Leviticus 1:4: “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.”

September 13th, 2019 by Pastor Ed in devotional

When a worshiper brought a burnt sacrifice to the temple, he would “put his hand on the head of the burnt offering” to symbolically identify with the animal being killed. It was a sign of substitution, transferring one’s sin onto the animal that was to be sacrificed in their place. As we read on, we find that there were 4 things necessary for God to accept this kind of offering. 1) The animal had to be perfect. 2) It had to be a male. 3) The offering had to be a free-will offering. 4) The person offering the sacrifice had to place their hand on the animal’s head as an act of obedience and identification. Meeting these 4 criteria allowed the sacrifice to be accepted for covering or atonement.

We know that the Hebrew word translated “atonement” here is kaphar, which means, “to cover over, to atone for the sin of a person by a legal rite.” The concept of being covered is critical to our understanding of just how God’s economy works, concerning sins and forgiveness. Under the old covenant, sins were merely covered over; but under the new covenant (the “better way”), sin is not just covered—it is cleansed. John explained it this way in his first letter: “forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, italics added). What an astounding promise!

We can now be clean before God Almighty by simply turning (confessing and repenting) to God. Rather than the up-close-and-personal bloody sacrifice that the law required, we can now apply the blood of our Savior to our sins and find ourselves washed and made new by His grace. How can it be so simple and yet so neglected by so many people? As usual the problem is not with God but with our own selfish, self-centered hearts.

“LORD, free us from our pathological drive to control! Give us the wisdom to surrender to You by accepting Your death on our behalf. LORD, we chose life.”