“If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he must offer a male without defect. He is to bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, so that it can be accepted by Adonai.”-Leviticus 2:2
We are in the midst of discussing the OLAH sacrifice, normally translated as the “BURNT OFFERING”, which is what scholars term a functional translation.
A more literal translation would be a “NEAR OFFERING”, because the idea is that the smoke billowing up to the heavens is ASCENDING upwards to the heavens NEAR where God resides.
Now this type of burnt offering is also classified as a PERSONAL offering.
What this means is that this offering (and several others as well) is made by an individual on behalf of himself.
However, later on in Leviticus, we’ll see special sacrifices and burnt offerings being made on behalf of all Israel, a national offering.
This establishes an important Biblical principle.
The Lord in His dealings with us will relate to us on both individual and group levels.
We’ll see this principle in action when studying the end-times prophecies.
We’ll see the Lord marking certain individuals on the forehead for the purpose of identifying them as those who are to be saved as opposed to those who will be damned.
On the other hand, on the corporate level, we will see the Lord dealing with entire nations.
We’re told that all the nations that come against Israel will be destroyed.
So the OLAH is classified as a “personal” sacrifice and technically also categorized as a food offering.
During the times of Moses and even in the days of Yeshua, meat was considered to be a luxury item.
For the BURNT OFFERING, while the entire animal was COMPLETELY burned up, this wasn’t the case for the other offerings.
For some of the other sacrifices, only a portion of the animal was to completely burned up on the altar.
Depending on the ritual, the remaining cooked meat would be eaten by the priests, eaten by the person who brought the offering, or partaken of by BOTH the priests and person who brought the sacrifice.
During these times, the only chance your average Israelite had a chance to eat meat was when there was a leftover portion from a given sacrifice he was offering up.
Of course, the Law permitted meat to be eaten that wasn’t part of a sacrifice (as long as that meat was kosher), but it would have been prohibitively expensive for your average Israelite.
Only the more well-to-do folks could afford to eat meat outside of the sacrificial rituals.
So the whole takeaway here is that it was a huge PERSONAL sacrifice for the typical Hebrew family to have to give up such a valuable animal and watch the whole animal (except the skin which was given to the priests) be completely consumed up in the flames from the brazen altar.
This sacrifice represented depriving oneself in order to give what the Lord had commanded be given.
We’ll see that a whole range of domesticated animals were acceptable for the burnt offering.
Bulls, sheep and even pigeons were fine.
The reason for this was simple: the less well-to-do just couldn’t afford to sacrifice a ram or a bull.
These were some whopping expensive animals.
Now here’s an important point you need to understand.
The size of the sacrificial animal had NOTHING TO DO with the seriousness of the sin being atoned for!
Nor was the more expensive sacrifice more highly valued.
A rich bloke couldn’t just roll up to the tabernacle in his 4-door limousine, sacrifice a bull, which was normally the largest and most expensive of the animal sacrifices and be considered superior from the Lord’s perspective to the poorer person who had just sacrificed a turtledove.
Now notice that I bolded and underlined the word “domesticated” in my explanation above.
NO WILD ANIMALS WERE ALLOWED, PERIOD!
You couldn’t go off, kill a deer and use it for a sacrifice.
This OLAH or “burnt offering” was the most common of all the offerings and was offered up EVERY DAY IN THE MORNING AND EVENING.
It was also offered up on special Holy Days.
Now that’s a lot of sacrificing.
Finally, the sacrificial animal being offered up had to at least be one-year old, a male, and unblemished.
It could not in any way be sickly, lame, injured or deformed.
Even a cosmetic aberration such as unusual color patches or a twisted horn would disqualify its suitability for sacrifice.
It had to be your BEST ANIMAL!
It had to be nearly as perfect as possible
The takeaway here is obvious.
You give your best to the Lord.
Or another way to put it, what you gave to the Lord was a reflection of how you felt about the Lord deep down inside.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters,
in view of God’s mercy,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God-
-this is your true and proper worship.”
“Then Yeshua sat down opposite the Temple treasury
and watched the crowd as they put money
into the offering-boxes.
Many rich people put in large sums,
but a poor widow came and put in two small coins.
He called his disciples to him and said to them,
“Yes! I tell you, this poor widow
has put more in the offering-box
than all the others making donations.
For all of them, out of their wealth,
have contributed money they can easily spare;
but she, out of her poverty,
has given everything she had to live on.”