bullock the rich man.  The widow of Mark 12:41-44, for example, in proportion to what she had, gave more than anyone else.  The bird was just as precious to God as was the bullock.  The one, as much as the other, represents Christ.  What we tend to forget is that it may cost the sincere but immature brother as much effort to find the appropriate hymn to express his worship, as it does the more mature believer to find an appropriate passage of Scripture.


The turtledove and pigeon were clean birds, and as creatures of the heavens, speak of the Lord Jesus Christ as the heavenly One Who came to give Himself to God as a sacrifice to make atonement for man’s sin.  Their living close to the habitations of men declare the truth that Christ came down to where we were.


1:15.  “And the priest shall bring it unto the altar, and wring (pinch) off his head, and burn it on the altar; and the blood thereof shall be wrung out at the side of the altar:”


In connection with the animals used for the burnt offering, offerer and priest both participated in the ritual, but where the offering was of fowls, only the priest was involved.  As discussed already, the burnt offering speaks of worship, and inasmuch as the priest performed every part of the ritual when the offering was of fowls, the lesson being taught is that when we assemble to eat the Lord’s supper, every believer - the women as well as the men - should have brought something to offer to God in worship, the woman, however, being required to present her worship silently.  But spiritual intelligence discerns from what is written in Leviticus 21:16-24, that while every brother is permitted to eat the Lord’s supper, not every brother is permitted to present his worship audibly.  The physical blemishes which disqualified a priest from offering, but not from eating “the bread of his God,” represent things which disqualify some men from audible participation at the Lord’s supper, but which do not disqualify them from eating that supper.  (It is hoped, God willing, to discuss those blemishes in detail when we come to chapter 21, but for now we might note that literal blindness, for example, corresponds to lack of spiritual insight, while the dwarf, lit., the man who is too slender, corresponds to the man who fails to nourish his spiritual life with the Word of God).


What is not sufficiently recognized is that those men who participate audibly are not just presenting their own worship: they are vocalizing the thoughts which are, or should be, in the hearts of all those gathered around the Lord’s table; and a mark of Spirit-directed audible participation is that the believers will find that each prayer offered audibly, each Scripture read, each hymn used, gives expression to what is in their own hearts.


There are, however, also physical things which may disqualify a brother from vocalizing his worship.  For example, a speech impediment, an accent difficult to understand, a very weak voice, etc., may make it difficult for others to understand what he is saying.  Brethren who do feel led to participate audibly should be aware that they have an obligation to make themselves heard and understood by the assembled worshipers.


The head of the bird was to be burnt on the altar just the same as the head of the bullock, or sheep, or goat, reminding us that however great the spiritual penury of the immature believer, his worship is just as precious to God as is that of the most spiritually mature saint.  The small head of the bird as compared with that of the bullock points to the difference between the spiritual comprehension of the mature spiritual believer and that of the immature saint; but as stated already, the genuine worship of the one is as precious to God as is that of the other.


The blood of the bird was to be drained out at the side of the altar, whereas that of the animals was to be splashed or sprinkled on all four sides of it, the lesson being that the blood of Christ is as efficacious for the most immature saint as for the most spiritually mature, the difference being that the

mature believer has a deeper understanding of its value.


1:16.  "And he shall pluck away his crop with his feathers, and cast it beside the altar on the east part, by the place of the ashes." 


The crop (which held the undigested food) speaks of that which ministers to the flesh, while the feathers speak of pride or mere human glory.  (Some translations render feathers as “the filth of the crop,” in which case the reference would be to the filthiness of that which ministers to the flesh).  These evils weren't found in Christ, but we must remember that the offerer was completely identified with his offering: if it was accepted, he was accepted; if it was rejected so was he.  The rejection of the crop and feathers therefore points, not to God's rejection of any part of Christ, but to His rejection of what these things represent in the life of the offerer, i.e., the believer, and in the present context, primarily in the life of the immature saint. The lesson is easily read.  All that contributes to, or emanates from spiritual immaturity is unacceptable to God, and in this connection it is instructive to note that when the burnt offering was a bullock, sheep, or goat, no part was rejected, because these animals speak of spiritual maturity, though the sheep and goat portray a lesser degree of it than does the bullock.


It is instructive to note also that what was rejected was to be cast away on the east side of the altar.  In the symbolic language of Scripture the east always speaks of sin and departure from God.  Since the burnt offering speaks of worship, the rejection of the crop and feathers is the symbolic declaration of the fact that at the Lord’s supper the spiritual ignorance of immaturity may bring what God cannot accept no matter how sincere the intention of the offerer.  I recall, for instance, many years ago during the Korean war, a sincere, but very immature young brother, while praying at the Lord’s supper, asking God to give America victory in that conflict.  That prayer might have been legitimately presented at the prayer meeting, but it was not appropriate at the Lord’s Supper.  On another occasion I witnessed a newly saved, but uninstructed young girl, stand up and ask the assembled company to join in the singing of a hymn.  She was sincere in her desire to worship, but she hadn’t learned that the woman is to be silent in the meetings of the Church.


The placing of the ashes on the east side declares a very different truth, however.  They were the memorial of the offering which God had accepted, and were placed on the east side of the altar (the side which speaks of our sin, and therefore our unacceptabil­ity), to assure us that we are accepted in the One represented by our offering, i.e., the Lord Jesus Christ.  The ashes were the memorial evidence of His finished work.  When He went to Calvary bearing our sins He suffered the fire of God’s wrath against those sins.  The ashes were the symbolic assurance that the fire of divine wrath had been expended against our Substitute when He became our Sin-bearer, so that God, instead of having to mete out punishment, can now, on a perfectly just basis, pardon us and bestow blessing.


The crop and feathers were to be cast "by (beside) the place of the ashes," the implication being that they were separate from the ashes.  The memorial ashes declare our acceptance in Christ, but the crop and feathers condemn our carnality, and remind us that even though we are new creatures in Christ, possessing His life and nature, there remains with us while we are in these earthly bodies, the old sinful Adamic nature which can produce only what is abhorrent to God.


1:17.  "And he shall cleave it with the wings thereof, but shall not divide it asunder: and the priest shall burn it upon the altar, upon the wood that is upon the fire: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto the Lord." 


It was to be pulled open by the wings, but not divided into two parts.  This splitting of the bird corresponds to the dissecting of the animals, and is the symbolic announcement of the fact that the outward perfection of Christ's life was matched by the inward part which only God could see.


"... but shall not divide it asunder."  Since the animals were dissected (divided into parts), the preservation of the bird as a whole, though split carcase, speaks of the absence of what the dissection represents, i.e., careful, methodical study of, and meditation on all that is written concerning the Lord.  The spiritual poverty associated with the offering of fowls is largely due to lack of such study and meditation.  In this connection it is significant to note also that there was no washing of the offering with water as in the case of the animals. Since water represents the Word, the absence of water translates into absence of the application of the Word, which seems to confirm that spiritual immaturity is almost invariably due to lack of knowledge of Scripture.


"... it is a burnt sacrifice ... a sweet savor unto the Lord."  No delinquency of ours can mar the perfection of the One in Whom we are accepted.  That knowledge should make carnality as abhorrent to us as it is to God, and should lead to a more devoted occupation with Christ.

[Leviticus 2]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough