When God instructed the Israelites regarding the quality of the burnt offering, He required one of actual value. Leviticus 1:3 says, “If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord.” With the burnt offering, only a male animal would be acceptable. One might think that a female from the flock might be more valuable because they produced milk and were the instrument of reproduction. But as Matthew observes, “The significance of the male beast was more symbolic than the actual value.” Though the female reproduced, she did not do so without the male. So, the male animal “was viewed as the symbolically significant animal since it was representative of the whole herd as the chief animal and the most virile.”[1]

This male animal must be “without blemish.” By its name, “sacrifice,” one is giving up something of value. Baker observed, “They also were to have been at a cost to the offeror, that is, a sacrifice. In an agricultural society where wealth and the very maintenance of life were measured in livestock, these animal presents came from the very life necessities of the people.”[2] When David made his burnt offering to the Lord in 2 Samuel 24:24, he said, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” You might remember that in the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi confronted the people for offering less valuable sacrifices to God. In Malachi 1:8, he said, “When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil?” The problem is that we don’t have anything of great value. Any sacrifice I might offer is blind, lame, or sick. None of our possessions can win acceptance by God. No matter how much we give, we will never be able to buy God’s acceptance. It’s not for sale. Only an unblemished sacrifice will prove acceptable to God as the verse closes. The “Tent of Meeting” is where people met with God and had to bring an acceptable gift to be received by God.

This is where we must understand that the burnt offering is a type of Christ and the offering he made for us. This is how the New Testament understands the burnt offerings of the Old Testament. Jude closes his short book with a beautiful truth which he commends to you and me. He says, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.” Helm captures the essence of this point when he writes, “The words ‘without blemish’ in Leviticus contain the substance of Jude’s word ‘blameless.’ In essence, Jude is saying that all those trusting in the sacrifice of Christ will become like the blameless sacrifice that secured access to the Father. We will be presented, through Christ, as acceptable in his sight!”[3] This is indeed cause for great joy! Paul agrees with Jude. He writes, in Colossians 1:22, “He (Jesus) has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him (God).” A web blogger closes his comments on this by saying, “Through Christ, you are without blemish before God. What ‘blemishes’ or mistakes do you feel crushed under when you come to God? Let them go because God sees you without blemish, thanks to Christ.”[4]

[1] Mathews, Kenneth A. 2009. Leviticus: Holy God, Holy People. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] Baker, David W. 1996. “Leviticus.” In Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, edited by Philip W. Comfort, 2:16. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[3] Helm, David R. 2008. 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: Sharing Christ’s Sufferings. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[4] https://faithgracejesus.com/2017-06/without-blemish.html