As the book of Numbers is drawing to a close, so too is the life and mission of the faithful prophet Moses. Nevertheless, before he passes on, God once again provides him with insight that will prepare God’s people for what lies ahead. This time, the Lord repeats previous instructions for His desire of a soothing aroma to be presented to Him continually…
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Command the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be careful to present My offering, My food for My offerings by fire, of a soothing aroma to Me, at their appointed time.’ You shall say to them, ‘This is the offering by fire which you shall offer to the Lord: two male lambs one year old without defect as a continual burnt offering every day. You shall offer the one lamb in the morning and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight…”
The fact that God would–by the aroma of smoke–be pleased is incredible, and it is just as significant that He requires it continually. Surely it’s not the actual smell that pleases the Lord, is it? Could this offering and aroma mean more than smoke rising up from the burning of flesh? Could there be a deeper meaning or a representative picture also at play?
All the way back in Genesis 8 (right after the flood), Noah offered a sacrifice that was pleasing to God. And immediately following the offering and the rising of the smoke from the altar God declared, “...I will never again curse the ground on account of man…” This same word is then used forty-two more times in the Old Testament. Each time–except four–the word is used to describe how a burnt offering pleases the Lord. These offerings played a critical role in the life and religious practice of these people of God, and without it they would be left in their sins. The aroma of burning flesh represented reconciliation. It represented the fact that God–the holy and undefiled Creator–was satisfied with His creation. God had provided instructions for how His people could remain in fellowship and right standing with Him, and these continual offerings–burned morning and evening–ensured the integrity of this relationship. And God was pleased, or appeased as some translate the word.
But there’s a problem. There are finite animals to offer, and there are insufficient numbers of priests set apart to offer them. At some point, sin catches up…and the temple is destroyed…and therefore the altar where the burnt offerings could be made is gone. Now what?
How Does This Apply To Us Today?
God knew the day would come when the temple would be destroyed along with the altar. He knew that these were symbols and could not continue into perpetuity. The reality of sin and death eventually catch up to us all. And so, in the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son…
“By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified…”
“Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
“Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”
And this is yet another reason why Christ had to die…
And as a result, He is able to continually intercede for us…GLORY!— February 9, 2018