FIRSTBORN SONSHIP OF CHRIST
The New Birth in the Old Testament
We will now look at the offerings burned, wholly or in part, on the altar of burnt offerings (Lev 1 thru 7), and also the red heifer offering, Num 19.
THE WHOLE BURNT OFFERING
22 "What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
23 "And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory?" Rom 9:22-23.
This is a brief but all inclusive statement of God's purpose in creation – of all things He has created so far, and will still create in the many eons to come. The riches of God's glory (the fullness of His divine attributes) is what God had in mind when He said: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," Gen 1:26. God had two kinds of mankind in mind when He created the first Adam (Gen 1 thru 3), and created the second Adam four thousand years later in the new birth and divine resurrection of Christ, Col 1:18; Rev 1:5; Act 13:29-33; 1Co 15:44-58; Col 2:9-10; 2Pe 1:4; Jn 10:30-36; 14:8-11; 17:21-23.
1. The Whole Burnt Offering Speaks of Atonement for Sin.
4 "Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him," Lev 1:4.
There is a sin offering and a trespass offering which we will discuss later, but they do not preclude the burnt offering's basic sin related emphasis. Apart from sin there is no need for atonement. The wages of sin is death (separation) from all the goodness of God, plus eternal punishment. Atonement corrects the whole sin related factor.
Of course, atonement could not be perfected by animal sacrifices. Yet, in a provisional prophetic way, animal sacrifices and many other symbolic ordinances vividly portrayed the redemption cycle – from God's eternal purpose, through the birth, life, death, burial, and divine new birth resurrection of Christ, to Christ's seventh millennium return in divine glory and power.
Atonement primarily provides for 1) daily forgiveness of sins, 2) acceptable worship of God, 3) grace to overcome the prescribed covenant discipline, and 4) the inheritance of God's divine fullness as overcomers in the firstborn sonship of Christ when Christ returns. These are all covenant or last will and testament provisions for the faithful covenant people, who must faithfully overcome the required covenant discipline by grace through faith. The gift of the Holy Spirit is inherent in the firstborn sonship: saved people outside a true local church do not have the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit – see editor's book entitled "Christ In You.
2. The Whole Burnt Offering Bore Witness of Complete Dedication to God.
9 "But he shall wash its entrails and its legs with water. And the priest shall burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD," Lev 1:9.
Perhaps the major testimony of the whole burnt offering was and is that all of the animal was burned on the burnt altar, except for the hide or skin which we will discuss shortly. Even the ashes, as already demonstrated, were kept in a clean place (as was the ashes of the red heifer offering) and evidently used as a prophetic witness within the redemption cycle. All the ashes of the altar of burnt offerings were kept in a clean place outside the camp. We will discuss the red heifer offering after discussing these first five offerings.
1 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
2 "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God," Rom 12:1-2.
Here is where we present our whole body and spirit as a whole burnt offering. The "body" of the animal sacrifice was burned to ashes. The animal had no spirit, but when we present our bodies as a living sacrifice, our spirit is the predominate part of us. Our mind is a part of our spirit, is inseparable from the spirit, and continues as the governing part of our whole spirit being after the death of the body, Lk 16:19-31; 1Pe 3:18-19; Rev 6:9-11.
As we analyze these and other such passages, it is immediately obvious that spirits have an intelligent mind that controls all their actions, the same as our spirits in our bodies. When the human spirit leaves the body, the body and brain die. But the "mind," which functions through the brain while in the body is alive, continues to be fully alive as the controlling or directional part of the spirit. The spirit also has eyes, ears, mouth, tongue, hands, etc., as the body does, Lk 16:10-31. Whatever happens to or within our body during the lifetime of the body is analyzed and governed by the mind through the brain -- keep in mind that the mind is an integral part of our spirit, which governs all the functions of both body and spirit while in the body, and the whole spirit after the death of the body.
The mind still controls and directs every function of our spirit after our body dies, and is therefore the predominate part of the human spirit. If one's spirit were born of the Spirit of God at first faith, that person would not sin anymore, because the "mind" which controls both body and spirit would be perfect and divine and could not sin. Sin is sin when the mind of our spirit gives consent to it.
17 "Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated?
18 "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart (mind), and they defile a man.
19 "For out of the heart (mind) proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies," Mt 15:17-19.
The "heart" here (as in Rom 2:28-29 and in Rom 7:7-25) does not refer to the blood pump, but to the "mind." "I thank God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin," Rom 7:25.
Let us be assured, however, that we do not have two separate and opposing minds or hearts at the same time: one that is divine and perfect, and the other that is carnal. Conversely, we have one mind that can be either carnal or spiritual. When our mind is consistently being fed by the Word of God, we will be spiritually minded. But when our mind is not well nourished on the Word of God, we are carnally minded, Rom 8:4-13; 1Co 2:11-16; 3:1-4.
The saved church member can be either carnally minded or spiritually minded, depending on how conscientiously and consistently he feeds his mind on the Word of God. The carnally minded church member will die from the body of Christ (Jn 15:1-6; Rom 8:6,13), and fail to make his calling and election sure, 2Pe 1:3-10; Gal 5:1-4.
We are still totally depraved, both body and spirit. If our spirit were made perfect and born again at first faith, we would never sin again. We are defiled by what comes forth from our heart or spirit mind, Mt 15:1-20. The heart, as considered here, is not the blood pump, but the seat of affection. The heart and the mind are one and the same: we usually say "heart" when we express emotion related functions, and say "mind" when expressing thought processes, mental calculations, and decision making. The physical brain is the residence of the mind when our spirit is in our body. When our body dies, the brain dies with it, but the mind goes with the spirit because it is an integral part of the spirit, Lk 16:19-31; Rev 6:9-11. Angels also are spirits with extremely intelligent minds and superhuman powers beyond comparison.
Again, as with Israel of old (Gen 17:14; Ex 12:48; Lev 26:41, and context), we are to have a circumcised heart, Rom 2:25-29. Flesh circumcision is meaningless if the heart is not circumcised. And in this kind of reference, the heart is the mind, not the blood pump.
3. The Fiery Death of the Whole Burnt Offering.
9 "But he shall wash its entrails and its legs with water. And the priest shall burn all (the whole animal) on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD," Lev 1:9.
It took a lot of wood to burn a bull completely into ashes, even sheep and goats. On special occasions very large numbers of burnt offerings and other sacrifices were burned on the altar. The dedication of the temple by Solomon was probably the most notable of them.
63 And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the LORD, twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD," 1Ki 8:63.
This required that the fires be kept burning very hot, especially when there were so many whole burnt offerings. The offerings on the altar of burnt offerings were not just partly burned, but were burned completely into ashes: there were to be no pieces of bones or flesh left. This was true with all the other offerings, where only a designated part of the animal was burned.
Watching the complete consumption of the body of these animals by fire (and the fire had to be very hot to do so) was surely a striking sight indeed to a person who had understanding of the profound prophetic meaning of the burnt offerings. The spectacle of the fiery consumption the animal represented Christ on the cross, agonizing under the fires of God wrath to atone for sin – for all the sins of mankind. Christ's pristine mind brilliantly grasped this extremely foreboding, but necessary redemption experience. Yet, for the immeasurable and eternal joy of creating a divine firstborn sonship, He daily forged ahead toward the cross. These cords of the cross bound Him passionately to the horns of the altar, Ps 118:27; Jn 17:1-26.
These same cords of understanding, deep reverence, faith, love, obedience, sacrifice, tenacious devotion, etc., should bind us to the horns of the altar. Joy unspeakable and full of glory awaits those who, with fear and trembling, work out their own salvation by grace through faith, Phi 2:12-13; 2Co 5:10-11. God has called us through arduous covenant discipline which we must endure and overcome as He did, Heb 5:8-9; 12:1-29.
4. He Shall Offer It of His Own Voluntary Will.
3 "If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD," Lev 1:3.
Here is another stumbling block God has placed before us. He has placed traps, snares, and stumbling blocks before us in many ways to snare us because of our lack of diligence, lack of faith, selfish ambitions, etc., Rom 11:8-10. The Scriptures tell us to give all diligence to make our calling and election sure (2Pe 1:3-10), and we have perhaps made sure that we are somewhat diligent, yet may be unaware that we may also be in the on-rushing shadow of the very zealous Pharisees, Mt 23; Rom 10:1-3.
Coming back to the voluntary will of man, the verse above says "of his own voluntary will." In other manuscripts, the words "voluntary will" or "free will" are not there, but the first three offerings (the burnt offering, food offering, and peace offering) were clearly voluntary offerings. Yet we are not born with a free will. We are sinners and children of wrath by nature, Ps 51:5; 58:3; Eph 2:1-3; Rom 5:12. How can we do good who are accustomed by nature to be selfish and do evil, Jer 13:23.
22 "For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, Yet your iniquity is marked before Me," says the Lord GOD," Jer 2:22.
We are slaves of sin by natural birth, and do not have a free will. God knows this better than we do, and, to manifest His compassion, empathy, good will, mercy, etc., He (the Godhead) has predestined that the Holy Spirit bring our enslaved wills to the place where we can make a free will choice -- by His Spirit, therefore by His grace. God is sovereign and has predestined every step of the redemption cycle. We can do nothing by ourselves or all of us together that will please God. But God brings every rational person under conviction with enough knowledge and grace to make the right choices in doing God's will. It is not us, but the grace of God, the Holy Spirit, who is working in and through us, 1Co 15:10; Phi 2:12-13; Mt 10:19-20; Heb 4:16.
5. The Burnt Offering Was a Sweet Savor to the Lord.
13 "But he shall wash the entrails and the legs with water. Then the priest shall bring it all and burn it on the altar; it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD," Lev 1:13.
20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
21 "And the Lord smelled a sweet savor...." Gen 8:20-21.
Immediately upon leaving the ark, Noah built an altar and offered burnt offerings of every clean beast and every clean fowl. This reveals that Noah had precise knowledge of how to worship God, and obviously was well accustomed to worshiping God in this manner. Again we emphasize that God made sure that His last will and testament with Adam, and Adam's descendants who loved and reverenced God, were well informed of its testamentary discipline and promised divine inheritance, Ps 25:14. Abel offered precisely the right sacrifices in choosing clean animals and "the firstlings (firstborn) of his flock and of the fat thereof," Gen 4:4.
14 "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
15 "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
16 "To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?" 2Co 2:14-16.
Within ourselves, we are utterly insufficient for these things, but by the Holy Spirit God makes us a living sacrifice, a burnt offering, a sweet savor of life into more abundant life, Jn 10:10; 2Co 2:14-16. God is able to make our example a sweet savor of life into more abundant life to many. There is no ministry more honorable than this. There is no other ministry that brings immeasurable returns of the divine fullness, Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; 2Pe 1:4; Jn 17:21-23. There is no sweet savor that can compare with the fullness of the divine nature. But our last will and testament requires that we be bound with the cords of the divine passion to the horns of the altar. The horns symbolize the divine nature of those who qualify by grace through faith to rule in joint heirship with Christ.
6. God's Portion of the Whole Brunt Offering Was the Whole Burnt Offering, Except for the Skin.
16 "For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart -- These, O God, You will not despise.
18 "Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 "Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, With burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar," Ps 51:16-19; 34:18.
The sacrifices that please God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart. These God will not despise. God is building the walls of the New Jerusalem with people with broken hearts. He is building the foundations of the New Jerusalem with those who are poor in spirit. He is building the streets of gold with those who weep and are heavy laden. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who morn and weep, those who hunger and thirst after God's righteousness, Mt 5. God wants us – but He wants us joined together in the body of Christ within the crucifixion cycle. This requires one to be baptized into the body of Christ: a true local church is metaphorically the body of Christ. This is our daily discipline arena, where we are trained through last will and testament discipline. Only in this way can He fill us with His divine fullness.
Solomon prayed a marvelous prayer and offered twenty-two thousand bulls with a hundred twenty thousand sheep at the dedication of the temple, (1Ki 6; 2Ch 7) while Joseph and Mary brought "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons" when they presented the new born Christ before God in the temple, Lk 2:24. Of course, those bulls and sheep (two young birds in this latter case) represented Christ. But God's portion, and Christ's portion, is the firstborn sonship, filled with the full range of God's divine attributes, and thereby conformed to the precise image and likeness of God, Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; 4:22-24; 5:31-32; Col 1;19; 2:9-10; 3:1-10; 2Pe 1:4; Jn 10:30-36; 14:8-10; 17:21-23. These portions (last will and testament inheritance) will all be received or fulfilled when Christ returns.
7. The Portion of the Priests Was the Skin of the Burnt Sacrifice.
8 "And the priest who offers anyone's burnt offering, that priest shall have for himself the skin of the burnt offering which he has offered," Lev 7:98.
21 "Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them," Gen 3:21.
This was a whole burnt offering, yet the priest who burns the sacrifice on the altar, by divine decree, was given the skin of the animal. This, at first, may appear to be a small thing, but it is not small at all. Let us observe five of the major correlations of the burnt offering:
1) The person who offered the sacrifice placed his hands on the head of the animal, which God ordained to signify that the offerer be counted as "one" with the sacrifice.
2) The animal sacrifice, therefore, represented both the one who brought the sacrifice and the animal sacrifice as becoming "one."
3) The priest who burned the sacrifice received the skin of the animal, signifying that the priest also became as "one" with the sacrifice, and therefore "one" with the one who offered the sacrifice. The animal represented Christ, and the skin represented the divine righteousness of God, Rev 19:7-8. In justification God's righteousness is credited to the last will and testament people with each act of faith, Rom 4:11-13; 2Co 5:21; Gal 3:8; 5:5; Phi 3:9; 2Ti 4:8.
4) The priest always represented the one who brings an offering to be offered by the priest. This is seen in the twelve stones in the breastplate of the high priest, Ex 28. It is also seen in the priests eating the twelve loaves of showbread, Lev 24:5-9. Again the priesthood represented the whole covenant nation as a kingdom of priests, Ex 19:6; 1Pe 2:9; Rev 1;5-6.
5) The body of the animal was burned on the altar representing God's part. The prophetic testimony is that the a) offerer, b) Christ as the human Redeemer, and c) the priest as God's appointed priest, all became as "ONE" in possessing the divine nature (2Pe 1:4), possessing the full range of the divine attributes of God, Eph 1:22-23; 3:19; 5:22-24; 5:3-32; Jn 10:30-36; 14:8-11; 17:21-23.
The skin symbolically speaks of clothing, and the clothing of the burnt offering became the clothing of the bride of Christ – the faithful last will and testament people. God could easily have made Adam and Eve clothes of silk, cotton, or other materials. But He clothed them with the skins of the animals (which animals obviously were burned on an altar as burnt offerings) to teach Adam and Eve the way God wanted them and their descendants to worship Him. Of course, God (the Son of God) taught them 1) that the animals represented Himself as the Seed of the woman, 2) that He would be their Kinsman Redeemer, 3) that He would be virgin born as the Seed of the woman – not the seed of man, 4) that He would live a sinless life where they failed, 5) that He would confirm the true last will and testament with the covenant people, 6) that He, as Testator, would die a last will and testament death for man's sins in ratifying the last will and testament, 7) that He would be buried, 8) that He would arise out of the grave possessing the divine life of the tree of life, 9) that He would raise a faithful firstborn people out of the grave in divine bodies, and 10) that He would crush and punish Satan, all fallen angels, and all the unbelieving of mankind.
It is clear that Christ, as the Son of God, made a last will and testament with Adam and Eve. It is also obvious that God explained in sufficient detail, as well as demonstrated by animal sacrifices, the meaning and significance of the last will and testament. He ratified this testament with them through the symbolic shedding of the blood and the death of the animal sacrifices.
The bride of Christ (the firstborn sonship) will be clothed in fine linen, which is the righteous acts of the saints, Rev 19:7-8. This, of course, means the righteousness of God (Isa 54:17; Jer 23:5-6; Mt 6:33), since all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isa 64:6), and utterly unacceptable within the redemption cycle. Infinity is the only attribute of God not promised in the last will and testaments. God is infinite in all His attributes, and though the full range of God's attributes is promised to all the firstborn sons, this divine fullness is promised on a finite basis, according to the "by grace through faith" faithfulness of each firstborn son, Ps 62:12; Ecc 12:13-14; Jer 32:19; 2Co 5:10; Rev 22:12.
8. The Portion of the Person Who Brought the Animal for the Burnt Offering.
4 "Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him," Lev 1:4.
The portion of the one who offered a burnt offering was "atonement," and atonement is an integral and major part of the redemption cycle, which provides for the new birth into the divine image and likeness of God. We must commit to memory at least the major steps and sequence of the redemption cycle. This is necessary for a full and proper understanding of the Scriptures.
We must recognize that everything in the Bible and everything in our lives is, positively or negatively, governed by the redemption cycle. "Positive" means gain toward qualifying for the last will and testament inheritance, and "negative" means loss toward or loss of the last will and testament inheritance. This loss also incurs eternal punishment and banishment from the presence and glory of the Lord, Mt 25:31-46; 2Th 1:9.
We must likewise keep in mind that God has two kinds of sons: 1) firstborn sons who qualify for the birthright inheritance of the firstborn Son, (Gal 4:19 thru 5:4) – and to qualify, one must overcome the required disciplinary covenant training God has placed only in a true local church in the current age; and 2) slaves or servant sons who fail to over come the last will and testament training, which is found only in true local churches, Gal 4:19 thru 5:4. These servant sons will eternally serve the firstborn sons, and will never be free from the physical laws of the physical universe, Gal 4:3,9,19-31; 5:1-4; Col 2:8; 3:20-21.
Coming back to the "atonement" of the whole burnt offering, the atonement directs our attention to the forgiveness of sins. Yet atonement is an integral part of the redemption cycle, and necessarily leads to the firstborn sonship and the birthright of the firstborn son, Gen 4:4; 27:17-27; Ex 4:22-23; 11:5; 12 & 13; Num 3. Adam was the firstborn as far as the "earthy" man is concerned, but Christ is the firstborn out of the grave into the new "heavenly" and divine sonship, 1Co 15:44-30.
Atonement, therefore, provides for Redemption, not only from man's sinful state, but also into God's divine image and likeness. This is God's redemption and eternal purpose from before the foundation of the world, Eph 1:4-5; 1Pe 1:18-20; Ti 1:2; Rom 1:25-26. The whole burnt offering is perhaps the most inclusive of all the burnt offerings; yet each offering is an integral part of the redemption cycle, and requires the run of the entire cycle from before creation into all ages to come.