THE SKINNING OF THE BURNT OFFERING
The first part of 1:6 says, “He shall skin the burnt offering.” The skinning of the burnt offering signifies Christ’s willingness to let the outward expression of His virtues be stripped. In the four Gospels we see that Christ was defamed, stripped of the beauty of His virtues. For example, some said, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” (John 8:48). Others said of Him, “He has a demon and is insane; why do you listen to him?” (John 10:20). This indicates that as the burnt offering the Lord Jesus was “skinned.”
Paul also experienced this skinning. He was skinned by the Corinthians who accused him of sending Titus to them for the purpose of taking money from them. Paul addressed this accusation in 2 Corinthians 12:16-18. “But let it be so, I did not burden you, but being crafty I took you with guile. Did I take advantage of you through anyone whom I have sent to you? I entreated Titus and sent with him the brother. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Not in the same steps?” Some of the Corinthians had charged Paul of being crafty in making gain, indemnifying himself by sending Titus to receive the collection for the poor saints. Paul’s real attitude is expressed in verse 15. “I will most gladly spend and be utterly spent on behalf of your souls, even if loving you more abundantly, I am loved less.” He was willing to be wholly exhausted for their sake. Nevertheless, he was accused of beguiling them and of using Titus to steal money from them. Was this not a matter of skinning?
In 2 Corinthians 6:3-13 Paul lists many of the evidences that he is a servant, a minister, of God. Verse 8 says, “Through glory and dishonor, through evil report and good report.” We may find it hard to believe that the spreading of evil reports concerning Paul was an evidence that he was an apostle. These evil reports were an evidence that Paul was God’s servant. An evil report is a matter of skinning, of having our outward beauty stripped away.
No one likes to be skinned. During my years in the church life, many have come to me asking me to put back the skin that had been peeled off. If you are skinned by your husband or wife, will you not do everything possible to reattach the skin? Will you not try to restore the good report concerning you, to recover the outward expression of your virtues?
Suppose you are one trying to reattach the peeled-off skin. When you come to the Lord’s table, will you be able to praise the Lord for helping to put the skin back on? I do not think that anyone could offer such a praise to the Lord.
However, suppose in the family life and in the church life you experience a lot of skinning. Then you will be able to say, “Lord, I have experienced the very skinning You experienced. I follow You and accept the skinning, the stripping, the defaming, the evil reports, just as You did. Lord, what I have experienced is actually Your experience of being skinned.” If you are a person with this kind of experience, the praise you offer, even if it is short, at the Lord’s table will deeply touch the meeting. This is the real, sincere, and honest offering of Christ as the burnt offering.
This is not an offering of the total Christ as the burnt offering. No one, not even Paul, can offer Christ totally as He is. Rather, we can offer only that part of Christ which we have experienced.
CUTTING THE BURNT OFFERING INTO PIECES
Leviticus 1:6 also tells us that the one who presented the burnt offering was to “cut it into its pieces.” No one likes to be cut into pieces; we all like to remain whole, complete, perfect. We keep ourselves from being cut by insisting that we are right and that others are wrong. To be accused of doing something wrong is to be cut into pieces. Most of the quarrels between husband and wife involve the first party saying that the second party is wrong and the second party arguing that the first party is wrong.
The situation is the same in the church life. A sister may complain that others in the church life are not fair. When she comes to the meeting, she may look at a certain saint, thinking that this saint has not been fair with her. This saint may have the same thought toward this sister. The result is an inner fighting. Who, then, is fair, and who is not fair? The only fair one is the one who is willing to be put on the cross and crucified.
Problems between husband and wife and between the saints can be solved only through forgiveness. Do you know what it means to forgive? To forgive is to forget. If you touch some saints in the church life wrongly, they may not forgive you during their lifetime. This unwillingness to forgive affects the praises at the Lord’s table. If the saints have complaints against one another, it will be difficult to have a living, uplifted Lord’s table meeting.
Instead of being willing to be cut into pieces, we like to protect ourselves. During His life on earth, Christ was cut into pieces continually, and we need to experience His being cut. In our married life and in our church life, we need to follow the Lord’s steps by His life within us. His life is not a quarreling life. His life is a life that is willing to suffer the cutting. If we experience this, we shall be able to bring to God the Christ whom we have experienced.
We have often spoken about laboring on Christ in order to have something of Christ to exhibit in the meetings. Laboring on Christ includes our being willing to be cut into pieces as He was. If we labor on Christ in this way, then as the produce to be offered to God we shall have the Christ who was cut into pieces.
(Life-Study of Leviticus, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)