1-3The Lord spoke to Moses from the sacred tent and gave him instructions for the community of Israel to follow when they offered sacrifices.
Sacrifices To Please
The Lord said:
Sacrifices to please me must be completely burned on the bronze altar.
Bulls or rams or goats are the animals to be used for these sacrifices. If the animal is a bull, it must not have anything wrong with it. Lead it to the entrance of the sacred tent, and I will let you know if it is acceptable to me. 4Lay your hand on its head, and I will accept the animal as a sacrifice for taking away your sins.
5After the bull is killed in my presence, some priests from Aaron's family will offer its blood to me by splattering it against the four sides of the altar.
6Skin the bull and cut it up, 7while the priests pile wood on the altar fire to make it start blazing. 8-9Wash the bull's insides and hind legs, so the priests can lay them on the altar with the head, the fat, and the rest of the animal. A priest will then send all of it up in smoke with a smell that pleases me.
10If you sacrifice a ram or a goat, it must not have anything wrong with it. 11Lead the animal to the north side of the altar, where it is to be killed in my presence. Then some of the priests will splatter its blood against the four sides of the altar.
12-13Cut up the animal and wash its insides and hind legs. A priest will put these parts on the altar with the head, the fat, and the rest of the animal. Then he will send all of it up in smoke with a smell that pleases me.
14If you offer a bird for this kind of sacrifice, it must be a dove or a pigeon. 15A priest will take the bird to the bronze altar, where he will wring its neck and put its head on the fire. Then he will drain out its blood on one side of the altar, 16remove the bird's craw with what is in it, and throw them on the ash heap at the east side of the altar. 17Finally, he will take the bird by its wings, tear it partially open, and send it up in smoke with a smell that pleases me.
We are all familiar with the connections to Jesus that have been made for 2000 years – a male without defect, blood is spilled, atonement is made for sin. Jesus is the sacrifice lamb, the one offered up for the sins of the people, just as animals were offered up in the days of Moses and right until Rome destroyed the Second Temple in 70 A.D. Jesus is the sacrifice that replaces all other sacrifices including the burnt offerings.
What we may not notice is some of the other connections. The bull and ram and male goat must have parts of their bodies washed after being slain – Jesus’ body was also washed before being wrapped up for burial. Every aspect of the sacrifice ritual is clearly laid out – you must splash the blood against the sides of the altar or drain it if it is a bird, the body parts to be burnt must be arranged in such and such a way. Jesus said many times he had to be slain in Jerusalem, no other location would do, and when the time came for him to be the sacrifice for the sins of the world the Roman executioners followed their own precise ritual for crucifixion – so many nails, where they had to be placed, how the condemned was to be hoisted up on the cross.
Nothing in the burnt offering was left to chance. Neither was anything when it came to the sacrifice of Jesus. God the Father had made arrangements for the atonement of sinful humanity long before Moses and long before Bethlehem and Calvary. We have never been out of his mind or his heart.
Lord, you plan your involvement in our future long before it is the future. Nothing is left to chance, no detail is left out. Your love for us, and your concern to set us free from sin and its consequences, spans the centuries. I have never been far from your heart or out of your plans and neither has anyone else. Thank you. In Christ’s name. Amen.