“Then Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, including the head and the fat, on the burning wood that is on the altar. He is to wash the inner parts and the legs with water, and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.” -Lev. 1.8-9
The book of Leviticus is a concentrated tome on ancient priestliness, and for this very reason our impatient and preoccupied modern minds have difficulty with it. It is methodical and precise, and carries with it pictures of men elbow-deep in the blood of bulls and rams. One can almost smell the ashen flesh and bones of the burnt offering upon reading it. There is very little here that appeals to our ‘cake and latte’ society, but that which causes us to recoil is often that which is “an aroma pleasing to the LORD.”
Can we fathom the priestly duties of old, and believe that they were commanded by the Lord as holy? The priest was charged to “arrange the pieces, including the head and the fat, on the burning wood that is on the altar.” The animal was to be placed on the burning wood, its pieces, its head, and its fat. All of this goes to show that if we would come to the Lord rightly, we’ve got to give him the whole of who we are. We’ve got to “present our bodies as living sacrifices,” which is something more than giving mental assent to a particular doctrine.
God is altogether merciful, and His kindness toward us is impossible to measure. Yet and still, if our lives would ascend to Him as a pleasing aroma, they must be presented as a “fire offering.” Our “pieces,” including our puffed-up “head” knowledge, our “fat” and the giving of ourselves to various forms of excess, have got to be placed on the burning wood of God’s altar. Our self-preservation, our purported wisdom and correctness, and our self-absorbed living have got to go into the fire, for the burning up of these Adamic conditions is a sweet fragrance to the Lord.
The priest was also commanded to “wash the inner parts and the legs with water,” which could speak many things to our souls. Instantly one thinks of the implications of both washing and burning the “inner parts.” Beyond the “pieces” of the beast, which are external, and which constituted the animals earthly image, the priest is to wash the inner-most portions of its remains, as if to prepare them for the fire offering.
I do not know all that was in the mind of the Lord with this command to wash the inward parts, but I assume that there must be some meaning for us to draw out here. Before ever we can enter the fire in the sense of offering our inner-most parts unto the Lord, we’ve got to be cleansed and rinsed with mercy and truth by the Great High Priest. Not only has the wisdom of this world infected our “inner parts,” but our own self-centered musings have plagued us since the days of our youth. It is not the human custom to dialogue with God, but to run through a thousand cycles of self-conscious consideration, anxious assumption, and presumptuous reflections. We are ever and always thinking about our appearance, our rights, and the supremacy of our opinions. Couple that with the infusion of a million other worldly voices and influences, and our innermost parts are a mangled collection of sinful thoughts, open wounds, and boastings against the knowledge of God.
We need desperately and daily to be washed throughly by the only One who bears that eternal and priestly authority, the Man Christ Jesus. We cannot rightly be presented as a “fire offering” until the Priest has washed our inner parts. We need Him to establish in our lives an inward dialogue with the Spirit of God. Our thought patterns and internal cycles are never-ceasing, with pride and arrogance, anxiety and fear, presumption and vain opinion. We need to entrust our “inner parts” to the Priest of heaven, mangled though they are, for He will cleanse them from their darkness, and wash out the infection of this age. Then shall they be placed upon the burning wood and arise as an aroma unto God.
It takes time to offer the “inner parts,” for when we initially come to the Lord we are willing to offer “pieces,” willing to give up our “head” and the “fat” of our lives, for we have seen the destructive fruits of sin. But the inner parts are not easily surrendered. Our past pains, our self-consciousness, our desire to receive honor from men. These inner parts will ever seek to take the high place. Only the Lamb of God has the authority and ability to take these mangled parts, strained and bruised from sin and self, beaten by the powers of darkness, and to cleanse them, fitting them for the fire of offering.
We’ve got to let the bars down, and trust the One who went further than the priests of old. He was not merely elbow-deep in the blood of bulls and goats, but covered head to toe in His own precious blood. And He went to the cross for the “joy set before Him,” which is the glorification of His Father, and the total salvation and deliverance of His people. Dear saint, this includes you. Have you an inner-dialogue with Him that transcends meetings and religious functions, or are you still withholding the hidden parts?
Likewise, the “legs” were to be washed with water along with the inner parts. This bespeaks the journey that follows those who give their innermost parts over to the Lord’s washing, and the fire that follows. When at once our inner parts have been cleansed and placed into the fire, our lives are no longer our own. We will not go to and fro as the world does. We will not make decisions on a whim or move here or there out of mere desire or convenience. We will follow the Lamb wheresoever He goes.
If we are to offer our lives “daily,” as did Paul, so also are we to experience the washing of the inner parts and the cleansing of our legs with great frequency. Are your “legs” clean? Or are you running to and fro, even in ministry, without first having your motives and leadings washed with the water of the High Priest? If it doesn’t flow out of that precious inner dialogue with the Spirit of God, how can it resound to His glory? It is still unto you, and your life cannot be placed upon the altar until the inner parts are His, and He has washed you through and through.
Give Him all the “pieces” dear saint. Your frame, your head, your excess, your legs, and your innermost parts. The life of true offering is one of totality, and the High Priest is completely trustworthy. He is utterly worthy of every portion. Your life, when it is all on fire upon the burning wood of the altar, will rise to Him as a pleasing aroma both now and forevermore.