He shall kill it on the north side of the altar before the Lord; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall sprinkle its blood all around on the altar. And he shall cut it into its pieces, with its head and its fat; and the priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire upon the altar. (Leviticus 1:11-12)
In 1 Samuel, we are told that “obedience is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22), which would infer that, conceptually, the sacrifices described in Scripture teach us about obedience. It is easy to lose sight of this in all of the details but, still, God has purpose for everything He instructs His people to do. So then, what can we learn about obedience through these offerings and how they were to be presented?
First of all, blood — the primary issue where sacrifice is concerned — is symbolic of the seat of life. Without blood nothing can live and, thus, the blood that was poured out was to represent man’s very life and soul being poured out in service to God. We have life because He desired to give us life and, in return, asks that we dedicate that life back to Him of our own volition. In that same vein of thought, the sacrifices were cut into pieces suggesting that every “piece” of us should surrender to His will — nothing should be held back.
Even the innards and how they were treated in the sacrificial process speak to the fact that anything that could come between us and God, especially those things that are deep seated within us, must be purged and placed upon the altar. All of these points can be summed up in this manner — our obedience can’t be half-hearted; it must be complete and total. We must truly internalize this truth, or else when we are faced with the great test that is surely to come, will we be ready for it? Those who hope to overcome must be able to say that, “They did not love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:11). When we view total obedience through the lens of these sacrifices we can better appreciate the statement that “obedience is better than sacrifice.”
Blessings and Shalom,