READ: Leviticus 1-2
BACKGROUND: The Hebrew name for this book is Vayikra which comes from the Hebrew tradition of naming the books of the Pentateuch – the 1st 5 books – after the 1st word in the book. In this case, vayikra, is the Hebrew for “he [God] is calling.” The name Leviticus comes from the Greek name for the book and it basically means “pertaining to the Levites.” The Levites were the priestly tribe of Israel and Leviticus is a handbook for the priests on the practices and purposes of the religious life of Israel. The main theme of the book – which is referenced a bit in the Hebrew title – is God’s call to his people to be holy. Over 50 times in the book it says that God called or spoke these words directly to Moses and the book is full of the language of sacrifice – sacrifice/priest/blood/altar – because it is a book that shows God’s deep concern for saving his people and restoring them to right relationship with him. The words “holy” and “atonement” are used over 130 times combined in Leviticus.
THINK: “And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering: and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him” – Leviticus 1:4
If by that laying on of his hand, the bull became the offerer’s sacrifice, how much more shall Jesus become ours by the laying on of the hand of faith?
If a bull could be accepted for him to make atonement for him, how much more shall the Lord Jesus be our full and all-sufficient propitiation? Some quarrel with the great truth of Jesus’ substitution on our behalf; but as for us, it is our hope, our joy, our boast, our all. Jesus is accepted for us to make atonement for us, and we are “accepted in the Beloved.”
Our Lord’s being made “sin for us” is set forth here by the very significant transfer of sin to the bull, which was made by the elders of the people. The laying of the hand was not a mere touch of contact, for in some other places of Scripture the original word has the meaning of leaning heavily, as in the expression, “thy wrath lies hard upon me” (Psalm 88:7). Surely this is the very essence and nature of faith, which doth not only bring us into contact with the great Substitute, but teaches us to lean upon him with all the burden of our guilt. Jehovah made to meet upon the head of the Substitute all the offences of his covenant people, but each one of his people is brought personally to ratify this solemn covenant act, when by grace he is enabled by faith to lay his hand upon the head of the “Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. ”
Believer, do you remember that rapturous day when you first realized pardon through Jesus the sin-bearer? Can you not make glad confession, and join with the writer in saying, “My soul recalls her day of deliverance with delight. Laden with guilt and full of fears, I saw my Saviour as my Substitute, and I laid my hand upon him; oh! how timidly at first, but courage grew and confidence was confirmed until I leaned my soul entirely upon him; and now it is my unceasing joy to know that my sins are no longer imputed to me, but laid on him, and like the debts of the wounded traveller, Jesus, like the good Samaritan, has said of all my future sinfulness, ‘Set that to my account. ‘” Blessed discovery! Eternal solace of a grateful heart!
Let the reader take care at once to lay his hand on the Lord’s completed sacrifice, that by accepting it he may obtain the benefit of it. If he has done so once, let him do it again. If he has never done so, let him put out his hand without a moment’s delay. Jesus is yours now if you will have Him. Lean on Him; lean hard on Him; and He is yours beyond all question; you are reconciled to God, your sins are blotted out, and you are the Lord’s.
– Adapted from Charles Spurgeon
PRAY: Lean heavily on Christ today with the full burden and weight of your sin and guilt. Confess your own unworthiness and take some serious time to worship Jesus for being your great Substitute – taking the punishment that you earned – and to revel and take solace in the forgiveness you now have through him.