People have many ideas about how to worship God, whether it be going to church services on Sunday, using music to worship Him, praying to Him, or even prostrating before Him. Have you ever asked God and searched in the Scripture to see how He wants to be worshiped?
Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).
|Shortcuts to the offerings|
“But the hour is coming, and now is,” indicates the advent of the new covenant age through Jesus Christ. In the old covenant days, two things were required by God for His people to worship Him: 1) the place of God’s choice – the temple in Jerusalem, and 2) to come with offerings as mentioned in Leviticus 1-7.
Concerning the place of worship: in the new covenant, the real temple is not any physical building. It is the church of the living God, which is Zion, where the believers are being built up together as living stones into a spiritual house. It is a holy temple, a dwelling place of God in spirit with Jesus Christ Himself as a living stone and also the chief cornerstone (1 Pet. 2:4-5; Eph. 2:20-22; 1 Tim. 3:15). Paul also said that Christ is the unique foundation of the church (1 Cor. 3:10-11). In Hebrews 12:22-23, it says, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…to the festal gathering and the church of the firstborn.” By this we understand that the place of worship the Lord Jesus is talking about in John 4 is His living spiritual house built by the Lord Himself and not by man (Matt. 16:18; Heb. 8:2; 9:11; Acts 7:48).
Concerning the offerings: in the new covenant age, the offerings are no longer animal sacrifices, which are just a shadow and types pointing to Christ. That is why John the Baptist pointing to the Lord Jesus said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), showing everybody that Jesus Christ is the reality of the sin offering. He is the true Lamb of God. He replaces all the animal sacrifices mentioned in Leviticus 1-7, as confirmed by the verses in Hebrews 10:6-10. Jesus Christ is the reality and substance of all the offerings described in the Scripture.
Now that we are clear on the two points regarding the place of worship and the offerings, there is one other important point that we need to see: the priesthood. The temple and the offerings require the holy priesthood. A temple without a priesthood is like a restaurant with groceries, but no chefs. According to the Bible, from the very beginning God desired to have a kingdom of priests (Ex. 19:6). Peter confirms this in his first epistle that the church is a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; see also Rev. 1:5-6; 5:9-10). When coming together in the house of God, every believer should be a priest and learn to offer up Christ as spiritual sacrifices to satisfy the Father.
The purpose of this book is to show us how to experience and gain Christ in our daily living as the reality of all the different offerings. In Deuteronomy 16:16, God commanded His people not to come empty-handed when they go to Jerusalem to worship Him. They need to bring the different offerings when they come to keep the feasts in Jerusalem. God said that the offerings are His food (Num. 28:2). If all the believers would practice this priesthood by bringing the reality of Christ that they experienced to offer up to the Father every Lord’s Day, then that would satisfy the Father. By doing so, the saints will also grow, mature, and be transformed in their spiritual life. The Father is still seeking such worshipers. This is God’s wisdom for His believers to gain Christ in their daily living, to live Him, and be ready for His coming.
Hebrews 10:5-7 says, “…Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come…to do Your will, O God.’” The burnt offering signifies Jesus Christ becoming a Man to fulfill the will of God (John 4:34). He led a life that was absolutely obedient to the One who sent Him, and He was well-pleasing to the Father in every way (John 8:29). Actually, we Christians should be such people, but because of our fallen nature, we are unable to live such a life. For this reason, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to be the burnt offering to accomplish His will.
Christ – the One Who Is Absolutely Obedient to the Father
The apostle Paul gave us a unique description of our Lord Jesus Christ as the burnt offering in Philippians 2:5-8: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
We thank the Lord that He died for our redemption and the remission of our sins, but He did not come just to be our sin offering. The Scripture shows us that He is also the burnt and the meal offering, and this has been neglected by many Christians. As mentioned in Hebrews 10:5-7, the Lord Jesus came as a Man primarily to do God’s will. The first man Adam failed God when he fell into sin and became one with God’s enemy, Satan. Now Jesus Christ came as the second Man, the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45-47), to fulfill God’s will. When He was only twelve years old, He was found in the temple by His parents who had searched for Him for three days, “in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers” (Luke 2:46-47). When asked why He had done this, Jesus answered: “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (v. 49). Who among us was caring for our heavenly Father’s business when we were twelve? We were probably playing ball and doing many naughty things; and as we grew older, we became distracted by other things. We care for our education, our families, our profession, or our businesses, and of course, our vacation as well! We do not allocate much time to the heavenly Father’s business – perhaps just for an hour or two on Sunday at the morning worship service. If we have a heart to serve Him, we do it at our own convenience, according to our own ways and passions; but have we ever asked the Father what His eternal plan and purpose is for man on this earth?
Jesus was absolutely different from us; He was fully one with the Father for His purpose. He started His ministry at the appointed age of 30 (Luke 3:23), according to the law of the priesthood (Num. 4:3). He learned obedience through the things which He suffered (Heb. 5:8) and accomplished what the Father had sent Him to do within 3½ years. He once said to His disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34); so, on the cross, He could say, “…It is finished!” (John 19:30). During His ministry He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19) and “…The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:10). “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30), He could even say, “…He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). What a wonderful Servant of God (Is. 42:1-4), a true burnt offering as a sweet savor to the Father! We, on the other hand, are very presumptuous when we try to do God’s work; we speak and do many things without Him, because we do not know Christ as our burnt offering. We should learn to appreciate and experience Jesus Christ as such a burnt offering to become like Him.
This does not happen overnight. This is precisely the reason why the burnt offering is for our daily experience. There are so many opportunities each day for us to apply Him as the burnt offering. Whenever the Lord tells you to stop doing whatever you are doing to spend some time with Him, you have a chance to experience Christ as the burnt offering by obeying Him. Actually, if we would only pay attention, the anointing within us is constantly prompting us to do what God wants us to do. Unfortunately, we often ignore His guidance, and grieve the Holy Spirit by our disobedience. It takes time to learn. As a disciple of the Lord Jesus, Peter made many mistakes in the beginning, but with time and practice, he learned his lessons and became a faithful servant of God, fully one with God’s will and purpose. All the apostles went through the same process and were faithful to the end as martyrs.
The apostle Paul was a good example for the Gentile believers. He said, “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me…” (Gal. 2:20). He did not want to live himself, but to let Christ Jesus live in him. In Philippians 1:21 Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ,” and in 2 Corinthians 5:9, “Therefore, we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” As he was on his way to Jerusalem, many pleaded with him not to go because they sensed the danger there; but he answered, “…For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13b). He surely knew Christ as the burnt offering and was willing to be obedient to God even unto death. This change did not happen overnight; but as all the apostles learned to live this wonderful Christ as the burnt offering, in the end they were willing to give up their life for God’s will. The way they lived and served God should be our example.
The Mind of Christ
The apostle Paul encouraged us to have this same mind, which was also in Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:5-8). This is the attitude of the burnt offering:
- laying aside all self-glory
- emptying and humbling ourselves
- becoming a bondservant to serve others
- being obedient
- willing to suffer and not caring for our own life.
May this mind also be in all of us. As prophesied in Isaiah 53, Jesus knew of the sufferings He had to go through before He came; yet He obeyed and was willing to come. From the time of His birth in the manger all the way to His death on the cross, He went through all kinds of trials and sufferings to accomplish God’s will. No one can fathom all the things He went through. When we serve, we complain a lot; some require a big salary, a comfortable living, (some pastors even require private jets), position, power and authority, or to be appreciated and uplifted by people. This is nothing like Jesus, the Servant of God, and is definitely not a sweet aroma to God or well-pleasing to Him. Such a service will not only be rejected by God but will also be judged by Him with fire (1 Cor. 3:13-15).
The Burnt Offering – the Most Important Offering to God
The burnt offering is the first offering mentioned in Leviticus because from God’s perspective it is the most important one. We always think about ourselves and our needs and seldom think of God’s needs. Who is more important – you or God? Why is it that you are not satisfied? Have you ever thought it is because we have not satisfied God first (Hag. 1)?
In the burnt offering, every part of the animal – the head, the fat, the entrails, the legs – is offered up by fire on the altar to God as a sweet aroma; but the skin is given to the priest who offered it (Lev. 1:8-9). The entire person and life of the Lord Jesus was wholly acceptable to God as a sweet aroma. God testified to it saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17; 17:5). The skin of the burnt offering signifies Christ as our garment of salvation and our robe of righteousness (Isa. 61:10). The more we experience Christ as the burnt offering, the more we will be able to put on Christ as the new man. We can then become a person who truly does God’s will. God desires to have many more servants like His Son Jesus Christ.
The Different Sizes of Burnt Offerings
Leviticus 1 reveals four different sizes of the burnt offering: a bull, a sheep, a goat, and a turtle dove or young pigeon. This indicates to us:
- Not all of God’s people have the same spiritual growth and condition, yet everyone can bring a burnt offering to the Father according to his measure and experience.
- The Father has no size preference and is satisfied with any offering as long as it is genuine.
- The different sizes serve as an encouragement for us to grow and get into deeper experiences of Christ. The Scripture encourages us to go on to maturity (Heb. 6:1).
The Importance of Knowing and Doing God’s Will
Jesus warns us with a very serious word in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
Many may say these verses are referring to the unbelievers, but unbelievers would neither be calling Him, “Lord, Lord,” nor be prophesying or casting out demons and doing wonders in His name. So, these are actually believers who are serving the Lord according to their own whims and in their own ways. The Lord does not recognize the things they did as the will of the Father. So, we should ask what the Lord means by “the will of the Father.” In the previous chapter of Matthew, the Lord taught His disciples how to pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:9-10). The gospel in the book of Matthew is called the gospel of the kingdom. John the Baptist, Jesus and His disciples preached saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7). The gospel of Matthew even mentions the phrase “the kingdom of heaven” 32 times. The Lord also mentioned in the beginning of His ministry: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). He gave another serious warning in the same chapter: “unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (v. 20).
The gospel of Matthew shows us that God’s will is to bring His heavenly kingdom down to this earth. In order to do this, He must first accomplish redemption through Jesus Christ to gain a people for His kingdom. We must be born again to have His kingdom life within us (John 3:3-6). Thus, we are called the “sons of the kingdom” in Matthew 13:38. You may ask, “Where is this kingdom?” The Lord answered in Luke 17:21 this kingdom today cannot be seen outwardly by the world, but He says, “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” We know that He is referring to His life within us. However, the Scripture tells us that this life needs to grow and mature within us.
The Father revealed something further to Peter in Matthew 16:16, that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The Jews understood “the Christ” (in Hebrew, the Messiah) as the anointed King. Immediately thereafter, the Lord revealed to Peter that He will build His church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (v. 18); and He will give Peter and the church “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (v. 19). This revelation is a wonderful mystery: God’s kingdom today is the church Christ is building to defeat the gates of Hades. And the Lord Jesus is not only our Savior, but much more excellent than that, today He is the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14; 19:16) sitting on the throne. He is the ruler over the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5); and as our great heavenly High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, He is the King of righteousness and the King of peace (Heb. 7:1-2). But is He also the king in our hearts? Does He rule over our lives?
We are supposed to be His kingdom and His subjects, but we are so rebellious. The Lord said in Mark 3:24, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” (see Matt. 12:25). Today we see much confusion, division and desolation among God’s people. It is because we do not know the will of the Father. We fail to realize that the church is His kingdom today. We do not listen to His anointing, the Holy Spirit, in us; and although we seem to do many things for Him, we each still do them according to what is right in our own eyes (Deut. 12:8). It is no wonder that at His second coming, the King will say to many: Depart from Me. I do not know you (see Matt. 7:21-23; 25:12; Luke 13:25-27). This is very serious.
Revelation 1:6 and 5:10 show that God’s purpose for saving us is to make us kings and priests unto Himself. Actually, from the very beginning when God brought His people out of Egypt, His plan was to make them a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exod. 19:6). But His earthly people, Israel, rebelled against Him and became idol worshipers. However, God never changed His plan, and He will accomplish the same with His New Testament church. The majority of the Christians, however, do not consider themselves priests, and much less kings. They are taught that they will all go to heaven to enjoy all kinds of things like playing golf, walking on streets of gold, or living in mansions, not about God’s plan to have man rule with Christ; but Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). When the Lord comes back “we shall reign on earth” with Him (Rev. 5:10). In brief, this is the will of the Father, His high calling for us. We hope that many Christians today will see this and answer His call.
In order to cooperate with the Father to fulfill His will today, we need to practice the priesthood as mentioned in 1 Peter 2:5 – to know and experience Christ as the reality of all the offerings, especially the burnt offering, and offer them as spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God our Father in His church. This is the purpose of publishing this booklet. It is not just for us to know about the different kinds of offerings. May we become the royal priesthood and the true worshipers to offer up spiritual sacrifices to the Father through Jesus Christ. Amen!
The meal offering depicts the fine humanity of Jesus. His work began with the mystery of incarnation: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). God created man in His image and likeness to have dominion on this earth and subdue His enemy, Satan (Gen. 1:26); but the serpent, Satan, deceived man and injected his poisonous, serpentine nature into him (Rom. 5:12), thereby corrupting humanity. Hence, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), and “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one’” (Rom. 3:10-12). Then two thousand years ago, God in His wisdom became a man Himself in Christ Jesus to accomplish His purpose. This Man Jesus is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26), perfect and righteous. He is the only One qualified to carry out God’s divine purpose. He overcame Satan, the world, religion, sin and death. He went through all kinds of sufferings, and accomplished redemption on the cross. He swallowed up the power of death and rose again. He ascended to the throne and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. What a wonderful Man! He is the meal offering as food to us. He is the bread that came down from heaven that we may eat of Him and live by Him (John 6). Let us look into some details of this wonderful meal offering.
The Fine Flour
Wheat in the Bible signifies humanity. The Lord said that He is the grain of wheat that fell into the ground and died to bring forth many grains (John 12:24). As fine flour comes from the grinding of the wheat, our Lord Jesus went through much grinding while He was on this earth. Hence the fine flour signifies the fine humanity of our Lord Jesus as food for His people. He is the bread of life, and whosoever eats Him shall live by Him (John 6:48, 57). Our humanity is very rough, but the Lord’s humanity is not only holy and righteous, but compassionate, merciful and loving, kind, meek and lowly, patient, and full of understanding, able to sympathize with our weakness and ready to help, absolutely obedient to the Father, being fully one with Him for His divine purpose and faithful to God’s house, and much more. For example, in John 13, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples in order to teach them how to serve and be lowly. He also said: “He who is greatest among you, shall be a servant” (Matt. 23:11), and “…learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart…” (Matt. 11:29). There is none other like Him! However, we are the exact opposite of what He is; and our fallen humanity can never accomplish God’s plan.
Mingled and Anointed with Oil
The humanity of Jesus is fully mingled with oil (Lev. 2:1, 4, 7, 15). Oil in the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit, the Anointing. The birth of Jesus is very special. Unlike you and me, He was born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14), and His conception was of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20). The angel told Mary, “that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35b). Mary asked, “‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you’” (vv. 34-35a). His humanity was mingled with the Holy Spirit of God from birth; so, our Lord Jesus is both the Son of God and the Son of Man. However, when He served on this earth, He put aside His divine status and served in His capacity as a man.
When the Lord Jesus came out of the water after His baptism, John the Baptist witnessed the Holy Spirit descending like a dove upon Him, anointing Him, equipping Him with the power of the Holy Spirit for His service (Matt. 3:16). Thereafter He did everything according to the leading of the Holy Spirit and not by Himself. Immediately after His baptism, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matt. 4:1-2). Needless to say, He was victorious!
Offered without Leaven and without Honey
The virgin birth of Jesus also indicates that in Him there was no sin, no leaven (Lev. 2:11). Leaven in the entire Bible signifies sin, such as malice, wickedness, hypocrisy etc. (1 Cor. 5:8, Luke 12:1). Sin was passed down from Adam to the entire human race; but Jesus, conceived of the Holy Spirit, is the only One called the seed of a woman (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4). 1 John 3:5 says, “…in Him there is no sin.” He “committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22). He was “in all points tempted as we are; yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Even Pontius Pilate could find no fault in Him (Luke 23:4,14). That is why He is the only One qualified to be our sin offering (Isa. 53:10). Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:21, God made “Him who knew no sin to be sin for us.” Peter confirmed what the prophet Isaiah had said, that He Himself bore our sins upon a tree (1 Pet. 2:24). Many only appreciate that He died for our redemption, but very few treasure His perfect humanity. This is the reason why many do not pay attention to the meal offering in Leviticus. It takes such a perfect humanity to be able to accomplish God’s plan of salvation for mankind.
The Scripture also says that the meal offering cannot be offered with honey (Lev. 2:11). Honey is sweet and sticky, a description of our natural fallen nature. We are naturally sweet to the people we like, and we stick to them. When this happens, we become partial to them. In choosing coworkers, we like to choose gifted ones, those who would listen and submit to our authority, and of course, those who are rich. This always leads to problems and corruption. The Lord, however, did not choose His disciples this way. He even accepted Judas, who betrayed Him. He did not choose the educated ones; but the simple fishermen and the tax collector.
We like to draw people to ourselves; but Jesus was not like that. Isaiah wrote: “He has no form of comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Isa. 53:2-3). He did not draw people to Himself. When a rich young man came to Him to inquire what he lacked to have eternal life, the Lord told him to sell all he had, give to the poor and follow Him. The young man went away sadly, and the Lord let him go (Matt. 19:16-24). He says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24). In John 6, after feeding thousands, Jesus told them He was the real bread from heaven and that they should eat Him. Then everyone but the twelve disciples left Him. He always spoke the truth even though people took offense at His words. He even asked those who remained if they wanted to leave. He never drew people to Himself but relied on the Father to draw them: “No one can come to Me unless the Father draws him” (John 6:44).
The meal offering must also be offered up with frankincense (Lev. 2:1), which signifies the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The Lord said: “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). He is not only the life, but also the resurrection life. When sin entered into man, death also came in (Rom. 5:12). The sin in our flesh causes us to do evil things, and death prevents us from doing what is right. Paul described this very well in Romans 7:19, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” This is the law of sin and death that dwells in our body. Paul cried out: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24). While we enjoy sports, play games or watch TV, our whole being is very alert; but when it comes to spiritual things, like praying and reading God’s word, or participating in church meetings, all of a sudden, we become sluggish. Why does this happen? We may think it is because we are tired, but that is the wrong diagnosis! In fact, it is death working in us. Death is a very strong enemy. If we lose our temper, we are very strong; but if we are to serve the saints, we become lazy and weak. In the Garden of Gethsemane, three times the Lord found His disciples sleeping instead of praying. He said: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:36-46). This is death working in our flesh; but the humanity of the Lord Jesus is full of resurrection life which overcomes death. It is no wonder that Paul desired to know the power of His resurrection (Phil. 3:10).
Another ingredient in this wonderful meal offering is salt. Salt is used for seasoning to bring out the flavor of the food. Without salt, chicken soup does not taste good; but if you pour a whole bag of salt in, the soup will no longer be palatable. Only a little bit of salt is needed to bring out the flavor. Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” The Lord also said in Mark 9:50: “Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it?” When the Lord was on this earth, people tasted the grace of God in Him. Peter expressed this later saying, “if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Pet. 2:3). We preach the gospel, but do people taste anything of Christ in our humanity? Paul knew the secret of the seasoning salt: “…and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ…the aroma of life leading to life” (2 Cor. 2:13-16).
Salt is also used for preserving food. Our humanity is so easily corrupted because it is difficult for us to resist temptation. Today in the world of politics and religion we see so much corruption everywhere. Only the Lord’s humanity is incorruptible. Satan tempted Him with the glory of the whole world, but the Lord resisted and declined it. The Lord told His disciples: “…be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The tabernacle in the Old Testament was built with acacia wood, which is a strong hardwood resistant to wear and tear; this is a picture of the incorruptible humanity of Jesus. Today, we must build the Lord’s church solely with the humanity of the Lord Jesus; otherwise, sooner or later, corruption will creep in and destroy it.
Baked in Different Forms
The meal offering is not only offered as fine flour, but it can be offered as cakes, prepared in different ways: baked in the oven, in a frying pan or in an open or covered pot with fire (Lev. 2:4-7). These depict the different kinds of suffering and pressure the Lord Jesus went through as a man on this earth. We shy away from all kinds of suffering and look for the easy way out of situations. However, it is written in Hebrews, that Jesus was perfected through sufferings (Heb. 2:10; 5:8-9).
The meal offering is offered as an unleavened cake and unleavened flatbread. The Hebrew word for cake in Leviticus 2:4 comes from the verb “to pierce” or “to perforate.” The Lord submitted Himself to all kinds of mistreatment from the people, but He did not shy away from any of it. Psalm 22 prophesied concerning the sufferings of Christ on the cross in a detailed way: “For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet” (Psalm 22:16). It also says in Zechariah 12:10: “then they will look on Me whom they pierced.” On the cross, one of the soldiers indeed fulfilled this prophecy in that he pierced His side with a spear (John 19:34). No man would voluntarily endure such suffering! When we go through just a little suffering, we start to murmur and complain, to fight and retaliate. If someone were to offend us just a little, we explode like a volcano; the Lord was baked through these sufferings to become the cakes that are edible for His people.
The Meal Offering as Food for the Priests
Last but not least, we need to see that God requires only a handful of the fine flour to be offered up to Him in the meal offering, and the rest is to be given to the priests for their food. Herein we understand why the Lord said that He is the bread that came down from heaven that we should feed on Him and live by Him (6:57). This may sound strange, but the Lord is speaking of daily spiritual feeding through His living word and by the Holy Spirit. By this we will be strengthened in our inner man to live Christ. We often ask the Lord to strengthen us. The Lord’s answer to us is to eat Him, because only by eating Him do we have the strength to overcome our fallen humanity and to put on Christ as the new man. Day by day, we can eat the humanity of Jesus as the meal offering. Then we can live Christ and will be able to fulfill the Father’s will on this earth.
Among the five major offerings in Leviticus – the burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the sin offering and the trespass offering – the peace offering was placed in between all the other four. Peace is an important factor in the Bible. Peace is much more than having the appearance that there is no quarreling or infighting going on. While people may not be openly quarreling, they may just be putting up with one another or suppressing their feelings – this is not real peace. It is a real suffering if there is no peace in a family, but how much more serious is it when one does not have peace with God!
Peace with God
After man fell, sin entered into mankind. Not only did man do many things to offend God, but he also became His enemy (Rom. 5:10). From the time Adam and Eve fell until this day, there is no peace on this earth. The world history is a history of violence and war. There is no peace. Fallen mankind will never have peace (Jer. 12:12b; Is. 48:22). Sadly, even among the Christians, there have been so many conflicts, fights and divisions. Consider for yourself how often you have done things that are offensive to God, disregarded His Word and were rebellious. How can we possibly have peace with God?
Peace with God through Jesus Christ
Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” He is our peace. Verse 10 continues: “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Christ is our peace offering to reconcile us fully to God through His death on the cross and to bring peace to us. This is why the gospel is also known as the gospel of peace (Rom. 10:15; Eph. 2:17; 6:15).
Jesus Christ is the only One qualified to make peace between man and God because He is the only righteous One. He came as a Man, without sin, to fulfill every righteous requirement of the law of God, and He bore the sins of the world upon Himself. Paul says He is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). John says He is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2).
Ephesians 2:11-18 is the best passage in the New Testament to help us understand the peace offering. By His death on the cross, the Lord Jesus took away the enmity between the Jews and the Gentiles by abolishing the ordinances of the law. He also crucified the old man and created in Himself one new man, thus making peace (v. 15). In the new man, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, but Christ is all in all. This is the only way to make peace. We need to put off the old man and put on the new man in order to experience this wonderful peace.
The reason why Christians are still fighting among themselves and are so divided is because we have not learned to put off the old man and to put on Christ, the new man, by being renewed in the spirit of our mind (Eph. 4:22-24). Paul wrote that Christ tore down the middle wall of partition between the Jews and the Gentiles, but we Christians have built up many more walls that separate us from one another: Catholic walls, state churches’ walls, denominational walls, and even personal walls. And to appease ourselves, knowing that this is wrong, we try to have fellowship by finding some common ground and create an illusion of oneness. This is not the kind of peace that God wants. If we do this, then the Lord has died in vain for this oneness. If the Lord has broken down the wall of partition, we should not build up any more walls among ourselves. This is the real peace! Christ reconciled us all to God “in one body through the cross” (Eph. 2:16). The gospel is not only that Jesus died on the cross to take away the sin of the world as our sin offering (John 1:29), but much more, He tore down the wall of partition on the cross, the enmity, that we may have peace both with God and with man!
If we continue to live in our old man, there will never be peace. Let us all learn to experience being crucified with Christ, that we may truly say, it is no longer I, the old man, that lives, but Christ lives in me. This is why for the peace offering, we also need to experience the sin offering. Paul gave us his example of how he lived. He said, “For to me, to live is Christ…” (Phil. 1:21).
In Matthew 5:9 the Lord says: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Peace should be one of the main characteristics of God’s people. Wherever we go, peace should accompany us. When the Lord appeared to His disciples, He said, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19, 26). Our God is the God of peace.
All the offerings are connected to each other. Although doctrinally we can separate them; in our experience, they are all intertwined. In order to have peace, we also have to experience the sin and trespass offerings and the burnt and meal offerings. Perhaps this is the reason why in His wisdom, God arranged for the peace offering to be in the middle of the five offerings.
The wave and heave offerings are also mentioned in conjunction with the peace offering. These two parts of the peace offering were for Aaron and his sons. The wave offering signifies the resurrection power; and the heave offering signifies the ascension. The breast of the wave offering signifies Christ’s love. The reason why there is no peace among God’s people is because of death that still works in us; and where death works, there is an inability to love (Romans 7 – the law of death). So, we do need the love of Christ through the power of His resurrection to swallow up the death. According to Song of Songs 8:6, love is as strong as death; yes, even stronger than death, for nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Rom. 8:38-39). This can only refer to Christ’s love that conquers death, because our human love is influenced by death. No greater love is there than the love of Christ who laid down His life for the brethren (John 15:13). We also need to experience the ascended Christ who is now sitting on the throne with all His enemies and everything under His feet. Paul said that we were raised together with Him and seated together with Him in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6). To experience peace, we need to overcome the enemy through the ascended Christ. This is the reason why the wave and the heave offerings are connected to the peace offering. With this wonderful peace offering, we can be fully reconciled to God and have peace with one another.
Peace Is the Characteristic of Everything God Does
Isaiah prophesied concerning Christ and called Him the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6). The Lord Jesus Christ came to “guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79) and to bring peace onto the earth (Luke 2:14). On the cross He crucified the old man, abolished in His flesh the enmity and the ordinances, broke down the middle wall of separation, and created in Himself one new man, making peace; He is our peace (Eph. 2:14-18) and has reconciled us to God! Praise the Lord for the gospel of peace.
If we all learn to take Christ as the peace offering, we will be the peacemakers (Matt. 5:9) and sons of peace (Luke 10:5-6), “being diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless” (2 Pet. 3:14). Then the peace of God will rule in our hearts as it says in Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” By this, His church today will be a kingdom of righteousness and peace. May the Lord open our eyes and grant us much experience of Christ as the peace offering!
God created us in a special way in His own image, according to His likeness, with the purpose that we should become His children, His sons, to rule on this earth for Him (Gen. 1:26). Nevertheless, man disobeyed God and fell; and consequently sin, which is Satan’s nature, entered into man. God’s word says that today the whole world lies in the hands of the evil one (1 John 5:19). The Lord called Satan “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31, 16:11); and Paul used an even stronger word, “the god of this age” who has blinded the people who do not believe (2 Cor. 4:4). Do not think Satan is not powerful; but if God had wanted to take out Satan by Himself, He could have solved the problem a long time ago with a single word! Then who is going to take this world out of Satan’s hand and bring the heavenly kingdom down to the earth? God wants to use us together with Christ to restore God’s kingdom on this earth, to fight the principalities and powers in the air, to strip Satan of his rule on the earth and cast him and his minions all into the lake of fire. For this we need the sin offering to be freed from the power of sin and death!
The Problem of Sin
Although the sin and trespass offerings are the last two offerings mentioned, to us they are very important. With regards to God’s purpose, the burnt offering is most important, because He needs a people who are for His will; but because sin dwells in our flesh, we are hindered from fulfilling God’s plan. Thus, the sin and trespass offerings are necessary to free us from the dominion and slavery of sin.
Satan, the ancient serpent, had deceived man from the beginning and planted his sinful nature into man. Hence man was cut off from the tree of life. Instead of being one with God, man was corrupted and became one with Satan and turned into God’s enemy. Sin is no small matter because it severs our relationship with God. In the world today there is so much killing, war, greed, and unrighteousness; corruption is rampant everywhere, even in the government of many countries. Nowadays, many people, including politicians, are against God. This is a big problem in our world today. Although God created man in His image, man became like the devil. Revelation tells us that 3½ years before Christ’s second coming, the beast, the “man of sin” also known as the “lawless one” (2 Thess. 2:3, 8-9) will rule on this earth. At that time sin will mature to the uttermost.
Sin is a real problem today, not just with unbelievers, but also with believers. Unfortunately, many Christians do not take the matter of sin very seriously because they think they can just ask for forgiveness. Ask yourself this question: Do you hate sin? If so, why do you still sin? Maybe you still like it. Paul said: “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” (Heb. 12:4). Do you war against sin, or do you surrender to it? Who can solve this problem of sin? Only the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ can save us all the way to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25). You have to appreciate that the great Creator became our Savior, not only to redeem us, but also to be our sin offering: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21). Right at the beginning of the Gospel of John, John the Baptist began proclaiming: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). It is important to note here that the word “sin” is in singular, not plural. It signifies the very nature of sin dwelling in man. The transgressions that man often commits originate from that indwelling root of sin.
Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” This sin enters and dwells in our body, in our flesh. In his epistle, Paul calls our body the “body of sin” (Rom. 6:6) and the “body of death” (Rom. 7:24). Sin and death dwell and reign in our flesh, causing us to do what is sinful and preventing us from doing what is right (Rom. 7:19). Paul wrote of his own experience: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24). He discovered that sin and death not only dwelt in his body, but also reigned in his body (Rom. 5:17). That is why he also mentioned that we were “slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:16, 17, 20). It is a terrible thing for sin and death to rule in us.
The salvation accomplished by the Lord on the cross is not only for the forgiveness of our sins by His precious blood, but much more to deliver us from the dominion of sin and death by crucifying our old man.
For many years, Christians have emphasized the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that cleanses us from every sin (1 John 1:7, 9). Whenever we sin, we can confess our sins to the Father, and He will forgive all of our sins; but the problem is that we continue to commit the same sin. We not only need forgiveness, but deliverance! The way for deliverance is in Romans 8. Not only is there no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, but “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (vv. 1-2). Praise the Lord! This is the sin offering that sets us free!
The Bronze Serpent – a Type of Christ as the Crucified One
The bronze serpent is a wonderful type of the Lord’s crucifixion in Numbers 21:8-9. The children of Israel rebelled against God in the wilderness, so God judged them by sending fiery, poisonous snakes to bite them; many of them died. When the people realized their sin of rebellion, they confessed to Moses, and asked him to pray for them. Then the Lord told Moses: “‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole’…so Moses made a bronze serpent and put it on a pole…if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” Bronze signifies judgment in the Scripture. The bronze serpent here was a type of Christ being lifted up and crucified on the cross, for the healing of the people. The Lord Jesus referred to this in John 3:14-15 regarding Himself, saying, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
In the garden of Eden, the devil injected his serpentine nature, sin, into mankind, causing mankind to become like little serpents. It is not surprising that both John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus called the Pharisees “brood of vipers.” Now we understand why God sent His Son “in the likeness of the sinful flesh, on account of sin…” (Rom. 8:3) to join the human race; in a sense, He came in the likeness of the serpent yet without sin, like the brazen serpent. When the Lord died on the cross, He took the whole human race with Him, including the serpent who had injected himself into the human race. When God judged Jesus Christ on the cross, He judged and destroyed the serpent as well. He “condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3) and destroyed “him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). What an accomplishment! Through the death of Christ on the cross, sin, Satan, the old man, the old creation, the world, and death were all terminated. This is Christ as our sin offering!
The Reality of Baptism
It Is No Longer I who Live, but Christ Lives in Me
What is the meaning of baptism? It is neither a ritual, nor simply a testimony that you are a Christian, much less is it a way to become a member of a church. When you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you receive Him into your spirit; but you also need to be baptized into Him to be fully united with Him. Romans 6:3 says, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death.” Baptism is to graft a believer into Christ, and more specifically into His death, resulting in a union with Him in His death as well as His resurrection (Rom. 6:5). Although Christ died on the cross two thousand years ago, through baptism, we the believers, also died and rose together with Him. It is a wonderful mystery! This was not just a teaching or an encouragement for Paul; it was his reality: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Romans 6:7 says: “He who has died has been freed from sin.” A dead man cannot sin! This needs to be our daily experience. Unfortunately, although these verses are true, we still choose to live ourselves rather than living Christ. Only when we live Christ, will we be set free from the dominion of sin and death. May we practice Paul’s secret: “For to me, to live is Christ…” (Phil. 1:21).
Romans 8 gives us the key to experience the reality of baptism: those who are in Christ Jesus should walk not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit (since we are one spirit with the Lord – 1 Cor. 6:17). We should exercise to set our mind on the spirit (Rom. 8:5-6), and by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body, then we shall live (v. 13). Paul said the same thing in Galatians 5:24: “those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” and “…Walk in spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (v. 16).
To summarize, the sin offering is not primarily for the forgiveness of our sinful deeds (that is what the trespass offering is for), but to set us free from the dominion and slavery of sin. We need to see this and have a clear understanding of Christ as our sin offering. Christ not only forgave us of our sins and saved us from eternal damnation, but He also has set us free from the law of sin and death. That is why Hebrews 7:25 says, “He is also able to save to the uttermost…” When a situation arises pray to the Lord: “Lord, You are my sin offering. Save me to the uttermost. I want to experience You setting me fully free from sin and death.”
Now we come to the last offering in Leviticus, which is the trespass offering. This offering deals with the many transgressions we have committed such as lying, hatred, jealousy, envy, strife and all kinds of manifestations of the works of the flesh as mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21. As we are in the process of maturing spiritually and have not yet reached perfection, we still commit sins. For this reason, God has provided us with trespass offerings. 1 John 2:1-2 says, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” With His death on the cross, Christ paid the ransom for our every sin. Isaiah 53 is an excellent chapter in the Bible prophesying 700 years before Christ about Jesus Christ’s work of atonement on the cross for our sins. Peter paraphrased it in one verse: “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24). Every week at the Lord’s Table, we are reminded of His body broken for us on the cross and His blood shed for the remission of our sins. The trespass offering emphasizes the forgiveness and the cleansing of our sins through the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s Forgiveness and Cleansing by the Precious Blood of Jesus
John’s first message in his epistle is, “…God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:5b-6). We Christians should not walk in darkness; those who walk in darkness try to hide their sins, and by doing so, they will have no fellowship with the Father. But we are children of light and should be those who walk in the light. If we are in the light, our sins are exposed, which is a good thing. John said, “…if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin [or every sin]” (v. 7). There is no sin that cannot be washed away by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
John continues to say: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (v. 8), but “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (v. 9). To experience the trespass offering for the forgiveness and the cleansing, there is a need of confession to God our Father. It is not wise to hide your sins from Him, for He sees everything done in secret. He is a God who searches the minds and the hearts of man. Confession is not merely admitting that you are wrong, but it must be accompanied by a true repentance. The word repentance means to make a U-turn, not just to feel sorry for what you have done and repeat the same mistake again. John 8:11 is a good example, after the Lord forgave the adulteress, He told her: “…go and sin no more” (John 8:11b). A true repenting heart will always turn away from its sinful way and have a 180-degree change.
After God forgives us, He also cleanses us by the precious blood of Jesus His Son. If God only forgives without cleansing, you can still see the stain of sin reminding you all the time about it. This gives the enemy, the accuser of the brethren, grounds to accuse you. But if you are cleansed, every stain disappears. That is why the word says, “and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” This is a wonderful truth in the new covenant, where God says, “and their sins and their lawless deeds will I remember no more” (Heb. 8:12; 10:17).
Suppose your grandson disobeys you and ends up getting his clothes dirty and he confesses and apologizes to you. If you just say, “I forgive you,” is that good enough? No, it is not good enough because the clothes are still dirty and need to be cleansed! You cannot send him to school with those dirty clothes (see Zech. 3:1-5). In the same way, the Lord must wash us thoroughly from our sins, and not only that, Hebrews 9:14 says, “how much more shall the blood of Christ…cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” The defilement of sin severs us from the fellowship with God, but the trespass offering restores our fellowship with God.
Another aspect of the trespass offering is the restitution. Say someone stole $500 from his friend and tells him: “Forgive me, I stole $500 from you.” According to the trespass offering, this person has to return the stolen money and add 20 percent on top of it. This is God’s righteousness. It is not enough for that person just to ask for forgiveness; nor is it enough just to return the stolen money; but he had to add 20 percent to the returned money. This is the restitution required in the trespass offering (Lev. 5:15-16). If we do not do that, one day when the Lord comes back, He will require us to pay back with a much higher interest. The longer you keep the money, the more interest you will have to pay. This requirement of restitution shows how righteous our God is.
At the very end of the Bible in the book of Revelation 19:8, the bride of Christ is arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright. That wonderful garment of fine linen is the righteous acts of all the saints. To attain this goal, we all need to experience both the sin offering and the trespass offering. May the Lord have mercy on us; and may we be diligent to experience and gain all the offerings in our daily living to offer them up to our Father when we come together to worship Him.
The offerings, which are the specific aspects of Christ as required by the Father, are not just for our enjoyment and experience; they are first and foremost food for God the Father (Num. 28:2). Most of our Christian life has been centered on satisfying our needs, and not caring for what the Father desires for Himself. It is no wonder that the Lord Jesus said the Father is seeking true worshipers. For this very purpose, we need to labor on Christ daily to gain Him as the reality of all these offerings; as Paul said, “that I may gain Christ…” (Phil. 3:8b). Then we can choose our best experiences of Christ to offer them to the Father at the Lord’s Table.
Many people think we should be able to worship God in any way, at any place or time; but this is contrary to the word of God. To worship Him, we must do it according to His way, at the place of His choice and at His appointed time. His way is for His people to bring Him the offerings. The place of His choice is the proper church life, which is the heavenly Jerusalem. His appointed time is at the Lord’s Table.
The Lord’s Table encompasses all the feasts that the Lord had accomplished on this earth. The Lord Jesus instituted His Table at the Passover supper before His death (Matt. 26:26-29; 1 Cor. 11:23-26). He is our Passover Feast and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (1 Cor. 5:7-8). He is the firstfruits in resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20). He ascended to the throne and poured out the Holy Spirit at the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 1:9-11; 2:1-4). His second coming will be the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles. Since all the feasts are included in the Lord’s Table, then the time of the worship in the heavenly Jerusalem should be at the Lord’s Table where we as priests can offer up spiritual sacrifices to worship the Father according to what is stated in 1 Peter 2:5.
A brief word concerning the Lord’s Table: the first part is the breaking of bread and partaking of the cup to remember the Lord who accomplished all the feasts for us to enjoy. This is why the Lord says, “…Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19b; 1 Cor. 11:24-25). The second part is for us to worship the Father by offering up the firstfruits of our experience of Christ as our spiritual sacrifices. After the Lord resurrected, He told Mary not to touch Him, because He as the firstfruits had to ascend to be offered first to the Father (John 20:17; 1 Cor. 15:20). We must also reserve the best of our experience of Christ to offer up as spiritual sacrifices acceptable to the Father for His food and enjoyment (Ex. 23:19; 22:29).
Some Practical Principles
- During the week you may write down your experiences of different aspects of the offerings because we tend to forget them. Then before coming to the Lord’s Table, you can choose the best of these experiences to offer to the Father. What the Father requires of us is not what Christ has accomplished historically, but the reality of Christ applied in our daily living. This is what Paul meant by “For to me, to live is Christ…” (Phil. 1:21a)
- Another reason for writing down our experiences is to help us to present the offerings to the Father in a concise and proper way: to be brief, real and to the point, not carried away with a lengthy description of the minute details of the circumstances of your experience and lose the focus on Christ. That will also allow time for others to present their offerings.
- If appropriate, you may use a verse or two to confirm your experience, but it is not always necessary, because you are not composing a message.
- Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Making mistakes is part of learning. Peter made many mistakes. The more we practice the priesthood, the more the Holy Spirit, the anointing, will teach us. The Lord will train us by His grace. Do remember that it took the priests five years to graduate from the priestly school.
Although the offerings are food for the Father, yet the Father shares part of these offerings with us, the priests. The more offerings we bring to the Father, the more it will benefit the entire priesthood. Let us all be the true worshipers to satisfy our heavenly Father. This way of worship will also perfect us in our experience of Christ to prepare us for His second coming. May the Lord open the eyes of all who read this booklet.