The LORD called to Moses from the Tabernacle and said to him, “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you present an animal as an offering to the LORD, you may take it from your herd of cattle or your flock of sheep and goats.

“If the animal you present as a burnt offering is from the herd, it must be a male with no defects. Bring it to the entrance of the Tabernacle so you may be accepted by the LORD. Lay your hand on the animal’s head, and the LORD will accept its death in your place to purify you, making you right with him. Then slaughter the young bull in the LORD’s presence, and Aaron’s sons, the priests, will present the animal’s blood by splattering it against all sides of the altar that stands at the entrance to the Tabernacle. Then skin the animal and cut it into pieces. The sons of Aaron the priest will build a wood fire on the altar. They will arrange the pieces of the offering, including the head and fat, on the wood burning on the altar. But the internal organs and the legs must first be washed with water. Then the priest will burn the entire sacrifice on the altar as a burnt offering. It is a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the LORD. (Leviticus 1:1-9)

The book of Leviticus was a “Dummies” guide, an instruction manual for how to use the tabernacle for its intended purpose: the worship of God. God offered very detailed instructions about how the Israelites were supposed to worship him. He explained what they could sacrifice and what they could not sacrifice. He told them when to sacrifice, how the priests were to behave, and how they were to dress. He told them everything that they needed to know in order to worship him exactly the way he wanted them to.

The purpose of the sacrificial system, the purpose of all the niggling details, was to create a complete picture for his people. It gave them outward signs of what was supposed to be going on in their hearts. The symbols of worship were not the substance of true worship. The rituals served as symbols of the inner reality. Their worship of God was intended to reflect the relationship they had with him. And it served as a pattern, a parable, of what Jesus would ultimately accomplish on the cross. After Jesus’ sacrifice, the rituals in the Temple would cease. Today we simply worship in spirit and in truth, no longer making use of the same outward forms.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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