Perpetual Service. In an important sense the worship of the Hebrews was incessant. At the inauguration of the tabernacle service by the consecration of Aaron and his sons ( Exodus 40:1-38 ; Leviticus 8:1-36 ), fire fell from heaven upon the altar of burnt sacrifices ( Leviticus 9:1-24 ), and they were commanded to keep it burning continually ( Leviticus 6:12Leviticus 6:13 ). They were also required to keep the golden lamps in the holy place burning continually ( Leviticus 24:1-3 ) and the showbread was "set in order before the Lord continually" ( Leviticus 24:5-9 ).
Elements of the Service. The continual service was characterized by,
Daily Sacrifices. They were commanded to offer upon the brazen altar two lambs, one in the morning, and the other in the evening, continually. With each lamb, they offered flour, oil and wine ( Exodus 29:38-43 ; Numbers 28:1-8 ). The offerings were doubled on the Sabbath day ( Numbers 28:9Numbers 28:10 ).
Irregular Offerings. The class of offerings embraced all individual sacrifices, chiefly comprehended under five classifications, and the people were at liberty to present them whenever necessity demanded it:
The burnt offering was an animal sacrifice and was wholly consumed upon the brazen altar ( Leviticus 1:1-17 );
the meat offering was bloodless and part of it was burnt, and the remainder was consumed by Aaron and his sons ( Leviticus 2:1-16 );
the peace offering consisted of an animal, part of which was burnt on the altar, the remainder being eaten by the priests and the worshipper ( Leviticus 3:1-17 ; Leviticus 7:11-38 );
the sin offering consisted of an animal, part of which was consumed upon the altar of burnt offerings and the remainder burnt without the camp ( Leviticus 4:1-35 );
They were required to offer salt with all their sacrifices ( Leviticus 2:13 ).
The blood of the sin offerings for the priests and for the whole congregation was sprinkled seven times before the Lord, before the vail of the sanctuary, and some of it was put upon the altar of incense ( Leviticus 4:1-21 ).
They were prohibited from eating any part of an animal whose blood was carried into the tabernacle ( Leviticus 6:24-30 ).
Day of Atonement. This was by far the most important day in the Hebrew calendar. It was the day on which reconciliation was made for the entire nation. After the ordinary morning sacrifice was presented ( Exodus 28:38-42 ), a special offering was made, consisting of one young bullock, seven lambs, one ram, one kid of the goats, accompanied by meat offerings of flour mingled with oil ( Numbers 29:7-11 ). Very probably it was before the presentation of this special offering that the high priest laid aside his garments of glory and beauty and arrayed himself in spotless linen. He then brought a bullock for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering to the north side of the altar, after which he bathed his hands and feet at the laver, took a censer full of fire from the brazen altar and a handful of incense which he immediately burnt within the second vail. He then returned to the altar of burnt offerings and slew the bullock of the sin offering. Taking of its blood he returned within the vail and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat and seven times upon the ground before it: this was the sin offering for himself and family. After making an atonement for himself and house, he returned and slew the goat for a sin offering for the people, which had been previously provided. Taking of its blood he returned the third time within the vail and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat eastward, and seven times upon the ground before it. Coming out of the most holy place he stained the horns of the altar of incense with the blood; returning to the brazen altar, he stained the horns thereof with the blood of both sin offerings, and sprinkled it with his finger upon the altar seven times. When the atonement for the priests, tabernacle and people had been completed, the second goat of the sin offering for the people, the one for the scapegoat, had the sins of the people confessed over it by the high priest who laid his hands upon its head, after which it was led into the wilderness by a man selected for the purpose. The high priest then went into the tabernacle where he removed the plain linen garments, and after bathing his person again, resumed his official dress. Returning to the altar he offered his burnt offering and that of the people, and burnt the fat of the sin offerings upon the altar. During this service no one was allowed in the tabernacle. The bodies of the sin offerings were burnt without the camp. The man who burned the bodies of the sin offerings, and the one who led away the scapegoat, were required to wash their clothes and bathe their flesh before returning to the camp. On this day the people were required to refrain from work and afflict their souls ( Leviticus 16:1-34 ).