Have you ever noticed how many people are involved in planning a church service? From people in the sound booth, to musicians, to building maintenance and ushers. When leading people in worship, it is important to get the details right. We see this type of attention to detail in Leviticus as well.
Today’s reading covers the most foundational sacrifice, the whole- burnt offering. Unlike other offerings where a portion of the offering would support the priests or be given back to the worshiper as part of a celebration meal, in the whole-burnt offering the entire animal was consumed on the altar (see also Lev. 6:8–13).
Imagine being present at such an offering. The crowd of worshipers would press forward toward the tabernacle. You would hear the animals being led toward the altar. You would see the priest examine each animal to ensure it met the requirements (v. 3). The animal’s hide would be warm to the touch as you rested your hand on its head (v. 4). Then the smell of the offering being consumed would fill the room. This was an experience that includes all five senses. This was also a worship experience that involved everyone; the rich (v. 5), middle class (v. 10), and poor (v. 14). The size of the offering did not matter as much as the heart of the worshiper (Ps. 69:30–31).
The purpose of this offering was to provide atonement or payment for sin (v. 4). By placing your hand on the animal’s head, you identified yourself with the animal. You were noting that this animal was taking your place so that your sin could be symbolically covered, and you could be in fellowship with a holy God.
>> This ritual pointed forward to the ultimate sacrifice for sin, Jesus Christ (Eph 5:2). Jesus covered our sin once and for all for those who trust in Him. Just as the whole burnt offering was completely given to the Lord, we too are to hold nothing back (Rom. 12:1).
Much as we want to be wholly surrendered to You, we struggle to submit completely. Please continue to do Your work in our hearts, giving us humility, joy, and delight in Your Word and Your will.