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Chapter 4


“He Shall Kill the Bullock”


“And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.”

(Leviticus 1:5)


The death of our Lord Jesus Christ was absolutely essential. The sacrifice for sin must be slain. It is only through the blood, which he shed at Calvary for human guilt, that poor, guilty sinners can have the remission of sins. That is the thing set before us in the typical ceremony described in Leviticus 1:5.


“What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus!


This is all my hope and peace –

Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

This is all my righteousness –

Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”


            Verse four is a picture of faith in Christ. – “And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.” Here is a sinner coming to God with a sin offering, the offering God required. He puts his hands on the same head on which the Lord God laid his hands, symbolically agreeing to all that God has done. God and the believing sinner meet at the same place. Both are satisfied by the same sacrifice. That blood which satisfies the justice of the thrice-holy God satisfies the conscience of the believing sinner.


            The words, “He shall put his hand upon the head,” are even stronger in the original than they appear in our translation. They would be better translated, “He shall lean his hand upon the head.” The very same words are used in Psalm 88:7. — “Thy wrath lieth (leaneth) hard upon me.” Do you see the picture? Believing sinners lean their souls upon the same Sacrifice that God Almighty leaned his wrath.


            Once the sinner had symbolically laid his sins upon the head of the sacrifice, he stepped aside, leaving his sins upon the appointed victim. He has done what God required him to do. Now, he can go home rejoicing, saying, “I have put my hand upon the head of God’s sacrifice. It shall be accepted for me to make atonement for me. – ‘Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin!’


            But there is more than this needed for atonement, forgiveness of sin, and justification before God. Believing God will never atone for sin. The bullock must be killed. That is the typical picture given in verse five.


“And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.”


            In this study I want to show you both the necessity and the benefits of Christ’s death upon the cursed tree as our all-glorious Substitute and Savior.


The Man


Here we are specifically told that the man who brought the sacrifice was to kill it before the Lord. This is a picture of the execution of Divine wrath. It is proper that the man himself, the sinner kill, the animal, because there are many executioners of Divine wrath. Indeed, all things shall prove to be executioners of God’s holy wrath upon the damned. As heaven, earth, and hell combined to execute the Lamb of God, so heaven, earth, and hell shall together execute the wrath of God upon the unbelieving soul forever.


The Priest


The man must kill the beast of sacrifice; but only the priest appointed by God himself could make atonement and dispense mercy on the basis of atonement made (Numbers 6:24-26). Only the priest can bestow pardon in the name of God. None but the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s great High Priest could make atonement for our sins. None but Christ, God’s great High Priest, can dispense mercy to and bestow pardon upon needy sinners.


            The animal must be killed before the Lord. What an awesome sight, solemn and instructive in every detail! The priest catches the blood, the warm blood of life, the blood of the slain bullock in one of the bowls of the altar. All eyes are upon the priest and the blood, as he brings the sacrificed life to God.


            Andrew Bonar wrote, “It is as if the living soul of the sinner were carried in its utter helplessness and in all its filthiness and laid down before the Holy One!”


            Then the blood is sprinkled. The priest takes the blood of the slain animal and sprinkles it “round about upon the altar.” The life of the sacrifice has been taken away. The sinner stands, as it were, naked before God. There is no covering of his sin. He deserves the death symbolized in the animal’s slaughter, — death by the law of God, — a violent death, — death in the presence of the Lord, — death for the punishment of sin, — death for the satisfaction of holiness, wrath, justice, and truth!


            As the blood on the door of the house on the night of the Lord’s passover in Egypt represented the death of the firstborn in the house, so here, the blood on the altar represents the death of the sinner for whom the sacrifice is made. Thus, we are told that the Lord of Glory, the Son of God, our most blessed Christ, “poured out His soul unto death” as our Substitute.


            Notice, the blood is poured out and sprinkled both upon and “round about” the altar. It is on all sides, north, south, east, and west, for all to see. Hear the voice of the Savior’s blood upon the altar. It cries out to sinners everywhere, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth!” The Lord Jesus Christ is God’s appointed Sacrifice for sin. He is the only Sacrifice for sin. He is the infinitely meritorious and effectual Sacrifice for sin. He is the Sacrifice for sinners everywhere.


            In all its details, the slaying of the sacrificial bullock, as it is described in Leviticus 1:5, was typical of the death of Christ for us at Calvary.




First, understand that the death of Christ as a sacrifice for sin was absolutely necessary. Many things were very important about the sacrifices of the Old Testament. But no atonement was made until the victim was slain. Even so, the Lamb of God must be slain in order to make an atonement for sin. “It behooved Him to suffer.” Had he not died, he would not have a people with him in glory (John 12:24).


            Atonement and the remission of sins are not in the life of the sacrifice, but in its death (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22). The question is sometimes raised, “Why was it necessary and essential for Christ to die?” Many answers are given in the Scriptures.


            Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, must die in order to fulfil the types and prophecies of the Old Testament Scriptures. The Word of God overflows with statements about the death of Christ. It was as much a subject of Old Testament prophecy as it is of New Testament declaration. The most instructive Old Testament type of redemption by Christ is that of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:13).


            The Lord God declares, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” God’s eye resting on the blood is evidence that a substitutionary lamb has been slain and guarantees the life of the sinner. This is atonement. David prophesied that through his death, and only through his death, Christ would establish his universal kingdom (Psalm 22:1, 22, 25-28). Isaiah tells us that it is the death of the Lamb that is the source of his conquest and the cause of his reward (Isaiah 53:12).


            As the death of Christ was the subject of the Old Testament types and prophecies, it is the theme of the New Testament as well. There is no redemption and remission of sins but by the Son of God pouring out his life’s blood as an atoning sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 9:12). Redemption and the remission of sins is not accomplished by the life of Christ, the example of Christ, our repentance toward Christ, our faith in Christ, or our obedience to Christ. Sin must be purged away by the blood of Christ, “in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.” “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.


            The death and shed blood of Christ is the center of all true Gospel preaching. And the death of Christ and his shed blood is the essential element of the ordinances of the gospel. Baptism is a confession of faith in the death of Christ, “the fulfilment of all righteousness.” The Lord’s Supper is a remembrance of the Lord’s death. – “This is my blood in the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.


            Never forget it, child of God, we are redeemed to God by the blood of Christ. The Sacrifice must be slain. Blood must be shed. The blood of Christ will be the theme of our songs in heaven, and it ought to be here.


            Above all, the sacrifice must be slain, or God could never have justified any sinner. No sinner could ever be saved, accepted, forgiven, pardoned, and justified in the sight of God if Jesus Christ had not been slain as the Substitute of sinners (Romans 3:24-26). Only through the sin-atoning sacrifice of his own dear Son can the holy Lord God be “a just God and a Savior” (Isaiah 45:21).


            Death is the result and penalty of sin. Once Christ had our sins laid upon him, once he who knew no sin was made sin for us, he must die. Nothing could satisfy the law and justice of God but death. The death of Christ is the only way possible for God to save sinners. Without the shedding of his blood, without the death of God’s darling Son, salvation is not possible.


            There are some things that even God cannot do. God cannot lie. God cannot forgive sin without satisfaction. And God cannot punish sin again, once satisfaction has been made.


“From whence this fear and unbelief?

Hast Thou, O Father, put to grief

Thy spotless Son for me?

And will the righteous Judge of men

Condemn me for that debt of sin

Which, Lord, was charged on Thee?


Complete atonement Thou hast made

And to the utmost farthing paid

Whate’er Thy people owed;

How then can wrath on me take place

If sheltered in Thy righteousness,

And sprinkled with thy blood?


If Thou hast my discharge procured,

And freely in my room endured

The whole of wrath Divine,

Payment God cannot twice demand,

First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,

And then again at mine.


Turn, then, my soul, unto thy rest;

The merits of thy great High Priest

Speak peace and liberty;

Trust in His efficacious blood,

Nor fear thy banishment from God,

Since Jesus died for thee.”


            And the death of Christ was absolutely necessary to give peace to a guilty conscience (Hebrews 9:14).


Infinite and Effectual


Second, I want you to see that the death of Christ is gloriously infinite in its merit and effectual in its purpose and power. This gives peace and comfort to my heart and soul. Since Jesus Christ has paid the great debt I owed to the law of God, I am freed from the debt and justified before the law. “He that is dead is freed from sin” (Romans 6:7). The atoning sacrifice of Christ means complete redemption is fully accomplished.


He bore on the tree the sentence for me,

And now both the Surety and the sinner are free.


            Those typical sacrifices of the law we read about in the book of Leviticus could never put away sin. But, when our Lord was fastened to the tree and cried, “It is finished,” He finished the transgression and made an end of sin and brought in an everlasting righteousness (Hebrews 10:1-4; Colossians 2:13-14).


“Not all the blood of beasts

On Jewish altars slain,

Could give the guilty conscience peace,

Or wash away the stain.


But Christ the heavenly Lamb,

Takes all our sins away;

A sacrifice of nobler name,

And richer blood than they.”


            All that Christ intended to do in his great sacrificial atonement, he has done. How do we know that the death of Christ is effectual? I know that Christ cannot fail in his work, because I know that he is God. To deny the efficacy of his blood is to deny that our Savior is God! His sacrifice is of infinite value, of infinite merit, and infinite in its efficacy, completely efficacious in its design. I know that the death of Christ is effectual, because he is the perfect man, the God-man Mediator. “He knew no sin.”He shall not fail!


            And we know that the sacrifice of Christ is effectual, because of the substitutionary character of His death. The death of Christ was as much an act of Divine justice as it was an act of Divine mercy. Christ voluntarily laid down his life for us. The Son of God took the place of his people upon the cross. And our Lord was triumphant in his death.


            I know that the sacrificial death of Christ is effectual, because of his covenant engagements. He came into the world in our flesh to fulfil his own agreements with the Father as our Surety in the covenant of grace. I know that the death of Christ is effectual, because God has testified that it is. Our Lord himself said, “It is finished!” He was raised again the third day as a testimony of completed justification (Romans 4:25). And he is seated in heaven, because his work is gloriously effectual (Hebrews 10:10-14). He cannot fail!


Calvary School


In the third place, the sacrificial death of Christ gives us the best instruction about the weightiest matters. The best school of theology in the world is the school at Mt. Calvary. There is no school like Calvary School! Come to Calvary. Sit down at the foot of the cross. Behold there the Lamb of God and learn of Him.


            Here we learn that God is holy. Here we learn that God is just. Here we learn that sin is infinitely evil. Here we learn that God is infinitely gracious. “He delighteth in mercy!” Here we learn the infinite character of God’s love. Here we learn how that a man is justified with God, and how human sin is put away. Here we learn how to love one another. Here we learn how to give. Here we learn how to live and serve our God.


            Let those who choose to do so remain in the dark school of bondage found at Sinai. God’s children are taught at Calvary and find all motivation at Calvary.




In the last place, the death of Christ is the great source of inspiration and the motive of obedience in a believer’s life. Did the Son of God die for me? Then I must surely consecrate myself entirely to him (Romans 12:1-2). His death inspires me to seek his will, his honor, and his glory in every aspect of my life. Nothing has a greater power to inspire my heart with love for Christ than the realization of his dying love for me (2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 John 4:19). The only motive needed to constrain a believer to obey the Lord is this: “He died for you.” Surely the knowledge of Christ’s sacrifice for sin ought to inspire us to seek the salvation of sinners.






Don Fortner








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