Leviticus 1:1–9 Part 1
(Editor’s note: Bobby gave this excellent lesson for the Karns church of Christ in Tennessee November 18, 2020. This year Bobby and his family returned to Toronto to continue working with the Strathmore church of Christ and the Key to the Kingdom outreach to Canada which the congregation oversees. Bobby died suddenly of a heart attack Monday, October 31, 2022, at age 51, after preaching another excellent sermon the day before. Bobby’s influence will live on through his Key to the Kingdom programs and the many lives he has blessed with his sound Biblical preaching and teaching and the love of God he exemplified.)
Have you ever heard or been guilty of saying on your way to worship, “Man, I sure hope I get something out of this?” I’ve been guilty of this. I’m not proud of it. But yes, I’m guilt of thinking that. I’m guilty of saying that. When we say this we it really indicates we are forgetting to Whom worship is directed. It’s not about me. But rather it is about God. Worship is directed heavenward. God is receiving it.
Today’s worshipers can really forget this truth. I’m sure it’s no surprise to you to hear that these days religion and entertainment have very much become entwined. We have lost the notion that when we come before the Lord, when we use that phrase, “come before the Lord,” we mean into His presence, that we are to bring a gift, hence the title of the lesson, “Worship: The Gift We Offer.”
When I say gift, I’m not talking about the contribution although that could be a part of it. But when we approach God we are to present to Him our sacrifice of praise. We are to offer Him glory and honour. It is in this context of sacrifice that I want to draw some principles from the Old Testament text and bring them forward into the New Testament under the law of Christ. We can learn some principles here on sound worship practice. Specifically we are going to the book of Leviticus 1:1–9.
“Now the LORD called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of the livestock—of the herd and of the flock.
3 ‘If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD. 4 Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. 5 He shall kill the bull before the LORD; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting.’”
By way of background, the sacrifice here is the burnt offering. Its purpose was for sins in general. The entire animal, in this case a male, was to be offered up to God. It was symbolic of the covenant commitment made between God and His people. We read about this in Exodus 24:3–8. The burnt offering confirmed the covenant between God and Israel.
We will look at Leviticus 1:1–9 in two parts, first 1:2–3, then 1:4–9. We will look at what happened and make Christian application.
In 1:2–3 the offerer was to bring an offering without blemish to the Lord: 1) the offerer was to bring it, 2) it was without blemish, 3) it was to the LORD.
Verse 2 shows us the first part, “you shall bring your offering.” There a lot involved in the bringing. If you are going to please the Lord, it’s going to require some work. Before any bringing takes place, the offerer has to select the animal to bring to sacrifice. This choosing is in preparation for worshiping God. This is preparatory. Even before you go to worship, you have got to prepare. This is a task that would take some time. It requires forethought and effort. The offerer’s animals would require inspection to examine the animals and select what was appropriate, what God wanted. It was critical because what God wanted was the animal without blemish as we read in verse 3. Any blemishes could only be ascertained by way of careful examination. The offerer’s own heart is also being examined by God. So, the offerer is examining the animals but think about this: God is examining the offerer. You offerer, are you going to give Me what I have commanded you? Are you going to provide God the prize animal of the flock? God would not accept a defective offering.
In Deuteronomy 15:21, Moses said, “But if there is a defect in it, if it is lame or blind or has any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God.” Such an offering would insult God. Unfortunately the Israelites did that very thing. We read in Malachi 1:8,
And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice,
Is it not evil?
And when you offer the lame and sick,
Is it not evil?
Offer it then to your governor!
Would he be pleased with you?
Would he accept you favourably?”
Says the LORD of hosts.
The mindful selection of the animal, however long it may take depending on how many animals the person may have, he needs to ensure it is without blemish. That was necessary even before the act of worship.
With this we want to make a critical point: worship is an intended act. We don’t fall into worship accidentally. Sometimes people use the phrase, “Worship is 24/7, we’re always worshiping God.” I want to draw your attention to Genesis 22:1–5. We are familiar with the account. God commanded Abraham to take his one and only son Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering. What does the text say? “So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son.” This is all obedience but is this obedience worship? The text says in verse 5 that when they arrived at the mountain, “Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.’’’
So what was all that before? What that was before was service, obedient service to the commands of God, how Abraham was living his life. Worship hadn’t happened yet. So, a distinction is made between obedient service and worship. Worship to God is intended and it requires preparation. Preparation for the burnt offering involved selecting an offering without blemish.
Thirdly, the offerer comes into the Lord’s presence. He brings the sacrifice. The sacrifice is without blemish. He is coming into the Lord’s presence with this choice sacrifice. The text says, “he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD.”
Let’s consider what’s happening here with regard to holiness. Leviticus is very much about holiness. It is a theme of the book. The holiness of the offering as well as the holiness of the offerer is purposed to be worthy of the holiness of the Lord’s presence. There is a whole lot of holiness going on here. Remember, Moses was required to remove his sandals when he was in the presence of the Lord because he was standing on holy ground (Exodus 3:5). It was God’s presence that made that groundholy. When God calls His people who would bring Him these sacrifices to be holy, as Leviticus 19:2 says, “‘You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.’”
Let’s make Christian application to what we have read in Leviticus 1:2–3. Worship to God demands preparation. That’s number one. Like the Israelites, we are to ready to worship God, mentally and spiritually. With regards to the contribution, the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians that the Macedonian churches, “they first gave themselves to the Lord,” then their means (2 Corinthians 8:1–5). “They gave themselves first to God.” What does that really mean. They were in service to Him. They obeyed His voice. They were committed to Him. Their allegiance was to God.
We could do the outward actions of worship properly. We can dot our “i’s” and cross our “t’s” when it comes to the physical actions of our worship. I want to be clear, we do need to do the acts of worship the way that God wants us to do them. Those directives are here in the Bible. But those directives of God also include our genuineness of heart. God wants our hearts as well as our obedience. Quoting from Isaiah Jesus said, “These people draw near to Me with their mouths and honour Me with their lips.” What does that mean? Visible evidence of praise and honour. That’s visible. People can see it. It’s with their mouths; it’s with their lips. What did Jesus say next, “but their heart is far from Me” (Matthew 15:8). Before we approach worship to God, we need to prepare ourselves for what we are about to do, what we are about to give God. Before we give God our gift of worship we need to give ourselves first to the Lord.
Number two. Worship to God demands giving Him our very best. The Israelites had to painstakingly examine each animal of their flocks to determine what was best. In Colossians 3:23 Paul tells us, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,.” What does heartily mean? With a whole heart. Think again of our worship as giving a gift to God. If we are shopping for someone for their birthday and we are intent on giving them a gift and we really care about them, are you not going to seek out the very best gift you can find? You may go to different shops looking for that one perfect gift. You may be willing to stand in long lines. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take effort. You’re making a strong investment in finding this one perfect gift. Is not God worth all that effort? A loved one will get that perfect gift. Our God should receive our holy gift; Leviticus 19:2 again, “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, whatever we we do, we “do all to the glory of God.” God is the focus of all we do. He is the focus of all that we are. So, it’s more than just actions, it’s who we are as people. Doing things to the glory of God and with all our heart includes the time of our assembly together for worship and it involves our whole life. It includes our worship.
Third, worship to God demands we recognize we are coming into His holy presence. A building may just be a building but when use our facilities to praise God in worship, we enter into His holy presence. This principle is expressed in Psalm 95, a call to worship and obedience,
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
3 For the LORD is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
4 In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
5 The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.
6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
7 For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.
What do we learn from this? In worship we kneel, we bow down, in reverence before our Maker when we worship Him. Sometimes it’s a challenge to get the whole assembly to hush and recognize what we are about to do. Is visiting one another important? It’s great at the appropriate time. Worship is for God. The offerrer brings a perfect sacrifice to God.
To be continued…
You can listen to and watch Bobby’s lesson here: https://www.facebook.com/KarnsChurch/videos/1010312836119103/