The Cross and its Shadow

THE whole burnt-offering had its origin at the gate of the garden of Eden, (Gen. 4:4; 8:20) and extended to the cross; and it will never lose its significance as long as mankind is subject to temptation and sin. The entire sacrifice was laid upon the altar and burned, (Lev. 1:2-9) typifying not only a surrender of sin, but a consecration of the entire life to the service of God.

Wherever the people of God sojourned during the patriarchal age, rude altars of stone were erected, upon which to offer their whole burnt-offerings, Gen. 12:7,8; 13:4; 35:3) After the long period of Egyptian bondage, Israel was so prone to idolatry that the Lord had the brazen altar built in the court of the tabernacle, and instead of burnt- offerings being offered anywhere by the father of the household, they were brought to the sanctuary and offered by the priests of divine appointment. (Duet. 12:5,6)  There were special occasions when burnt-offerings were offered in other places than the sanctuary, as the sacrifice offered by David on the threshing-floor of Ornan, (2 Sam. 24:18-25) and the memorable sacrifice offered by Elijah upon Mount Carmel. (1 Kings 18:31-38)

The accounts of the burnt-offerings in the Bible are a history of wonderful victories when individuals drew near to God by putting away their sins and surrendering their lives and all they possessed to the service of the Lord. Abraham's great test of faith was a burnt-offering upon Mount Moriah. (Gen. 22:2-13) Gideon's wonderful victories dated from the whole burnt-offerings offered before the Lord when he, by those offerings, showed he surrendered all to the Lord to be consumed on the altar as the Lord directed. (Judges 6:21-28)

The whole burnt-offering was a type of the full consecration that must come into every life that God can use to His glory. Paul urged the fulfilling of the antitype in the following words:I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom. 12:1)  The offering of the most costly animal was only an abomination to the Lord unless it was accompanied by the surrender of the heart and life of the one who offered it. (Is. 1:10,11 Amos 5:22)

This principle was beautifully illustrated in the Saviour's passing by as of little value the large gifts of the rich who offered only for display, and stating that in the valuation of heaven the two mites which the poor widow gave with a heart full of love, were of more value than all the wealth given for vain display. (Mark 12:41-44)  The Lord regards the gifts and offerings made by His people to carry forward His work on the earth, as an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God, and He pledges to supply all their needs. (Phil 4:16-19) Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (1 Sam. 15:22)

The whole burnt-offering was offered as an atonement for sin. (Lev. 9:7) The individual making the offering laid his hands on the head of the animal, confessing his sins; (Lev. 1:4; Num. 8:12) and then, if it was from the flock or the herd, with his own hands he took its life. If the burnt-offering was a bird, the priest killed the offering. The blood was sprinkled round about upon the brazen altar, in type of the cleansing blood of Christ, and then the offering was burned upon the altar.

Every morning and evening a lamb was offered at the sanctuary as a whole burnt-offering. (Ex. 29:38-42) Each Sabbath day four lambs were offered, two in the morning and two in the evening. (Num. 28:9,10) These sacrifices typified a reconsecration of the whole congregation each morning and evening to the service of God.

Since the shadow has met the substance, it would be hollow mockery to offer burnt-offerings morning and evening now; but the type has lost none of its significance, and contains lessons for us; for to love Him [God] with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices. (Mark 12:33)

The heart filled with love to God and our fellow-men is an offering always acceptable to God. In order to keep the heart in this condition, it must be filled with the life-giving Word of God. (Ps. 119:11) The Lord regards a knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings. (Hosea 6:6)  The individual who will sacrifice selfish interests and pleasures sufficiently to take time morning and evening to study God's word, will experience that love in the heart which always has been and ever will be far more acceptable to God than whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.

Type Antitype
Lev. 1:9. Sacrifice given to God was accepted asa sweet savour unto the Lord. Eph. 5:2. Christ has given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.
Ex. 29:38-43. God met with His people as they offered their whole burnt-offerings, and they were sanctified by His presence. Heb. 10:8-10. We are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once forall.
Lev. 1:2-9, 13, 17. The entire body was consumed on the altar, an offering made fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord. Rom. 12:1. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the by mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.