Many a noble plan to read the Bible has been gutted in Leviticus, but there’s more to this book than ten ways to sacrifice a goat.

Daily Bible Study Tips: Leviticus, Chapter 1

Leviticus 1:1-9, Burnt offerings from the herd.
Leviticus 1:10-13, Burnt offerings from the flocks.
Leviticus 1:14-17, Burnt offerings of fowls.

Comments on Leviticus, Chapters 2 - 4, 8, and 11
Comments on Leviticus, Chapters 12, 13, and 17
Comments on Leviticus, Chapters 18, 19, and 25

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Leviticus 1:1-9, Burnt offerings from the herd. (5/4/2010)

Leviticus is one of the lesser-read books of the Bible.  If you've ever read any of Leviticus at all, you know that it's full of instructions about how to sacrifice animals.  One of my students once asked, "What's the big deal about sin?  Why do they keep killing all these animals?"

Sin is a matter of life and death.  My life!  My death!  The only way to pay for a sin is with a life.  Fortunately for me, God mercifully decided that that I don't have to pay with my own life.  Instead, I can pay for each sin with the life of an animal that I own - one that I raised from its infancy, one that is a perfect (and expensive) example of life. 
The origin of the cross lies in Leviticus.
Leviticus 1:10-13, Burnt offerings from the flocks. (5/5/2010)

In yesterday's reading about the holocaust offering you should have noticed the word "atonement."  The "holocaust," or burnt offering, is an atonement for sin.  You may have heard some time or another that "atone" comes from "at one," and in fact, "atone" does come from "at one" in English.  The idea has been put forward that the sin offering thus makes us "at one" with God, and this is a lovely idea. 
Unfortunately, neither word translated as "atonement" - the Hebrew kawfar and its Greek translation exilaskomai - means "at one" in its own language, so the whole lovely idea goes down the tubes, linguistically speaking.  Kawfar means, basically, "cover," and exilaskomai means "propitiate."  They both mean "make an atonement" only when "atonement" is used in the sense of "amends or reparation made for an injury or wrong; expiation."  Sin has to be paid for.
If I can't afford a bullock, I may sacrifice a ram or a he-goat for each sin.  Notice that neither I nor the priest obtains any benefit from this type of sacrifice - other than expiation of my sin, of course! - because the entire animal is burned. It is a holocaust.
Leviticus 1:14-17, Burnt offerings of fowls. (5/6/2010)

God really hates losing anybody.  He's been trying his best to save everybody for as long as there's been anybody to save.  So, if I'm not wealthy enough to offer a bullock to pay for my sin, I can offer a sheep or a goat, and it will be a perfectly acceptable means of atonement.  If I'm too poor to offer a sheep or a goat, there's still a way for me to make amends to God for my sin:  I can offer turtledoves or pigeons.  Now, I don't know about turtledoves, but mourning doves are, to put it kindly, dumb as rocks.  I'm always afraid I'm going to back over one in my driveway.  I suspect anybody could catch a mourning dove.  If you are poor, you don't have to offer a bullock, sheep, or goat as an atonement for sin.  You can offer a pigeon or turtledove.
The point of this chapter is that sin is a serious, life-or-death problem.  God said that sins have to be paid for in blood.  But having said that, God wants it to be really clear that whichever animal you can afford is acceptable, and your sin offering will be pleasing to him.  He really doesn't want to lose you.

Copyright 2010, 2011 by Regina L. Hunter.  All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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