There’s so much in the first few chapters of Leviticus, that I hardly know where to start. Here are a few of my notes on this wonderful section of Scripture. —Natan
Leviticus 1:5, He shall kill. The sinner must kill the animal to be sacrificed as an atonement for his sin. The reinforces upon the individual’s heart and mind the gravity of his sin and the consequences there of upon an innocent animal, which symbolically pointed to the death of Yeshua, the Lamb of Elohim, upon the cross, who had to die for each person’s sins. If killing an innocent animal brings grief to a person’s heart, then how much more the death of Yeshua, the Son of Elohim?
Sprinkle. Heb. word zaraq means “to scatter, sprinkle, toss, throw, scatter abundantly, strew.” The sprinkling of the blood of the sacrificed animal on and around the altar of sacrifice (and elsewhere in the tabernacle as well) is mentioned numerous times in the Torah (e.g. Exod 24:6; 29:16; Lev 1:11; 3:2, 8, 13; 4:6,17; 5:9; 7:2). The blood was even sprinkled on the people (Exod 24:8), and on Aaron and his sons (Exod 29:20–21). This is a prophetic picture of Yeshua bleeding, while dying on the cross and shedding his blood as an atonement for our sins. Yeshua’s sprinkling his blood on the cross fulfilled the sprinkling of blood under the sacrificial system in the following ways:
- On the altar, which is a picture of the cross (Exod 24:6–8).
- All around the altar (Exod 29:12–16) including on the earth beneath the altar (Lev 7:2). Yeshua’s blood covered himself and the entire area around the cross.
- On the high priest’s garments (Exod 29:20–21). Yeshua is our Great High Priest who was covered in his own blood during his crucifixion.
- The blood was sprinkled seven times for perfection (Lev 4:6–7). Yeshua bled from seven areas of his body (his head, back, two hands, two feet, and his side).
- At the bottom of the altar (Lev 4:6–7). Yeshua’s blood would have dripped down and pooled at the base of the cross.
- On the side of the altar (Lev 5:9). The cross was entirely covered in blood.
- Sprinkled seven times before the door of the tabernacle (Num 19:4). Yeshua died (probably on the Mount of Olives) on the hill of Golgotha (or Calvary) in view of temple in Jerusalem just outside the city gates (Heb 13:12).
- The Scriptures tell us that the life of the flesh is in the blood, and that YHVH has given it to us upon the altar as an atonement for sins, for it is the blood that makes atonement for our soul (Lev 17:11). Additionally, without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sins (Heb 9:22). All the religions of the world (including rabbinic Judaism), except those that have faith in Yeshua, are bloodless and have no provision to save man from his sins.
By the door. This is a prophetic picture of Yeshua murder outside of the camp or gate of the temple in Jerusalem (Heb 13:12–13).
Leviticus 1:16, Beside the altar on the east part. It is interesting to note that in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount, the east side of the altar of sacrifice in the temple faced the Mount of Olives, the base of which is only a few minutes walk (less than 1000 feet) down from the Temple Mount and across the small Kidron Valley. This is the same area where the Garden of Gethsemane is located (also at the base of the Mount of Olives just above the Kidron Valley) where Yeshua prayed before his crucifixion and sweat great drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Directly above this same spot is where the altar of the red heifer was located (see Mishnah Parah 3:6c and The Temple, Its Ministry and Service, p. 283, by Alfred Edhersheim). Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews links the place of Yeshua’s crucifixion to the spot where the red heifer was killed (Heb 13:12–13 cp. 9:13). And finally, we know that from the place of the crucifixion, the front of the temple was clearly visible (Luke 23:45, 47). We see that the sprinkling of the blood on the east side of the altar (on the side of the altar facing the exact spot where Yeshua died on the cross) is a prophetic shadow picture pointing to the eventual death of Yeshua the Lamb of Elohim slain from the foundation of the world to take away the sins of the world once and for all!
Leviticus 1:1–17, The burnt offering is a picture of Yeshua’s death on the cross. All aspects of the sacrificed animal, the altar itself and the service surrounding the sacrifice are a prophetic shadow-picture pointing to the Messiah’s death on the cross and what the redeemed believer must do in relationship to this work to receive Elohim’s atonement for his sins.
The priests sacrificed a lamb twice daily—in the morning and in the evening (Exod 29:38–42; Num 28:1–8). The Jews, since the time of the destruction of their temple in the first century, have known that these two offerings prophetically represent the prayers of the righteous ascending to the throne of the Almighty twice daily. In rabbinic Judaism, the morning prayers are called the shacharit prayers, while those in the afternoon are called the mincah prayers. These prayers can be found in a Jewish prayer book called a siddur. These twice daily sacrifices picture our need to come to our Father in heaven morning and evening through the shed blood of Yeshua to confess our sins and to offer thanks and praise (Heb 13:15; Pss 107:22; 116:18 cp. 113:3; 141:2; Hos 14:1–2; Mal 1:11).
The Prophetic Significance of the Offerings
Along with the burnt offering there were five other types of offerings each representing different aspects of a follower of Yeshua dealing with sin in his life. They are listed in Leviticus and elsewhere in the Torah. They are:
- the meal or cereal offering (Lev 2; 6:14–23)
- the guilt or sin offering (Lev 4; 6:24–30)
- the trespass offering (Lev 5:14–6:7)
- the peace or wave offering (Lev 3; 7:11–21)
- the drink offering (Exod 29:40;–41; 30:9; Lev 23:13; Num 6:17; 15:5, 7, 10, 24; 28:7–10, 15, 24; 29:16, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34, 38)
In these offerings, there is great spiritual symbolism. For example, the oil, salt, flour, frankincense and baking over fire of the meal offering all point to Yeshua. In scriptural poetic symbolism, oil represents the Set-Apart (Holy) Spirit of Elohim and the Torah, fine flour speaks of the righteousness of Yeshua who is the Bread of Life, while salt is a metaphor for purity and taste enhancement, and frankincense speaks of prayers of the saints. This offering contained no leavening agent; it was unleavened bread, and leavening is a scriptural metaphor for sin. It contained no honey, since honey overpowers the real flavor of something. This prophetically points to the words spoken by Yeshua; they were not “sweetened” to blunt their real truth or intent. The Word of Elohim is never compromised to placate the palate of the carnal man (see John 6:60; 3:34; 8:28; Rev 1:5). The meal offering was baked by fire. Yeshua fulfilled this offering in every way by his death on the cross (see Isa 53:5–12; compare with Ps 22:15; Luke 23:56–24:1; John 3:14; 12:32). The Testimony of Yeshua teaches us that redeemed believers are to fulfill this prophetic symbolism by becoming like “living sacrifices” (see Rom 12:1; Matt 5:10–13; John 16:33; 2 Tim 3:12).
A Brief Study of the Sacrificial System—What Was the Purpose of the Sacrificial System?
The concept of animal sacrifices may be a hard for modern people to comprehend—especially for those who are squeamish when it comes to death and blood. This ancient ritual, rooted in the nomadic lifestyles of the inhabitants of the Middle East, carried more symbolic significance for a people whose daily existence was tied to the earth and who were dependent on domestic animals for their survival. It is out of this cultural background that the biblical narrative springs and with it the ritual symbols with which the ancient people described therein could relate. With these things in mind, the following is a list showing the main reasons for YHVH’s establishment of an animal sacrificial system as a means to help man to understand spiritual lessons far beyond the actual sacrifice itself.
The laws pertaining to the sacrificial system were added to the rest of the Torah because of sin, and were in force until the time of Yeshua the promised Seed (Gal 3:19). When and why did YHVH add them making this system incumbent upon the Israelites? This occurred after and because of the sin of the golden calf. It was then that YHVH established the Levitical priesthood and subsequently gave Israel the sacrificial system to not only show them the seriousness and grave consequences of sins, but to guide them forward on the path toward redemption and salvation.
- The Levitical system foreshadowed and pointed to the Messiah’s ultimate sacrifice (Heb 9:11–12).
- The tabernacle offerings were specifically designed to spiritually draw the offerer near to Elohim through the sacrifice of a prescribed animal (Ps 51:16–17; 50:12–15 cp. 1 Pet 2:21).
- Elohim commanded offerings to assist the offerer to better understand himself; his attitude, and his personal relationship with Elohim (e.g. Gen 3:21; 4:3–5; 8:20; 22:1–2 cp. 1 Cor 11:28).
- Altars were erected by the patriarchs in order to honor Elohim through sacrifice after having had direct contact with him (Gen 12:6–8; 13:18; 26:24–25; 35:1; 35:2–4; Exod 17:13–16; cp. Exod 20:12).
- Proper and regular sacrificial offerings kept the children of Israel in direct contact with the Elohim of the patriarchs (Exod 5:3; 10:25; cp. 1 Tim 2:5).
- To make the offerer holy (set-apart) so that he would be allowed to approach and commune with the Set-Apart Elohim of Israel (Isa 43:15; 57:15; Lev 19:2 cp. 2 Cor 6:16–18).
- Under certain circumstances, blood, as used in the Levitical system, could serve as a purification agent for both people and objects (Heb 9:18–23 cp. Luke 2:22–24).
- The blood of the animal sacrifices served to cover the offerer’s sins, thereby allowing him to draw near to the Set-Apart Elohim of Israel. However, the offerer could only be forgiven for specific sins through full repentance and by returning to Elohim’s way of life as outlined in the Torah (Lev 1:4; 4:35; 23:27–28; Heb 10:3–4; cp. Rom 4:7–8).
- The purpose of the animals offered by the Levitical priesthood served as a shadow of the blood of Messiah, which does not merely cover our sins, but removes all of the sins of the person who accepts Yeshua’s offering of himself for that sinner (Heb 9:11–12, 24–28; 1 Pet 1:18–19; Eph 5:25–27; Lev 25:47–49; Rom 5:11; John 1:29 cp. Heb 13:10–13).