Trails of Blood & Columns of Smoke: The Gruesome & Bloody Place of the Altar

Today’s selected reading begins the Old Testament book of Leviticus which was written and recorded by Moses the servant of the Lord. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first five chapters of this Old Testament book. THE BLOOD, THE FIRE AND THE ALTAR! AN OFFERING WITHOUT BLEMISH! SLAUGHTER AT THE ALTAR! KILLING AT THE ATLAR! AN OFFERING MADE BY FIRE! THERE CAN BE NO SACRIFICE WITHOUT FIRE! THERE CAN BE NO OFFERING WITHOUT FIRE! THE SWEET SAVOR OF FIRE AND DEATH! OF SWEET SAVOR UNTO THE LORD! BURNED ON THE ALTAR, BURNED IN THE FIRE! BURN IT ON THE ALTAR! THERE SHALL BE NONE OF IT REMAINING! BLOOD POURED OUT, BLOOD SPRINKLED! BLOOD POURED OUT AT THE ALTAR! BLOOD SPRINKLED AT THE ALTAR! THE TABERNACLE: A PLACE OF SLAUGHTER, FIRE AND BLOOD! When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the Old Testament book of Leviticus beginning and opening—a book which many students of the Scripture, and even ministers and preachers tend to shy away from. I have to admit that in all my years of studying the Scriptures—specifically this book—I have found that countless men and women tend to shy away from and avoid this book like it’s the plague. When you speak to others about reading the Bible from Genesis to Revelation—undoubtedly you will be met with some type of resistance or comment regarding the third book of the Scripture which is the book of Leviticus. What so amazes me about this particular book is how intimidating it is and has been for countless men and women who have read the Bible for their relationship with the living God, and those who have also studied it for personal growth and development. I have found countless individuals who have been so fearful of the Old Testament book of Leviticus—simply because of the language that is found and contained therein. If you read the words which are found within and throughout this book you will find that there is a tremendous amount of language concerning the Old Testament sacrifices which were to be offered by the children of Israel and brought unto the Tabernacle, as well as a tremendous amount of various other laws and commands which the living God had spoken unto Moses which he was to speak unto and deliver unto the children of Israel. The truth of the matter regarding this particular book is that despite the language that is contained within it, and despite the fact that the language within the book might be confusing, and perhaps even intimidating—the language that is found within it describes our relationship with the living God, and how the children of Israel were to appear before and approach the living God. When and as we read the words which are found within this particular Old Testament book it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand that through the language and words which are found within these chapters we come face to face with and encounter how the children of Israel were to approach the living God—namely, through their sacrifices and offerings, through blood, through fire, and through the altar which was found to be present in the court of the Tabernacle.

Perhaps the most intriguing reality surrounding the Old Testament book of Leviticus is that not only is it a book that describes how the children of Israel were to approach the Lord their God, but it was also a book about how the children of Israel were to please and walk before the Lord their God. If and as you read the words which are found within these chapters you will find a tremendous amount of instruction, however, within those instructions you will find the Lord describing unto the children of Israel that which He required of them, and that which He asked of them as a people who were separated unto and before Him within the earth. We dare not and must not miss the words and language which is found within this Old Testament book, for within this book we encounter a series of statutes, laws and commands which were given unto the children of Israel in order that they might be a people which were separated and set apart as holy unto the Lord. While this book and the language contained therein might be intimidating, it is absolutely necessary that we recognize that it was through the language found within this book the living God set the people of Israel apart as holy unto Himself. If we are truly willing to look at and examine the words and language that is found and contained within this book we must acknowledge that it is through the commands and the laws which the living God separated and set apart the children of Israel as holy unto Himself and separated them from among the nations of the earth. It was there at the mountain of God within the wilderness of Sinai the Lord entered into covenant with the children of Israel, but it was also there at the mountain where the living God revealed unto the children of Israel that which He asked and required of them. We must understand that through the language we find within this Old Testament book the living God was doing more than implementing a series of statutes and commands which were to be adhered to by the children of Israel—but rather, the language we find within this book is language that describes the awesome and incredible reality that what the Lord demanded more than anything else from His people was holiness before and holiness unto Him. Not only was this holiness a reality between the living God who had delivered and brought them forth from their slavery, bondage and oppression within the land of Egypt, but this holiness was also manifested and evidenced in the midst of the nations and peoples which surrounded the children of Israel. Consider and imagine what it must have been like for those who looked upon and beheld the children of Israel—both in the wilderness during their journeys and wandering, as well as even within the land of promise and inheritance itself—as they beheld the process of offering burnt offerings and sacrifices upon the holy altar of the Lord in the outer court of the Tabernacle.

As you read the words which are found within these first five chapters you will encounter and come face to face with the reality that what the LORD was most concerned with was how His people would draw near and approach Him. We know and are familiar with the language that is found within the New Testament book of Hebrews and how we are to approach the living God in these Last Days—days in which He no longer speaks unto us through the prophets of old, but through His eternal and only begotten Son. We know and understand how we draw near and how we come unto the living God in the days and generation in which we live, but what we must understand is that this simply wasn’t the case during the days of the Old Covenant. In fact, I would even dare say that we cannot truly understand that which is found in the New Testament book of Hebrews—even other books which are found within the New Testament—without first understanding and considering the words which are found within the Old Testament book of Leviticus. Upon beginning to read this Old Testament book you will quickly notice that where the Lord begins when speaking unto Moses was not with the laws and commands which concerned their relationship with others, as well as various other civil and moral laws, but rather with laws and statutes concerning sacrifices and offerings which were to be brought before and unto Him. When you begin reading the book of Leviticus within the Old Testament you will find that where the Lord chose to begin speaking unto Moses was in man’s approach before and unto Him, and His requirement for man to indeed appear before Him with their offering which would be offered upon the altar in the midst of the court of the Tabernacle. What so astonishes and intrigues me about what we find within these chapters is that the living God was not some distant being who did not desire fellowship and relationship with His people. It would be very easy to read the words and language which is found within these chapters and to get caught up in the language of sacrifice and offerings, and for some that would be enough to deter them from reading and even considering this book. In all reality, when we read the words found within these chapters we must acknowledge that above all else the living God desired to be known by His people—and not only known by and among His people, but also worshipped by His people. The language we find within these chapters causes us to encounter the absolutely incredible reality that the children of Israel were invited to worship, draw near and approach the living God. I sit here this morning and I can’t help bu think about and consider the absolutely wonderful and incredible reality that what we have before us is not merely laws and statutes concerning sacrifice and offerings, but what we have is words and language concerning the invitation the LORD gave unto His people to draw near and come unto Him. The words and language we find within these chapters is language is absolutely incredible when you think about and consider the fact that although we read language concerning sacrifice and offerings—what we are ultimately encountering and experiencing is both an invitation of the living God to approach and be sought be His people, and instruction for how to do just that.

THE INVITATION OF WORSHIP! THE INSTRUCTION OF WORSHIP! THE INVITATION & INSTRUCTION OF WORSHIP! What I so absolutely love and appreciate about the words and language we find within these chapters is that although they do in fact contain a tremendous amount of language concerning the offerings and sacrifices which the children of Israel were instructed of the Lord to bring before and unto Him, they describe the path through which the children of Israel could indeed and could in fact come near and come unto the living God. What’s more, is that as you read the words which are found within these chapters you will find that there was not limitation on how often the children of Israel could appear and come unto and appear before the living God. You will notice that if you begin reading with and from the second verse of the first chapter the living God speaks the following words unto Moses which would be delivered unto the children of Israel: “if any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock. If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD” (Leviticus 1:2-3). What I find to be so absolutely amazing about the words and language we find within these chapters is that not only did the living God invite the children of Israel to appear before Him with their offerings and sacrifices, but He also did not impose any restrictions or limitations upon them. What I mean by this is that the Lord didn’t limit the number of times the children of Israel could appear before Him at the door of the Tabernacle and present their offerings unto the priests at the door of the Tabernacle. With that being said it’s imperative we note that not only were the children of Israel granted access to appear and draw near unto the living God through their offerings, but they were also given unlimited access to the altar through the priests of the living God. As we will later find within this book the fire which burned upon the altar was to never go out and was to appear both night and day before and among the children of Israel. Even more than this, the priests continually ministered before and around the altar both day and night in order that they might offer the sacrifices of the Lord which were presented by the children of Israel. Even more than this, we must realize that the children of Israel were granted unlimited access before and unto the children of Israel through their offerings, and there was no limit to how often they could appear before the Lord, nor how many offerings they could bring before and unto the living God. There is absolutely nowhere in the entirety of this Old Testament book where the living God ever declared unto the children of Israel through Moses that they had brought before and unto Him enough sacrifices and offerings. You can search this Old Testament book from beginning to end—even various other Old Testament books—and you will find that there was never a single declaration given and spoken by the living God unto the children of Israel concerning their offerings and the need to cease bringing their offerings before and unto Him.

UNLIMITED ACCESS AND UNLIMITED OFFERINGS! How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that the Lord’s holy and sacred altar was present in the court of the Tabernacle where the priests who ministered before the LORD daily both night and day undoubtedly had sacrifices which were burned upon it each and every day for forty years while the children of Israel journeyed through the wilderness, and even in the land of Canaan before and until the time the Temple which Solomon oversaw and built unto the Lord would take its place. Even when the Temple would be built by Solomon there was still the same principles and still the same altar which would be found in the midst of the people, and there would still be priests who would minister before and unto the living God both night and day. What I can’t help but think about and consider is the fact that the Old Testament book of Exodus describes how six hundred thousand men journeyed forth from the land of Egypt and from the midst of slavery, bondage and oppression. Please note that this doesn’t include women, and even children who journeyed out of the land of Egypt with them. It is estimated that there were between two and a half to three million people who departed from the land of Egypt and who passed through the Red Sea into the wilderness of Sinai before coming unto the mountain of the living God. Pause for a moment and think about how many offerings six hundred thousand men could bring before and unto the living God at the door of the Tabernacle there in the midst of the wilderness. If each man were to bring at least one offering before and unto the LORD every day for an entire year, there would be a total of more than one thousand six hundred offerings which would be made before and unto the Lord each day during that entire year. If only half of all the men of Israel which came forth out of the land of Egypt brought an offering before and unto the Lord each and every day for an entire year, there would be a total of eight hundred and twenty one offerings which would be burned upon the altar each day. Please note that this doesn’t even include the women who could have brought their own offerings and gifts unto the door of the Tabernacle—offerings which would be burned upon the altar both night and day. If each and every one of the three million Israelites who journeyed forth out of the land of Egypt brought an offering unto the living God every day during the year, there would be more than eight thousand two hundred offerings that would be burned upon the altar each and every day. If only half of those who came forth out of the land of Egypt brought offerings before and unto the living God and those offerings were sacrificed upon the altar, there would be four thousand one hundred offerings that would be burned upon the altar each and every day. Pause for a moment and think about those numbers, for those numbers are absolutely staggering when you think about them. Now think about the reality that the LORD never put any limitations, nor did He put any restriction upon the children of Israel for how often they could appear at the door of the Tabernacle, nor how many offerings they could present unto the Lord. Pause for a moment and think about what unlimited access before and unto the living God could in fact mean for the children of Israel based on these numbers, and what that would have looked like for the priests who daily ministered before the LORD both night and day. It is absolutely no wonder the living God declared and proclaimed that the fire which burned upon the altar must not go out and must remain burning continually before and unto the children of Israel.

FROM SUNRISE TO SUNSET! FROM THE RISING OF THE SUN TO THE GOING DOWN OF THE SAME! Oh, I can’t help but wonder how many hours during the day the children of Israel appeared at the door of the Tabernacle, and how many hours during the day the priests which ministered before and unto the Lord, as well as before and around the altar did so in the midst of the children of Israel. Pause for a moment and think about the first offerings to be brought early in the morning, and even the first offering which was brought before and unto the Lord each and every day. Were there those men and women who desperately desired to rise early in the morning in order that they might bring their offering before and unto the living God in order that they might worship Him in truth and sincerity? Were there those among the children of Israel who regularly and habitually rose early in the morning in order that they might present their offerings at the door of the Tabernacle in order that their offerings might be offered upon the holy altar of the LORD in the midst of the fire? What’s more, is were there those from among the children of Israel who brought offerings before and unto the living God more than once during the day? Were there those from among the children of Israel who came and appeared before the Lord at the door of the Tabernacle night and day—perhaps even early in the morning, during the middle of the day, and perhaps even at night after dinner, or prior to retiring for the evening? If there is one thing we must understand concerning the presentation of offerings before and unto the living God at the Tabernacle, it’s that burnt offerings and sacrifices were offered upon the altar both night day as the children of Israel brought their offerings unto the living God in order that they might worship Him the way He desired and invited them to worship Him. Oh I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that the children of Israel were given unlimited access before and unto the living God through their offerings, and there were no set times the children of Israel were restricted from presenting their offerings unto the LORD. There was no restriction on how much the children of Israel could in fact bring before and unto the living God, for the fire must always and continually be burning upon the altar both night and day. What’s more, is that the priests must minister before and around the Tabernacle both night and day in order that the fire might always remain burning, and in order that the offerings which the children of Israel brought before and unto the LORD might always find their way on to the altar. THE OFFERINGS MUST ALWAYS FIND THEIR WAY TO THE ALTAR! THE OFFERINGS MUST AWLAYS MAKE THEIR WAY ON TO THE ALTAR! Please don’t miss and lose sight of this absolutely wonderful and incredible reality, for the offerings which the children of Israel brought before and unto the living God must always be presented upon the altar, and must be burned in the midst of the fire which was upon the altar—with the exception of those whom we would read about in the Old Testament book of Malachi who would dare bring offerings which were with blemish, and those offerings which were lame, blind, crippled, and the like.

As I sit here this morning and consider the language that is found within these chapters I can’t help but encounter the awesome and incredible reality when we think about the access the children of Israel had to the living God we must recognize that that access was through and in the midst of the fire. If you take the time to read that which is found and contained within these verses you will quickly discover and encounter the fact that the children of Israel could indeed and could in fact appear before the living God, and they could in fact approach Him with their offerings, however, their access before and unto the living God would be through the fire which would burn upon the altar. If you continue reading within the first and opening chapter of the book of Leviticus you will find the LORD instructing Moses concerning the burnt offering that the priest shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into his pieces, and that the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire upon the altar, and lay the wood in order upon the fire, and the priests, Aaron’s sons shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this absolutely incredible reality, for when you think about the access the children of Israel had to the LORD—both in the midst of the wilderness during those forty years, as well as during their years within the land of Israel until the Temples were destroyed—you must understand that that access was made possible through the fire. It was absolutely impossible for the children of Israel to have access unto the LORD their God without and apart from the fire, for the offering which they brought before and unto the LORD would need to be placed upon the altar in the midst of the fire in order that it might be burned and consumed in the fire. Reading these first five chapters you will notice a phrase that continually appears when the LORD spoke unto Moses concerning the offerings, and that phrase was “an offering made by fire.” This particular phrase is of the utmost importance, for when we think about the actual offering and sacrifice which would be made before and unto the LORD, we must recognize that it was an offering that was made by fire, and an offering that was made with fire. You can read these chapters from beginning to end and you will without a doubt notice that there would and could be no offering before and unto the LORD without and apart from fire, for fire was an integral part of the process of presenting the offerings unto the LORD. With that being said, we must recognize that the offerings which the children of Israel brought unto the priests at the door of the Tabernacle must pass through the fire, and must be completely and thoroughly burned and consumed upon and in the midst of the altar. There could be absolutely nothing that was prescribed to be burned upon the altar that could be left off the altar, and there could be absolutely nothing that was prescribed to be burned upon the altar that could be left and remain until the next day. EVERYTHING MUST BE BURNED! EVERYTHING MUST BE CONSUMED BY THE FIRE!

EVERYTHING MUST BE CONSUMED BY THE FIRE! Oh, take a moment and think about and consider this particular phrase, for when you think about and consider the offerings which the children of Israel brought before and unto the living God, it is necessary to think about the fact that the offering itself must be cut in pieces—similar to those which were cut in pieces when the LORD entered into covenant with Abraham—and those pieces must be arranged upon the altar in the midst of the fire. When you read the words which are present within these chapters you must acknowledge and understand that the fact the offerings which were placed upon the altar were to be burned in the midst of the fire, and everything which was to be placed upon the altar was to be burned completely and thoroughly. There was absolutely no room for withholding from the altar that which was prescribed, nor was there any place for somehow removing from the altar that which was prescribed to be burned in the midst of the fire. The LORD God of the Hebrews was very specific when speaking about the offerings, and when He declared and spoke of “an offering made by fire,” it suggests the reality that the offering would and could not be made without and apart from fire. In all reality, fire was an integral part of the sacrifice and offering which was to be placed upon the altar and burned before the Lord. We must understand this absolutely astounding reality, for when we think about the offerings which we ourselves bring before and unto the living God, we must recognize and remember that the offerings we bring before and unto Him must be completely and thoroughly consumed by the consuming fire of the living God upon the altar—regardless of whether it is a personal altar in our private place of worship, or whether it is a public altar in the midst of the people of God. When we speak about the offerings which must be offered before and unto the living God we must understand that the offerings must in fact pass through the fire—and not merely pass through the fire, but be burned and consumed within and in the midst of the fire. The offerings which were presented upon the altar were to be an offering made by fire before and unto the living God, for only fire could produce the offering that would be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of the living God. Over and over again within these chapters you will notice this phrase “an offering made by fire,” and it’s this phrase that reveals unto us that access before and unto the living God not only takes place at the altar, but also takes place in the place of fire as the offering is placed in the midst of the fire in order that it might be throughly consumed in the sight and presence of the LORD. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are afraid of the altar, for the altar is a place of fire and the place where the sacrifice is burned and consumed in the midst of the fire. What’s more, is we must ask ourselves whether or not we are afraid of the fire, for the fire represents that which we brought and that which we bring before the Lord being consumed by the fire so that nothing remains but ashes. FROM OFFERING TO ASHES! Are you willing to bring forth your offering before and unto the living God that your offering might pass through the fire and be reduced to ashes as you appear before the living God? Oh, what in your life needs to be brought before and unto the living God and needs to pass through the fire that it might be thoroughly consumed and brought to ashes never to emerge again.

SLAUGHTER AT THE ALTAR! What we must understand concerning the altar which was found in the court of the Tabernacle was that it was not a pretty place before and in the midst of the children of Israel. I think we have this distorted view of the altar and we perhaps make it this glamorous place which was found in the court of the Tabernacle, and we think about the fire which burned upon the altar, and the smoke which ascended from the altar before and unto the living God. If you read these chapters and consider the tremendous reality concerning the altar you must acknowledge that the altar was not a glamorous place, but rather it was a gruesome place. The altar was not a beautiful place, but a bloody place—not beautiful in the sense of the physical and natural eyes with which we look at and look upon it. THE ALTAR: NOT GLAMOROUS BUT GRUESOME! THE ALTAR: NOT BEAUTIFUL, BUT BLOODY! As you read the words found in these chapters you will notice that the altar was a place of slaughter and death as those offerings which were brought before and unto the living God were not only presented unto the priests who ministered before the LORD, but the offerings were killed and slaughtered in the sight of the priest, as well as in the sight of the Lord. As early as the fifth verse of the first chapter we find this reality, for in this verse we find and read how the LORD declared and instructed Moses concerning the offering which was brought voluntarily before and in the sight of the presence of the LORD, and how the offering was to be killed before the LORD there at the door of the Tabernacle. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for when you think about and consider the offerings which were brought before and unto the LORD—those offerings were not killed, nor were they slaughtered by the priests, but were slaughtered before the LORD and in the sight of the priest who ministered before the LORD. It was not the priest who killed the sacrifice, nor was it the priest who slaughtered the offering that was brought before the LORD at the Tabernacle, but it was that individual who brought the offering to the door and entrance of the tabernacle. I think we have this misguided and distorted notion and idea that it was the priests who killed and slaughtered the sacrifice and offering for and on behalf of the people, and yet this simply isn’t the case. It was never the priests who killed and slaughtered the offering which was brought before and unto the living God, but that man or that woman who brought the offering unto the LORD. STOP LOOKING FOR THE PRIESTS OF THE LORD TO DO WHAT YOU ARE CALLED TO DO! STOP EXPECTING THE PRIESTS OF THE LORD TO DO YOUR ROLE IN THE PROCESS OF SACRIFICE! I’m sure there might have been those who brought their offerings unto the LORD and expected the priests to slaughter and kill that which was brought before and unto the living God, and yet the truth of the matter was that this simply wasn’t the case, for it was the one who brought the offering before and unto the LORD who must kill the offering before the LORD. Oh we must recognize this, for far too often we expect others to do the work which we have been called to do as it pertains to worship and sacrifice. Far too often we want others to lay their hands on the sacrifice and offering and do the difficult part of killing it, and yet this simply is not and was not the case. Those who brought their offerings before and unto the living God were the ones who needed to lay their hands on the offering before the LORD, and it was by their own hands the offering was to be killed before and in the sight of the LORD. I can’t help but feel compelled to emphatically declare unto you who might be reading the words of this writing that you must stop thinking that it is the job of others—the job of those who lead worship, the job of the pastor, the job of the minister, and the job of those around you—to lay their hands upon the offering you bring before the LORD. Pause for a moment and think about the awesome and incredible responsibility the children of Israel had concerning the offerings—not only to bring their offering before and unto the living God, but also to be the ones who laid their own hands upon the offering and kill it before the LORD!

When you think about the altar in the court of the Tabernacle you must recognize and understand that the altar was not this glamorous place, and the altar was not this beautiful place that was incredible attractive and appealing to the natural and physical eye. The altar was not a glamorous place, but a gruesome place, for it was near the altar where the offerings which were brought before the LORD were slaughtered in His sight, as well as before the priests. What’s more, is that the altar was not a beautiful place according to natural and physical senses, but rather the altar was a bloody place. Time and time again you will read the words found within these chapters and you will find the mention of blood and how part of the process of the offerings which were presented upon the altar was ministering with the blood from the offering. As surely as sacrifice must include the fire which burned upon the altar, and the fact that there could be no sacrifice without and apart from the fire, so also there could be no sacrifice, nor could there be any offering without and apart from the blood. Within and throughout these chapters you will find very specific instruction concerning the blood, and that which the priests were to do with the blood from the offering. As early as the fifth verse of the first chapter you will find the mention of the blood of the offering which was shed there at the Tabernacle, and what was to be done with the blood of the offering. Consider if you ill the words which are found in this fifth verse concerning the blood of the offering which was brought before and into the sight of the living God: “and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” (Leviticus 1:5). This reality is mentioned against in the eleventh verse as the same language was used concerning the blood bring sprinkled round about the altar. When you come to the fifteenth verse of this opening chapter of the book of Leviticus you will find the living God instructing that the blood from turtle doves, or of pigeons was to be wrung out at the side of the altar. . It is what we find in the fourth chapter of this Old Testament book that truly gives the most detailed description of the blood of the sacrifice which was performed at the altar, and it is the words and language that is found in the verses within this chapter that must be carefully considered. Beginning with the fifth verse of the fourth chapter you will find the following words concerning the blood of the sacrifice and offering:

“And the priest that is anointed shall take of the bullock’s blood, and bring it to the tabernacle of the congregation: and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the LORD, before the vail of the sanctuary. And the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the LORD, which is in the tabernacle of the congregation; and shall pour all the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” (Leviticus 4:5-7).

It’s worth noting and considering that when we think about the process of offerings being brought unto the Tabernacle by the children of Israel that the altar was not a glamorous place, but a gruesome place as the offerings were slaughtered and killed in the sight of the priests, and before the LORD. What’s more, is the altar was not a beautiful place, but a bloody place, as the blood from the offering was not only sprinkled round about the altar, but the blood was also poured out at the bottom of the altar. It’s interesting to read and consider the words which are found within these chapters, for within them you will notice two distinct operations with and regarding the blood. When you read concerning the burnt offering your will find the priests were merely instructed to sprinkle the blood round about the altar. This is quite different from the sin offering, for when you read of the sin offering you will also read how the blood of the sin offering was not only to be sprinkled seven times before the LORD before the vail of the sanctuary, and was not only to put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord, but the rest of the blood must be poured out at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering. What’s more, is that you will notice the language that is found within the fourth chapter describes how “all the blood” must be poured out at the bottom of the altar. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this absolutely incredible reality, for there is a fundamental difference between the burnt offerings which the children of Israel brought before and unto the LORD, and the sin offerings which were brought before and unto the LORD, for when it comes to the sin offering, the blood must be poured out at the bottom of the altar. Now, think about and consider what this must have looked like as the blood from the sin offering would be poured out at the bottom of the altar upon the sand of the altar. BLOOD IN THE SAND! BLOOD STAINED SAND! Pause for a moment and think about the fact that wherever the children of Israel journeyed in the wilderness, and wherever the Tabernacle and altar were set up—it would be there where the blood of the sin offering would be poured out at the bottom of the altar. Oh, is it possible that for forty years the children of Israel stained the sand in the midst of the wilderness with the blood of the sacrifices and offerings? Is it possible that for forty years the children of Israel stained the wilderness of Sinai with the blood of the sacrifices, and as they journeyed from place to place they would stain specific places with the blood of their offerings. Think about and consider how many places within the wilderness during and over a forty year period of time the children of Israel would stain the floor of the desert with the blood from the sin offerings, and what it might have looked like as the children of Israel departed from those places where they had encamped. TRAILS OF BLOOD! A TRAIL OF BLOOD IN THE WILDERNESS! AS THE LORD LED THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL THROUGH THE WILDERNESS THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL LEFT A TRAIL OF BLOOD IN THEIR WAKE!

WHERE THE LORD LEADS, BLOOD WILL FOLLOW! It’s quite intriguing to think about and consider the fact that when you think about and consider the process of burnt offerings and sacrifices which the children of Israel presented and offered before and unto the living God in the midst of the wilderness, there is this strong reality that the children of Israel left a trail of blood in the wilderness over a period of forty years as the blood of the offerings would be poured out at the bottom of the altar. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how long it would take for the blood to be covered over by the sand of the desert as undoubtedly the winds which blew would eventually and ultimately blow the sand from the wilderness and would cover the place of the blood. I wonder how much blood was shed in the midst of the wilderness over the forty year period of time the children of Israel wandered and journeyed through the wilderness. TRAILS OF BLOOD AND COLUMNS OF SMOKE! WHEN SAND IS STAINED WITH BLOOD AND SMOKE ASCENDS INTO THE HEAVENS! I sit here this morning and I can’t help but be absolutely and incredible gripped with and by the awesome reality that the altar was not a beautiful place according to our standards, but was in all reality a place of blood where the blood of the offerings was either sprinkled round about the altar, or it was poured out at the bottom of the altar. The more I think about and consider the words which are found within these chapters the more I can’t help but encounter the absolutely tremendous reality that the altar was a tremendous place of blood and fire, as the offering was burned and consumed in the altar, and the blood of the altar was drained and poured out at the bottom of the altar. With that being said, you will find in Scripture that life is in the blood, so for the blood to be drained from the offering and sacrifice means that the life of that sacrifice and offering was drained and removed from it. Taking this a step further the question we must ask is our we willing to allow the life to be drained out of that which we bring before and unto the LORD. If life is in the blood, and if the blood was poured out before the altar, then it means that not only was the sacrifice brought before the LORD and consumed in the fire, but the life of the sacrifice was poured out at the altar. WHEN THE BODY OF THE SACRIFICE IS CONSUMED IN THE FIRE AND THE LIFE OF THE SACRIFICE IS POURED OUT BEFORE THE ALTAR. A BODY CONSUMED IN THE FIRE AND LIFE POURED OUT AT THE FOOT OF THE ALTAR! Oh this is absolutely astonishing and remarkable when you think about it terms of the sacrifice of Christ, for when Christ’s blood was shed—whether it was as He was beaten by the Romans with a scourge laced with chips of bone and glass, or whether it was the blood which was shed from the crown of thorns placed upon his brow, or whether it was the blood which was shed from the His wrists and ankles where the nails were hammered into his flesh—the life of Christ was poured out from place to place. Even as Christ walked along the Via Dolorosa, I would dare say that He left His own trail of blood which would lead unto Calvary where He would be sacrificed for our sin upon the cross. What’s more, is that it would be on the cross where not only would the body of the sacrifice be consumed in the midst of the fire of God’s judgment and wrath upon sin, but the life of the sacrifice would be poured out at the foot of the cross. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how much blood fell upon the sand before and around the cross as Christ hung there for six hours before finally yielding up the ghost and ultimately being brought down from the cross before being buried in a tomb for three days and rising on the third day.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that the altar which was found in the court of the Tabernacle in the midst of the people of God was a place of blood and fire, as the sacrifice was consumed in the fire, and as the blood of the sacrifice was poured out before the altar. The altar was not only a place of consumed sacrifices in the midst of the fire, but it was also a place of blood poured out, as the sand of the desert was stained with the blood of the sacrifice. While this Old Testament book of Leviticus might seem intimidating and might seem like something that is frightening and terrifying, it is absolutely necessary that we recognize that what we find and read in these opening chapters is how the LORD God of the Hebrews instructed and invited the children of Israel to approach, draw near and worship Him. What’s more, is that it is what we find and read within these chapters that brings us face to face with the tremendous significance of Christ’s sacrifice, for no longer do priests need to minister before the altar day and night arranging pieces of offering upon the altar in the midst of the fire, nor do priests need to pour out and sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice before and round about the altar, for Jesus Christ was not only the Lamb and sacrifice which was offered upon the altar, but Jesus was also the High Priest who ministered with the blood and brought His blood before the throne of God and before the Holy of Holies that atonement might once and for all be made for us that access might be made and granted beyond the veil where we can boldly draw near and approach the throne of the living God. I leave you with the words which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote unto their audience. Consider if you will the words which the author of this New Testament epistle wrote beginning with the eleventh verse of the ninth chapter of this book:

“Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always in the the first Tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people. The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinance, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause He is the mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that that worshippers once purged should have had no more confidence of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hath you prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifice for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come ( in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to su: for after the he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the LORD, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, boy a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised)” (Hebrews 9:6-10:23).

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