BACKGROUND FOR THE LESSON. While the children of Israel were camped at Mount Sinai, along with His precepts, God instituted a sacrificial system as part of Israel’s worship. The sacrificial animal’s shed blood foreshadowed the time when Jesus, God’s Son, would lay down His life for the world’s sin. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission or forgiveness of sin (see Hebrews 9:22). The animal sacrifices often began with a sin offering (see Leviticus 4:1-35; 6:24-30) to consecrate the people to a state of purity that qualified them to engage in additional sacrifices. Next, the people would offer a voluntary burnt offering (see Leviticus 1:3-17; 6:8-13) which signified total surrender to God. The sacrificial animal was consumed by fire which sent up a pleasing odor to God (see Leviticus 1:9). A peace offering would often follow the burnt offering. It was a voluntary sacrifice that showed that the one offering the sacrifice now had a right relationship and friendship with God. Of course, none of the sacrificial laws were intended to provide a way of salvation. They were given to a people who were already redeemed by God’s grace and made holy or set apart to Him (see Exodus 19:3-6). We can be sure that some who were redeemed physically (out of Egyptian bondage), remained unredeemed spiritually. This was indicated by their failure to obey the LORD, so these sacrificial offerings could do nothing for them. They only brought the sacrificial offerings as a duty which didn’t please God at all (see Isaiah 1:11-15). The offerings given in Leviticus were not like those of the pagans or idol worshipers living around the Israelites. These pagans used their offerings in order to prevent or remove the wrath of a hostile or angry idol god. But the sacrificial offerings prescribed for the Hebrews were a means whereby a covenant people could keep or renew their covenant with the LORD. However, these offerings were only valid because of the future atoning and sanctifying work of Jesus Christ.
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