The Offerings of Leviticus

How can an unholy people approach a holy God? God provided a way for His people to approach Him. God and the sinner can have no fellowship until sin has been resolved, and the only way for sin to be dealt with was

by way of sacrifice.

“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”
(Hebrews 9:22)

In Old Testament times, before Christ died on Calvary as the final and complete offering for our sins, God provided five types of offering as temporary provision for
1. Burnt Offering
2. Meal Offering
3. Peace Offering
4. Sin Offering
5. Trespass Offering

These five types of offerings are divided into three and two. The first three (Burnt, Meal and Peace) are sweet savour offerings. The remaining two (Sin and Trespass) are non-sweet savour offerings. The first three offerings are voluntary. The other two offerings are compulsory.

The Burnt Offering stands first in Leviticus. This Offering did not refer to any particular sin, but was to make an atonement for sin in general.

This was an offering of surrender and dedication. This offering was a free will offering, offered twice daily, besides frequently on other occasions. The Burnt Offering was an offering that was wholly consumed on the altar. In its significance it expressed the complete consecration, which should be the habitual state of the true worshipper.

If a man were rich and could afford it, he would bring his Burnt sacrifice, with which he intended to honor God, out of his herd of larger cattle. Those of the middle rank that could not afford to offer a bullock, would bring a sheep or a goat. Those that were not able to bring a sheep or a goat brought a turtle-dove or a pigeon.

The animal to be offered must be a male. No animal was allowed to be offered that had any deformity or defect. An inspection was made by the priest, and the animal having been declared perfect, was then used for the sacrifice.

The Burnt Offering was brought to the door of the tabernacle. The offerer then put his hand upon the head of his offering. This was an acknowledgement that he deserved to die, and would have been willing to die if God had required it. He laid his hand on the head of the burnt offering to confess that he had left undone what he ought to have done, and to pray that, though he deserved to die himself, the death of his sacrifice might be accepted for the atonement of his guilt.
“and he shall put his hand upon
the head of the burnt offering;
and it shall be accepted for him
to make atonement for him.”
(Leviticus 1:4)

The sacrifice of the Burnt Offering was to be killed. The Priest were to then take the blood and sprinkle it upon the altar. The blood being the life, it was this that made atonement for the soul.
“For the life of the flesh is in
the blood: and I have given it to
you upon the altar to make an
atonement for your souls: for it
is the blood that maketh an atonement
for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11)

We no longer offer Burnt Offerings as in the Old Testament. By offering our entire life in dedication, we are fulfilling the same command of God. Our surrendered life becomes our Burnt Offering.

The Meat Offering was intended as a thankful acknowledgement to God for his provisions. It was an offering that was often brought with Burnt or Peace Offerings, but never with Sin or Trespass Offerings. It was also an offering that could have been made separately.

The ingredients of the Meat Offering were fine flour, oil and frankincense. The offerer could have baked it, fried it, or mixed the flour and oil upon a plate.

The offering was to be presented by the offerer to the priest, which is called bringing it to the Lord, for the priests were God’s receivers, and were ordained to offer gifts.# Part of the Meat Offering was burnt upon the altar and the remainder was to be given to the priests.

Every Meat Offering was seasoned with salt but leaven and honey were forbidden to be put in.
“No meat offering, which ye shall
bring unto the Lord, shall be
made with leaven: for ye shall
burn no leaven, nor honey,
in any offering of the Lord made
by fire.” (Leviticus 2:11)

The oil and incense were used to give a fragrant odor. Paul in Philippians 4:18 refers to this sweet smelling sacrifice that is well pleasing to God.

The Peace Offering is a voluntary offering. It was an offering of thankfulness. The word Peace often signifies prosperity and happiness. The Peace Offering can be divided into three parts:
1. An offering of thankfulness.
2. A votive offering
3. A voluntary offering.

When giving a Peace Offering of thankfulness it was often for some special mercy received. The votive offering was made in performance of some vow which a man made. The voluntary offering was often in supplication for some special mercy which a man was requesting.

The Peace Offering would be brought to the door of the tabernacle. This is where the offerer would lay his hand upon the head of the offering be it male or female without blemish. The offering would be killed and the priests sprinkled the blood round about the altar.

The Peace offering differed from the Burnt Offering in that while the Burnt Offering was wholly consumed on the altar, the Peace Offering was only partly consumed on the altar. The fat alone was burnt, only a small part was allotted to the priests, while the rest was granted to the offerer and his friends.

The flesh of the Peace Offerings both the priest’s and offerer’s share had to be eaten quickly, and not kept long. If it was a Peace Offering of thanksgiving, it must all be eaten the same day. If it was for a votive or voluntary offering it was to be eaten either the same day or the day after. If any of the offering was left beyond the time limit, it was to be burnt.

The offerer might take the offering to their own tents and eat it there, yet God would by law make them to know a difference between that and other meat. Where they might have kept other meat cold in the house as long as they thought fit, and warm it again if they pleased, and eat it three or four days after, they might not do so with the flesh of their Peace Offerings, but it must be eaten immediately.
“And if any of the flesh of the
sacrifice of his peace offerings
be eaten at all on the third day,
it shall not be accepted, neither
shall it be imputed unto him that
offered it: it shall be an
abomination, and the soul that
eateth of it shall bear his iniquity.”
(Leviticus 7:18)

The Sin Offering is the first of the offerings that was required. Unlike the voluntary sweet savour offerings, the object and effect of the sin offering were to be the forgiveness of sin.

The primary difference between the Sin Offering (Leviticus 4) and the Trespass Offering (Leviticus 5) is that the Sin Offering deals with sins that were done in ignorance, while the Trespass Offering dealt with specific known sins. The sin offering was for the inborn sin – the root sin, or the sin nature. The Trespass Offering for the outward acts of sin the fruit of sin.

There were two kinds of Sin Offering, one for the whole congregation and the other for individuals.

The value of the sacrifice that was selected for the sin offering depended on the seriousness of the offense committed. This was also measured by the status and spiritual responsibility of the party that was guilty of the sin.

The Sin Offering of the Priest was to be a bullock. The significance of the bullock in relation to the priest’s sin offering was that the bullock was the greatest offering; therefore it was appropriate for those in high spiritual office.

The blood from the offering was to be collected in
basins and brought into the Tabernacle. Seven times the Priest would dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle it before the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. The priest would then dip his finger into the basin of blood, this time to put the blood on the horns of the altar of incense. Coming out from the Holy Place, the priest would go to the brazen altar and pour all the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the altar.

If the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance then the same sacrifice would be made but there would be a difference in the ceremony. The elders or heads of the tribes, as representing the people, and being the principal aggressors in misleading the congregation, laid their hands on the head of the victim.

When a ruler had sinned the offering was to be a male goat without blemish. The difference in this offering was that the blood was not taken to the Holy Place but was put on the horns of the brazen altar, where the remainder of the blood was poured out.

If any one of the common people were to sin through ignorance the ceremony would be the same as that of the rulers. The difference between the two ceremonies would be that they would bring a female goat or lamb without blemish for a sacrifice.

The Trespass Offering was offered similar to the sin offering, but it was different because it was for the offering of a specific sin and not a person.

There were different categories of sin which were covered by the Trespass Offering. For each of these cases the offender must confess his sin and bring his offering; and the offering was not accepted unless it was accompanied with a penitential confession and a humble prayer for pardon.

There are a number of acceptable offerings, again depending on the individuals financial status. Those that were able would bring a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of a goat. If they could not afford a lamb they might bring a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons. If you were extremely poor they would bring the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour.

Sin through ignorance of the holy things of the Lord. This is a case of sacrilege committed ignorantly, either in not paying for the full due of tithes, first-fruits, and similar tribute in eating of meats, which belonged to the priests alone – or he was required, along with the restitution in money, the amount of which was to be determined by the priest, to offer a ram for trespass offering as soon as he came to the knowledge of his involuntary fraud.

Another Trespass is when one sins though he is in doubt of the sin.
“And if a soul sin, and commit
any of these things which are
forbidden to be done by the
commandments of the Lord; though
he wist it not, yet is he guilty,
and shall bear his iniquity.”
(Leviticus 5:17)

An example of this trespass would be if one were to sit down to another man’s table and eat of their meat, questioning whether it was intermingled with parts they were not supposed to partake of. In this case the person would bring a ram as a Trespass Offering.

Trespass Offering for sins done deliberately. Examples of this would be things stolen, deceitfully gotten, or wrongfully kept. The Offender was to return the articles to the rightful owner, along with a fifth part out of his own possessions. He was to also bring a ram as a Trespass Offering.

Jesus is our Sin Offering and Trespass Offering (Isaiah 53:10), willingly dying for the sins of the world, bringing us forgiveness for our sins and reconciliation to God.

As with Jesus, the lesson of offering is to be fulfilled in us. We are encouraged to present our bodies a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable unto God. This is our reasonable service.
“I BESEECH you therefore, brethren,
by the mercies of God, that ye
present your bodies a living
sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto
God, which is your reasonable
service.” (Romans 12:1)


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Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary. Virginia: MacDonald Publishing Company.

Iternet. Modlish, James. The Levitical Offerings. Washington:

MaClaren, Alexander. Expositions of Holy Scripture. Michigan: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 1932.

James, King. Kirban Reference Bible King James Version. USA: AMG Publishers. 1979