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The Big Six

Leviticus 7:37-38a
This is the law of the burnt offering, of the grain offering, of the sin offering, of the guilt offering, of the ordination offering, and of the peace offering, which the LORD commanded Moses on Mt. Sinai …

It might’ve made no difference to these pilgrims had God issued ten sacrifices to mirror His Ten Commandments or instead just rolled all these rites into one, but the fact that He divided the atoning ministry into six sacrifices is telling. The first and most obvious connection to draw from this is that it sweeps us back to the order of creation, echoing again the recurring theme of Genesis and Exodus that God toiled for six days and so should man.

But in a more symbolic sense, six is the number of earthly life. Six specifies incompletion, while seven represents perfection and divine rest. And just as a typical work week requires six days of toil before rest, so too Atonement’s work isn’t complete with six sacrifices. It needs a seventh—a Sabbath sacrifice as it were—to finally complete the work. Hear the LORD of the Sabbath, of rest and reward and completion, calling to us through our endeavors, “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest!” Is He not the Seventh Day incarnating into a world of perpetual six? Is He not divine Rest permeating through unending trial and tribulation? Yes! And atonement is difficult work—back-breaking work—bloody work! Like an assembly line of burnt offerings, grain offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings, ordination offerings, and peace offerings without end. A picture of unending crime and punishment—of perpetual six. Kill, skin, divide, burn, eat, clean—repeat.

But then our Sabbath came! Our burnt offering Who stormed through hell’s fires without getting singed! And our grain offering Whose sacrificial body is holy bread! And our sin offering Who knew no sin but became sin for us! And our guilt offering Who we deemed smitten by God but Who’d done no wrong! And our ordination offering Who waves away our misdeeds! And our peace offering Who brings us back to the Father forevermore!

The bleeding and bleating of these six Levitical sacraments are begging for a Sabbath, crying out with David, “How long, O LORD?” But they’ve been forever put to rest by His reverberating response: “It is finished!”