As one member already stated, it doesn’t take long for Leviticus to get started concerning the details of what God wanted from His children Israel, sacrificially. Those details may seem tedious, but I encourage you not to get lost in them. As one author put it, “Leviticus provides the theological foundation for the atoning work of Christ.” If that is true, and I believe it is, then we will benefit immensely from this study.
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.
The very first thing spoken of, as we begin our study, is burnt offerings and the work of atonement. The English word “atonement” is formed by a combination of three words – at-one-ment (Allan Mosely). It speaks of reconciliation! From what? From the sin problem that has plagued mankind. Man’s sin problem, our sin problem, separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and the only solution is atonement! Okay, I don’t want to get ahead of myself, so let’s go back to Leviticus chapter 1.
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.
We see something of importance mentioned in the above verse that could easily be missed. A detail that is critical to understanding the full picture of atonement. It is found in the words “let him offer” and “he shall offer”; that is, “The offerer should bring the victim himself “ (S.H. Kellogg). As one author put it, “The life of the sacrificial animal was given in place of the life of the worshiper and was the ransom payment for the death the worshiper’s sin had earned.” My mind quickly thought of these words about Christ, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2nd Corinthians 5:21). And then there is this verse that explain how Christ “bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed” (1st Peter 2:24).
This animal sacrifice was not a gift to God, honoring Him with one’s best. This was a sobering sacrifice. One life (that knew no sin) in place of another (who committed the sins). The sacrifice was needed because “it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). The writer of Hebrews said it this way, “…without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). Thank You Jesus for shedding Your blood and securing the opportunity for atonement “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).