Yahweh called Moses and spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting. Remember “Moses used to take the Tent and set it up outside the camp, some distance away. He called it the Tent of Meeting. Anyone who sought [Yahweh] would go to the Tent of Meeting outside the camp.” Yahweh gave Moses instructions about how he wanted his people to do what they had been doing all along. “Holman Bible Dictionary says,” Sacrifice in … Israel was not unique among the nations of the Ancient Near East in their use of sacrifices and offerings as a means of religious expression. Some type of sacrificial system characterized the many religious methodologies that the nations employed in their attempts to honor their gods. The presence of sacrifices and offerings in Israel, therefore, was a reflection of the larger culture of which this nation was a part.” Biblical Training says, “The establishment of the covenant between Israel and the Lord [Yahweh] was accompanied by solemn sacrifices. The foundation principle of this covenant was obedience, not sacrifices. Sacrifices were incidental—aids to obedience, but valueless without it.” Yahweh used a practice common to the entire human race to teach his chosen people. The Passover feast was a reminder that Yahweh brought his people out of bondage in Egypt, but it was also a picture of things to come. Yeshua’s cousin, John, called Yeshua Yahweh’s Passover lamb – a message through the ages that would prepare his people for Yeshua ha Mashiach.
The burnt offering expressed dedication because it was wholly burned. It had to be a flawless male because that would have been a prized possession. The condition of the bull would determine the condition of the herd or flock. The sacrifice was a substitute for the one offering it and meant that he was offering his total self to Yahweh. The blood of the covenant also had to be from a perfect male because it was a pattern of the blood that Yeshua presented to the holy of holies before Yahweh in “heavenly places.”
The Tent of the Meeting was where Yahweh met with his people so that is where the Whole Burnt Offering was to be presented and slaughtered, with the hands of the one offering it on the head of the animal to relate the sacrifice as his substitute. The animal victim involuntarily gave its life to make expiation for the donor. The priests were to splash the blood of the atonement against all the sides of the altar – the place where divine and human worlds interacted – that stood at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Spurgeon says, “It was God’s intent to awaken in man a great disgust of sin, by making him see that it could only be put away by suffering and death. In the Tabernacle in the wilderness almost everything was sanctified by blood…. the troubled conscience would read lessons of peace and pardon.” None of the blood was to be burned. One of the functions of salt was to absorb the blood.
If the Whole-Burnt-Offering came from the flock, whether sheep or goat, it was to be slaughtered – “על ירך המזבח צפנה, “at the north side of the altar.” The Tent opened to the east, the wash basin was on the west, and the ascent to the altar was to the south. Thus the north was the logical place for this activity. North suggests that the north side of the altar may have been the place for the smaller animals; the larger ones would have been prepared in front of the altar. The identification of the specific place [agrees] with 4:24, 29, and 33 which say that the purification offering (חטאת) is to be slaughtered where the whole offering is slaughtered. The remainder of the ritual is essentially the same as for the offering of cattle. (WBC)”
David Guzik says, “He shall bring his offering of turtledoves or young pigeons: God would not accept any kind of bird, but He would accept turtledoves or young pigeons as sacrifices. The fact that God would accept a bull, a goat, a sheep, or a bird shows that God was more interested in the heart than in the actual animal being offered. If the sacrifice was made with the right heart, God accepted the poor man’s bird as much as the rich man’s bull. At the same time, the sacrifice had to correspond with what one could afford. It was wrong for a rich man to only offer a bird as a burnt offering. Therefore, when God made His offering for sin, He gave the richest, most costly thing He could – Himself.”
In their wild state doves normally build their nests in the clefts of rocks, but when they are domesticated dove-cots are prepared for them. The dove was placed on the standards of the Assyrians and Babylonians in honor. Doves and turtle-doves were were clean and the only birds that could be offered in sacrifice. The dove was the omen of peace to Noah and is often mentioned as the emblem of purity, as in Psalms 68:13. It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit and of tender and devoted affection.
The priest was to bring the dove or pigeon to the altar, wring off its head, and burn it on the altar after draining the blood on the side of the altar, and removing the gizzard and its contents that he threw on the east side of the altar where the ashes are piled. Then he was told to rip it open by its wings but leave it in one piece and burn it on the altar on the wood prepared for the fire. It would be a pleasing fragrance to Yahweh because it was the best the supplier had to give as his substitute to pay for his sins. The donor would be sacrificing the symbol of love, faithfulness, and self-sacrifice. The dove enjoys living near humans and humans enjoy having them around; so the presentation of a dove to Yahweh wasn’t an easy-out any more than giving up an animal that had the capacity to make its owner rich was.
Summary of chapter 1
Yahweh gave instructions for everything associated with the nature and quality of burnt offerings, and the ceremonies accompanying them, the person who brought the sacrifice and the priest who offered it that would bring the people of Israel into fellowship with him. His instructions also included the place where the sacrifice was to be made because, as Rev. John Schultz says, it is important that humans play by Yahweh’s rules.
Prayer: Lord, I know that the old plan was only a hint of the good things in the new plan. Since that old “law plan” wasn’t complete in itself, it couldn’t complete those who followed it. No matter how many sacrifices were offered year after year, they never added up to a complete solution. If they had, the worshipers would have gone merrily on their way, no longer dragged down by their sins. Repeating the animals sacrifices year after year heightened awareness of sin and guilt because bull and goat blood can’t get rid of sin. That is what is meant by this prophecy; put in the mouth of Yeshua ha Mashiach when he said, “You don’t want sacrifices and offerings,” referring to practices according to the old plan. He said, “I’m here to do it your way,” and set aside the first in order to enact the new plan—your way—the way we are made fit for you by the once-for-all sacrifice of Yeshua ha Mashiach. The priest went to work at the altar each day, offered the same old sacrifices year in, year out, and never made a dent in the sin problem. As a priest, Mashiach made a single perfect sacrifice for sins and he sat down right beside you where he waits for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process. Your Holy Spirit confirmed this when you said, “This new plan I’m making with Israel isn’t going to be written on paper, isn’t going to be chiseled in stone; this time I’m writing out the plan in them, carving it on the lining of their hearts. I’ll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins.” Once sins are taken care of for good, there’s no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them. So I can now come to you in the “the Holy Place.” without hesitation, full of belief, confident that I am presentable inside and out. Yeshua has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as my priest before you. The “curtain” into your presence is his body. I will keep a firm grip on the promises that keep me going. You will always keep your word.
Things to think about
- Did Yahweh initiate animal sacrifice?
- Do you think the Israelites were trying to feed Yahweh as other people did with their gods?
- Why do you think Yahweh made rules for sacrifices and offerings?
- What is the connection between the burnt offering and dedication to Yahweh?
- Why do you think Yahweh prescribed a place and method for the sacrifices?
- Why should the donor put his hands on the sacrificial animal as it was being slaughtered?
- How do these practices relate to our identification with Yeshua ha Mashiach?
 Exodus 33:7
 Exodus 19:4-8
 John 1:29-34
 Hebrews 9:23-26
 Ephesians 2:6
 “The Sprinkling of the Blood of the Sacrifice”, A Sermon Delivered by C. H. Spurgeon, May 11, 1884 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle Newington, London