14 Jan 2024

“Sorry & Thank You” Offerings [Leviticus 1-7]


"Sorry" & "thanks" are difficult words to say for many people. But they are vital to any relationship. It is also true regarding man's relationship with God. In order to draw near to God, we need to learn to "say" "sorry" & "thanks" to Him too. Enter the offerings. The 5 offerings- burnt, grain, peace, sin & guilt- variously express "sorry" & "thanks" to God. This sermon will take you through a succinct overview of their purposes and processes. So what does it all mean for a modern man today? The offerings teach the seeker how he or she can be reconciled with God. They also encourage the backslider that there is always a way back to God. And finally, they instruct the Christian on what true worship of God looks like.

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Leviticus, I want to ask before I start, how many of you manage or how many of you actually got back and read up on Leviticus this past week? Can I see by a show of hands, anyone read up? One hand, two hands. All of you just trust me to teach it properly, is it? I anyhow teach you also don't know, alright, so very few of you read it.

How many of you went to Maxwell Road Food Center? None of you. Alright, so I to won't ask how many of you bought ang ku kueh this week? Well, this week I didn't go to Maxwell Road, but I went a bit more high class, I went to Why did I go to I was searching words that are difficult to say in the English language, and I found a few suggested by the website.

One word is this word that you see here, [Isthmus] So typical, first service also, once I showed it, all the sound come out. Well, how do you pronounce this word? Many people pronounce it as isthmus, trying desperately to fit the 'th' inside. But actually, the proper way to pronounce it is without the 'th', it's silent. So simply, isthmus, that's the right way to pronounce.

How about the second word? [Library] See most Singaporeans li-brary. "Where you go?" "I go li-brary." We are very succinct, very economical with our breath, but the right way to pronounce this is not li-bra-ry, but li-bra-ry . Ah, a bit more artistic ah, li-bra-ry.

How about the third word? [mischievous] Mischievous, that's the Singaporean way of pronouncing, mischievous, but the emphasis, the correct way to pronounce, the emphasis is on the first syllable, t's mischievous, not mischievous, it's mischievous. You can practice that.

And the last one, I'll show, not the last one, but the fourth one, a bit more chim, you use it only if you go to a steakhouse, I suppose [worcestershire]. Wa ... wa ... wa ... wah ... wah, this one hard aah! Most people can't pronounce this, we pronounce this as wor-ces-ter-shi-re. Very long ... Worcester, it sounds like Chinese, wor-ces-ter-shi-re. Well, it's not wor-ces-ter-shi-re, it's Wor-ces-ter-shire. Very good ... wor-ces-ter-shire sauce, wor-ces-ter-shire.

Another word that is very difficult for people to say is ... [thanks] Isn't it true, a lot of people have a hard time saying — thank you. And that's why, as parents, we teach our children to say thank you. And since young, our parents teach us to say thank you.

Another word that is very difficult to say is the word — sorry. Very few people can say sorry, they find it hard, and so we have songs that go, "It Is Hard To Say I'm Sorry" by Chicago, and maybe Elton John's, "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word".

Yet, sorry and thanks are crucial in relationships, you cannot have a healthy relationship with anybody if you are not willing to say sorry and thank you. You don't have a healthy marriage if you cannot say sorry and thank you. You cannot have a good relationship with your colleagues if you cannot say sorry and thank you. And in all relationships, we need sorry and thank you, including our relationship with God.

See, Leviticus is not a dry book about rituals and ceremonies, it's a book about drawing near to God - how can sinful men live in the presence of Holy God.

And in order for us to draw near to God, God begins Leviticus with a list of offerings, because these offerings are representations and expressions of sorry and thank you. So the title of today's sermon is - Sorry And Thanks Offerings. They are five offerings, but they in essence, communicate - Lord, I'm sorry and Lord, thank You.

Five offerings in seven chapters, so let me begin with the first.

[1] Burnt Offering
The first is a burnt offering, probably the most well-known offering amongst the five.

It begins, or it is an offering that tells God - I am sorry. Now we know that because in verse 4, God says, "He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement."

The word, "atonement" in the Hebrew means to cover something. It means really to placate and to appease God's anger and wrath. You see, He is holy and we are sinful, and He's angry with our sin, and we cannot come near to God until our sin is covered and His wrath is appeased. So in order to do that, a sacrifice is made to make a cover, an appeasement of God's wrath.

This word, "atonement" is related to the word forgive or forgiven in reference to the sin offering. The word, "forgive" means to pardon. So, this burnt offering is given as a means to say, "Lord, I blew it! I'm wrong, I'm sorry, I've sinned, please cover, please forgive, please let Your mercy flow, let Your wrath be appeased." That's the idea!

So the worshipper brings an animal, an animal without blemish, sinless, not sinless, but disease-less, faultless. He brings this animal, and he lays his hand on his ... on its head. I think symbolizing identification with the animal or the animal identifying with him, in such a way that his sins are transferred symbolically upon the animal.

Can be a goat, can be a lamb, can be a bull, subsequently the animal will be killed. The blood will be spilled and collected, and that blood would then be smeared or applied to the altar of sacrifice that is before the Tent of meeting itself. The significance of this blood is mentioned in Leviticus 17:11, where it says, "The life of the flesh is in the blood ..."

The blood is where life is, this is actually very scientific but we see here that the life has to be sacrificed, the blood has to be spilled, because the application of blood to the altar is to make atonement for your souls, "... For it is the blood that makes atonement by the life." [Lev 17:11]

The wages of sin is death, and so in order to placate God's wrath, to atone for your sin, a life has to be sacrificed, and the blood is the symbol of the sacrifice that is applied to the altar.

As to the animal itself, the whole animal in the burnt offering is to be offered on the altar of sacrifice. This whole animal, every part of the animal, this is the unique thing about the burnt offering, every part of the animal is to be burnt up to the LORD, as said in Leviticus 1:9, "The priest shall burn all of it on the altar and this is a pleasing aroma to the LORD."

So, this is what God accepts, this is what is pleasing to God. when we offer the burnt offering we are saying, "I am sorry, I need atonement, I need a cover, I am sorry I've sinned against You, I need a sacrifice to pay for my sins." And the burnt offering besides communicating - I am sorry, is an offering that communicates - Lord I give You my all, this animal represents me, it pays for my sin, but it is also a symbol, a representation, an expression that I'm going to give my life to You. I want to do better, I want to obey You, I want to serve You. So I am sorry and I will obey, I'll do better.

That's the message of the burnt offering.

[2] Grain Offering
We see secondly, a grain offering.

If the burnt offering is meant to say I'm sorry, what do you think the grain offering is meant to communicate? Grain offering communicates ...? Just a small group here, the grain offering communicates ...? Thank you. You got to be clear about this because the grain offering is an offering of the wheat, the grain.

The grain can be offered either in the form of fine flour when it's ground or it can be offered as baked or grilled or cooked cakes, as we could see it here. Like chapati, roti prata, that kind of ... it's mixed together and it's offered as baked, griddled, pan fried, whatever cakes. Now there are rules with regard to how these cakes are to be done. It's mixed with oil, salt, frankincense and there must be no leaven and no honey, it is essentially a bloodless sacrifice.

When there is a need for atonement, there will be the blood. It is clear, that's the principle. But the grain offering is a bloodless sacrifice that says — thank you. So we see in Leviticus 7:11-12, "He shall offer with a thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves ..."

So this is also not to be uh ... laughed at or despised because this is something that is, "pleasing to God." [Lev 2:9] So, the worshipper probably is thanking God for something like a good harvest. Israel, for a long period will be an agricultural nation, they have their own crops. And when they receive those crops, they want to honour God, they want to thank God, they offer the grain offering.

Now one point to note, even though grain offering is a thank you offering, as far as we read in the Bible, the grain offering is never offered to God alone. It is offered together with another sacrifice. In other words, with another blood sacrifice. But in and of itself, it is a thank you, bloodless sacrifice, pleasing as well to the Lord.

[3] Peace Offering
The third offering is a peace offering.

What is a peace offering for? Well this is where it becomes interesting, because there's a combination of ideas and purposes. The peace offering is both a - I'm sorry offering and also thank you offering.

So burnt offering is for — sorry. Grain offering is for — thank you and peace offering is for — sorry and thank you.

Now the sorry component is seen in a way it is the same SOP, like the burnt offering, except that the whole animal is not burnt up. So there is a laying on of hands, communicating the transference of sin. A killing of the animal symbolizing that death is the payment due for sin, the application of the blood on the altar — to symbolize the atonement and the placation of God's wrath.

And we then see that peace offerings is also used in a context for thanksgiving. So, it is used for atonement but it is also applicable for giving thanks. That's why the dual purpose mentioned there. Now, the peace offering is not totally burned up, the fat, the internal organs, they are burned up. Why? Because they represent the best parts of the animal.

It's very different from our modern-day society, today when we go to a steakhouse, you go for the rib eye, you go for the sirloin, you go for the meat. But in those days, the best part is the internal organs, the fats, that's the tastiest, the best and they are offered to God. But the rest of the animal, the meat for the peace offering, it is distributed to the priest and also to the worshipper that they may eat the meat together.

So it is a kind of a sharing, a kind of a communion, a kind of a feasting, as we see in Solomon's offering of peace offerings to the LORD [1 Kings 8:63]. He gave 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. You may kind of a not think too much about it, but actually it's a lot. In those days, one ox, one sheep is maybe like one Toyota and one Lexus, it's expensive stuff but he was lavish, he honored God this way. And the Bible tells us Solomon held the feast at that time [1 Kings 8:65], the feast was over all these peace offering meat that is left over.

It is feasting, it is celebration and it is also so in Deuteronomy 27 verse 7, "You shall sacrifice peace offerings and you shall rejoice."

So the peace offering is one where the worshipper comes acknowledging - I'm a sinner, I'm guilty before a Holy God, so LORD I'm sorry but at the same time, LORD I also come to You with thanksgiving in my heart.

And he offers this with joy and he celebrates it with the people from the meat that is gathered from the offering.

[4] Sin Offering
So these three are more general offerings. Now we come to the last two, they are more specific offerings for specific sins. The fourth offering is that of the sin offering.

Clearly this is a - I am sorry offering. Again we are told in Leviticus 4:20, the sin offering is for atonement, is for forgiveness. The same protocol applies, laying on of hands on the animal, an animal without blemish, the animal will be killed and the blood applied on the altar.

The Bible also tells us that the rest of the bull, the rest of the animal is not burned up like the burnt offering, it's not to be eaten like the ... like the peace offering but the whole body is to be brought out of the camp to be burned.[Lev 4:12]

Now to those who are more attuned to or more familiar with the Bible, you'll remember that in Hebrews chapter 13, the writer of Hebrews says that Jesus died outside the gate. In other words, Jesus died outside Jerusalem, as a symbol of someone who bears shame and reproach.

It is an allusion to this Levitical practice that the sin offering, the animal, the carcass, without all the fats and internal organs will be brought outside the camp to be burned. A symbol of how this sin offering carries shame and guilt, and is deserving to be burned away outside ... outside or far from our sight.

The sin offering is very specific however, it's not suka suka [in Malay] you can offer, huh, because this is an offering only for unintentional sins. There is no offering mentioned for intentional sins, apart from maybe the burnt and the peace offering. It is for unintentional sins and you may ask, "What are unintentional sins?"

We are given the examples in Leviticus 5:1-4, I'll just list them out for you:
- failure to testify as a witness
- touching an unclean thing
- touching human uncleanness or
- having a rash oath.

These are some specific examples, and in sin offering there are different requirements for different people. If you are a priest and you are a commoner, the rules are somewhat different. So we see a gradation of rules for the priest, the priest has to do more, sacrifice more, apply the blood to more places. So too for the whole congregation, a little easier for the leaders and a little bit easier for the common people.

I think it communicates different responsibilities, require different accountability. But all that is sin offering for us to say I'm sorry or for them to say I'm sorry, when they commit unintentional sin.

5 Guilt Offering
You're doing well ... last one. The last is the guilt offering.

The guilt offering is also to say - I'm sorry. But the specific is different in a sense, because it is when someone commits a breach of faith against the LORD and sins unintentionally in any of the holy things of the Lord. [Lev 5:15]

Now, we are not told explicitly what this sentence itself means. Does it mean with regard to the temple worship? But then again no commoner can get there, only the priest do. So maybe it's with regard to the offerings you bring, we are not clear. But what is clear is that this breach of faith idea is repeated in chapter 6:2-3 also about the guilt offering. And in this case it is spelled out that, "A breach of faith against the LORD is when you deceive your neighbor in a matter of deposit or security."

So, the idea is you collected maybe a deposit or security from someone and you fail to deliver, you deceive them. You just collected his money for nothing, uh, very common today ah, a lot of scammers going around. They ask you, "You want to buy this?" "Can." "You secure deposit first, Paynow me." After you Paynow he disappear, Carousell account wiped out, Facebook wiped out. Can't trace, he deceived you in a matter of deposit or security.

And if he lived during Moses time, he should, if he is guilty, bring a guilt offering. The breach of faith against the LORD is by deceiving the neighbor in a matter of deposit or security or you rob your neighbor or you oppress your neighbor.

The idea here I think is you are a owner of a farm, of a plot and you have hired slaves to work for you and you do not pay them. And you realize it is wrong, you offer a guilt offering. Or you have found something lost, you lied about it. "No, it's mine, it's mine," when it's not yours. And later on you are guilty, you can offer a guilt offering.

Now, the guilt offering is to be offered together with reparation or restitution. So you cheated someone right, now you want to give back right, well, you have to give back not just the full amount, you have to top up 20%. [Lev 6:5] So if you cheated someone of ... someone of $1,000, you have to pay him back $1,200.

And add to that, "A ram without blemish for a guilt offering." [Lev 6:6-7] I suppose all that dissuades Israel by and large from cheating or taking advantage of one another.

So the guilt offering again is for atonement, for forgiveness, for placation, for cover of their sins.

So let's wrap up, five offerings in seven chapters. Aren't you glad we covered seven chapters? I'm sure you must be glad, wah, thank you we never go to chapter one, one week, chapter two another week. Well, I think we can look at this from a more big-picture point of view.

Burnt Offering [Sorry + I give you all]
The burnt offering is an offering for ...? Sorry. Very good and ...? What is unique about burnt offering? The whole thing is given up, so it's a message to say - I'm sorry and I give you all.

Grain Offering [Thank You]
How about the second grain offering? It's an offering to say thank you.

Peace Offering [Sorry + Thank You]
How about the peace offering? Sorry and thank you.

Sin Offering [Sorry]
How about the sin offering? Sorry for unintentional sins

Guilt Offering [Sorry]
and a guilt offering? Sorry for I think a breach of faith against the LORD by deceiving our neighbors. Very well done!

Now, that actually comes to chapter 6 and in chapter 6 second half to chapter 7, it speaks about how the Levites, the priests will facilitate and implement these sacrifices. You see these sacrifices cannot be done by yourself, no DIY allowed. You ... you can't buy a goat, bring it to your kitchen, kill and say, "God I have sacrificed," and then you sit around and your whole family eats that ... that animal.

No, it's got to be via the priests who act as mediators. But we're not going to look at chapter 6 and 7 in detail, because next week we are going to look at priesthood in a focused way, but we end with chapter seven, the last concluding statement here. "This is the law of the burnt offering, grain offering, sin offering, guilt offering, ordination offering, [which is for the Levites] and of the peace offering." [Lev 7:37]

And that concludes the first of seven themes or the first of seven sections in Leviticus. Remembering Leviticus is filled or is made up of seven components that are like mirror images on both ends, they're like a chiasm.

So we finish looking at sacrifices of thanks and sorry, because in order to draw near to God we've got to know how to say sorry and how to say thank You. That's what the Jews are supposed to understand.

What does it mean for you and for me today then, average Singaporean? Well I ... I think it is important for us to realize that you cannot just come to God as you are, and somehow believe that He's going to answer your prayer and He's going to bless you. You can't! Because the Bible makes it very clear, when God spoke to Israel, "Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God." [Isa 59:2] And I think this is not just for Israel, it's for all of us.

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We are not righteous, we cannot have a meaningful relationship with God. And in order for us to draw near to God, we must be able to humble ourselves and acknowledge our sin and come to Him and say - I am sorry.

Most people will not look at the Bible, will not want the Christian faith, you know why? Because they will never say I'm sorry. They say, "I'm a good guy, I'm not that bad, why do I need this God?" They're full of themselves and they will not humble. And so there is no way this person can come near to God, their sins have separated them from God.

So when Jesus came, He had a message. You say, "What's the message Jesus preached?" According to Matthew 4:17, it is summarized by this statement, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Today, we live in a Christian world where people don't talk much about repentance. They just say, "Oh, you come to Jesus and He will give you money, He will give you health, He will give you all that you want." But the fundamental problem is not addressed, the fundamental problem is that you're cut off from God because of your sin. You need to say I'm sorry and mean it. That's what the offerings teach us.

The Apostle Paul, later on said, "God commands all people," [Acts 17:30] not just the Jews, but the Greeks, the barbarians, the Samaritans, God commands Malaysians, Singaporeans, Chinese, all of us, people everywhere to repent.

To repent means to acknowledge our sin, to grieve over our sin and to turn from our sin. And you cannot, let me say that categorically, you cannot have a right relationship with God if you're not willing to say - I'm a sinner and I'm sorry. And if you ... and you must mean it of course.

Jesus is the Lamb [John 1:29], the reason why you can say sorry and not be rejected is because there is a sacrifice for you. Now if God never gives a sacrifice, a Savior, then saying sorry is useless because you can say sorry for all you want, nobody pays for your sin. But the Good News of the Bible is that Jesus pays for our sin.

You know John, I think I can read this ... into this, this emotion into this verse, he must be telling his disciples, "Look, look, the Lamb of God!" He must be excited and joyful.
It is in the background of thousands of years of offerings by the Jews, thousands, millions, let me say this, millions of sheep and goats and bulls sacrificed, killed, but there is no effective Savior amongst the animals.

John realized that all these animals point to that one sacrifice and he's saying, "The Lamb. [John 1:29] Jesus, the one without blemish, He has come to take away the sin of the world."

So if you're here today, you're not a Christian, you're wondering what is Christianity all about. You're wondering how can you be forgiven. I'm ... I'm saying to you, you can be forgiven if you're willing to say I'm sorry to God, because God loved you while you were yet a sinner and He sent His Son Jesus to die for you on the cross.

Jesus is the ... the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world [John 1:29] and he tells us in Hebrews 9:26, "He puts away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."

Your salvation is not secured by the blood of bulls and calves but by the blood, by the life of Jesus. And the Bible says, "It is the blood of Christ that purifies us." [Heb 9:14]

And again, this is corroborated by Peter, he said, "Knowing that you were ransomed, bought back from sin unto God with the precious blood of the Lamb like a lamb without blemish or spot." [1 Peter 1:18-19] This is Leviticus language, this is what the Jews have grown up watching, hearing, smelling. And they're saying, "It's all found in Jesus Christ."

You know what's amazing about Leviticus is that we see Jesus in the sacrifices, but I also hope that you see Jesus in the priesthood. Because we see that the burnt offerings and sin offerings are not what God wants ultimately. God ... God is not, if I may use a Hokkien word, "gien", over the animals and the fats, it's not like He eats them or needs them.

But these burnt offerings are picture lessons to tell us of a coming Saviour. These burnt offerings cannot save us, and therefore Jesus said, "Behold, I've come to do your will and by the offering of His body once for all." [Heb 10:10]

He fulfills that appeasement of wrath that is required in order for us to be saved. But the burnt offerings, they're not the ultimate thing, Jesus is. And Jesus is not just a sacrifice, He is the Great High Priest, He's both the animal, pictured, and the priest who administers that sacrifice. [Heb 9:11-12]

In other words, everything that is needed for your salvation, done by Jesus, everything. And all you need to know is to be able to say I'm sorry with sincerity of heart, believing that Jesus paid it all, and trusting that He is the way, the truth, and the life to draw near to God. [John 14:6]

My time is running fast, I just want to say a word for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are struggling today in your sin. You've fallen away, you're far from Him, and you're sorry, maybe you beat yourself up to the point that you say, "There's no way back for me to God." I want to remind you that forgiveness is what we should ask for and can ask for.

"Forgive us our debts ..." [Matt 6:12] This is a prayer that has, that is preceded by the word, "and" and the word, "and" is crucial because what happens before here is, give us this day our daily bread and forgive us. In other words, just as we ask daily for daily provisions and strength, we are to ask daily for forgiveness. And there is forgiveness, because the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. [1 John 1:7]

This is written in the context of having communion and fellowship with God, it's not so much about salvation, but communion with God. And the criteria, the essential requirement is that we confess our sins, which means to agree with God, regards to our sin. "And He is faithful and just, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all unrighteousness." [1 John 1:9]

And it's not just that Jesus is that sacrifice, He spills that blood, but He's also our Priest, that double fulfillment. He's also our Priest, He holds His priesthood permanently because He continues forever. You say, "What is He doing now?" He's already died for us. What is Jesus doing now? The Bible tells us, "He's able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him because He lives to make intercession for them." [Heb 7:24-25]

He prays for us. I think the idea here is that those who belong to God are prayed for by Jesus daily, regularly. In that tomorrow when I sin, Jesus pleads for me, not my deservedness but His finished work on the cross, and applies the merit and the value of His sacrifice, to that sin I'll commit tomorrow. And He applies this on a regular basis for His people.

So, "He's able to save to the uttermost." [Heb 7:24] No one is going to be left out, no one is going to be forgotten! Those who belong to Him will be saved. Someone said, "He saves us from the gutter-most to the uttermost," from the depths of sin's pit to the heights of heaven. Why? Jesus is our Great High Priest, so you today can draw near to God.

Finally, I want to say a word about worship. Worship, a lot of times we think is singing on Sunday mornings. Well, there is an element of that in worship in that we are to offer a sacrifice of praise. Every time we praise God, it's a kind of sacrifice, it's something that pleases God, it's ... it's an aroma that arises and ascends unto Him.

But worship is more than praise, it also involves doing good and sharing, giving, helping, serving. Paul mentions how the Philippians would give to him in his time of need and calls that, "A fragrant offering, sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God." [Phil 4:18]. This is Levitical language. Worship of God is with our lips, it's with our service, it's with our finances and our gifts. Worship of God, ultimately, is about our whole life.

Romans 12:1 is a reference to the burnt offering. Because of Jesus and what He has done, "I beseech you, I appeal to you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, now present your bodies, your whole life, as a living sacrifice." The only twist here is that the burnt offering is a dead animal, but you are called to be a living sacrifice. The key thing is don't crawl out of the altar. Stay there, keep living for God, that's what worship is all about.

And again, in Ephesians 5:2, last slide, "Walk in the way of love ..." this is worship — love, serve, "... just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice." Jesus Himself is that sacrifice, and we are to follow Him and to sacrifice. To please God, means we are to be a people walking in the way of love.

I've rushed through these things, I hope we'll have time to look deeper at these things in the weeks to come. But what does it mean to draw near to God? It means we need to understand how to say - I'm sorry, and thank You in the Name of Jesus because of His finished work, and we need to give our lives to Him.

That's what Leviticus 1-7 is all about.

Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

Father, we thank You today that Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Thank You, it is the blood of Christ that cleanses Your people from their sin. Help us this morning to come to you with humility, with contrition, with sincerity. Help us to come not as a stubborn people, but as a people willing to bow our heads and say, "I am sorry."

How we praise You, You have secured the payment through Your Son. Help us then, to look to Him, trust in Him, for He is the way, the truth, and the life.

I pray for a people who are struggling in sin to turn back to You, that they will find confidence, not in themselves, but in Jesus, Your Son. And we pray that Gospel Light will be a people who understands and who lives out proper worship. By Your mercies, we would, daily, present our bodies a living sacrifice. Help us to serve, help us to give, help us to love, help us to worship. Thank You, we pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.

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