The Burnt Offering

By Clarence E. Stuart (adapted excerpt from The Christian’s Friend, 1880)

So precious was the burnt offering to God that it never was to be out of His sight. All night long it burned on the altar ever in God’s remembrance. He could always, as it were, be looking on it the witness to Him of that self-surrender to death of His Son, then future, but now past; then a secret known only to Him, but now shared through grace by us who believe on Him.

Precious was this offering. At all of Israel’s feasts, stated occasions provided by the law as well as on special occasions that arose in later years, this offering was always in season. Each morning and each evening it was offered up on the altar the first sacrifice and the last. This was a standing ordinance in Israel, ever to be remembered and observed. At the close of each week, on the Sabbath, a special burnt sacrifice was appointed. At the commencement of each month a burnt offering of the flock and of the herd was enjoined. At each of the feasts, and on each day of the feasts, special burnt offerings were commanded, as well as on the Day of Atonement. At Aaron’s consecration this sacrifice had its place, and again at the setting apart of the Levites.

No mother in Israel would rejoice over the birth of her child, whether male or female, without bringing for her purification the appointed sacrifice for a burnt offering. Each leper, too, that was cleansed was reminded of his need of it before he could re-enter his tent in the camp and be at home there again; and every one, whether man or woman, made unclean by an issue was taught the importance of bringing a burnt offering to God. On special occasions Samuel at Mizpeh (1 Sam. 7), David on Mount Moriah (2 Sam. 24) and Elijah at Carmel (1 Ki. 18) offered burnt offerings to the Lord. And on that day when the Lord, under the symbol of the ark, first took up His abode in Jerusalem, David sacrificed burnt offerings (2 Sam. 6).

The offering spoke to God, and it speaks to us too, of that self-surrender of His Son to death, even the death of the cross. It is to Him that, in a marked way, the Father’s love flows out (Jn. 10), and He it is whom God has highly exalted and given a name which is above every name (Phil. 2).