I just began reading Leviticus today and again I am finding that I am actually interested in the details in this book. Again this is a first for me. I usually dread having to read this book. But today, I am loving it. I have already seen a huge reason for all of the detail regarding sacrifices in this book.
In Exodus I just read about Israel committing a great Sin against God by worshiping a golden calf. The man who organized this was Aaron. And God continued to allow Aaron to be a Priest before all of Israel! Wow, now that is some serious grace. But because Israel has some serious obedience issues God provided sacrifices that they can perform to remove their sins. Since God is holy he should destroy them and build up a new people, but He decided to give them a way to continually purify themselves so they could continue to be his people. And this is done through the death of a perfect animal. Leviticus 4:1 gives a very clear reason for this sacrifice.
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.
— Leviticus 4:1
Instead of killing the sinner God allows a substitute to be killed in their place. And God even clarified that you can sin even if you don’t know it in Leviticus 5:17.
Suppose you sin by violating one of the Lord’s commands. Even if you are unaware of what you have done, you are guilty and will be punished for your sin.
So even unintentional or unknown sin deserves punishment.
All of this, the detailed accounts of how to properly sacrifice an animal for various sins and reasons are essential because God loves His people enough to give them a way to be pure enough to be in His presence and be His people. And since Sin is a huge issue, the sacrifices must be done perfectly. If he allowed their sin to remain He would destroy them. But this is not His desire. God wanted to save them.
Today we may see these sacrifices as maybe barbaric and strange. But it is also through a blood sacrifice that we today are able to be in Gods presence, through the death of Jesus, God’s one and only son. He sacrificed someone perfect, sinless, and pure as a substitute for us. So the message of salvation has always involved sacrifice and substitution. It is always nice to see that God has always been consistent, and I know that in the past I had always viewed God in the Old Testament as more of a punisher than a forgiver. I was mistaken. God has always been in the forgiving business.