These verses describe the priests’ duties and privileges regarding the various offerings we’ve learned about so far in Leviticus. The Lord had specific requirements for how the sacrifice would burn and what was done with the remnants of the animal, flour, and oil of the offering.
The burnt offering was a burning of the entire animal for the atonement of each person made yearly for the general state of sin they lived under. The priest had to ensure that the animal burnt until only ashes remained. That meant he had to keep the fire burning continually. He couldn’t allow the fire to go out and be relit. He then had to carry the ashes to a clean place. Verses 10-11 of chapter 6 read,
“And the priest shall put on his linen garment and put his linen undergarment on his body, and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar and put them beside the altar. 11 Then he shall take off his garments and put on other garments and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place.”
The animal had taken on the sins of the offeror. In giving it over to The Lord in death and fire, the price was being paid. But once it was burned, ashes still remained. But when The Lord forgives sin, He forgives completely. They are erased from His record. So the priest had the responsibility of removing the ashes, the vestiges of sin to a clean place. He even had to change his clothes so that the traces of sin would not sully him. The priest had been sanctified by The Lord. He was very careful about remaining clean.
When we are forgiven, it is a total forgiveness. God doesn’t hold onto our sin anymore. He chooses not to remember it. When He looks at us, He doesn’t see the sin, He sees His righteous child, His precious beloved. So why do we choose to hold onto our sins? Why do we look at ourselves and see the wrongs we’ve done? Why do we look at other people and see how they’ve hurt us or how short they are of perfection? God doesn’t see His children like that. If we have God’s heart we should look at His children with God’s vision.
All the other offerings had parts that didn’t get burned on the altar. The grain offering, sin offering, and guilt offering all gave meat, flour or cakes to the priest. This was his privilege and provision for ministering to the people and serving God. Chapter 6 verses 16-18 describe the grain offering and the priests’ privilege and obligation.
“And the rest of it Aaron and his sons shall eat. It shall be eaten unleavened in a holy place. In the court of the tent of meeting they shall eat it. 17 It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it as their portion of my food offerings. It is a thing most holy, like the sin offering and the guilt offering. 18 Every male among the children of Aaron may eat of it, as decreed forever throughout your generations, from the Lord's food offerings. Whatever touches them shall become holy.”
The flour and cakes had been given to The Lord. By that distinction and merit, the food became consecrated. The bread couldn’t be ruined with leaven, which nearly always represents sin in the scripture. The priests were consecrated as well. The eating of this food was not a casual thing but a sanctified act of worship. The place they ate, the table, the plates all became sacred in this act of worship that only the priests were allowed to participate in doing.
The sin offering and guilt offering gave the priests meat when after the blood, fat, kidneys, and liver were burned. The priests had to eat the meat like the bread of the grain offering as an act of worship in the tent of meeting. It had to be eaten the same day, with some allowed the second day, but none could be eaten on the third day, that had to be burned not as an offering but to ensure that no one would eat what was now unclean. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. He didn’t linger about to decay, He conquered death and sin absolutely and finally.
Today we who belong to Christ are all priests, we are all consecrated to God’s service, and we are holy to God. We eat The Lord’s Supper or Love Feast as an act of worship. The bread and wine represent Jesus’ body and blood, broken and poured out for us. Taking the Love Feast doesn’t make us holy, it reminds us that we are holy. We have the honor of remembering Christ’s sacrifice for us. Only believers have the license to do this holy act.
Under the old covenant the priest that ate the sacred meat, breads, and cakes had to be clean. He had to deal with any uncleanness before he was allowed to eat the meal in the tent of meeting. If he didn’t do so, if he took that honor lightly and didn’t consider his own iniquitousness God would cut him off. When dealing with the peace offering, which was the offering which resulted in a fellowship meal for the people, the same rule applied. People had to deal with their uncleanness before they could touch the meal. Chapter 7 verses 19-21 read,
“Flesh that touches any unclean thing shall not be eaten. It shall be burned up with fire. All who are clean may eat flesh, 20 but the person who eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of the Lord's peace offerings while an uncleanness is on him, that person shall be cut off from his people. 21 And if anyone touches an unclean thing, whether human uncleanness or an unclean beast or any unclean detestable creature, and then eats some flesh from the sacrifice of the Lord's peace offerings, that person shall be cut off from his people.”
Even though all our sins, past, present, and future are forgiven we are still people of flesh who sin a hundred times a day. We are imperfect and dirty, even though The Lord sees us as righteous. He made us righteous. But taking The Lord’s Supper when we are right smack in the middle of hating a brother, instigating division among the church, or causing someone to sin has serious consequences. We are not supposed to take it lightly. It is not a snack of crackers and juice, it is the remembrance of our redemption by Christ’s broken body and cleansing blood. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-32 Paul says,
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.”
Believer, you are holy. You are precious. You are separated from the world by your priesthood. It is an honor, a special distinction and a great privilege that you can take The Lord’s Supper. It doesn’t make you holy. It is you that makes the act, the bread, the wine, and even the cup and plate holy. The act doesn’t forgive sins. It celebrates your sanctification in Christ. It is an act of worship that only the redeemed may carry out. Don’t forget the specialness of it. Never treat it lightly. It is a gift from The Lord to you, Royal Priest.