“The priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.” Leviticus 1:9 (NIV)
I have joked for years that Smokey the Bear didn’t need to worry about me. They say that it only takes a spark to start a forest fire, but I couldn’t even start a match if my life depended on it! We used to live in the country and we would frequently have campfires. It would take me so long to get it started! Often, I would get everything set just right only try and try and try and eventually give up until my husband got home and could start the fire for me.
When we moved to TX, we bought a house with a fireplace. Same problem. I could not get that fire started. My husband would come home and in a matter of seconds, the house would warm with the beautiful fire he had created. But as for me, nothing!
It’s probably good that I wasn’t in charge of offering the sacrifices in the Old Testament. God would have just laughed and laughed as He watched me try to get the fire burning. I would have needed supernatural intervention like Elijah had. (1 Kings 18)
I’m guessing Abraham was a better fire starter than I am. In Genesis 22, God specifically tells Abraham that he is to offer his son, Isaac, as a burnt offering.
A burnt offering was a very specific type of offering. The burnt offering was to be a young bull, a male without defect. The priest was to lay his hands on the head of the burnt offering to make atonement for him. Then the priest was to slaughter the young bull, sprinkle it’s blood on the altar, skin it and cut it into pieces, wash parts of it with water and then burn the entirety of it on the altar. (Leviticus 1)
This offering was unique in that ALL of it was burned up on the altar. It symbolizes total surrender to the will of God. Abraham would have realized the importance of this. There was not a half-way in this sacrifice. He could not just cut off Isaac’s arm or leg and offer that. He could not offer Isaac to God as a living sacrifice and just dedicate his life to Him. A burnt offering required complete and total obedience to the will of God.
Similarly, Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of a burnt offering. He was a male without defect- without sin. He offered all of himself on the altar- the cross. He completely surrendered to the will of God. Jesus was our burnt offering- accepted on our behalf to make atonement for us.
Personal Reflection: Are you willing to completely surrender yourself to the will of God?