“…he shall offer it of his own free will.”
– Leviticus 1:3
Alfred Edersheim wrote, “The sacrifices of the Old Testament were symbolical and typical. An outward observance without any real inward meaning is only a ceremony.” In other words, they had deep inward meaning in the intimate relationship with the Lord. It was a special time between the person offering and the Lord God. Done in any other way, it was merely a ceremony.
The primary thought behind the sacrifices in the Old Testament was that of substitution. This would include atonement and redemption. Blood had to be shed, and it really should have been the blood of the sinner, yet God allowed substitution. The laying on of hands to the sacrificial animal was the symbolic transferring of sins to the sacrifice. It is said that when the sacrificer placed their hands on the substitution, it was always accompanied by confession of sin and prayer.
God gave Moses specific instructions on how the sacrifices were to be brought before the Lord. It was to be done out of free will yet to God’s specifications. It is the same for us today. We have a free will to bring our lives to that substitution that was made for us, Jesus, the Messiah. He shed His blood on the cross for us, the perfect sacrifice once for all. By confessing and repenting, we transfer our sins on to Him. We cannot come to the Lord; however, we feel it is best. All roads do not lead to heaven. God was particular on how to bring the sacrifice, and He is precise in how we must approach Him today. We can only approach the One true God through Jesus Christ.
The Lord God gave Moses specific instructions on the flaying of the sacrifice and how it was to be cut in precise pieces. When writing to Timothy, the Apostle Paul used this same term when describing how to rightly divide the word of truth. It is the Bible that instructs us. It is the Bible that points us to our sins and tells us how to repent. And, it is the Bible that tells us Jesus Christ has paid the price for us. No longer is the sacrifice symbolical, it is real! May our relationship with Jesus be of our own free will with inward meaning and not religious ceremony!