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 2002 James Melough


“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 (for his acceptance) at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord,” Lev 1:3

All of the offerings were types of Christ, the ritual for their presentation being recorded in Leviticus, chapters 1-7.

To be acceptable the animal must be from the flock or herd, and must be clean according to God’s standard, which required that it be cloven-hoofed, and a ruminant (cud chewer), the cloven hoof speaking of Christ’s separated walk; and the rumination speaking not only of reading God’s Word, but also of meditating upon and obeying it.  The Lord lived His whole life in perfect obedience to Scripture; and the believer who would be Christ-like must also nurture his new spiritual life on that same spiritual food.

The requirement that the animal be domestic rather than wild, speaks of its being easily available to man (it didn’t have to be hunted), and of its being 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 Lev 1:3, “He shall offer it of his own voluntary will” which 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.

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) went up in smoke as a sweet savor 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.  The sweet savor speaks of the fragrance to the Father of Christ’s life and voluntary vicarious death.  The truth being taught in the transmutation of the Burnt offering into smoke ascending as a sweet savor to God, is that the equivalent of the Burnt offering is the believer’s worship, for worship is simply the presentation to God of our appreciation of the worth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Since the male speaks of the activity of the will; and the female, of its passivity, the animal’s being a male is the symbolic announcement of the fact that all of the Lord’s will was devoted to doing the Father’s will.  He would permit nothing to turn Him aside from accomplishing that objective.

Since the skin is the animal’s covering, the skin of the Burnt offering represents the “covering” (righteousness) of Christ, and its being given to the officiating priest, see Lev 7:8, declares the truth that every believer is clothed in Christ’s righteousness, for every believer is a spiritual priest, see 1 Pe 2:9, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood....”

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 pocket.  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, in enjoying 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,” Heb 12:1.  A similar warning against these “weights” is given symbolically in Ca 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.

While the bullock was the most costly offering, a sheep or a goat could also be offered, depending on the financial state of the offerer. 

The sheep represents Christ as the meek unresisting Lamb of God, yielding Himself willingly to death so that men might receive God’s gift of eternal life, as described by the prophet, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth,” Isa 53:7.

The goat, though most frequently used for the Sin offering, was also used for the Burnt offering.  It represents Christ as the One Who was willing to take our sins upon Him, and die to make atonement for them at Calvary, offering Himself there without spot to God, Heb 9:14, He by the assumption of our sins being Himself made sin “... that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him,” 2 Cor 5:21.

The man too poor to be able to bring a bullock, sheep, or goat, was permitted to offer a turtledove or a pigeon, and as creatures of the heavens the birds represent Christ as the heavenly One Who stooped to come down to earth and take upon Himself humanity, so that He could die in man’s guilty stead for the remission of sin.

For a more detailed treatment of the Offerings please consult LEVITICUS (Levitical Offerings) also available on this web site.


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