Jesus Christ Our Approach Offering

washed-by-blood-jesus-christ-passion-cross-screenshotIn this teaching we are going to be looking at Jesus Christ our Approach Offering. We are going to spend a lot of time in the Old Testament, and some time in Hebrews.

It is very important to understand what Jesus Christ did for us. If you and I are truly going to appreciate what we have, it helps to know what people who lived before us did not have. Honestly, the attitude and the mind-set that you and I probably have towards God, as Christians, is considerably different than people who lived before the time of Christ’s death. You and I read the New Testament and God practically begs us to come into His fellowship—please pray; please fellowship with me, please enter into my presence, and please sit at my feet. We are encouraged to have an intimate relationship with God, and that becomes so natural, so much a part of our worship and thought life that it is honestly hard for us to imagine a time when that was not the case.

Many Scriptures in the New Testament tell us that God is love—that preponderance of Scripture and teaching did not exist in the Old Testament. What did exist in the people of the Old Testament was a different mind-set about God. This mind-set was going to magnify who Jesus Christ was, what Jesus Christ did, and then show us clearly that it was Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for us that opened the way to God. The way of having an intimate relationship with God was closed before the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We will see that in the way that God had the tabernacle set up and the sacrifices.

I am going to be teaching from the New International Version. I encourage you if you are in a position to get out your Bible and read it along with me to please do that. It is very powerful when we see the Words of God on the page. It is a wonderful experience, for we need to develop our relationship with the Written Word as well as with the Living Word and with the Father. We need to be able to read and meditate in the Scripture, so that God can speak to us through it. How many times are we in discussions with people and you hear or you might say something like: “You are not listening to me!” or you might write a note to your kids, and they completely ignore it, and you say, “You did not care what I wrote!” Well, God wrote us a very large book, and He wants us to read it and understand it and listen to Him as He speaks to us through His Word.

Let’s start with God’s relationship with the people in the Old Testament.

Exodus 19:10
And the LORD said to Moses,

In my NIV, I have a capital L-O-R-D. That tells me if you are reading the KJV, NAS, ERV, or whatever, it is all the same. L-O-R-D is the personal name of God, Yahweh. Because it is God’s personal name and not a title or an epithet, I am going to use it when I read.

Exodus 19:10 and 11
(10) And the LORD [Yahweh] said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes
(11) and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD [Yahweh] will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.

You are thinking great, finally. God is going to show up in the midst of His people. What a great day that will be. The people are going to be so blessed, and they are going to flock to see God. They are going to want to get close to God—that is what you and I would want if this were the New Testament times. However, we are reading about 1400 years before Christ, and things were a little different. What does God say?

Exodus 19:12 and 13
(12) Put limits [a boarder or boundary] for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.
(13) He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain.”

“Oh, that is great. That really makes me want to get close to God! God is going to come down on Mt. Sinai, and if I get too close, they are going to kill me.” You see the mind-set that God is setting here in the Old Testament is so different than the mind-set of the time period in which you and I live. The Old Testament mind-set was “do not get too close to God.” That was the mind-set that God had set for the people in the Old Testament.

At this point, you might be saying, “John, what about prayer? Were people not encouraged to pray to God?” Absolutely, they were encouraged to pray. It was not about prayer. It was about the mindset of the person. When I pray, I pray as a child of God coming to a Father, and we have an intimate relationship. I can say, “Hey God what about this? What about that?” I can talk to Him. I can pour out my heart to Him. It is a mind-set. I see God as wanting to bring me close. I see my relationship with Him being close and intimate by me literally sitting on His lap, if you will, or looking up into His eyes and talking to Him or laying my heart into His hands. That is my mind-set. That is what is encouraged in the New Testament because of the work of Jesus Christ.

In the Old Testament, when people prayed to God, it was like a culture praying to the king. They were praying but to a distant monarch. It was to a God that was not intimate; and in many cases, the people thought not even really interested in them. [For further study read The Patron-Client Relationship in the Ancient World.]

Romans 8:36 [quoting from the Old Testament]
…we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

“Oh great, that is going to make me want to pray to that God.” He counts me as a sheep to the slaughter. What we see in the Old Testament, again, is that God was setting up a mind-set of distance between Him and the people. This mind-set is going to be reflected in the way that God says that the people can worship Him. Before the Exodus, people who wanted to worship God just made an altar and worshiped God wherever they wanted to worship. Remember, Noah got off the ark and set up an altar right where he was. Abraham would travel from place to place, and wherever he was he would set up an altar. I need to tell you that even in that, unless you know some Hebrew, I guarantee you that you do not have the full meaning of their altar because I sure did not before I learned about it. Yes, I had been in church after church after church. I have seen a lot of altars, nice clean stone or wood that was sitting up there in the front of the church. Sometimes the minister would stand beside it, lay his Bible on it, or might lean on it to talk. In the Hebrew text, the word altar is completely different.

You can check this out. The Hebrew word for altar is the word mizbeach {miz-bay’-akh}. The Hebrew word, if you were to translate it, means slaughter place. You went to the altar, the slaughter place, and you approached God with blood; in fact, I believe that it is the Schocken Bible that literally translates it as slaughter sight. When I first started reading the Schocken Bible, which is only the first five books of Moses, Genesis through Deuteronomy, I remember vividly reading in Genesis where Abraham set up a slaughter sight, and it really arrested my attention. I thought, “What is this?” I then went and checked the Hebrew, and that was precisely correct. The whole Old Testament picture was that you approached God with blood, in other words it was a distant relationship.

You certainly see this distance here in Exodus chapter 19. God then sets up a tabernacle in Exodus 25-26. God starts talking about the tabernacle, chapter after chapter after chapter. The tabernacle and the temple served several purposes, but one of them again was to separate God from the people. To understand what Jesus Christ did, we have to understand a little bit about the tabernacle. If you are reading a study Bible or can look at a Bible dictionary, it will help you to be able to see what the tabernacle looked like. By the way, the word tabernacle is representative of what I call the whole tabernacle complex including the courtyard and the tent inside the courtyard. The King James Version is a little confusing here. It translates both the whole complex as tabernacle and the tent inside as tabernacle; thus, when you are reading the Bible, you sometimes get confused with what is happening. I will use the more proper designation that the tabernacle is the entire enclosure, the entire courtyard and all of its contents including the tent inside, which is called the Tent of Meeting. The tabernacle itself in Hebrew is mishkan {mish-kawn’}. The tent inside of the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting in Hebrew is the ‘ohel {o’-hel} mohed.

Let’s briefly look at the tabernacle. What we have is a courtyard, an enclosure that is 150 cubits by 50 cubits. We are not sure whether they used a common cubit or a royal cubit. The common cubit is about 18 inches. The royal is about 25 inches. If we make a cubit about two feet in this case, like the royal cubit that they did in the Temple of Ezekiel, then you basically have a tented enclosure about 200 feet long by 100 feet wide. That courtyard is enclosed by white curtains that are five cubits high. Let us basically say that they are 10 feet. You now have a 200-foot by 100-foot rectangle. That rectangle is made of white curtains 10 feet high. On the east side the curtain can be parted so that offerings, priests, and Levites can go in and out of the tent. That is the tabernacle enclosure.

If you had an offering, you were allowed into the courtyard, which we will see that only the Levites and priests were actually allowed into the tabernacle enclosure. However, if you were a regular Israelite who had an offering, you were allowed to enter into the tabernacle with your offering. You would walk in from the east through the curtain. The first thing that you would run into was the Brazen Altar or the Altar of Sacrifice, and behind the Altar of Sacrifice was the Laver or the Washing Pot, it was huge and contained water. It was where the priest would wash or sometimes sacrifices would be washed in the Laver. Again, you would walk in from the east and come to the Brazen Altar first, then the Laver was second and then you had the Tent of Meeting itself. The Tent of Meeting consisted of a tent that would have been 30 cubits long and 10 cubits wide or 60 by 20. It was made up of two rooms. If you were looking at it from the east, you would see a curtain. If you walked through that curtain, you would walk into the Holy Place, which only the priests were allowed to do. On your right hand side was the table of the Bread of the Presence, which the King James Version called Shewbread, but the Bread of the Presence is more accurate because God does show His presence to us in the food that we eat. We give thanks for our daily food. The fact that we have food to eat is indicative of the presence of God in our lives, so the loaves of bread that would be stacked on the table were called the Bread of the Presence. It was to be indicative of the constant presence and care of God for His people. On the left hand side was the Menorah. The seven branched candlesticks that gave light for the Holy Place and demonstrated the light of God. In the back of the room, right in front of another curtain, was a little Golden Altar of Incense, which, burned daily for Yahweh.

Now, recapping where we are. You walked into the tabernacle, walked past the Altar, past the Laver, through the curtains into the Holy Place with the Bread of the Presence on your right and the Menorah on your left, and past the Golden Altar of Incense. Now you go through a second set of curtains into the Holy of Holies, which the NIV translates as “the most holy place.” This is a little room that is 10 cubits by 10 cubits or about 20 feet by 20 feet, and in that is the Arc of the Covenant, which has the tablets of stone of Moses and the golden pot of manna. It is covered by an atonement cover or Mercy Seat on which are Cherubim. God says, for example, that He “dwells between the Cherubim on the Mercy Seat” (Ex. 25:22 KJV).

I get a kick out of where Scripture says that God dwells in thick darkness. I get that from this. If you are way back in that little tiny room, and no light is there, you bet it is thick darkness.

Up until the time of the building of the tabernacle, the people of God, like Noah and Abraham, could build a slaughter sight anywhere they wanted to build it and approach God with blood. What happens with the building of the tabernacle is that God says, “Now I want you to worship Me where I say and not where you want to worship.” God at this time became more restrictive in allowing the worship of Him among the Israelites.

Deuteronomy 12:13
Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please. That is what they had been doing. They just worshiped anywhere they wanted to worship.

Deuteronomy 12:14
Offer them only at the place the LORD will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you.

By now, what God is doing is that He is limiting the worship of Him to the tabernacle and later to the temple. What this does is that it clarifies the fact that the average Israelite is really separated from God. The Levites are separated from God. The priests are separated from God. Remember God is going to dwell between the Cherubim in the Holy of Holies. Who is allowed to go into the Holy of Holies? The High Priest is allowed to go into the Holy of Holies but only one time per year. Everybody is now separated from an intimate relationship with God.

I need you to understand the picture that God is painting for the people. We looked at the people in Exodus where God said, “Put a limit. Do not let them get too close.” God reinforces that in Numbers 1:51, where He says only the Levites are to come close to the things of God.

Numbers 1:51
Whenever the tabernacle is to move, the Levites are to take it down, and whenever the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall do it. Anyone else who goes near it shall be put to death.

Great, as I said, “This really makes me feel close to God.” You see, the only ones that can get really close to consistently minister to the things of God in the courtyard are the Levites. They change the water in the Laver. They carry the wood, as the burnt offering has to be burning constantly before Yahweh. The Altar of Burnt Offerings always has a fire, so people are constantly getting wood, which was no small task out there in the desert for 40 years. Gathering wood was a huge part of the Levites responsibility. God made it very plain that if you were not a Levite, you were not to be close to the things of God, or you would be put to death. If you remember, the Levites were very zealous of that.

In Acts 21:28 and 29, even though they did not have any proof, the Apostle Paul was supposed to have brought a man from Ephesus into the temple. They were going to kill Paul but Roman soldiers rescued him. As you see, they took this command of God very seriously.

Where does that leave the rest of us when it comes to God? Well, we are outside the tabernacle staring at the curtains. We know that something is going on inside there and that God lives in their somewhere. We know that offerings and sacrifices are being given to God and that some people were allowed to get closer to God than we were allowed. We were outside the curtains. We did not really have an approach to God.

The Levites themselves were not allowed to go into the Holy Place where the Menorah and the Table of Shewbread were located. To minister to God like that, you had to be a priest.

Numbers 3:10
Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary must be put to death.”

Great, now the Levites were real comfortable. They were out there carrying the wood and water around and if they tried to sneak a peak into the Holy Place, they would be killed. That did not make them feel really close to God!

Now what about the priests? The priests had to feel like they had to do it right also. Aaron was the father of the priestly line. So, all of Aaron’s descendents were priests

Leviticus 10:1 and 2
(1) Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD [Yahweh], contrary to his command.
(2) So fire came out from the presence of the LORD [Yahweh] and consumed them, and they died before the LORD [Yahweh].

These were priests. They actually got to enter into the Holy Place. They actually got to change the Bread of the Presence and the Menorah oil; however, God established early on that you had better do things correctly. “I am serious about My worship here.” What happened then? Nadab and Abihu, what did they do? They had incense, but instead of doing things the way that God prescribed, they rebelled against God and did things their own way. The result was that fire came out from the presence of Yahweh, and they died.

How did you think that the average person felt about that? I am sure that did not make them want to be close to God. The two sons of Aaron just got burned up by fire that came out from the presence of Yahweh, and here as a regular old Israelite, you’re told that if you even get close that you are going to be killed. You are thinking, “yes, I might pray to God—yeah, from a really far distance!” Did you feel close to God? No, you did not. Did you feel like you understood God? No, you did not! Did you feel like you had an intimate relationship with God? No, you did not!

I want you to understand this because it is only in understanding this that you will get what Jesus Christ did for us. So many times it feels like we get hounded to pray to God, to praise God, and come into His presence with singing. Sometimes you hear it so often that you think, “Yeah, yeah, yeah!” We need to really understand that this is a rare privilege that we are able to come intimately into the presence of God. Being able to come into the very presence of the God who created the heavens and the earth is a rare privilege that was bought for us by Jesus Christ!

What about coming into the Holy of Holies where God was between the Cherubim? Did the High Priest get to do that? Yes, the High Priest got to do that once a year. It is in Leviticus 16 where I want to make a point. You can read here about the Day of Atonement. You will find out that one day a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest got to go into the presence of God. He went in twice. The first time that he went in he killed a bull, and he went in with the bulls blood. He sprinkled it, and that made atonement for him to even be there as a human being. He would back out and then kill a goat. He would take the blood of the goat and go back in and sprinkle it for the sins of the people of Israel. The High Priest was not even allowed to cleanse the children of Israel until he himself had been personally cleansed in the presence of God. You might be thinking, “Yeah but at least the High Priest got to see the Arc and the Cherubim.” The answer is “Well, no not really.” You would then say, “But I thought that he was in that little room.” The answer is, “Yes, he was in that little room with the Holy of Holies, with the Ark the Mercy Seat, and the Cherubim, but remember, Scripture tells us that it is thick with darkness in there because there is no light in there.”

Let’s look at what it says about the High Priest going into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement.

Leviticus 16:12 and 13
(12) He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the LORD [Yahweh] and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain.
(13) He is to put the incense on the fire before the LORD [Yahweh], and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the Testimony, so that he will not die.

I do not know if you have ever done the incense thing. When you go to the stores today that sell the incense sticks that look like the sparklers that we used when we were kids except it is covered with incense and you light one end of it. Just the little tiny grains of incense are burning along the incense stick that produces the smoke. You can imagine the kind of smoke that you are going to get if you take two handfuls of finely ground incense and dump them on coals. I will tell you something; that little room is going to be so thick with smoke that not only will Aaron not see the Ark of the Covenant and the Atonement Cover, but it is an astounding truth that Aaron can even breath. I brought home some frankincense from Israel on my last trip. I have an office that is 12×15. I took a piece the size of a pea and put it on this piece of burning charcoal. I thought that I would just have some incense going while I studied the Bible. The incense drove me out of the room. I had to open the door and turn on a fan. I could not even be in there. I thought to myself, “I will never do that again,” and I never have. That was just with one little tiny piece of incense. Here in Leviticus, the High Priest walks into this little itty-bitty room with two handfuls of finely ground incense, and you think, “Wow, he is right in the presence of God, but he never sees it.” Again, what is the message? The message is that a separation is there between the people and God, even if you get to come into His presence to sprinkle blood, you cannot see God. A distance is there. It is Jesus Christ that has breached that distance for you and me.

I would like to talk about something that shows up in our songs and in our worship, but maybe we have not considered it before in the way a person who lived in the Old Testament would have considered it.

Psalm 100:4
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

We have a praise and worship song that we sing at our church that has this Psalm in it. It goes like this:

“I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart. I will enter His courts with praise. I will say this is the day that the LORD has made. I will rejoice for He has made me glad.”

When I sing that in my church, what I am thinking is, “Yeah, I am going to enter into His gates and go right up to His throne and talk to Him.” If you lived in the Old Testament times, you could not do that. Scripture says, “I will enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.” That was it. That was as close as you were getting. If you had a burnt offering in your hand and were killing a sacrifice, the closest that you could get to God was His courts. Go into to the Holy Place? Not on your life. Go into the Holy of Holies? Unthinkable. It is funny, as it is only in framing the song in the context of the Old Testament that even though they could not become intimate with God and go into the presence of God, they were thankful for the relationship that they did have. To even enter God’s gates and enter into His courts and stand there in the court of God, they were so thankful and praised God for it.

How much more should we who can enter into the thrown room of God Himself, have praise and thanksgiving at what Jesus Christ has done for us? I tell you, Jesus Christ purchased such a great privilege for us to enter into the very presence of God. No wonder we should pray with fervor. No wonder we should pray without ceasing. No wonder we should lift our voices in praise to God. The Creator of the heavens and the earth now lets us into His intimate presence. Wow! This is such a phenomenal privilege.

In looking at Leviticus chapter one, what we are going to begin to see is the set-up for the work of Jesus Christ. We are going to see that in something a man named David Bergey called the Approach Offering. He wrote a book called Jesus Christ Our Approach Offering. E.W. Bullinger in his companion Bible calls it An Admittance Offering. We are going to see this and understand why this is here.

Leviticus 1:1
The LORD [Yahweh] called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting.

You can imagine if you were a priest or a Levite, and you were standing around in the courtyard and all of a sudden out of this tent came a voice. Some of the priests could go in there to minister and see the Bread of the Presence, and they knew that God had to be there because out of the back room of this tent comes a voice. Even the people of Israel who were outside on the other side of the white curtain (because that was the closest that they could get without an offering) could hear the voice.

Leviticus 1:1 and 2
(1) The LORD [Yahweh] called to Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting. He said,
(2) “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When any of you brings an offering to the LORD [Yahweh], bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock.

I want to do some work in Hebrew with you because the word “bring” is important. It is the Hebrew word qarab {kaw-rab’}. Its basic meaning is “bring” or “to bring close” or “to bring near.” The word “offering” is the noun form of the verb qarab. It is the noun qorban {kor-bawn’}. Because qorban is the noun form of the verb, it is an offering, yes, but it is an offering that allows you to come near. They were not allowed to come near before this. Now, they are to come near with their “come near offering,” or to approach with “an approach offering,” or they are going to enter God’s presence with an “entrance offering.” Do you see where I am going with this? Literally you have the verb “come near” and then the noun is based on the verb. It is a “come near offering.” It is an “approach offering.” I will say that the word qorban is the most general term for offering in the Old Testament. Other specific words exist for offering, and qorban is a general term for offering. You can find places where it does not specifically mean an approach offering depending on the context, but in this scripture, it would mean an “approach offering.”

When you are reading it in English, and it says, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them, ‘When any of you brings an offering to the LORD, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock.’ The idea of approaching God does not even appear in that verse. The concept of “you cannot approach God without an approach offering” does not appear either.

If you were to read it in Hebrew, then it would be:

“When any of you approaches God with an approach offering, bring as your approach offering an animal from either the herd or the flock. If the approach offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he is to approach with a male without defect. He must approach from the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, so it will be acceptable to Yahweh.”

Do you hear the word approach, approach, and approach offering? It keeps being repeated. The person who is reading this in the Hebrew or the person who is listening to this as it is properly translated gets the idea that approaching God is a big deal. If I do say so, approaching God is the world’s biggest deal. He is a holy God. He is a powerful God. He is a just God. He is a God who breathed and the galaxies came into existence, and He said, by the way, “if you want to approach Me, I am going to tell you how to do it.”

So He says:

“When any of you approaches with an approach offering to Yahweh, bring as your approach offering an animal from either the herd or the flock. If the approach offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he is to approach with a male without defect. He must approach to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting so that it will be acceptable to Yahweh.”

Notice how he approaches the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. Remember that the average Israelite just did not walk into the tabernacle courts and say, “Hey what is going on in here? I just want to stick my head in here and see what is happening.” The average Israelite was not allowed to come that close to the things of God without an approach offering that would allow him into the courtyard. Then he could come in with thanksgiving and with praise.

Verse four is incredibly important and often missed.

Leviticus 1:4
He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.

How is it that sinners get atonement by bringing a male animal without defect and by laying the hand of the sinner on the head of the animal? What happens here is that the innocence and righteousness of the animal is transferred to the sinner, and the sin of the person is transferred to the animal. In Romans 6:23, it says:

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death…

The animal is going to die. Because the sin went onto the animal, then the animal died and that covers for the sin of the individual. Remember that the word atonement in the Hebrew literally means “cover.” The sin is covered, and the death of this animal will be accepted on his behalf to cover for him.

Leviticus 1:5
He is to slaughter the young bull before the LORD [Yahweh], and then Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and sprinkle it against the altar on all sides at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.

I used to believe a long time ago that it was the priests that killed the sacrifice. Well, the priests kill the Passover sacrifice, the daily sacrifice, and things like that, but when it comes to your own personal offerings that you are bringing before Yahweh, the burnt offering, the grain offering, the fellowship offering, or such things like that, you kill them.

Think about how graphic this is. It is my sin that killed Jesus Christ. Not sin in general, not sin out there somewhere, not the sin of the world, but my sin. You would enter into the court with this animal, and then hold it, and cut its throat, and it would die in your arms. You would graphically understand that your sin and shortcomings killed that animal. That is how graphic the death of Jesus Christ should be for you and for me. It is not just that somebody out there sinned, and so Jesus died. It is that I, John Schoenheit, killed Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ had not died, John Schoenheit who races to his death would die and be dead forever. I have got to think that way. When I think that way, I become profoundly thankful for the death of Christ. That someone would die for me is such an amazing truth. That Jesus Christ who was completely righteous did not look at this God forsaken person and say, “You can die for yourself. After all, you got yourself into this mess.” That he would take upon himself my sin and your sin. This is such an amazing truth, and we can be so thankful to God for it. It is pictured so beautifully in the Old Testament that the man with the sin came in and killed the offering and held it while it died. The reason that he had to hold it was because the priest had to catch the blood, which they would have to sprinkle on the altar. It was not like you could stand at a distance and shoot it. No, it was up close and intimate—your sin killed that animal. Bless God, what a great picture of Jesus Christ and how he died for the sins of mankind. [For further study read / listen to The Last Week of Christ’s Life.]

It goes on to talk about what you do with the animal, its different parts, and burning it upon the altar.

Leviticus 1:9
He is to wash the inner parts and the legs with water, and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the LORD [Yahweh].

I want to talk about this because this also helps us to picture Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice was not only a sin offering, a covering for our sin, but it was literally something pleasing to God. The smoke of these sacrifices would go up, and it would be pleasing to God that people sought atonement. The smoke also stood for the prayers of the saints that would go up to God. If you think about the offerings in Leviticus, they were very involved; for example, in my NIV study Bible, it has descriptions above the chapters.

Above chapter one, it says The Burnt Offering. The Burnt Offering was an offering made by fire with an aroma pleasing to Yahweh. In chapter two, it is the Grain Offering. The Grain Offering was exactly what it said. It was an offering of grain. It was the only meatless offering of the five primary offerings that are mentioned in Leviticus. By the way, an interesting twist of historic use of words is in the King James Version. The Grain Offering is called the Meat Offering. This is kind of funny because the Grain Offering is the only offering of the five with no meat, but in 1611, the primary food of the people, the people’s meat, was grain. The Grain Offering ended up being called the Meat Offering in the King James Version, but no meat is in it. It too was burned to produce a sweet odor to Yahweh.

Above chapter three, it says the Fellowship Offering, which in the King James Version is called the Peace Offering. It too was burned for a sweet aroma for Yahweh. Above chapter four, it says the Sin Offering, and above chapter five starting in verse fourteen, you have the Guilt Offering. These are the five major offerings that are covered in Leviticus. It also has other minor things in there like the Day of Atonement, Pentecost, Passover, and other sacrifices, but the primary five that people would come and offer would be the Burnt Offering, Grain Offering, Fellowship Offering, Sin Offering, and Guilt or Trespass Offering. Interestingly enough, Jesus Christ embodied all those offerings.

Let’s look at Ephesians 5:1 and 2.

Ephesians 5:1 and 2
(1) Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
(2) and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Jesus Christ, as a fragrant offering, embodied what happened with the Burnt Offering and the Grain Offering, and the Fellowship Offering. Parts of the animal were burned, smoke went up representing the prayers of the saints, and it was a sweet odor to God. Scripture tells us here in Ephesians that when Jesus Christ gave himself up for us that it was a fragrant offering. A re-establishment of the fellowship of the believer with God occurred. That is why they came with a Burnt Offering. Look, if you sinned, you did not bring a Burnt Offering; you brought a Sin Offering. With the Burnt Offering, Grain Offering, and the Fellowship Offering a re-establishment of the fellowship of the people with God occurred. That is so much a part of the work of Jesus Christ. Did he cover our sin? Absolutely, he covered our sin and our trespasses and all of that.

From a relationship perspective, Jesus Christ established an intimacy of relationship between us and God that was embodied in the offerings: the Burnt Offering, the Grain Offering, and the Fellowship Offering, which were offered when the person did not feel like their relationship with God was what it should be.

Now is an aspect of the Sin Offering present in Christ’s work? Absolutely, it is there.

2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin [a Sin Offering] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

If you are reading the NIV like I am, you will have a text note on the word sin. It will say, “A Sin Offering.” That is precisely the way that it should be translated. The Greek word sin could also, in some context, be a Sin Offering, and that is the way that it should be translated here according to the context. What happened was that God made Jesus who had no sin to be a Sin Offering for us; thus, Jesus Christ embodied all five of those personal offerings. He was a sweet savor to God that re-established fellowship between the worshiper and God. He died for the sins of that individual and completely covered their sin. Actually, he covered their sin so completely that in the New Testament it says that we are cleansed from all sin—that is even better than what the Old Testament says.

We need to see that Jesus Christ was that Approach Offering talked about in Leviticus. Jesus Christ is the one who allows us entrance into the presence of God.

I want to look at this from a different perspective as well. Matthew 27 has a little verse that is so short that you can read over it and not think that there is much to it. That is one of the reasons that we have to think like Old Testament believers, if you will.

Matthew 27:50 and 51
(50) And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
(51) At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.

It goes on to speak about the earth shaking, rocks splitting, and the tombs opening. It says at the moment of Christ’s death, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. No “hip-hip hurray” or big explanations or parable is there in the text because everyone who was an Israelite knew exactly what that meant. Everyone who was an Israelite understood that you could not get into the Holy Place. You could not get into the Holy of Holies. The closest that you were going to get with God, even with a sacrifice, was that you were going to get into His courts. When Jesus Christ died, the curtain that separated God from the people was ripped in two and the way into the Holy of Holies was made clean and was now open. In that instant and with that act, the entire temple and tabernacle system was completely made obsolete. The Levites were not needed in order to approach God. Priests were no longer needed to go into the Holy Place because God Himself opened the way to the Holy Place, and every worshipper could walk right in and talk to Him. That is precisely what that indicated. If you were part of that temple system and lived back then, you knew precisely what it meant when that temple curtain was torn in two. It meant that I could now as a non-Levite/non-priest walk in to the presence of God [For further study read Are Christians required to observe the feasts of the Old Testament? and Are Christians required to keep the Sabbath?].

It says that in Hebrews 10:19. I want you to read this while remembering what you have learned about the High Priest going into the Holy of Holies only one day a year, only with blood, and only with enough incense that he never could even see the Ark of God.

Hebrews 10:19
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,

Wait a minute, what? For thousands of years people could not do this. They could not even go to the outer place much less the Holy of Holies. This verse says that you and I should have confidence to walk right into the most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies. Can you imagine what somebody like Isaiah would have thought about this? You go walking up to Isaiah and say, “Hey Isaiah, how would you like to walk into the Holy of Holies?” He would look at you cross-eyed and say, “You have to be kidding me! I would never make it. I would touch the outer curtain, and that would be the end of me!” If you even suggested that the average person could walk into the Holy Place and be in the presence of God just any old time he wanted, or if you suggested it to David or Esther or any of those Old Testament people, they would just think that you were crazy. God is Holy; you could not just go into His presence! Yet, that is what Jesus Christ bought for us. It says, since we have confidence—we are not just walking in there, but rather we are walking in there with confidence to enter the most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way. The word “new” is a really unique word. One Greek word for “new” is neos {neh’-os} which means new in time, another Greek word is kainos {kahee-nos’} which means new in quality, but what this Greek word means is “freshly killed.” By the time of Christ, it had lost some of its etymological significance, so it meant more like “newly made.” That is right, we get to enter into the most Holy Place.

Hebrews 10:19-22
(19) Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,
(20) by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,
(21) and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
(22) let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith,

Are you feeling separated from God?

Are you feeling distant from God?

Do you feel like something is wrong with your relationship with God?

I tell you, we have got to take advantage of this. We have got to fall on our knees in prayer and just take advantage of this phenomenally intimate relationship with God. Scripture does not just say that it is available. It says, “Let us draw near to God.” Now that we can, let’s do it! I do not know about your prayer life, but if you are sitting there reading this teaching and thinking, “Yeah, I do not have a very good prayer life.” You need to get one! It is not that hard. God is not your enemy. He is not holding you at a distance anymore. He just wants you to talk to Him. He wants to be a father for you. He wants to be a loving, kind father, not a mean, nasty father, but a loving tender involved-in-your-life father. Let us draw near to God and take advantage of what Jesus Christ has done.

It says let us draw near to God with a sincere (true) heart in full assurance of faith. You do not have to doubt that maybe this will not work or maybe God will be mad at me or maybe I am too familiar. Sometimes, I hear people pray, and they say something like, “Hey Papa.” Somebody may say, “Oh, I do not know if you should address God that way.” No, address God any way that you want to but just address Him, pray to Him, and get close to Him. Remember, Jesus Christ opened this way to God for us so we should take advantage of it –with confidence.

Hebrews 10:22
let us draw near to God with a sincere (true) heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled

Just like the blood was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement when the High Priest went into the Holy Place.

Hebrews 10:22
to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

This is another reference to the High Priest in Leviticus 16 because his body was washed both before he ministered in the Holy of Holies and after he ministered in the Holy of Holies, so twice on the Day of Atonement the High Priest was washed with water. It is telling us that we can do what the High Priest did—that we can enter into the Holy of Holies. We have had our hearts sprinkled and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:23
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Let’s look at Hebrews 9:6. It is talking about the tabernacle and its services.

Hebrews 9:6-8
(6) When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room [outer place where the menorah was] to carry on their ministry.
(7) But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.
(8) The Holy Spirit [God] was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing.

The way into the presence of God was not disclosed, made manifest is the Greek word from 1 Corinthians 12, was not manifested while the temple and tabernacle were standing. Jesus Christ by his own blood gave us entrance into the presence of God. We need to take advantage of that. First of all, if you get this into the perspective of the Old Testament versus the New Testament, we should be profoundly thankful for the work of Christ—what he did and what it means to us in opening the way into an intimate relationship with God. Let’s take advantage of that intimate relationship. Let’s pray to God. Let’s praise God. Do what it takes in your mind so that you can feel the intimacy that you have with God because that intimacy is real.

Romans 5:1 says that we have peace with God. God is not our enemy. He is not trying to harm us. He has given us every spiritual blessing in Christ. Let’s draw close to God with a true heart and sincere faith, knowing that we can have that intimate blessed relationship that Christ made available.

I leave you with the thought that we need to be profoundly thankful for Jesus Christ and what he did. We need to take advantage of this intimate relationship with our heavenly Father.

He wants you to feel close to Him; I guarantee that He feels close to you.

By John Schoenheit
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