Over the next few months, I plan to share some brief reflections on the book of Leviticus. I’m not sure how far through the book I intend to get, but it should be a good exercise regardless. This is a reflection on the fourth chapter.
“Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering.”Leviticus 4:25
After the flood had wiped out all living creatures on the earth, God made a new covenant with humanity. In it, He promised never again to flood the earth as He had done before. The rainbow was a sign of this covenant, since it resembled a war-bow being hung up in the clouds. God also re-stated the commission first given at creation, to “be fruitful and multiply”, that a new humanity might fill the earth once again.
God also gave two commandments relating to blood. The first one was a requirement that the blood of animals not be eaten, since blood contains the life of a creature, and the life belongs to God. The second one was a civil law punishing murderers: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” (Genesis 9:6). This principle of blood for blood was at work in the sin offering as well. When an Israelite committed an unintentional sin, they were to bring a goat as a substitute. Its blood was presented to God in place of the Israelite, being applied to the four horns of the altar and then poured out at the base, in order to make atonement for sin.
Becoming a sin offering is precisely what Jesus did for us. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Jesus is our sin offering, made on our behalf, that we might receive forgiveness and new life. His blood was poured out for us and his body was broken for us, that we might receive his righteousness.