And when anyone offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it. -Leviticus 22:21
For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. -Hebrews 9:13-14
As part of my read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan I must read Leviticus. It seems to me that whenever people talk about not understanding the OT they always say, “I just don’t get Leviticus.” I think that might be the only book of the OT most know about. I know plenty of Christians who have never read it and never really plan to. If the biblical world is foreign then Leviticus is Turkmenistan.
But as I was reading through today I came across Lev. 22:21 and immediately saw one of the countless threads rooted in that book of the Bible that’s woven throughout Scripture. In Leviticus the perfect animal sacrifice is called for. The demand is not for just any animal. It couldn’t be deformed or defected in any way. I can only imagine the “Best in Show” of all animals. This also seems to go against everything our modern minds consider, especially our Darwinian-informed minds. This is a “sacrificing of the fittest.”
What is on view here is the reality that God deserves the very best offering for our sin, the very worst in us. More than that – he demands it. The blood of the sacrifice is what makes peace and purifies us. But even the blood of the very best bulls, goats, rams, etc. could not actually make peace with God for humans (Heb 10:11). The Hebrews passage above shows that what was required for our peace in essence was the blood of the very best human being to ever live, the blood of the God-man, Jesus Christ. Unlike Leviticus, we did not offer up Christ to God; he offered himself! This was his willing sacrifice, unblemished on behalf of all of us who are so severely blemished.
Finally, I’m challenged to ask myself how I may still be trying offer up meaningless sacrifices attempting to make peace with God when peace has already been made in Christ. It is so easy to feel indebted to God for all that He has done even though I know the debt’s been paid!
So which offering really matters in your life? What, if anything, can we actually bring to God?
Andrew Lisi is a graduate student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, church planter in Chicago (The Line), and regular blogger at By His Grace. For His Glory.