Applications from the Law: Reflections from Leviticus (Part 1)

Truth 1: God Is a Jealous God Who Is Serious About Sin

The first seven chapters of Leviticus focus on the laws regarding burnt offerings and sacrifices.  These are laws regarding the responses that people take after sinning unintentionally to make themselves right before God.  Sin has been clearly established from the time of the Ten Commandments and the people are clearly aware that sin is an issue that is of great offense to God.  So, the idea of presenting a sacrifice to make a person in right standing before God is something that is not entirely foreign to these people.

The depth and reality of the heinous nature of sin is seen by a person each time they go to the temple to offer a sacrifice to God.  The people are instructed to pick an animal “without blemish” to be taken to the temple for sacrifice.  The physical perfection of this animal is something that the Levitical law continually emphasizes.  This animal must be spotless to be able to serve as a substitute for the person who was clearly with a blemish due to his or her sin.

The animal was then presented to the priest.  The person offering the sacrifice would then place his hand on the head of the animal signifying the iniquity passing from the person to the animal sacrifice.  The person then was responsible for killing the animal.  The bloodiness of this sacrifice must have been appalling.  This revealed to the person in a very tangible picture the serious penalty for sin.  Sin from the smallest white lie to the most heinous crime brought death.  Not a nice and clean death, but a death that would be horrifying to modern readers.

So, what is God’s reaction to the murdering of these animals?  These acts of sacrifice that would cause us to want to look away were sweet pictures of justice to God.  The key phrase that is repeated over and over in the first seven chapters of Leviticus is a “pleasing aroma to the Lord.”  These offerings and sacrifices were pleasing to God.  Is God pleased because he likes to see animals suffer?  Does God like blood and guts to be spilled and run down the altar of the temple?  

God sees sacrifices as a pleasing aroma because He wants justice to be made so that restoration can take place.  God cannot fellowship and have a relationship with people due to their sin.  He is holy and cannot tolerate sin.  So, when God sees an animal being slaughtered in the temple on behalf of a person’s sin, He smells the aroma of a justice that can restore a relationship.  And that justice, no matter how bloody and messy it may be, not only shows the seriousness of sin but also the greatness of the relationship. So, our take away question from Leviticus today is: Do I realize the serious consequences of sin on my relationship with Jesus Christ?