Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

General requirements for the Israelite sacrifices to God

Posted by Chris on March 24, 2008

This is part of a series. See the description and introduction and glossary.

I want to categorize things as much as possible to repeat repetition. In turn, less repetition means less material at every turn, and thus (hopefully) less confusion and overwhelming information. Unless I later state an exception (or in the case of likely mistakes), all of these rules apply to sacrifices. They are all repeated for each type of offering, but the implication seems to be that they apply to all unless stated otherwise. Most of these have very significant implications, but it may be a while before I get there.

For now, be satisfied with knowing that a proper sacrifice was called “an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord” (Lev 2:2,9)

Also, it is important to realize that offerings and sacrifices were not part of arbitrary rules created as part of the Law. For one, they have their Biblical origin after God made his covenant with Abraham, not Moses (Abraham gives Melchizedek a tithe; God provides a ram as a sacrifice for Abraham in place of Isaac; Jacob pours out a drink offering). Second, the significance of the offerings go beyond the system of atonement for Israel– rather, they point to God’s larger plan of redemption and the New Covenant of Christ, a superior covenant to that of Moses.

That being said, the following information and studies for now will deal exclusively with the significance of the offerings within the context of the Old Testament.

The altar fire

  • The fire should always be kept burning (Lev 6:9,12-13)
  • Offerings remain on the altar throughout the night, removed in the morning (Lev 6:9)
  • Each morning a priest puts on linen clothes and attends to the altar (Lev 6:10)
    • He places the ashes on the east side of the altar (Lev 1:16)
    • Then changes and carries ashes outside camp (Lev 6:11)

Attributes of animals chosen to be sacrificed

  • Without defect
  • One year old (sometimes just stated as “young”)

The offeror of the sacrifice

  • The sacrifice is for the atonement of the offeror and their household and/or forgiveness for a specific trespass (Lev 1:4, 4:26,31; 5:16; 6:7)
  • Offeror is responsible for bringing the sacrifice to the Temple and preparing (grain) or killing (animal) it, “before the Lord”. (Lev 1:3,5,11; 2:2,8; 3:2; 4:4,15,24,29,33; 6:25; 7:2)

It is awesome to think of a common Israelite – having to cut his own bull at the jugular vein, before the priests at the Tabernacle of Meeting. It would be a solemn testimony to the need for sacrifice! We must also realize that we killed Jesus; that our sin – personally – delivered Him to death. DAVID GUZIK

[Before the Lord] appears 60 times in Leviticus. What happens in Leviticus happens before the Lord, and every sacrifice that was made was to be made before the Lord. How our own sacrifices to God would change if we did them with the understanding that we do it before the Lord! DAVID GUZIK

The parts of the sacrifice

  • Blood is sprinkled on all sides of the altar (exception: sin offering) (Lev 1:5; 3:2; 7:2)
  • What is not burnt belongs to the priest (Lev 7:7-10)
  • Fat, the kidneys, and covering of the liver are always burnt, never eaten (Lev 1:5-8; 3:3-4,9-10,14-15,17; 4:8-10,19-20,26,31,35; 7:3-4,23)
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