The Law of Burnt Offerings 101
The ancient Israelite knew a great deal about burnt offerings. The burnt offering is the first, and of the most significant offerings. The burnt offering along with its other prescribed offerings, are described in Leviticus 1-7. These were offered on the bronze altar of burnt offering.
The burnt offering does not originate with the Israelites, or in the Book of Leviticus. By name, it can be found early in the Book of Genesis chapter 8:20. The first “burnt offering” recorded by name in the bible was that offered by Noah after the flood waters. At that time, Noah offered “burnt offerings” of all the clean animals. Generations later YHWH tried Abraham to see if he would withhold offering up Yitschaq as a “burnt offering” (Gen. 22:2). When Abraham proved himself faithful, YHWH opened Abraham’s eyes to the lamb which He would provide, and Abraham realized the true lamb would come through Yitschaq, but not be Yitschaq. The bible teaches that a lamb was revealed and Abraham offered it as a burnt offering (Gen. 22:13).
Many ancient cultures sacrificed animals as burnt offerings. A burnt offering was a way to remind the worshiper of how committed one was supposed to be in serving his god with all their heart, soul, and might. Its purpose was to remind the worshipper of drawing close to their god with honor, thus appeasing the god as an act that was acceptable and well pleasing. When one truly gave themselves to their god, the god was believed to then possess the one who brought the burnt offering, or those, whom on their behalf the burnt offering was offered. In turn, insights were believed to be given that would insure favors and ultimately ascension into the god’s abode if they did not stray.
Ancient Israelites understood the burnt offerings, and their faith for that matter in the light of what had been passed down to them about it. Most did not connect the offerings in terms of its future or what was to come. Israel interpreted YHWH’s Word in the light of sagas of what heroes before them had accomplished. Mosheh did not introduce the burnt offerings to Israel, or any sacrifice for that manner. At face value, the regulations given through Mosheh in Leviticus 1 informed the people of how the burnt offering was to be offered at best, not what it meant.
Genesis 4:3-5 tells a story of Cain and Able and the offerings they presented to YHWH. Cain presented an offering of the “first fruit of the ground” to YHWH. However, he left out the required the burnt offering from his flock. This was an important omission because it would have caused his state of being to be overlooked/passed over before YHWH, that his sacrifice could be accepted. In essence, he was not mindful of YHWH and consequently did not esteem the Father. Therefore, his sacrifice was dishonorable before YHWH. Able, on the other hand, brought forth brought forth a grain offering of his first fruits along with the required burnt offering from his flock, and YHWH honored his offering by overlooking his state of being (Passover; Lev. 23:10-14). Cain was instructed to do righteousness, do what YHWH requires, which the burnt offering, along with his grain offering was a symbolic representation of. If he failed to do this, sin would ever be in his presence. This was a story that was passed down from generation to generation in many ancient cultures and Israel was just one of them. Therefore Israel’s faith was enmeshed within these offerings as requirements to honor YHWH.
The “burnt offerings” offered by Noah after the flood had destroyed all life on earth in Genesis 8 was another saga that was passed down to many cultures and the Israelites. In the saga Noah built an altar to YHWH after the waters had receded from the earth. He took every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. YHWH smelled the soothing aroma; and YHWH said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”
The relationship between Gen. 8:20-22 and Leviticus can be seen. The “burnt offering” found in Genesis 8:20, is the same “burnt offering” that is found in Leviticus chapter 1. In Gen. 8:20, “clean” animals and birds are offered by Noah. Leviticus 11 defines the difference between what is clean and what is not. However, the definition of clean animals had to have been known by Noah or he could not have identified them to take them on the ark (Gen. 7:2) nor would he have known what animals, or birds to offer.
Noah’s offering was described as a “pleasing aroma” to YHWH (Gen. 8:21). Mosheh used the expression “sweet aroma” frequently in Leviticus and more specifically in Leviticus chapter 1:9, 13, and 17). The burnt offering sacrifice which Noah offered was the basis for the covenantal promise of YHWH that He would never again destroy every living thing by a flood (Gen. 8:21). This promise was not due to the fact that all sin had been destroyed from the face of the earth. However, YHWH honored Noah’s offering and overlooked his errant state of being. The fact of man’s weaknesses that ever pulled him toward corruption was not wiped out, as was soon be manifested in Noah (Gen. 9:21) and his son Ham (Gen. 9:23). As in Cain, sin is ever present with man and he had to overcome it. In Noah’s case it had to be still present, in order for YHWH to say, after the flood, after all evil men were destroyed from the earth, that: “the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21).
The statement: “the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth” is very similar to what YHWH told Mosheh in Exodus 32:9: “I have seen this people, and behold, they are a stiff-necked people.” The basis for YHWH’s promise to Noah is not based upon the righteousness of man, for man’s evil state is specifically stated as being with him in the heart, and needs to be overlooked by YHWH, until he overcomes. The basis for YHWH’s covenant promise is the result of the burnt offering offered up by Noah. This was Noah’s means of avoiding YHWH’s wrath and obtaining YHWH’s kindness. Therefore, the Israelites also saw in the burnt offering, a means of avoiding YHWH’s wrath and of obtaining YHWH’s kindness as well. YHWH’s kindness was thus seen as a result of the outward burnt offering, which signified one’s promise to completely give himself to his Source, a covenant, not of man having already overcame his inner evil state of being.
In the days of Abram there was a man called Iyyob from the land of Uz. Uz was Arphaxad’s cousin from Shem’s posterity, and was the grandfather of Eber (the Hebrews: Gen 10:22-25). Iyyob was considered to be a righteous man, “perfect” in his ways, because “he reverenced YHWH and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1). The scriptures say that there was “none” at that time “like him in the earth” (Job 1:8; 2:3), which would include Abram. He was considered to be “perfect”, because he did only according to what he believed was pleasing to YHWH, not deviating to the left or right. His reference point was according to what was passed down to him from those before him. His children evidently enjoyed partying quite a bit (Job 1:4). After his children gathered for their revelries, Iyyob would offer sin offerings on their behalf in order to purify them just in case their actions may have offended YHWH. The scripture doesn’t indicate that Iyyob had proof that his children had transgressed, only that he believed that they might have. If he offered an offering based upon his belief that they might have sinned deliberately or ignorantly the offering would be a sin offering. Such a sin offering would have included burning certain parts of an animal on the altar and the rest of the animal in a second designated place (Lev. 4:13-21). Therefore, Iyyob offered burnt offerings to satisfy the sin offering on behalf of his children. Iyyob’s actions displayed the same train of thought that Noah displayed with the burnt offering after the flood. His intent was to reconcile his children to YHWH that they may be forgiven, in order that YHWH’s kindness would flow to them (Lev. 4:20). This was Iyyob’s custom that had been passed down to him by those before him.
Abram experienced a calling where YHWH conveyed to him to first separate himself from the influence of his nation and people and trust that YHWH would show him where he should go (Genesis 12:1). At that time Abram’s belief had been influenced by the Mesopotamian religious system (Acts 7:2-3). Therefore, YHWH was not just leading him away from one geographical region to another that He would show him, but from one system of belief into another system that He would also reveal to Abram, as he followed. Abram’s incentive to follow YHWH was based upon the promise that He would make Abram great and through him bless all the earth (Gen. 12:2-3). After YHWH had led Abram toward a new faith for fifteen years He conveyed to him: “walk in my ways and be perfect, and I will make My covenant with you” (Gen. 17:1-2). It is obvious that after fifteen years Abram was not one hundred percent walking in YHWH’s principles or there would not be reason to express “walk in my ways and be perfect.” However, based upon where Abram was in his spiritual journey, he understood that if he did what he understood to be pleasing to YHWH he would be blessed and the whole world would also be blessed - saved from their state of emptiness and error. At this period of Abram’s life, the plan of salvation was being revealed to him on a more personal level and he was determined to do everything that he believed YHWH was conveying to him. The Hebrew letter “He” was added to Abram’s name. This was to signify a point of great transformation in Abram’s life, where his life now breathed Abraham; a father that would seed into many nations the innumerable gift of YHWH’s light and illumination as the stars, rather than fathering the Mesopotamian characteristics of which he was being taken from as Abram. During this time period YHWH tested Abraham’s heart to see if he would love YHWH above all else (Gen. 22:1). In Genesis 22:2 YHWH summoned Abraham with this command: “Take now your son, your only son (of the promise), whom you love, Yitschaq, and go to the land of Moriyah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” Obedience was now the key to keeping the covenant and Abraham did exactly as YHWH commanded him. Abraham showed YHWH that he trusted Him above all and was willing to sacrifice his only son (of the covenant) because he believed that YHWH would raise him from the dead to establish His promise through his seed (Rom. 4:19-21; Heb. 11:17-19). YHWH having proved Abraham, stopped him from slaying his son, and provided a ram in his place (Gen. 22:11-13), effectively bringing Yitschaq back from a situation in which he was as good as dead (Heb.11:19).
The account of Abraham and his offering up of Yitschaq as a burnt offering helped to mold the Israelites belief about the meaning of the burnt offering along with the other accounts that preceded them that were also passed down. They saw that the promise of YHWH’s blessing to all the earth was somehow connected through the promise of His covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3; 17:1-2). They could see the figurative death, resurrection, and ascension of Abraham’s offspring in the burnt offering. The Israelites also saw that in the “burnt offering” the sacrificial animal died in the place of the individual. Yitschaq didn’t die because YHWH provided an animal to take his place. So when the Israelite placed his hand on the head of the sacrificial animal, he would have known that the animal was dying in his place, just as the ram died in the place of Yitschaq. He would also have understood that something must happen in the future in order that the death of Yitschaq, which was prevented by the sacrifice of the ram, could be carried out in some greater way, as a lamb would be provided for the cause. The fact that Abraham called the place YHWH Yireh (YHWH will provide) and Mosheh’s testimony of the recount was that, up to his time, it was still said that: “on the Mountain of YHWH it will be provided” shows us that the true provision of the ram for the burnt offering “on that Mountain” was not satisfied by the ram that was caught in the thicket and sacrificed in Yitschaq’s stead (Gen. 22:14).
This exoteric account of the stories influenced the Israelites’ outlook on the burnt offering. There were other sagas that were passed down that also influenced their behavior. One being the fact that today they do not eat the sciatic nerve of an animal, because of the documented experience of Yaaqob in Gen. 32:24-32. The true meaning behind what was passed down from generation to generation would become lost for the overwhelming majority of the population, but would become clear when the Holy Spirit was given. Up until that time it was obscure to the ancient Israelite, who knew that YHWH was at work in some mysterious and, unknown way. Mosheh taught the history of the heavens and the earth to the Children of Israel. He taught about Adam, who was much more enlightened than most would believe. Mosheh did not grow up learning about animal sacrifices. YHWH chose to educate him through the “wisdom” of the Egyptians, whom were known for their wisdom (I Kings 4:30). He was so well educated in the arts of the Egyptians that he was described as “mighty in words (the teachings) and deeds (performing the arts)” and this was all pleasing to YHWH (Acts 7:20-22). Animal sacrifices was an abomination to the Egyptians (Gen.43:32; Ex. 8:26), therefore, Mosheh did not subscribe to literal burnt offerings during his education in Egypt. Mosheh became exposed to animal sacrifices while he was in the Land of Midian. Midian was one of Abraham’s sons by his concubine Keturah (Gen. 25:1-4), whom established the Land of Midian. After leaving Egypt, YHWH led Mosheh to Midian where he spent about 40 years assisting and being taught by Yethro the priest of Midian. There he married, had children, and learned their way of life. Being descendants of Abraham, the tribe of Midian sacrificed animals and therefore, burnt offerings as Abraham did. Mosheh learned about animal sacrifices while he lived in Midian. He went from being part of a culture that abhorred shepherds (Gen. 46:34) to becoming a shepherd himself (Ex. 3:1). He went from taking matters into his own hands as it seemed fitting in his own eyes (Ex.2:13), to humbling himself to cooperate with the authorities placed above him (Ex. 4:18). While he was in Midian, the agent of YHWH appeared to him and exposed great revelations to him. This was a life changing period of his life in which Mosheh grew in greater understanding that was represented by the story of the “burning bush” (Ex. 3:1-5). As in the case of Abram, YHWH did not reveal everything to him, but enough to direct him to the next stage of what He was being used to perform His undertaking.
When Mosheh went back to Egypt to deliver the Children of Israel, he fully intended to lead them back into the wilderness to perform animal sacrifices (Ex. 10:24-26) based upon what was revealed to him at the time. However, after a series of experiences on the “Mountain of YHWH” (Ex. 19-34) specifically (Ex. 19:3, 20:18-21; 24:10-18; 31:18 and 34:1-8, 27-28) he had further revelations. After the revelations Mosheh understood that YHWH didn’t desire animal burnt offerings and sacrifices, but true sacrifices of the heart and intent of the individual, which would purify the conscience. The prophet Yeremyah wrote in Jer. 7:21-22: “…put your burnt offering with your other sacrifices and eat meat. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them about (animal) burnt offerings or sacrifices in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt.” The burnt offerings and sacrifices represented something, and if the people could put it all together they would become enlightened and be able to partake of the meat of YHWH. This was revealed to many who wrote that YHWH did not desire or delight in animal sacrifices (I Sam. 15:22; Ps. 40:6; 50:8-9; 51:16; Is. 1:11). King David wrote that the true sacrifices of YHWH are not animals, but rather when the human ego is broken, contrite and repentant (Ps.51:17). With these inner attributes attained, coupled with a delight in YHWH’s law, we may truly realize righteous sacrifices, and burnt offerings. Then we may truly minister in earth as sons of the Supreme King.
Mosheh also received this enlightenment and after he returned from meeting with YHWH he attempted to enlighten the Children of Israel. However, he didn’t know that the knowledge he was attempting to express to them was far beyond their understanding, and threatened to uproot their whole culture. The Children were very uncomfortable with accepting what he was trying to teach them. In fact he started to lose them, because their minds were darkened to the light. Therefore, he had to tone his understanding down and meet them where they were spiritually, for them to return to him (Ex. 34:29-33; II Cor. 3:13). That episode revealed that partial blindness was present with the Children of Israel as Mosheh had to speak to them with veiled understanding for them to accept his teachings (Ex. 34:33-35). The apostle Shaul had the veil removed from his eyes at the same time that his sight was restored (Acts 9:17-19). As a result he received surpassingly great revelations (II Cor. 12:7) in as much that he was able to recognize what the veil was, and that it remained upon Israel even to his days, except for those who were able to truly realize what Mosheh veiled (II Cor. 3:15-18). Understanding this helped him to realize many secrets, one of which showed him that blindness had come to Israel in part - the veil of Mosheh, until the allotted amount of gentiles would enter into the body (Rom. 12:25). This awakening spurred Shaul on his quest to enlighten the Yahudim and the gentiles. The Yahudim didn’t accept the light, but devised how they may destroy him (Acts 9:22-23), but the gentiles accepted him whom he begot with the message. Yahshua told His apostles that many righteous men desired to see and hear what He revealed to them, but it was kept from them (Matt. 13:17). This included the fathers of the faith whom YHWH led, but did not reveal all things to. Mosheh was in the same condition before his days of enlightenment. His enlightenment was rendered in the scriptures as speaking to YHWH face to face (Num. 12: 6-8; Ex. 33:11; Deut. 5:4; 34:10) and up until that time YHWH had not chosen to reveal the great secret that many men desired to see and hear.
The fact that Israel was not ready to accept the understanding of Mosheh caused him to present the law on their level. He knew that the time would come that the Seed would magnify the law (Deut. 18:15-16; Gal. 3:19; Is. 42:21; Acts 3:22-23) and make it understood on the level he attempted to convey for those who would believe. Therefore, when Mosheh gave the law, the law of the burnt offering and sacrifices were veiled in order that the Children of Israel could be won over to him.
The plans for the altar of burnt offering were given to Mosheh by YHWH in the Book of Exodus. Mosheh gave it to the people as they could accept it, however, each aspect represented something that was veiled: “And you shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide; the altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits. And you shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. And you shall make its pails for removing its ashes, and its shovels and its basins and its forks and its fire pans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze. And you shall make for it a grating of network of bronze; and on the net you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. And you shall put it beneath, under the ledge of the altar that the net may reach halfway up the altar. And you shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze. And its poles shall be inserted into the rings, so that the poles shall be on the two sides of the altar when it is carried. You shall make it hollow with planks; as it was shown to you on the mountain, so they shall make it“(Ex. 27:1-8; 38:1-7). It was very important that the people followed the ceremonial and ritual law given through Mosheh, because based upon cultural practices they believed it was necessary and it would therefore be a conviction of the conscience, a deliberate sin, if they didn’t adhere to it (James 4:17). The altar for the burnt offerings was made of acacia wood, overlaid with bronze, being nearly 8 feet square and about 4 and a half feet high. It was a very large altar indeed, but certainly not too large considering the large number of sacrifices and offerings which it was required to facilitate. As one entered the courtyard of the tabernacle through the gate, the altar of burnt offering would be the first of the tabernacle furnishings to be encountered as one approached the tabernacle proper. To the left of the altar would be the ash heap, where the ashes from the altar were placed (Lev. 1:16). Between the altar and the tabernacle doorway was the bronze laver (30:17-21; 38:8), where Aaron and his sons cleansed themselves before entering into the tabernacle. Then, there was the doorway to the tabernacle. These were all strategically positioned according to the great secret that Yahshua and Shaul spoke of at times (Matt. 13:11; Rom. 11:25; 16:25). Since the altar was located in front of the tabernacle, the sacrifices were set up to enable the worshipper to remember that his duty on earth was to draw near to YHWH who was considered to dwell in the tabernacle, and who spoke to Mosheh from within it (Lev. 1:1).
When Mosheh told Pharaoh that Israel must take their cattle with them into the wilderness to worship their Father, it was because Mosheh felt they needed them to offer burnt offerings (Exod. 10:25-26) as it was their ancestral custom. Yethro, Abraham’s descendant and Mosheh’s father-in-law, offered a burnt offering to YHWH in Exodus chapter 18:12. The Israelites offered up burnt offerings in conjunction with every place that was established to meet with YHWH (Exod. 20:24) and when they received His covenant on Mt. Sinai (24:4-5). Regrettably, when the Israelites made the golden calf in honor of the Egyptian god Apis/Osiris they offered up burnt offerings as a part of their service in honor of that god (Exod. 32:4-6). Apis was the Egyptian god who served as an intermediary between man and the all-powerful god. Apis represented the son of the all-powerful god, of which Osiris was. Israel made the calf when they saw that Mosheh did not return for almost 40 days.
The burnt offering referenced in Genesis and Exodus provides the key to understanding the meaning and significance of the burnt offering regulated in Leviticus 1. The burnt offering in Leviticus 1 was viewed primarily as a personal, private offering, done voluntarily by the individual. Thus, we read in Lev. 1:2: “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When any man of you brings an offering to YHWH, you shall bring your offering of animals from the herd or the flock’”. From here on, the personal pronoun “he” is employed, referring to this individual, who comes with the burnt offering. It is also apparent that the males were to make certain offerings to YHWH, as they represented their families. The burnt offering is of the most common offerings, which was offered on a great variety of occasions, often in conjunction with another sacrifice or offering. The major purpose of Leviticus 1 is to instruct the Israelites how the burnt offering is to be offered, but they also needed to know when it should be offered.
The burnt offering was also often a communal offering. There were the regularly scheduled times for the burnt offering. Burnt offerings were to be made every day, in the morning and the evening (Ex. 29:38-42; Num. 28:3-6; II Chron. 2:4). A burnt offering was to be offered up each Sabbath day in addition to the regular daily burnt offering (Num. 28:9-10). On the first day of each moon a burnt offering was offered in addition to the regular daily burnt offering on that day (Num. 28:11). At the celebration of the Passover event, on the 14th day of the 1st moon, a burnt offering was offered in addition to the regular daily burnt offering with a grain offering of barley flour mixed with olive oil (Num. 28:16-20), and a drink offering also (Num. 29:24). During the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which began after the Passover event, an extra burnt offering was made for each day (Num. 28:24). A burnt offering was offered in addition to the regular daily burnt offering along with the wheat flour mixed with olive oil as a new grain offering at the Feast of Weeks (Num. 28:27-31). On the Feast of Trumpets, in the 7th moon a burnt offering was offered in addition to the regular daily burnt offering for the celebration of the new moon, along with its prescribed grain and drink offerings (Num. 29:1-6). Burnt offerings were offered on the Day of Atonement and on each day of the Feast of Tabernacles burnt offerings were made with their prescribed grain and drink offerings (Num. 29:7-39). Burnt offerings were often offered in conjunction with another sacrifice. Among these were the trespass/guilt offering (Lev. 5:6-7, 10, 17-18), and the sin/purification offering (Lev. 5:7; 9:2-3, 7; 12:6, 8). A burnt offering was required whenever one brought a vow or freewill offering (Lev. 22:18), the sheaf/chosen offering (Lev. 23:12), and the new grain offering (Lev. 23:15-22).
There were occasions when a sacrifice was required for cleansing, of which the burnt offering was one of the sacrifices offered. The burnt offering was required with a sin/purification offering in the cleansing of a woman’s uncleanness because of child-bearing (Lev. 12:6-8), of a man with a discharge (Lev. 15:14-15), of a woman with an abnormal discharge (Lev. 15:30). When the congregation unintentionally failed to observe one of the commandments which YHWH gave to Mosheh, when the error was discovered a burnt offering and a sin/purification offering was required for the purification and forgiveness of the congregation (Num. 15:22-26). A burnt offering and a sin/purification offering was required to make atonement for the whole congregation of Israel on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:3, 5, 24, 29-30), as well as ceremonially cleansing the Levites (Num. 8:12).
For a leper, a burnt offering was required with a sin/purification and grain offering (Lev. 14:19-20). For a Nazarite who was unintentionally defiled by a dead body in his presence a burnt offering was required with a sin/purification, a grain offering, and a drink offering (Num. 6:9,11,14-15). During the process of the consecration of the priest a burnt offering was required with a sin/purification, a wave/initiation offering, a peace offering, and a grain offering (Lev. 8:2,21,27; 9:4,17-22)
As stated earlier the sacrifice of burnt offering was among the most common of all sacrifices in Israel: It was a whole “burnt offering,” which was totally consumed on the altar. Most sacrifices benefited the one offering it and the priests, in addition to being pleasing to YHWH. Sometimes, the one offering the sacrifice would eat some of the meat of the sacrificial animal, and most often the priest received a portion of it. Thus, when one offered a sacrifice to YHWH and shared the meat with the priest, he or she would symbolically consider themselves sharing a meal or eating with YHWH. Herein is the proverbial eating of My flesh, or nature, for the Father and the Son to sup with the individual as in Exodus 24:11 (Luke 22:30; John 6:53-54; Rev. 3:20-21). Not so in the case of the burnt offering, however. Neither the one offering, nor the priest partook of any of the meat, for it was all burned in the fire. The hide of the animal was the priest’s only compensation (Lev. 7:8). Incidentally, in Lev.1:2-2:2 and 3:2-4:34 the Hebrew word used for an offering is “qorban,” which is mentioned by Yahshua in Mark 7:11, to uncover the selfish, greedy and neglectful practices of the scribes and Pharisees when they declared their possessions to be “qorban” in order to get around their duties of having to provide for their aging parents.
The regulations for the burnt offering (as well as the other offerings) are very important, and violations are taken very seriously. The way in which one offers any of the sacrifices described in Lev. 1-7 must follow YHWH’s regulations precisely as they represented the highest spiritual concepts for the person, and officiating with disrespect could lead one into careless mistakes. One need only read of what led to the death of Nadab and Abihu and the subsequent warnings in Lev. 10:1-10; 17:7-9 to have this point strongly emphasized.
There were three types of animals sacrificed in the burnt offering. The three types of animals, and the specific regulations pertaining to each, were: (1) Offerings from the herd (bull), Lev. 1:3-9, (2) offerings from the flock (a sheep or a goat), vs.10-13, (3) offerings of birds (turtledoves or pigeons), vs. 14-17. Several sacrificial animals were allowed based upon the financial status of the individual presenting the offering (Lev. 14:21-22, 31). If one was poor and could not afford to sacrifice a bull, a less valuable animal was acceptable to suffice for the sacrifice commanded through Mosheh. The animal to be offered in the burnt offering was always to be without detectable fault and of the highest quality. The animal was to be relatively young, of the first year and fit, the best of what the individual had to offer. A bull, a sheep, or a goat, were all livestock of considerable value. With the exception of birds, a burnt offering must be a male of the herd or the flock (Lev. 1:3, 10). The red heifer was not among the common burnt offering.
There is a ritualistic association between the activity of the priest and the person who brought the offering. As we read the regulations in Leviticus 1 pertaining to the burnt offering we can see an intermingling of involvement between the person who brought the offering and the priest(s). The person making the offering was very involved in the process of the sacrifice. Every sacrifice was supposed to be a very personal experience for the one making the offering. This was intended to make a mental impression on the Israelite who was making his sacrifice that the wages of his sin was death and that a life was given to remind him of his state. The person who brought the offering would lay his hands upon the animal, identify his sins with the animal and slay it. When the animal was slain by the hand of the one bringing the offering it was symbolic of that individual putting their errant state of being to death. This process however, required an animal to die for the error of the one the offering was being made on behalf of. The person would then skin and cut the animal into pieces and hand it to the priest. The priest would prepare a fire on the bronze altar, lay the wood in order on it and sprinkle the animal’s blood around the altar. The priest washed the entrails and legs with water then laid the animal parts in order as if he was putting a puzzle together on the wood and burn the whole animal, except the hide, on the altar of sacrifice (Lev. 1:2-13). If the process was officiated with respect and according to the order given through Mosheh, the one offering the sacrifice would leave believing that the burnt offering made atonement for their error and thus they could gain YHWH’s acceptance, having symbolically transferred the wages of their sin to the animal that was put to death so that they may have atonement.
Offering a bird as a burnt offering was somewhat different and less involved in the process for the person. The individual making the offering would take the bird and hand it to the priest. The priest took over from that point, taking the offering to the altar, wringing off its head, removing the crop, feathers, and throwing them by the east side of the altar. He would split the bird at its wings without totally separating it then lay it on the wood on the altar and burn it (Lev. 1:14-17). The person offering the bird symbolized one who was poor in spirit and therefore needed the priest to assist them with a greater part of their sacrifice.
The burnt offering was required by, and also served to remind the individual of his or her general state of depravity. The burnt offering was therefore not so much to gain forgiveness for a particular sin at any particular time, as much as it was to make atonement for the individual’s errant state. It was not just a certain sin which separated humanity from his Source, but also the individual’s errant state dispensed from Adam. The burnt offering thus, ritualistically provided a symbolic solution that maintained a mental memorial for the atonement and redemption of man from his fallen condition. The literal sacrifice however, could not justify man before YHWH, as YHWH required greater sacrifices (Acts 13: 37-39; Heb. 9:23).
This all becomes clear when the veil is removed from the individual. The atonement and redemption hidden in the Burnt Offering symbolism can now be truly realized and truly offered if one follows the example that Yahshua died leaving for all to follow. His example is the antitype of the burnt offering. Yahchanan the Immerser indicated this during his own ministry, when he gave testimony in John 1:29 with the words: “Behold the Lamb of YHWH, who takes away the sin of the world” If Yahshua was to take away the sins of the world He would need to offer a sin offering on behalf of the people. We have testimony that He is the sin offering for all who believe His message (Heb. 9:26), which by necessity must go throughout the world (John 3:16). If He offers a sin offering, to consecrate His immediate government, there is need of a burnt offering (Ex. 29:18, 25; John 8:28-29; Heb. 10:5-10), as well as a wave offering (Ex. 29:23-27; John 17:6-26) and peace offerings (Ex.29:28; Eph.2:14) with the sin offering (Ex. 29:14) in order to officiate the true ceremonial sacrifice, not a ritual ceremonial pattern. If He brings forth a sin offering for the world He would need burnt sacrifices with the sin offering (Lev. 4:14, 19-21). If He brings forth a sin offering for the individual He would need a burnt sacrifice with the sin offering of the individual (Lev. 4:27-31). We must agree with the scriptures especially Psalms 40:6 and Hebrews 10:5-10 where we see that YHWH had no pleasure in animal sacrifices, nor did He want them. We must then ask the question: Why did the Children of Israel do it? This takes us back to why Mosheh veiled the great secret that He received on the mountain. Israel knew the traditions of their fathers, which were always meant to remind them of their state of being. Shaul described these traditions as elementary in Col. 28-9, saying: “Look out perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as a prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of this world and not according to Messiah (which is not according to this world), because it is in Him (living by the example that He lived) that all the fullness of the holy quality of His Body dwells.” Mark 12:33-34 helps us to understand that to love YHWH and our fellow man is more than burnt offerings and sacrifices. Yahshua also agreed that this is wise and acknowledged that one who does this is not far from the Kingdom of YHWH. So, we can see on one hand that YHWH has no pleasure in animal sacrifices nor did He want them. On the other hand, we can clearly see that Yahshua agreed that to love YHWH and our fellow man is more than burnt offerings and sacrifices and this is the true wisdom that takes one to the Kingdom. So, knowing this, does YHWH require that which He has no pleasure in nor wants, or does He require that which is true wisdom and that truly takes one to the Kingdom? Now that Yahshua has come as the Lamb of YHWH and died “once for all” (Heb. 10:10) those of His body are sanctified by living as He did and no longer have need for an animal sacrifice to remind them that they need to be sanctified. In ancient Israel, when one went to the Passover they brought a lamb to be sacrificed for their household. However, if Yahshua is his Passover lamb (I Cor. 5:7) what use would it be for him to sacrifice an animal for his household? Would YHWH be pleased with an animal sacrifice as a requirement for righteousness, or would YHWH require the individual’s actions as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1; Mic. 6:7-8)?
We can now see why blindness coming to the Yahudim in part until the full number of the gentiles has come in is a great secret (Rom. 11:25). This blindness is the very veil that remains when Mosheh is read (II Cor. 3:7, 13-15). Shaul had this veil removed from his face by Yahshua (Acts 9:18), and he received surpassingly great revelations as a result (II Cor. 12:7). Yahshua also divulged some of these great secrets to His apostles while He was with them. This is the reason why He said: “Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see what you see, and have not seen; and hear what you hear, and have not heard.” (Matt. 13:17). The prophets and righteous men that He referred to were those whom came before His time who followed the law of Mosheh, but could not see through the veil. They followed the law of Mosheh, but it could not justify them (Acts 13: 37-39).
Yahshua’s example is the ultimate and final antitype of the burnt offering (Heb. 10:1-10; Mk. 12:33-34). It might seem that if the burnt offering is not what YHWH truly wants, nor what is truly required to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, that it is no longer necessary. We can conclude that the burnt offering is no longer relevant for the one who has awakened, since the meaning of that sacrifice for him has been realized in him living by Yahshua’s example (I Pet. 2:21). There is a sense in which this conclusion is absolutely correct. However, there is another sense in which this conclusion can lead one to err. Keep in mind that Mosheh, after receiving a great awakening, still set up a system of laws which included animal sacrifices. He didn’t need this for his own salvation, because he was shown the truth. However, to win the Children of Israel to YHWH it was absolutely necessary. Just as the apostles did not compel the gentiles who became new converts of the faith to be circumcised (Acts 15:7-8; I Cor. 7:18-19; I Col. 2:10-11), so also Mosheh did not compel the Israelites to give up animal sacrifices. It was part of their culture so Mosheh didn’t try to separate them from it, but used it to stealthily shelter and lay out the redemptive power and government of the Kingdom of Heaven among them. The burnt offering (and the others, too), as part of the body of laws that Mosheh gave Israel, was symbolic in the sense that it represented and portrayed, in advance, the ultimate burnt offering - Yahshua’s example. The burnt offering also symbolized Israel’s faith in YHWH’s provision for their sins, and for their access to YHWH. The burnt offering symbolized Israel’s faith in YHWH, and his intention to love YHWH with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love his neighbor as himself. The Israelite’s worship often deteriorated to mere ceremonies and ritualism when the sacrifices were offered, but then the faith and obedience which they symbolized did not follow in the actions of those who brought the offering. This being realized in the activities of the people prompted the prophets to sternly rebuke the Israelites for their hypocrisy: “With what shall I come to YHWH and bow myself before the Father on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does YHWH take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my first-born for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is righteous? And what does YHWH require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your Father?” (Micah 6:6-8). The faith and obedience of the Israelite, which the sacrifice of the burnt offering symbolized, and which was required by the law of Mosheh, is the same faith and obedience which living Yahshua’s example is to produce in all who profess this way of life, or as it is said “Him” as Savior. This is what YHWH requires of all of humanity. One must have faith that living this way of life is true, and by practicing this way of life with all one’s ability is the true power to change an individual heart, mind, and intentions. This is the real sacrifice, herein we read from those who preached this way: “Through him (the example that He died leaving for us to follow) let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to YHWH …Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to YHWH.” (Heb. 13:15-16). We can also see that such actions are referred to as a sweet smelling aroma, and an acceptable sacrifice, that is well pleasing to YHWH. (Phil. 4:18). The only sacrifices that are sweet smelling aromas to YHWH are those that require burnt offerings (Ex. 29:18, 25, 41; Lev. 1:9, 13, 17). We are shown in Eph. 5:2 that Yahshua’s example is a sweet smelling aroma (burnt offering) for those who live as He did (I Pet. 2:4-5). In this we learn that the only burnt offering that has the power to atone for sin has been made by the example that Yahshua died and left for those who follow Him to live by (John 13:15; I Pet. 2:21). Those who have been awakened to this truth, believe, and have no need to bring a lamb, goat, bull, or bird to the altar to remind them that they need to receive forgiveness of sins, because they follow His example which is the saving power: the lamb that takes away sin (John 1:29, 36; I Pet. 1:19). The way of animal sacrifices that the forefathers of Israel passed down could not forgive sins, therefore they were fruitless against sin (I Pet. 1:18; Hebrews 10:4).
Bringing a true sacrifice involves declaring one’s intention to love YHWH by keeping his commandments. These commandments were revealed to Mosheh (Ex. 24:12), but they were not fully revealed to everyone in the oral or written law of Mosheh (Ex. 34:29-35; II Cor. 3:13-14). Speaking to those who thought that they believed in Mosheh, Yahshua said: “…had you believed in Mosheh you would have believed in Me, for he wrote about Me.” (John 5:46). He said this because all that Mosheh taught Israel would be fully realized in the example of Yahshua once the veil was removed. Today animal sacrifices are obsolete for the ones who truly believe that the law of Mosheh spoke of Yahshua in the sense that it represented His work, the true and living way. Following His example by itself constitutes the proper sacrifices required of a man. So, are animal sacrifices wrong? No, by no means! All things in the law of Mosheh are permissible (I Cor. 6:12), if they were not, Mosheh would not have used them to replicate the pattern, and YHWH would not have approved. However, for the ones who have the veil removed, and realize that the Seed has been revealed in Yahshua, he or she have their sacrifices and cannot continually bring an animal sacrifice for themselves knowing that it’s to no benefit.
Thus far, we have seen that the burnt offering and all other sacrifices apply in the fulfillment of Messiah as the “once for all” sacrifice for all, and just as the Israelite brought an offering in faith and obedience of the law written through Mosheh, which the animal sacrifices symbolized, so also does the one who comes before YHWH through Yahshua come and offer in faith and obedience of His example. The same principles which the animal sacrifices were intended to teach the Israelite are the same principles which the living sacrifices teach those who are obligated to live as Yahshua lived. The righteousness in the principles that Mosheh taught still apply today, as much as in the days of the ancient Israelite. As stated earlier, the burnt offering was not an offering for a specific sin. The burnt offering was associated with other offerings, such as the various peace offerings (thanksgiving, vows, freewill; Lev. 3:1-17; 7:11-38), the sin offering (Lev. 4:1-10), the trespass offering (Lev. 5:6-7). It was used with various occasions of celebration and rejoicing (Dt. 16:1-22; I Chr. 23:31; II Chr. 2:4; 8:12-13). In all this it was used in everything from mourning, to repentance, to joy. The purpose of this sacrifice was to win the mercy and forgiveness of YHWH, while playing the role of reminder to the Israelites of his depraved state of a beastly evil nature of the heart that he had to overcome. As it was stated in Genesis 8:21 after YHWH acknowledged Noah’s burnt offering: “…the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”
When an Israelite wanted to approach YHWH, to worship Him, to be accepted by Him, he had to offer a burnt offering, thus acknowledging and making provision for his errant state of being. Many Israelites simply went through the motions, which still attracted certain elementals. However, without the true thoughts and intentions, it was empty. Those who approached the sacrificial ceremony and did not forget their own state of depravity, but worked to do the will of YHWH as they knew it, would receive results. The principle applies equally to the believer today. While it is true that Yahshua died for our sins, once for all, it is also still true that we will not be totally freed from the presence of an evil imagination until we are in the presence of YHWH, with redeemed bodies. We will not stand before YHWH to receive a redeemed body without acknowledging our present state of being and working consciously to internally cleanse the human spirit. Our present state of being is the reason why we physically die today. It is our inheritance from Adam’s actions in the Garden (Gen. 2:17; 3:6; 5:5; I Cor. 15:22). The ancients immediately brought forth burnt offerings and sacrifices to remind them of their fallen state, which was not their true state. This is documented in the offerings that Cain and Able presented before YHWH, which they likely learned from their parents (Gen. 4:3-4). Their offerings had the same representation as the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev. 10-14). Able brought the required offering from the fruits of the ground along with the lamb (symbolic of a submissive nature to YHWH) for the burnt offering. We know that Able brought the lamb for a burnt offering, because he offered the fat. Fat is offered with the burnt offering (Ex. 29:22-25; Lev. 1:8-9). YHWH honored his offering by overlooking his fallen state of being. However, Cain only brought forth the fruits of the ground without the lamb, and YHWH did not honor his offering (Gen. 4:3-5). These sacrifices could only remind one of sin. With that in mind we can see that as far back as in the days of Adam, men created these offerings as a memorial to remind them that a lamb, the true sacrifice of burnt offering, would one day take away their sin.
During Abraham’s journey in the earth, YHWH revealed to him His plan of salvation through the only Begotten Son that would take away the sins of the world. As it is written in John 8:56: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." Abraham saw it because YHWH revealed it to him. Man could not reveal the plan of the Son, only the Father can reveal the Son, and to whom He pleases. Matthew 16:17 tell us: "Blessed are you, Shimon son of Yahnah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” Abraham understood that there would be a true lamb to take away the sin of the world. By the time that YHWH decided to test Abraham, He had already revealed to him that in Isaac His covenant would be established (Gen. 17:16, 19). So, when Abraham thought to sacrifice his son, he had already believed that Isaac would be that lamb. At the time, YHWH didn’t reveal any more pertaining to the Son to him beyond that. When YHWH tested Abraham to see if he would sacrifice his only begotten son that YHWH’s covenant would be established through, as a burnt offering, Abraham was up for the task (Gen. 22:1-2). Based upon Abraham’s understanding at the time, he believed that his son Isaac was the seed who YHWH promised that would take away the sins of the world. Therefore, he took Isaac to be sacrificed because he was convinced that YHWH would raise Isaac up from the dead just as He would do to the true lamb (Heb. 11:17-19). YHWH opened Abraham’s eyes to further revelation, to see that His son was not the true lamb of the burnt offering to take away the sins of the world, and so he received Isaac back from an “as good as dead” circumstance to figuratively live again. Here in, we understand that Abraham figuratively received Isaac back from the dead (Heb. 11:19). During this time of revelation Abraham sacrificed a lamb that was provided to him as a burnt offering and called the name of the place YHWH Yireh (YHWH will provide). YHWH Yireh was a memorial for Abraham’s descendants to remember that upon the mountain of YHWH He would provide the true Lamb. When Genesis 22:14 states: “as it is said to this day” it reveals to the reader that it was remembered (a memorial) for generations, at least up until the days of Mosheh.
When YHWH instructed Mosheh concerning the ordinances of the Passover Lamb He instructed Mosheh that a particular day was to be a memorial for the lamb (Ex. 12:14). This has been hidden (possibly deliberately). Exodus 12:14 reads: “And this day shall be to you for a memorial…” The word ‘zeh’ that was to exemplify ‘the lamb’ was trans-mutated to render ‘this’ in that particular scripture. Therefore, when one reads Exodus 12:14-15 the Memorial Day of the Lamb is conveniently overlooked and only the Passover event and Feast of Unleavened Bread can be seen from the passage. Centuries later on that given day Yahshua, participating in the Memorial Day of the Lamb, told His Apostle’s to do it “in remembrance of me (the lamb)” (Luke 22:19). Many believe that Yahshua instituted that memorial on His own, however as He states in John 5:30: “I can of My own do nothing; as I hear, I judge. And my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of the Father Who has sent Me.” The judgment to keep the Lamb’s Memorial, which is called Yahshua’s Memorial today, was not His own, but of that which He had received from His Father. This is the same Memorial that is hidden in Exodus 12:14.
When the true lamb takes away the sins of His body they would be quickened to their former state to re-enter into the heavenly abode in a redeemed body (I Cor. 51:51-54), to continue the job that they had fallen from in the Garden. If Yahshua was not the lamb that was raised from the dead, as the first among many, to be redeemed from His fallen state, to show the way of redemption that many brothers could follow His footsteps to salvation (I Cor. 15:23), then we have no sacrifice for sins (I Cor. 15:17-18), because animal burnt sacrifices are patterns of the true, not the real deal.
The fact that we are still corrupted by sins that are abundant in our hearts, and not by food, viruses, or bacteria (Matt. 15:9, 11), means we need to be suspect of, and scrutinize our every thought, motive, word, and action. We need to realize that whether we are witnessing, preaching, teaching, or serving, our actions can appear to be pious, but can be prompted by dishonorable biases and motives of the heart. We tear down our brother, who is being made in the image of YHWH, if his understanding or activities are not in line with what we are currently able to grasp, comprehend or appreciate, and with the next breath we say we love YHWH. However, there is no loving YHWH when we speak ill of our brother (I John 4:20-21). Thanks, be to YHWH we now have Yahshua that is able to present intercession and mediation before YHWH for those who make it their obligation to live exactly as He lived (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25-27). The only reason why we can approach YHWH is due to the living spiritual sacrificial example that Yahshua died and left for us to follow (I Pet. 2:21, Rom. 12:1, I Pet. 2:5).
In the principle laid out in the sacrifices there was a certain level of particularity. If the Israelite learned anything from the meticulous rules and regulations which YHWH laid down for the burnt offering and all the other ceremonies and rituals, it was that He is very particular about the way men approach Him. The rebellious nature of fallen man inclines him to want to approach YHWH in his own way, when he wants to, where he wants to, with whom he wants to, and wherever he wants to. YHWH did not allow men to approach Him through his own tendencies, but rather only in accordance with the means He Himself established. Men could only approach YHWH by means of the tabernacle, the priesthood, and the sacrifices as Mosheh laid out for them. Those very means were representing the seed to come. Today, men can only come to YHWH, through following the examples of Yahshua, who, as the tabernacle (John 2:19-22), the High Priest of our priesthood (Heb. 3:1), and the sacrificial lamb (John 1:29), died for our sins, if we live as He lived. Acknowledging YHWH in all our ways and living by the examples that Yahshua died leaving for us to follow is how we make a way of approach to YHWH. Yahshua conveyed the exclusiveness of the life He lived as an example and the purpose of His death (Rom. 5:10) as the way to YHWH when He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). If we want to approach YHWH, to be assured of the forgiveness of our sins, and to dwell in His presence forever, we can only do so through Yahshua, who came to earth and died in our place (Rom. 5:6-9). When we emulate Yahshua we are the sweet smelling aroma of the burnt offering that ascends before our Father (Ex. 29:18; 41; Lev. 1:9, 13, 17; 3:5, 16; Eph. 5:2; II Cor. 2:14-15). No other way is truly desirable or really acceptable for sins with YHWH, because sacrificing and burning animals does not take away sins. David said that YHWH opened his ears to this fact (Ps. 40:6), and Shaul echoed and expounding in him Hebrews 10:4-8. In no other way can we be found truly justified before YHWH, because there is no other way to condemn sin in our mortal bodies except through living Yahshua’s life example as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1).
Seeking the acceptance of YHWH is the greatest wealth of all. The true burnt sacrifices of YHWH are the broken human spirit, and a broken and contrite heart. These are pleasing and acceptable to YHWH (Ps. 51:16-17). They are worth the price to attain YHWH’s approval. The individual must offer their life, be willing to forsake all, including self-seeking, self-indulgence, and self-love in order to offer true burnt offerings. Yahshua made it very clear when He said: “If anyone will follow after me, let him deny himself and take up his responsibility daily and follow My example.” If one is able to do this he offers all the sacrifices in the law of Mosheh that represented Yahshua. When this is done the individual puts to death their own lifestyle in order to pick up Yahshua’s lifestyle and responsibility. This is a sweet smelling and well pleasing sacrifice to YHWH. In attaining this way of life, we give up our own way of life that we may attain true life - the true life that we once lost. This is what the scriptures call our redemption. There is no need to redeem something unless it was lost. In like manner, there is no need for us to be redeemed our lives unless we had lost it. We died, and in following Yahshua’s example, death will be swallowed up by the Spirit that He invests in us (John 14:12:17, 26, 15:8), that we may live again (I Cor. 15:54; II Cor. 5:4). As professing Children of YHWH, no motive should be stronger than that of pleasing Him, that we may hear, “Well done, righteous and faithful servant.”
The burnt offering, along with the sin and trespass offerings, communicates and illustrates the principle of atonement (Lev. 1:3-4; 4:20; 7:7). The fallen state of man was dealt with by the principle of shedding of innocent blood, the blood of a sacrificial victim. Except for the temple tax (Ex. 30:11-16), atonement is made through the shedding of blood (Heb. 9:22). When Yahshua died as the Passover Lamb His blood was also shed (John 19:34). Yahshua’s life was sustained by the Spirit of YHWH in His blood (Ex. 17:14). The life in His blood was spilled unto the earth like water (Ex. 17:13; John 19:34) to signify that His life was the instrument of atonement for anyone in the earth who will believe in Him (John 3:16), and if they believe they will live their life as He did. Through this way of life the believer is sanctified (Heb. 13:12). The believer attains the Spirit of mercy and the authority, through the Son, to enter the true covenant (Heb. 10:28-29). The believer attains the authority to enter the most holy place (Heb. 10:19).
The person offering the sacrifice was supposed to benefit from the death of the sacrificial victim. To get this benefit they had to personally identify with that animal as dying on their behalf. It was their animal, one that they had either raised or acquired at their expense. The person making the offering would place their hand upon the victim, symbolically identifying themselves with the victim as they symbolically transferred their sins to the animal. Then they would kill the animal in their place. Apart from identifying with the sacrificial animal in this way, there would hardly be any mental connection, and the sacrifice would have no benefit for the individual Israelite. A believer will also be redeemed and atoned for, at the appointed time, when they identify themselves with the true Lamb Who died in their stead (Rom. 5:8-10). If believers identify themselves as dying with the true Lamb, then they must identify themselves as being buried with the true Lamb (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12). In like manner, if believers identify themselves as being buried with the true Lamb, then they must identify themselves as being resurrected with the true Lamb (Rom. 8:10-11; Eph. 2:5-6), because that is the progression of the Lamb.
The receiving of the Lamb for the believer meant to be recuperated from their abode of both spiritual and physical death (Is. 28:18; I Cor. 15:21-26). Death in its inclusive sense is simply a level of spiritual impurity that separates man from his Heavenly Father, who is the life of man (Deut. 30:20). For the Israelite to be cleansed from various states of impurity, which was considered to cut one off from YHWH, spiritual death, Mosheh commanded them to physically bathe with water. This ritual washing is called the ‘mikveh’. The mikveh was used by both men and women to regain ritual purity due to various circumstances, in order to be reconciled to YHWH. This was, and is pertinent for the physical cleansing specified in the following scriptures:
Ex. 29:4; 40:12 A Priest who is being consecrated
Lev. 14:6-9 certain skin conditions
Lev. 15:13 abnormal discharges of body fluids
Lev. 15: 16 normal emissions of semen, whether from sexual activity, or from nocturnal emission
Lev. 15:5-10, 19-27 anyone who came into contact with someone suffering from Zav/Zavah, or into contact with someone still in Niddah (normal menstruation), or who came into contact with articles that had been used or sat upon by such persons
Lev. 16:24-28 the High Priest on Yom Kippur, after sending away the goat to Azazel, and by the man who lead away the goat
Lev. 17:15 after eating meat from an animal that died naturally
Num. 19:7-8 the priest who performed the Red Heifer ritual and
Num. 19:19: after contact with a corpse or grave, in addition to having the ashes of the Red Heifer ritual sprinkled upon them
Baptism was taught in schools of higher awareness as a ritual cleansing, much like the mikveh. In the case of baptism, it was symbolic, and it mentally assisted those who were ready to cleanse themselves from activities that separated one from YHWH. Students of the schools of higher awareness knew that what was prescribed by Mosheh was acceptable for purification of the flesh. However, they desired to receive the hidden aspect of Mosheh’s prescription: purification of the human spirit, through purification of one’s heart, which in turn purifies one’s thoughts, which in turn purifies one’s words, which in turn purifies one’s deeds. As it is written in Matthew 15:18: “But the things which proceed out of the mouth come out of the heart, and they defile the man.” If we believe that our words create the circumstances that we find ourselves living in (Pro. 12:13-14; 13:2-3; 18:20-21), then we know that out of the abundance of the heart, we create our own circumstances.
Like the burnt offering, baptism in and of itself does not give man salvation. Rather, it’s a symbolic and outward gesture that if met with mental focus and intent, identifies one with a marked turning point in their life. The point that one gives up their own way of life to adopt a lifestyle with the true immersion of the Holy Spirit, which YHWH gives to those who live as Yahshua, is a major step on the path that embodies the principle of a living sacrifice.
One of the unique contributions of the whole burnt offering is that it illustrates sacrifice in its purest form. A very valuable animal is offered wholly to YHWH. Neither the one who brings the offering, nor the priest who receives it gains much from the offering, other than the benefit of being found acceptable to YHWH, which, in the final analysis, is the ultimate benefit. This pure kind of sacrifice of denying self to acknowledge YHWH in all that we think, say, and do is seldom practiced today. It’s not an easy practice to even deny ourselves of our valuables that another may benefit. Even when it is done, we may wonder at the wisdom of such loss or waste. The widow who gave her last two mites might be criticized today for her lack of prudence in failing to plan and prepare for the future. The woman that poured out her expensive perfume unto Yahshua’s feet was accused of wastefulness. That was during a time when positive morals were greatly admired. Today we find the same self-interest attitude lurking in our personalities.
We tend to give what we don’t mind parting with to others, while we keep what is most valuable for ourselves. When we generously give to others we give to our Father. Nevertheless, nothing will help us to recognize the power behind giving our best totally to YHWH like the burnt offering, without which, we have no hope of receiving His approval. However, this kind of sacrifice is what YHWH requires from those who would be true apostles. Apostles are those who give up all to follow their leader, and are trusted enough by that leader to be sent out on the most sensitive of missions. Apostles must count the cost of discipleship, and then gladly pay it. When we give ourselves to YHWH, as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1-2), we are to do so totally, without reserve, to be pleasing to Him. As we commit ourselves to YHWH, the Spirit enables us to practice this kind of sacrifice in our own lives.
The “burnt offering” offered by Noah was said to produce a “soothing aroma” to YHWH (Gen. 8:21). This is an expression that is frequently employed in very comparable relations in Leviticus 1:9, 17. We see this pattern in many practices that are in the Law of Mosheh. This indicates to us that many of the practices which are regulated in Leviticus are not first initiated there, but have their origin much earlier in the history of YHWH’s dealings with men. The public national sacrifices offered each day and at the feasts are listed in Num. 28-29. However, there is a question of a personal act of devotion or atonement. Special times of offering burnt offerings are summarized in 2 Chronicles 8:13: They did this according to the daily statute, offering them up according to the commandment of Mosheh, for the Shabbats, the new moons, and the three annual feasts—the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles (2 Chron. 31:3). Leviticus 1:2 makes it clear that only domesticated animals may be offered and not wild game, which is easily obtained. Leviticus 1:3, 10; 22:18 makes it clear that only perfect (unblemished) animals were acceptable for sacrifice. The message is that only one’s best is good enough for YHWH. The prophet Malakyah told those who offered with disrespect and sub-par animals that they were despising YHWH’s name and polluting his table (Malachi 1:6-13), because they showed through their outward actions where their hearts and conscience were based upon what they believed to be right in their own eyes and not, but not according to the will of YHWH. Domesticated animal meat for the poor was a luxury during the times of ancient Israel. They could eat hunted animals, but when it came to a sacrifice they had to give the best of what they had of their own animals and most times that meant “two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering” (Leviticus 5:7). Yet there are many who are not poor who may go pale if they saw a whole lamb, or bull, go up in smoke as a burnt offering. How much greater wrenches would a poor Israelite have felt? Male animals were also regarded as more valuable than females, because of the role that they played in sacrifices. For example, in the case of purification offerings from ignorant errors, a ruler had to bring a male goat for their burnt offering. However, a person who did not have a leader’s office was only expected to offer a female goat for their burnt offering (Lev. 4:22-31). Except for the burnt offering and restitution (sin) offerings, animals of either sex could be offered. The limitation to male animals shows the high status of these two sacrifices. A male animal is also specified for the sacrifice in Leviticus 5:18. The choice of a male is symbolic of the power and strength that would be required of a leader and was one reason why male animals were of greater value. Female animals were more common than males, as females were necessary for reproduction purposes, which was equivalent to both capital and income. Female animals also functioned as a continual provider of milk and its by-products. Males were more expendable, since they were utilized only periodically for purposes of breeding, and were the main source of meat. Therefore, the fact that the males were used more often for food, and for sacrificial purposes, at a young age (Ex. 12:5; Lev. 23:18-19) led to them being in greater demand, than the female. These factors led to them having greater value than the female according to the customs in those days. The person making the sacrifice was actively involved in the worship. They had to choose an animal without spot or blemish from their own flock, bring it to the sanctuary, lay their hands upon it while confessing their sin, kill it, and cut it into its required pieces with their own hands, then watch it go up in smoke before their very eyes after the priest laid it on the altar. The person who brought the sacrifice, believed and was convicted that something very significant was achieved through these acts and believed within themselves that their relationship with YHWH was profoundly affected by their sacrifice. This was for good reason, as the burnt offering makes atonement for sin on a broad-spectrum, for the individual and for the nation, and for the whole world. The words of Yahchanan in John 1:29 are particularly important, since he did not say: “who takes away the sins (plural) of the world,” but rather, “who takes away the sin (singular) of the world.”
The sin of the world is the internal passions and desires to do contrary to the law of One (Deut. 6:4; Zech. 14:9) - acting in self-mode. The woman saw that the fruit (symbolized by those who know today by a red apple to signify the passion) was delightful and desirable and she took and ate (Gen.3:6). This act was the ‘so called’ original sin (selfishness). It has multiplied and plagues man today as it is the germ of every problem in this lower world (the mother of all sins). For this reason, the personality Yahshua was revealed as the Lamb of YHWH, as the true the burnt offering, to be an example of how to totally sacrifice the self with its passions and desires (1 Peter 2:21) to YHWH. He instructed His apostles to teach to others what He taught to them (Matthew 28:19-20). Hence, Shaul taught to put to death passions and desires in the members, because they are the reason for the problems that have plagued humanity. (Colossians 3:5-6).
Following Yahshua’s example helps one to deals with the sin that is responsible for the depraved state of man in general, as well as his state in terms of specific sins. There is no need for an animal sacrifice. As stated earlier: Mosheh, Yahshua Ben Nun, and 70 elders had an experience of enlightenment when they went up on the mount, before Mosheh’s further ascent and 40 day stay. Exodus 24:10-11 tell us of that experience stating: “they saw the Father of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself... and they saw YHWH, and they ate and drank.” Yahchanan had a similar experience that he wrote of in Revelation 4:1-6 and described a part of it as “something like a sea of glass, as clear as crystal.” They both saw something that can be expressed ‘very clear’. The experience that Yahchanan wrote of revealed what was concealed in Mosheh’s experience. Mosheh was told in Exodus 24:14 to "Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction." Yahchanan was told Revelation 4:1 to “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after these things.” Mosheh described “a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself”. Yahchanan described “something like a sea of glass, as clear as crystal.” Both men were made to understand the plan of YHWH more clearly through their experience. Upon returning from the mountain, Mosheh attempted to enlighten the children of Israel, but did not realize that what he was revealing to them was above their zone of proximal development (allegorically rendered in Ex. 34:29-30 as his face shining). The children of Israel began to separate themselves from Mosheh, but he toned it down and met them where they were and they returned to him (allegorically rendered in Ex. 34:31-34 as covering his face with a veil). This was not the first time that the children of Israel refused to be enlightened by YHWH. When the law was being given in Exodus 20 they were not able to accept the enlightening word at that time either (Ex. 20:18-19). Mosheh told Israel that YHWH would raise up a prophet like him and that they are to listen carefully to everything he tells them (Deut.18:15-16; Acts 3:22). This prophet would be the lamb that YHWH promised to Abraham (Gen. 22:8, 22). Mosheh was familiar with the fact that whatever he decreed to be law in the earth had to be according to the pattern that was established by the Father in heaven (Exodus 25:40; Hebrews 8:5; Matt. 16:19). Based upon this understanding, Mosheh knew that this lamb would be chosen by the Supreme Head of the household. Therefore, Mosheh set up a pattern of the savior according to the plan of the Most High and concealed it in his law (Ex. 12:3). The ultimate Head of household is YHWH, and He chose a lamb as the true savior for His household in the earth. YHWH sent Yahchanan to identify the lamb that would take away the sins of His family in the world (John 1:29, 36). He also sacrificed the lamb as a sin offering for His family (1 Cor. 5:7; John 3:16). If He brings forth a sin offering for the world He would also need burnt sacrifices with the sin offering according to the pattern (Lev. 4:14, 19-21). Therefore, Yahshua’s example is a sweet smelling aroma of our burnt offering (Eph. 5:2) if we are willing to believe and live as He did (1 John 2:6). Herein we find the true law of the Burnt offering.