Jump Start # 3019
Leviticus 3:2 “And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and slay it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall sprinkle the blood around on the altar.”
I’ve been reading Leviticus. You might wonder, “Why?” Leviticus gets a bad rap for being tedious, boring and very little application for us today. Given a choice of what to read in the Bible, most would run to Psalms, Philippians or one of the Gospels. Not Leviticus. Yet, it’s in our Bibles. We need to read every single page. The hard pages. The pages that some call boring. The pages that we love. Every page needs to be read by us.
Leviticus opens immediately with instructions about sacrifices. Our verse today, surrounds the peace offering. As one reads through these various offerings, it quickly becomes apparent that the priests were working in what we’d call a slaughter house. Our verse today focuses upon offering an animal from the herd, which makes us think of a cow or ox. This isn’t a small animal. From our verse, the man offering the sacrifice would place his hand on the head of this live animal. The throat would be slit so the blood could be collected. After the animal died, the kidneys and the lobe of the liver, as well as the fat on the entrails were to be removed and burned. Other sacrifices detail what was to be done with the skin of the animal.
We read this and don’t put much thought into that. Today, let’s put some thought to that.
First, the sound of a gasping animal as it is dying can be terrifying. Trying to hold this bleeding animal still would be a challenge. Then the priests had to know what kidneys and liver looked like. They had to have tools and knives to open up the animal and remove those organs. And, then all the blood. Blood on the ground. Blood on the altar. Blood on the priests. Blood likely on the person making the sacrifice. I know myself too well to know that I’d be passed out on the ground. This was not a sight for the faint of heart. The sounds. The smells. The blood. The burning aroma. And, this was just the peace offering. There were many more sacrifices to be made.
Second, one would think that the ordeal of going through those bloody sacrifices would be enough to deter one from doing wrong. You’d think, that. But it didn’t. All through these pages of our Bible, Israel struggles with their faith in the Lord. They grumble. They bow to idols. They don’t listen to the word of the Lord. More sacrifices. More gasping animals. More blood. More smells.
Third, the price of doing wrong was expensive. Imagine today, having to buy a cow or a lamb to offer to God for your wrongs. Google tells me that the cost of a live cow is between $2,000-$5,000. That’s expensive. Most of us would be in a world of hurt if we had to come up with that. God made provisions for using lambs and even birds for those who could not afford the other costs. But still, there was an expense. I wonder if we’ve made grace cheap. We say something that we shouldn’t, we manifest a wrong attitude, and all we say is, “I’m sorry.” That, “I’m sorry,” doesn’t cost us much. And, maybe that’s one reason why we don’t get bothered so much about sin. Imagine having to come up with a few thousand dollars. Then having to stand there with our hand on the animal’s head as it is slaughtered. Maybe that would change our thoughts about wrong.
Fourth, even after all that costs, the mess, the blood, the sounds, the smells, after all that, the sin was not taken away. Ancient Israel went through so much to have so little. And, here we stand, not having to buy any animals, knowing that the bloody sacrifice of Jesus removed our sins forever. What a blessing and what a joy it is to be on this side of the cross. Salvation has made us free. Salvation has brought us close to God. Salvation has cleansed us. As horrendous as slaughtering an animal before us, imagine the dying Jesus. He, gasping for air, as most crucified ones died of suffocation. Blood pouring from His scalp, hands, feet and back, died not quickly like those animals in Leviticus. Jesus hung on that cross for hours. The animals sacrificed in Leviticus had no idea what was going on. Jesus did. The animals had no choice. Jesus did.
As we take the Lord’s Supper this Sunday, take a long look at that juice in the cup. Put these thoughts in your mind. It wasn’t a dumb animal that lost it’s life for us. It was the Son of God. And, He did that willingly because He loves you.
This ought to make the taste of sin sour to us. This ought to make us step a bit closer to the Lord. This ought to make us realize what God thinks of you. God so loved the world, that He gave…
Maybe we ought to return to books like Leviticus. There’s more there than what we may realize.