The Law of Eating Sacrifices
Deuteronomy 18:1 says,
"The Levitical priests, the whole tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the Lord's offerings by fire and His portion."
This is repeated in Ezekiel 44:29,
"They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering; and every devoted thing in Israel shall be theirs."
Jesus Christ fulfilled all of the sacrifices in the law when He died on the cross. He said in John 6:53-58 that His disciples were to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Of course, this was not to be done in any physical way. He was speaking of hearing His words and seeing the glory of His character. It is about becoming like Him and being one with Him. It is about appropriating who He is, so that we become Him (His body).
When Jesus spoke those words, the people did not understand Him and said in John 6:60, "This is a difficult statement, who can listen to it?" Verse 66 says,
"As a result of this, many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore."
Given their misunderstanding, it is understandable that some of His disciples would walk away from Him. After all, who would want to be cannibalistic? They must have been horrified and repulsed by such a statement. Unfortunately, they assumed that they understood Him, so they did not stay long enough to inquire further. Only the 12 remained with Him.
It appears that Jesus said those words in order to test the hearts of His disciples. We do not know how many disciples He had up to that point, but it was certainly more than twelve. His "cannibalistic" teaching brought the number down to a mere twelve. This included Judas, but Jesus said:
(70) Jesus answered them, "Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?" (71) Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.
The significance of this is to show that there are many would-be disciples of Jesus who are enthused to see His miracles and who appreciate a lot of His teachings, but in the end, they do not want to appropriate His character and Being.
The eleven disciples did appropriate Him over a period of time, but Judas did not. It was necessary for Judas to remain among the twelve after hearing of this spiritual "cannibalism," but this was only because it was ordained that He should play the prophetic role of Ahithophel, David's counselor and friend who betrayed him in the Absalom revolt. It was necessary for Judas to show his true character at the end of the story. He was able to walk with Jesus for nearly the whole way, but in the end he betrayed Jesus, though he was His friend.
There are many today who, I think, genuinely love Jesus and consider Him to be their "friend," but they do not really become one with Him in this matter of eating and drinking Christ. They are content to know ABOUT Christ, but they have not really BECOME HIM. In fact, many think that such an idea is blasphemous. They talk about being part of the Body of Christ, but do not comprehend what that really means. It remains an arms-length relationship. That arms-length relationship always betrays Him, because it resists the very purpose for which He came to earth, died on the cross, rose from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of the Father.
The intent and purpose of Christ's sacrifice on the cross is portrayed in the law, whereby the priests were to eat of the sacrifice. Yes, it was said to be "the Lord's portion," but He instructed the priests to eat His portion. The sacrifice was made for us to eat, not for God to eat, for God has no need of sustenance to live or to renew His strength.
The false religion of Canaan also knew this principle, but they misapplied it in their own way. They understood that the "son of God" was to die for the sins of the people. They understood that the priests represented God to the people. But their carnal desires caused them to create doctrines that appealed to the flesh. Before women could be married, they had to go to a "grove" and have sexual relations with a priest to "purify" them. Often, this resulted in a pregnancy, whereby the woman's first-born son was considered to be the "son of God" (through the priest).
They then sacrificed their first-born sons by placing them in the arms of a statue of Molech, under which they kindled a fire. The law says in Lev. 18:21,
"Neither shall you give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech. . ."
Jer. 32:35 says that the people of Jerusalem were practicing this,
"And they built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-himmon [gehenna in the NT] to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin."
These priests of Baal and of Molech understood the principle of eating the sacrifices. The problem was that when they sacrificed their first-born sons, they also ate them. Hence, our modern term cannibal is canna-bal, which means "priest of Baal."
Innocent as a baby is, none of them were the true Son of God. Those sacrifices were all in vain, and, in fact, incurred the wrath of God against Judah for practicing such religion. The priests demanded that the people sacrifice their first-born sons and bury their remains in the wall of their houses. This was said to atone for the sins of the parents, but it was all in vain.
It is necessary to understand counterfeits in order to understand what is real. In fact, one might even say that counterfeits prophesy of something real. To really appreciate the real, one should know the counterfeit, for then we understand the mind of God in contrast to the mind of man.