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 (Manna 72: Love—the Bond of Perfection)
5-in-1 Offering
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5-in-1 Offering

Based on a sermon by Peter Shee—Singapore

Almost every religion on earth, ancient and modern, includes making sacrifices to gods for favors. Today, sacrifices, or offerings, are usually made to gain wealth, good health, or a thriving business.

However, the biblical concept of offering sacrifices is very different from that of other religions. According to the Bible, the first sacrifice was not offered by man to God but was made by God for the good of man. After Adam and Eve had sinned against God, they felt the need to cover themselves because they realized they were naked. To take away their guilt, God sacrificed an innocent animal and used its skin to cover them. This is the beauty and key difference between the biblical concept of sacrifice and man’s sacrifice to gods: God made the first sacrifice, and He did it for the good of man.

By studying God’s Old Testament instructions on the five offerings in the Book of Leviticus, we will understand the richness of God’s grace for us, what He desires for us, and how the full benefits of salvation are achieved for us in the one single sacrifice God Himself would make thousands of years later. Each of the five offerings point to a different aspect of the greatest sacrifice of all: Jesus’ death for our sins.

1. THE BURNT OFFERING: JESUS’ TOTAL SACRIFICE

Leviticus chapter 1 explains that the ritual emphasis of the burnt sacrifice is on the body of the animal; it highlights the totality of the sacrifice. The animal must be skinned and cut into pieces and the entire body needs to be burned.[1]

As God, Jesus existed even before He was born on earth. Therefore, in order to be sacrificed for the sake of our sins, Jesus had to take on a human body:

Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. (Heb 10:5)

Furthermore, Jesus “made Himself of no reputation,”[2] emptied Himself, and took on a physical body so that He could sacrifice Himself for us. As the “entire body” is sacrificed in the burnt offering, so is Jesus’ entire body sacrificed, connoting the totality of His sacrifice for our lives.

Yet the burnt offering of the Old Testament could never remove sin. Instead, it was a “reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”[3] Only through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ can sins be removed, for “Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God.”[4] Whilst other religions sacrifice for selfish desire or material gain, God’s sacrifice is the greatest love for mankind: to lay down one’s life for another.

2. THE GRAIN OFFERING: JESUS’ SINLESS NATURE

The grain offering shows us the second aspect of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross: His sinless nature. Leviticus chapter 2 explains the grain offering: one takes some grain, grinds it into flour, bakes it into unleavened bread, and offers it as a sacrifice to God. The purity of this bread without leaven, represents holiness and gives off a sweet aroma to God. Biblically, leaven represents sin; moreover, “a little leaven leavens the whole lump,”[5] meaning even the tiniest speck of sin will completely sully something pure and righteous. Because of this, the grain offering is the “most holy of the offerings to the Lord made by fire.”[6]

Like the grain offering, Jesus’ sacrifice was also a “sweet-smelling aroma”[7] to God; He alone can cleanse our sins, because He was sinless. Hebrews 9:14 tells us Jesus “offered Himself without spot to God.” In order for Him to die a sinless death, He had to lead a sinless life. However, this doesn’t mean Jesus was never tempted.

The Bible records His first and final temptations after starting His ministry, namely, the devil’s temptations in the wilderness and a desire to avoid death on the cross respectively. Now, after Jesus’ first recorded temptation, the Bible states, “[the devil] departed from Him until an opportune time.”[8] This means that the devil sought opportunity and did, indeed, tempt Jesus in addition to the recorded temptations, “for we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”[9]

We face temptations every day. Unfortunately, we tend to cave in because of our weaknesses. Jesus too had weaknesses as a human being. However, unlike us, He did not yield to them, even though the devil tempted Jesus as he does to us. Instead, Jesus overcame all temptations and maintained a pure and holy life.

When we see the grain offering and remember that it refers to the sinless death of Christ, we remember His sinless life. Having lived over thirty years in the flesh, imagine the amount of effort Jesus had to go through to overcome these temptations. Yet He did not sin once. Jesus loves us so much that He fought against temptation and sin for the sake of our weaknesses, so that we might overcome our sin and live.

3. THE PEACE OFFERING: JESUS RECONCILES US TO GOD

The peace offering, sometimes known as the fellowship offering, signifies reconciliation with God. Leviticus chapter 3 explains that the priests “sprinkle the blood all around on the altar”[10] and the sacrificed animal is not completely burnt. While the fat is burnt as food for God,[11] the flesh is eaten by man:[12] this represents fellowship between God and us. Additionally, the peace offering is offered voluntarily whenever one desires to give to God, make a vow, or to have fellowship with Him. This refers to the sweet and meaningful aspect of Jesus’ sacrifice.

For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Rom 5:10)

Being an “enemy” of God refers to our status whilst we are sinful and have no relationship with God. The reconciliation Paul refers to, through Jesus’ sacrifice, indicates not only forgiveness, but also a relationship between ourselves and God that is just like a relationship of love between father and child.

Without Christ, our spiritual status is as a Gentile:[13] without God and without hope in the world. Without Christ’s loving sacrifice, we would not know God; we would be His enemy and face physical death and spiritual torment. But when Jesus reconciles us to God through His death on the cross, we are made holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight. We no longer have to avoid God’s presence like Adam after he had sinned against God. We are no longer strangers to God but members of God’s household! Like the peace offering given the Israelites, today, Jesus gives us fellowship with God.

4. THE SIN OFFERING: JESUS CLEANSES OUR SINS

While the burnt offering highlights the body, the sin offering focuses on the blood of Jesus and its cleansing effect. Just as the blood of animals would cleanse the flesh, Jesus’ blood cleanses “[our] conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”[14] Here, the writer of Hebrews explains the true effect of Jesus’ blood: it will completely cleanse our sins and spiritually restore us to God.

Paul further explains that being under the control of sin is similar to being a slave to sin. In order to free us, Jesus “paid” for us with His blood. This is so precious a price, yet Jesus willingly laid down His life and shed His blood for our sakes. We should, therefore, remember His sacrifice and glorify God with our lives.

5. THE TRESPASS OFFERING: JESUS BORE OUR GUILT

Whilst the blood cleanses sins, according to Leviticus 5:1–5, the trespass offering focuses on one’s guilt and shame. To bear guilt is to bear punishment, and the trespass offering reminds us that sin has its punishment. Jesus paid with His life so that we would not have to face the consequences of our guilt.

And he shall make restitution for the harm that he has done in regard to the holy thing, and shall add one-fifth to it and give it to the priest. So the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him. (Lev 5:16)

This verse discusses the concept of restitution, or compensation. Our Lord Jesus Christ died for us, not only to cleanse our sins, but also to pay what we owe due to our sins―a necessary part of reconciliation with God. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death: whoever sins must die. Yet we truly praise God, for Jesus, in His great love, took our place and paid that price on our behalf.

Paul understood this deeply and explained to the Colossian church:

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

(Col 2:13–14)

We may be walking, living, and breathing, yet because of our sins and the guilt we carry, God sees us as dead. Today, we owe our spiritual life to Jesus. When He died on the cross, the requirement of compensation we owe died with Him. Some people misunderstand this and say that the law died with Jesus. However, this doesn’t make sense, since God’s laws direct our everyday lives. In reality, God nailed to death what we owe: according to the law, our death. When Jesus came, He did not abolish the law but fulfilled it. He saw what each of us owed and said, “I can pay it.” He took our debt[15] to the cross and nailed it to the cross, along with Himself.

We owe life that is finite, yet Jesus paid with His infinite life. If you owed someone a million dollars and were given a blank check, you would probably write a number exceeding a million dollars turning it into a lifelong annuity. Similarly, Jesus has signed our check of guilt over and above what we needed to pay. As for the change, Jesus says: keep it. He has not only forgiven our sins but has also given us everlasting life in heaven.

OFFERING A LIVING SACRIFICE

The five offerings of the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus’ singular sacrifice of perfect love for us. The question is: how do we repay what Jesus has done for us? As mere mortals we cannot do very much in relation to Jesus’ unconditional sacrifice; but we can strive to offer continual sacrifices of praise to glorify and honor His name with our words and deeds. Jesus gave His life for us. We should give our lives for Him:

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. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

(Rom 12:1–2)



[1] Lev 1:6,9

[2] Phil 2:7

[3] Heb 10:3–4

[4] Eph 5:2

[5] 1 Cor 5:6–7

[6]   Lev 2:3,10

[7]   Eph 5:2

[8]   Luke 4:13

[9]   Heb 4:15

[10] Lev 3:2,8,13

[11] Lev 3:3–5, 9–11, 14–16

[12] Lev 7:15–17

[13] Eph 2:11–13

[14] Heb 9:13–14

[15] The “handwriting of requirements that was against us” in Col 2:14 uses the idea of cancellation of the certificate of debt to illustrate our release from guilt.

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Author: Peter Shee
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