See the glory of God – Leviticus 9

How amazing it must be to see the glory of God! But how easy it is to get bogged down in detail in Leviticus. It’s also easy to get put off by the blood and sacrifice. So it’s easy to miss what’s really going on.

Because Leviticus 9 has one of the most significant moments in human history. Everything in the Bible up to this point has been building towards this moment. A moment of huge importance to Old Testament Israel, certainly. But also massively important for you today. Did you spot it?

These notes accompany a sermon on YouTube and are part of a wider series (see our Sermon Index).

Aaron is a second Adam

You remember what happened with the first Adam in Genesis: To begin with, Adam lived in Eden, freely and beautifully in the presence of God. God and man on the earth together. God gave him one command, but he chose to decide for himself what was “right” and “wrong” and he disobeyed. As a result, Adam – and all humanity – were banished from Eden, sent East, unable to re-enter.

People no longer dwelt on the earth with a holy God. God intervened. In Exodus, after the descendants of Abraham had multiplied in Egypt, God appeared to Moses in a bush that looked like it was on fire, but wasn’t consumed by the fire. Moses was to lead the people out of Egypt.

That done, he was to build a Tabernacle (a mobile tent-temple) where – amazingly – God would dwell again on the earth with humanity. Eden restored. The Tabernacle had lots of Eden-style designs, and even the entrance was to face East. And Exodus finished with the glory of the LORD descending and filling the Tabernacle so that no-one could go in! God dwelt on the earth again, but you couldn’t go in.

No way in except the Lord’s

Leviticus 1:1 opens with God calling from within the Tabernacle, and giving instructions on how humanity can approach him.

  • Chapters 1-5 give instructions for the “Big 5” sacrifices of the Old Testament.
  • Sin & guilt offerings to cleanse you from sin
  • Burnt & grain offerings for you to approach God
  • Peace offering to enjoy fellowship with God (the goal!).
  • There were detailed sacrifices for the High Priest (Aaron) because he was a sinner needing cleansing from sin.
  • And there were instructions for sacrifices offered on behalf of the whole people, as well as for individuals.

Chapters 6 and 7 give further details on those 5 sacrifices.

But then chapter 8 is about setting Aaron and his sons apart to actually perform those sacrifices. Sacrifices are made to “set apart as holy” the priests, their robes, and even the altar itself – a week of ordination and sanctification.

So, in Chapter 9, we’re ready! We know the procedure. The priests are ordained. It’s time to begin. Gather the whole people together. Read v1-2. V1-7 are the preparations. Get the people; get the animals.

Then v8-21 go through the details of the sacrifices:

  • A sin offering and a burnt offering for the High Priest
  • Sin offerings, burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings for the people. All as instructed.
  • Read v22.
  • This is it. It’s happening for real. Sacrifices are made!
  • But why? To what end? Read v23.


This is a cosmic moment. The universe has changed.

Moses had enjoyed the burning bush protection of God – not consumed by God’s holiness – while this system was put in place. But now we have Aaron entering God’s presence, and doing so because of the sacrificial system that God gave. Aaron’s doing what Adam couldn’t – he’s going West, through into God’s presence, into God’s glory even. More, because he’d offered sacrifice for the whole community, the whole community are now able to see the glory of God displayed! This is a cosmic moment. The universe has changed. It’s not quite Eden restored, but it is the nearest since Genesis 3. God has provided a way that he might dwell on the earth among a sinful people, and they are not consumed by his holiness: There is cleansing, atonement, approach, fellowship.

“When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground.” What a reaction! A whole-person shock and delight, fear and wonder – as true a worship as there ever was!

Wouldn’t you want a glimpse of that? Can you?

Jesus displays God’s glory

The New Testament letter to the Hebrews makes it clear that the Old Testament system was a “shadow” of what was to come. The Tabernacle system of sacrifice and priesthood was specifically given as a 2D shadow of a greater, 3D reality. There are obvious shortcomings with the old system: You needed to keep on sacrificing animals, and even then your fellowship with God was somewhat limited.

But we’ve already seen how Jesus is the fulfilment of the “big 5” sacrifices. His death and blood cleanses you from sin. His resurrection and ascension mean he has ascended through the heavenly curtain to the presence of God. You have union with him – you died to this world when you were crucified with Christ; you live in him as he lives in you. And you have fellowship with him every day.

This is why he came into the world as a human – so that he could be a sacrifice (human for human) and so that he could be a great High Priest (a human representing humanity in heaven). No animals sacrificed any more – Christ has done it all! No need for priests on earth – Christ is your great high priest in heaven itself! Aaron was just a picture; Christ entered heaven!

The Tabernacle was a picture of the universe: The courtyard is the earth; the holy place the heavens. And the Most Holy Place is where God is – and that is where Christ is now. Through the heavenly curtain itself. And now he displays the glory of the Lord.

The glory of the Lord

At Jesus’ birth, Luke 2:9 said the shepherds were terrified because the angel appeared surrounded by “the radiance of the glory of the Lord”.

At Cana, when Jesus turned water to wine, John tells us that it was “the first time Jesus revealed his glory.” (John 2:11)

John could actually say “we have seen his glory” (John 1:14) and Peter would write about the transfiguration of Christ saying “he received honour and glory from God the Father”.

The Son radiates God’s own glory.

Hebrews 1:3

Wouldn’t you like to see the glory of God too? Hebrews 1:3 “The Son radiates God’s own glory” – look to Jesus.

One day, his people will see him! Revelation 21 pictures God’s people as a perfect city when God comes to make all things new again. The glory of God will be in that city: Revelation 21:23 “And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.”

Christians long to see that glory! In fact, because you’re united to Christ – who is the radiance of God’s glory, and who dwells in glory – it’s no surprise that Paul writes of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

When you see it, your reaction will be like those people who saw God’s glory at the Tabernacle: Leviticus 9:24 “When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground.”

Christ in you, the hope of glory. But can we get a glimpse now?

See his glory

You might think the answer is just “no” – we can’t see him. But in John 17, Jesus actually prayed that you would see his glory: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory” (NIV). Today you don’t see him by sight, but by faith. Jesus goes on in his prayer, “I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so.” You see the glory of God as it is revealed to you in Jesus.

Think about him: What of God is made known to you as it’s revealed to you in Jesus? How is God glorified by such things? Such as:

  1. Direct statements about God’s glory: Isaiah 6:1-3 It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim… They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!”
  2. How God spans eternity and works out his purposes in Christ: Isaiah 44:6 (CSB) Who, like me, can announce the future? asks God.
  3. Reflect on the complex wonder of God’s mercy, justice and election. Paul’s reaction in Romans 11:33-36 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! …For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
  4. Reflect on how Leviticus 9 is a picture of the universe-scale salvation that Jesus has achieved: He is the man who has entered heaven! The stuttering start of Lev 9 is finished!

The need for meditation

But look: It’s only in the Bible that these truths are revealed. So as Christ reveals the Father’s glory to you, the Bible reveals Christ’s glory to you.

  • To see God’s glory, you need to meditate on Christ’s revelation to you.
  • To meditate on Christ, you meditate on how he is revealed to you in the Bible.

Someone says, “I can’t! I don’t even know what ‘meditating on Jesus’ is!” When you sing in church, does your heart lift? Do you feel an emotional connection to the words? Have thoughts of God, salvation, or heaven moved you? Do you ever feel a physical response (hands, tears)? Those people “shouted with joy and fell face down”. You’re being moved by the truth of the gospel as you sing it, with words and truth as revealed in the Bible, sung.

He’s an ocean whose depths we can’t look into.

“But I can’t take it all in!” – no, of course. He’s an ocean whose depths we can’t look into. Take in a spoonful at a time. In eternity, you’ll have uninterrupted adoration of him as you gaze on him and delight in him.

Mary or Martha?

Until then, you need to remember Mary and Martha, and how Martha busied herself, not stopping to listen at Jesus’ feet (Luke 10:38-42). We’re all busy at times, but you must all also stop, pause, and meditate on the glory of God. If you’re only ever busy with things of the world, you won’t ever marvel at the glory of God in Christ. Seeing God’s glory now by faith is preparation for beholding it forever in glory. Start now.

You can’t take it all in. No more than you can stare at the sun. Jesus is the overwhelming Sun of Righteousness. But contemplation of God’s glory revealed to you in Jesus will benefit you:

  • In holiness; you love him more, know him more, want to be with him, please him, and be like him.
  • For consolation; your hope in him is secured ever stronger, your comfort in him is ever more real.

It makes no sense to yearn for heaven but never meditate on the Christ who is the chief delight of heaven!

When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground.

Leviticus 9:24
  • Each day, take in something of Christ’s glory.
  • Meditating can be brief – literally 5 minutes can bring tremendous encouragement. Set aside once or twice each week for longer reading time.
  • Take notes. Again, a sentence or two will do. 
  • Don’t expect angel choirs ringing in your ears every day! But do expect growth, and you will have days that thrill.
  • If things seem dry for you, sing a hymn or Christian song
    • Something with rich biblical content that you know well. “And can it be” / “How deep the Father’s love”

Jesus prayed to the Father that you would see his glory.