Leviticus 1 – How to approach God – preached @ Shalom Church On 28 July 2019

The first 5 books of the OT – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy were written by Moses.

Collectively, they are called the Pentateuch or the Law of Moses.

In John 5:46, Jesus said this to the Jews:

“… if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.”

But if you examine every word in these 5 books written by Moses, you will not find Jesus’ name at all.

So obviously Jesus did not mean that you will find His name mentioned in these 5 books.

Instead, what Moses wrote was a fore-shadow of the work of salvation that Jesus came to fulfill.

That is why Heb 10:1 says that the law was “..a shadow of good things to come..”.

So this morning, I want to share with you the good news of Jesus Christ from the book of Leviticus Chapter 1.

The Book of Leviticus essentially teaches us how to approach God and how to walk with God.

And Leviticus 1 tells us that to approach God, there must be 2 things:

Firstly, there must always be a sacrifice.

And this sacrifice was a foreshadow of what Jesus did on the Cross as the ultimate sacrifice for sinners.

Secondly, this sacrifice must be offered by a priest.

And Jesus was also the great High Priest who represented His people before God.

This is the way that God has prescribed by which He is to be approached and worshipped.

It is not something that we imagined and conjured ourselves.

It is recorded in the bible so that sinful man can understand how to be reconciled to a holy God.

And in this way, sinners can know Him and return to Him if you are His child.

Now, we shall cover Leviticus chapter 1 by asking the following 3 questions:

Question 1) What did God tell us about the offering required in order to approach Him?

Question 2) What did the offerer need to do with this offering?

Question 3) What do we need to do in response to what God has reviewed here in Leviticus 1?

Now, let’s start with question 1.

What did God tell us about the offering required in order to approach Him?

There are altogether 5 types of offerings mentioned in the book of Leviticus.

There are 5 types because each individual type cannot fully represent the ultimate offering made by Jesus.

Leviticus 1 specifically describes only one of these 5 types of offering – the burnt offering sacrifice.

Now, there are 2 things I want to highlight concerning this burnt offering sacrifice:

Firstly, we are told that the burnt offering sacrifice can be of 3 different types of animals.

In verse 3, we are told that this animal can be of the herd.

If this is case, it would be a bull as indicated in verse 5.

In verse 10, we are told that this burnt offering animal could also be of the flock.

If that was the case, it had to be either a male sheep or a goat.

Finally, we are told in verse 14 that this burnt offering could also be a bird.

And if it was a bird, it should be either a turtledove or a pigeon.

Now, what is the significance of having these 3 types of animals?

Very simply, each type of animal represented the “affordability” of the person making the offering.

A wealthy person ought to bring a bull as an offering because this was what he could afford.

A middle class person ought to bring a sheep as an offering because that was what he could afford.

A materially poor person had no excuse for not seeking God because of his poverty.

This is because he could simply bring a turtledove or a pigeon.

So, here is the gospel preached from the law of Moses.

No person is excluded from approaching God regardless of his material status.

You need to get right with God regardless of whether you are materially rich or poor.

No one has any excuse for not approaching God because of his material circumstances.

Because God has provided a way for every person to approach Him.

And in our case, Jesus became the sacrifice for those who put their faith in Him.

He alone made it possible for us to approach God.

So here is the gospel call to all of you:

Whether you are a student,

Whether you are a blue-collar worker,

Whether you are a homemaker,

Whether you are a professional or a middle-class person,

God calls you to make right your relationship with Him today.

You don’t even need to bring any sacrifice to Him now.

He has provided the way for you to do so in Jesus Christ.

Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

All that is needed is a sincere heart to get right with God.

A broken & contrite spirit – which God will not despise.

The 2nd thing I want to tell you about the burnt offering sacrifice concerns God’s response to the offering.

There is a phrase that recurs in verses 9, 13 & 17.

And this phrase is “….a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the Lord.”

This phrase is repeated in each of these verses 9, 13 & 17.

Now, we are also told in verse 3 & verse 10 that the animals offered were to be male & without blemish.

Why? Because this is an important representation of Jesus.

He was the ultimate sacrifice.

And He was without sin & without any blemish before God.

Each time the burnt offering was made in accordance to God’s prescribed way, it was a sweet aroma to Him.

Each time the burnt offering was made in a manner that is not in accordance to what He prescribed, it received His condemnation.

Let me give you some examples of this in the bible.

First, In Malachi 1:14, we are told that the people offered to God sacrifices that were blemished.

That act was like giving the crumbs of what we have, instead of the best to God.

More importantly, an offering that was blemished was an insult to the ultimate sacrifice – Jesus Christ – who is perfect & without sin.

How could they expect God to accept such offerings?

How can it be “a sweet aroma to Him”?

In Leviticus 10, it was recorded that the sons of Aaron offered profane fire.

This means they offered something that God did not command them to.

And they were struck dead immediately.

In 1 Sam 13:9, Saul made an offering when he was not the appointed priest of the people.

He was rejected by God.

In 2 Sam 6:7 Uzzah touched the ark of God in a manner that God did not prescribe.

He was struck dead immediately.

In 1 Sam 6:19, the people of Beth Shemesh looked into the ark of God in an irreverent manner.

They were struck dead immediately.

All these incidents convey to us the holiness of the God whom we worship.

God is in heaven and we are on earth.

God is the Creator and we are the created.

God is holy and we are sinful.

Therefore you cannot approach God on your terms.

You have to approach Him in the exact manner that He has prescribed.

Only then, will it be a sweet aroma to Him.

Otherwise, you will not be accepted by Him.

And there will only be a fearful expectation.

Now, at this juncture, let me do a quick summary of our answers for question 1.

What did God tell us about the offering required in order to approach Him?

Firstly, the burnt offering sacrifice catered to every different strata of society.

It did not exclude any class of people.

So, regardless of your material circumstance, God requires you to worship Him because He is your Creator.

Secondly, the offering that was brought to God in His prescribed way is a sweet aroma to Him.

Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth & the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.

So God’s prescribed way for us to approach Him is through Jesus Christ.

Therefore, only approaching God through Jesus Christ is “a sweet aroma” to Him.

We come to our 2nd question for today: What did the offerer need to do with the offering?

Once again, there are 2 things I want to highlight to you.

Firstly, I want to turn your attention to what is stated in verse 4:

Verse 4 – “He shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him”.

The Hebrew word for the phrase “put his hand on the head of the burnt offering” literally means “press hard’.

The idea is similar to someone pressing a stamp or a seal on a document.

He had to press hard to make an imprint of his initials there.

So the idea conveyed is that the offerer was putting his stamp on the offering.

He was symbolically transferring his guilt to the animal that was offered.

And the animal became the party that bore the sin of the offerer.

The animal died on behalf of the offerer.

And it became clear to the offerer that his approach to God was made possible because of a life laid down.

The bible says in Rom 3:23 that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

And “the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23.

We are all sinners and we are all spiritually dead.

And eventually we will experience a physical death.

We will end up in hell, unless our sins are being paid for.

Unless someone dies on our behalf and we have our sins transferred to him.

The bible tells us in 1 Pet 2:24 that Jesus “…bore our sins in His own body on the tree that we, having died to sins, might live….”

Hence, Jesus was the offering for our sins.

When we believe in Him, our sins are symbolically transferred to Him.

And He bore our sins for us.

And in this way, our Holy God can accept us on the basis of a life laid down.

Secondly, I want you to notice that it says in verse 5 that the offerer had to “kill the bull before the LORD”.

So contrary to popular perception – please note that it was not the job of the priest to kill the burnt offering.

The offerer had to do it himself!

So it became clear to the offerer that he was the one who caused the death of the burnt offering.

I don’t know about you, but I am certainly glad that I don’t live in the old testament to have to do this.

Those who have served NS and went through the “living off the land” training will appreciate what I mean.

It is an unenviable task of having to personally kill the burnt offering.

And as soon as you have done this, you will probably be back again to do the same thing.

Because we constantly sin against God.

And anyone who had to go through that ceremonial sequence will soon understand the meaning of Heb 10:4.

Heb 10:4 says “..it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”

Because these sacrifices are merely “a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things…” – Heb 10:1.

God in His mercy used these ceremonies to demonstrate the awful task that His Son Jesus Christ had to go through for us on the Cross.

And we are actually the ones who caused His death on the Cross because of our sins.

And Jesus did this only once.

And this is all that was necessary, so that we can be reconciled to Him.

We thank God that the new testament dispensation is so much easier for us.

We need not make bring any burnt offerings ….

because Jesus had made the ultimate offering for our sins.

All that we are required to do is to simply to believe that Jesus Christ died for us sins.

This is the gospel of grace – believe in the Lord Jesus Christ & you will be saved!

Yet, it is indeed sad that many find it so difficult to do.

At this juncture, let me do a quick summary of our answers to question 2:

What did the offerer have to do with the burnt offering sacrifice that he brought?

First, he had to “press hard” on the head of the offering.

This was to symbolise that his sins are transferred to the animal being offered.

And the lesson we learn here is that God accepts us only on the basis of a life laid-down.

And Jesus laid down His life for us as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

Our sins are transferred to Him when we believe in Him as our Saviour.

And God accepts us through Jesus Christ because He laid down His life for us.

Secondly, the offerer had to kill the burnt offering sacrifice himself.

We thank God that the old testament ceremonies of offerings need not be done anymore.

Jesus, our sacrifice and our High Priest has done everything necessary for us to be accepted by God.

Now, we must not take what God has revealed to us in Leviticus for granted.

Because it cost Jesus His life so that we can be reconciled to God!

And so, let us now consider our 3rd question for today:

“What do we need to do in response to all these information that God has reviewed to us?”

Let me first address the Christians and then the non-Christians.

Rom 12:1 “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”.

Here, the Apostle Paul is NOT telling us to BRING sacrifices.

That’s already over and done with in the Old Testament.

Instead, he is telling us to BE sacrifices.

We are to BE sacrifices, much in the same way a burnt offering is a sacrifice to God.

The entire burnt offering sacrifice was given to God, not just parts of it.

And it was only when the entire offering was given to God, that it was “a sweet aroma to Him”.

So we ought to give of ourselves entirely when it comes to serving & having communion with God.

Some of us may say, “I’ve done my part, it is enough that I am in Church on Sunday”.

“I’ve read the RTBT – you mean I still have to read some more?”

“I have already given my tithes – what more do you want from me?”

Dear believers, I want you to understand that when Jesus redeemed us, he did not just redeem part of us.

He redeemed our whole being – our body and our soul or spirit.

1 Cor 6: 20 “..for you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body & in your spirit, which are God’s”.

That means that your whole being does not belong to you, it belongs to God.

We are only a custodian of this redeemed body for the time that God has given us on earth.

And the bible says that “To him who is given much, much is expected” – Luk 12:48.

If you can afford a bull, God will not be pleased if you brought to Him a turtledove.

This is because He has given you the means of bringing a bull.

Now, consider this – we are privileged to be in a country where almost everyone can read & write.

Yet, how many of us are using this blessing of literacy to diligently study the Bible & seek God?

Are we just bringing a turtledove to Him when we could bring a bull in this aspect?

Some of us have unique talents in music, sports & academic abilities.

And to develop that talent, you are prepared to spend hours & hours practicing & developing that talent.

Yet, to the God who gave you those talents, would you not spend even 15 mins a day to read His word & pray & to call that a delight?

I know some of us have challenges with many demands laid upon us for our time – I empathise with you.

Yet, I need to tell you that ultimately, it is about setting priorities.

And we ought to give priority to our relationship with God because Christ laid down His life for us.

So I urge all of us believers “to present ourselves a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God because this is our reasonable service” to the God who redeemed us.

Let us examine ourselves.

Now, let me address those who have not professed faith in Jesus Christ and with that, I will close.

Many many years ago, I had the privilege of being the Country manager of a US company.

One of the things I was required to do was something called the 360degrees survey.

The company wanted to ensure that their Singapore representative was well received by all stakeholders.

And so, a questionnaire was sent to my customers, suppliers, partners, employees, my peers and anyone who had to work with me.

That’s why they called it the 360 survey.

And most importantly, my immediate boss also had to complete the questionnaire.

So you can imagine how stressful the exercise was.

Hence, when the scores were tabulated, I was very thankful that by and large, the results were quite positive.

However, the only questionnaire that was negative came from my immediate boss.

And I soon realised that actually his opinion was the most important and what really mattered.

I had spent my time & energy managing downwards, sideways, outside, inside, …

But I neglected the most important relationship –

And that was the relationship with my boss.

And I soon realised that this relationship had the ultimate impact on my career.

I learnt a lot from that experience & I am still in touch with that boss even today.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys & girls – why am I telling you this story?

I want you to know that all of us have an ultimate boss who sits on the throne in heaven.

He is the ultimate boss regardless of whether you acknowledge it.

When God looks down from heaven and He sees you, have you ever wondered what He thinks of you?

When God looks at you, does He see you as a rebel?

Does He see you as a difficult child?

Have you ever wondered if He is angry with you?

And if He is, do you tremble over what He may do to you as a result?

I want to tell you that your relationship with God is the most important relationship you need to manage.

Because He is the ultimate “boss” of heaven & earth.

Do you realise that your eternal future is determined by how God perceives you?

Let me say it again: your relationship with God is the most important relationship you have to address today!

It doesn’t matter if you are the most popular or the most successful person on earth.

It doesn’t matter if you have managed to change the world and made an impact in society.

As long as you have not repented of your sins,

As long as you have not publicly professed your faith in Jesus Christ,

you are not reconciled to God.

And God will not receive you.

God views you as a sinner.

You have no eternal future.

You will die and you will end up in hell.

It sounds really harsh but I want to tell you that there is good news!

Because it doesn’t have to end up that way.

I have shared with you that God will receive you on the basis of a life laid-down.

I did not invent this – God made it clear in the book of Leviticus.

He also made it clear in Heb 9:22 that “without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sin”.

And Heb 9:27 says that “it is appointed for men to die once, but after that the judgement.”

And on that judgement day, God will receive you if you believe that Jesus laid down His life for you.

And God will receive you if you humbly acknowledge that you have sinned against Him.

….if you will turn from your sins to follow Him.

Psalm 147:11 “The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.”

The bible says that the angels rejoice in heaven when a sinner repents and returns to God.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys & girls – here is the call of the gospel:

Repent and believe in Jesus Christ and you will be saved!

God will hear your prayer for help if you heed the call of the gospel & believe in Jesus Christ.

Oh, please don’t just go away after service today.

Talk to someone so that you have certainty about this great salvation in Jesus Christ.

Resolve your relationship with God – because this is what really matters in eternity.

Oh, may this day be a day of salvation for many of us. Amen!

Let us turn to the hymn printed in our bulletin – “His robes for mine”.

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By Grace through Faith…..Eph 2:8-9

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