The sacrificial order was instituted by God as a means whereby He could:
1) Preserve His absolute holiness, which required that all sin be punished;
2) Show loving mercy to man, His beloved, fallen creation.
In the Old Testament order, God made the shedding of animal blood a picture of Christ’s New Testament payment for man’s sins. Only Christ’s unique sacrifice would be sufficient to pay the penalty for the sins of all who trust Him through the ages (Hebrews 9:11-14).
After Adam and Eve had sinned, they made aprons of fig leaves to cover the shame of their sin (Genesis 3:7; cf. Galatians 6:7): However, God replaced those aprons with coats of skins (Genesis 3:21). It is thus shown that human works are not an acceptable covering for sin; blood must be shed, and that blood eventually would be Christ’s.
Cain and Abel also brought their sacrificial offerings; but Cain’s self-grown vegetables were unacceptable, while Abel’s offering of a lamb was accepted (Genesis 4:1-7). All of this pointed to the coming of Christ who would give His life and shed His blood for the sins of the world, inviting all to partake, by faith, in the benefits of this offering. John the Baptist was and understood this when he said, pointing to Jesus, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
God’s laws pertaining to the offerings are filled with spiritual lessons and benefits for the believer. These lessons and the patterns of the offerings constantly point to Christ and His offering of Himself on the cross (1 Peter 1:18-20).
36-1 Offerings to the Lord
As we meditate upon the sacrificial order which God laid down in the Old Testament Law, we fall on our knees anew to worship the Lord, to beg His forgiveness, to seek His approval, to await His sending us forth, and to expect His future blessing. We enter the court of His tabernacle, having His praises on our lips and Christ as our Lamb.
1) God’s regulations for worship by sacrifice applied to all members of the covenant community of Israel (vv. 1, 2). The high priest was specifically included, as were the other priests. No one was above God’s law in Israel, unlike Egypt, where Pharaoh was a self-declared god. The worship of God is to be performed by all, according to His revealed will.
2) God’s ceremonial worship was coupled with His call for obedience to His law, both ceremonial (Leviticus 17), and moral (Leviticus 18). The sacrifices, coupled with faith, made atonement for the broken law of God.
3) Sacrifices had to be made at the tabernacle (vv. 3, 4, 8, 9). God desired that Israel’s worship be focused on His requirements for the forgiveness of sins. Their energy was not to be consumed by endless arguments as to where and how they should worship. It was clear that all sacrifices would take place at the tabernacle. This requirement also kept the Israelites from the temptation to join in idolatrous Canaanite sacrifices at the Baal groves.
4) God’s worship system brought peace to the human heart (v. 5).
5) Those coming to God came through the divinely appointed agent (v. 6). God had appointed a priesthood to sprinkle the blood on the altar and to burn the sacrifice.
6) Idol worship was forbidden (v. 7). The Lord clearly and forever forbade mixing His sacrifices with sacrifices made to idols, animals, and demons: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).
7) The shed blood made the “atonement for the soul” (vv. 10-12). Prefiguring the death of Christ by fourteen centuries, the Mosaic Law made it clear that this life-giving substance was to be the means of man’s atonement.
36-2 Whole Burnt Offerings: Devotion
The Hebrew words for the whole burnt offering (v. 3) are olah and kalil (Deuteronomy 33:10). The former means “that which goes up,” and signifies that the burnt offering entirely ascended up to God, except for the skin of a bull or the discarded crop and feathers of a bird (vv. 6, 16). The latter means “that which is complete or perfect,” and speaks of this offering as being devoted wholly to God. In the case of other sacrifices, the meat went to the priests and Levites. This offering thus represented complete devotion.
1) God clearly prescribed that even this whole burnt offering must be offered only at His tabernacle, by His priests, and in accordance with His instructions (vv. 3-9). True religion cannot be invented by man.
2) The offering of a male without defect reminds us that we ought to give our best to God. The perfect male represents Christ (v. 3).
3) The offerer laid his hand on the head of the sacrifice and it became an atonement on his behalf (v. 4). The Hebrew word kippur, “covering” or “atonement,” shows that here too there is a covering of sin by the sacrifice of the animal. The atonement of Christ for the believer was vicarious—one suffering in another’s place (2 Corinthians 5:21).
4) The blood was offered up to God by sprinkling it around the altar (v. 5). The blood was not to be thought of as discarded, for it made the atonement for sin (Leviticus 17:11). Thus, Christ saw his own bleeding at Calvary as “the new covenant in My blood” (1 Corinthians 11:25).
5) The burnt offering, by being consumed entirely, symbolized one who desired to be entirely consecrated or rededicated to the Lord (vv. 7-9; cf. Romans 12:1, 2). It reminds s of this goal and need in our lives to be wholly His.
6) Every morning and evening a whole burnt offering of a lamb was to be offered up to the Lord for the congregation (Numbers 28:1-4). This speaks of our need to rekindle daily our devotion to the Lord.
7) A choice of burnt offerings could be made—bull, sheep, goat, turtledoves, or pigeons (vv. 2, 5, 10, 14). Here we remember that God sees our limitations, and provides for the lowly and the one too poor to bring a great gift. Whatever we give, however, it is to be wholly given to the Lord.
36-3 Grain and Drink Offerings: Thanksgiving
Grain and drink offerings expressed gratitude to God for His life-giving provision for His people. The Hebrew word minchah is best translated “grain offering.” The King James Version rendered it “meat offering,” meaning “food offering.” Today people may inadvertently take this to be animal’s flesh, which it is not. This offering consisted of flour, usually baked into unleavened cakes with olive oil, incense, salt, and wine added. Psalm 104:15 singles out these three items in singing praise to the Lord’s bounteous and all-wise provision for mankind’s needs and refreshment.
1) The grain was the staff of life for nourishment.
2) The olive oil had many uses, including fuel for light and use in cooking.
3) The juice of the grape provided a pleasant, sweet drink.
We could have survived on grain and water, but God in His kindness ordered a better menu for His human creatures. These sacrifices thank Him for this.
Cain’s vegetable offering was refused as an atonement for sin, while Abel’s sacrifice, in which the blood was shed for sin was accepted (Genesis 4:2-5). Thus, it is here also demonstrated that grain and drink offerings were not given as atonement for sin, but as an expression of gratitude by the people for God’s provision of food.
The three national annual grain offerings were:
1) The showbread. Twelve cakes representing the unity of the tribes were baked fresh each week and placed in the tabernacle (Leviticus 24:5-9).
2) The firstfruits. The first sheaf of the early barley was waved before the Lord on the second day of Passover. The Feast of Pentecost was celebrated on the fiftieth day after the second day of the Feast of Passover (Leviticus 23:10-14).
3) Two baked loaves. At Pentecost they gave thanks to God for the full and now complete harvest (Leviticus 23:15-18).
Note the following lessons for our time:
1) The oil on the flour symbolizes the Holy Spirit giving unity; the frankincense imparts a pleasing aroma to it (vv. 1, 2). Such unity in His children is indeed a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
2) This gift from God’s people provided the physical food for God’s servants to live (v. 3). Such provision is still made today.
3) That it was to be unleavened (vv. 4, 11) spoke of separation from sin, which characterized all that was done on behalf of God.
4) Man himself was forbidden to offer up his own gift at the tabernacle; it had to be offered by the priests (vv. 8, 9). Even to thank God properly a mediator is necessary, and that Mediator is Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).
5) Note that even the portion that went to the priests is called “most holy” (v. 10). It would have been easy for the donor to think that this portion, not offered by fire to the Lord, was a wasted portion. Thus we learn that what we give to His servants is given as if to Him directly (Matthew 25:40).
6) The salt is said to be “the salt of the covenant” (v. 13), a reminder that thanksgiving to God, merely for His bounty in rains and harvests, is not enough. Thanksgiving to God must be connected always with heart-felt gratitude for God’s deliverance from sin, and for His taking those who are forgiven into covenant relationship as His people (1 Corinthians 11:25).
36-4 Peace Offerings: Fellowship
“Sacrifice of peace,” zebach shalomim (v. 1), literally “sacrifice [singular] of peaces [plural],” refers to various offerings presented by loving and thankful hearts, grateful for the peace and blessing that God has bestowed upon individuals and families. The blood was sprinkled around the altar, and the fat and entrails were burned for the sacrifice. Then the meat was shared by priests and the family of the one making the offering, as a love feast of contentment for the Lord’s blessing. It expressed the believer’s fellowship with God. Peace offerings could be of several types:
1) Thanksgiving (Leviticus 7:12). Gratitude to God was expressed for some recent blessings.
2) Vow (Leviticus 7:16). This offering commemorated the making or completion of a vow made to Jehovah.
3) Freewill (Leviticus 7:16). The offering was without any specific reason, but out of the sheer delight in being in fellowship with the Lord and knowing His peace.
Lessons which can be applied to the New Testament believer include the following:
1) The sacrifice of joy was not restricted to a male animal, since it did not directly portray Christ on the cross (v. 1).
2) The blood sprinkled around the altar signifies today that even our peace and prosperity in daily life depend first on Christ’s blood having been shed for our sins (v. 2).
3) God, who demanded a sacrifice without defect (v. 1), called for the burning of only the inedible portion, and left the good meat to be eaten by His people. This shows that peace and fellowship here flow two ways. God is good (Leviticus 2:3).
4) “A sweet aroma to the Lord” shows that the Lord delights in the well-being of His people, and in their proper expression of love and gratitude to Him for His care (v. 5).
5) “Male or female…without blemish” (v. 6) demonstrates that, despite certain sacrifices specified as male, femaleness was never regarded by God as a defect.
36-5 Sin of Ignorance Offerings: Righting Wrongs
The Mosaic Law consisted of both moral commandments and ceremonial directions, which were often given in great detail. It was not difficult for even the sincerest of God’s followers to violate one of these ceremonial laws occasionally. In loving kindness God made special provision for the forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration of one who inadvertently broke His law.
Lessons to be learned include the following:
1) God, the moral Judge of the universe, makes a distinction between those who unintentionally violate His statutes and those who intentionally trample them (v. 2). Thus, the one who willfully gathered sticks on the Sabbath, who defied God openly soon after the commandment was issued, was stoned (Numbers 15:25-36). By grace, however, in the trespass offering there is mercy for the penitent (Hebrews 12:5-11).
2) Even unintentional violations of God’s law are still regarded as sin, for which there must be atonement.
3) Even God’s faithful people sin, whether intentionally or unintentionally (v. 3). God knows their limitations, but does not lower His holy standards. Nor does He make exceptions for His specially anointed people. On the contrary, their liability is greater (James 3:1); but He provides for their cleansing and restoration (1 John 1:9).
4) The requirement to sprinkle the blood seven times before the veil, and to place blood on the horns of the altar of incense referred particularly to a sacrifice for an unintentional sin of the high priest—for example, if he defiled himself by touching a dead body or by eating an unclean item. The mediator-priest of the people had to be cleansed before he could serve.
5) The enormity of the sin of the high priest would be dramatized to the people by requiring that the flesh, head, legs, and entrails be burned outside the camp (vv. 11, 12). These were totally unclean, and, as a symbol of sin, had to be utterly removed from the presence of God and His people. Thus Christ our High Priest carried our sins outside the camp (Jerusalem) at Calvary. Unlike the Old Testament high priest, He was without sin, but He was made “to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21; cf. Hebrews 13:11-13).
6) A whole congregation could sin corporately (vv. 13-21). When this was discovered—looking back over the past year or years—the elders had to take the necessary steps for forgiveness, and right the wrong.
7) Leaders (v. 22) and common people (v. 27) were not exempt from the consequences of unintentional sins. It is not enough merely to forget about it, and turn over a new leaf; forgiveness must be sought, and amends must be made.
36-6 Trespass Offerings: Forgiveness
Trespass offerings pertain to Acts committed willfully against one’s fellow man, which are also sins against the Lord—such as robbery, fraud, embezzlement, theft, extortion, or retaining property unlawfully. All of these sins involve apparent guilt—plainly breaking God’s law, whether willfully or through yielding to temptation. Observe also:
1) Sins of cheating one’s spiritual brother are also trespasses against God (vv. 2, 6).
2) Not only must divine pardon be sought, but God demands that restitution be made, plus one-fifth interest and penalty (vv 4, 5).
3) From the dual requirements here presented, that is, to seek forgiveness from both God and man, we conclude:
a) One who makes restitution to one’s neighbor, and who does not make peace with God, remains unforgiven.
b) One who offers sacrifice to God, but fails to restore the loss to his brother, remains unforgiven.
4) True inward conversion, such as in the case of Zacchaeus, is expressed by a sincere outward effort to make amends for wrongs (Luke 19:8-10).
5) Having made restitution and sought God’s forgiveness, one must then by faith accept God’s forgiveness, and should no longer harbor feelings of guilt (Ephesians 1:7).
6) How kind God is to His people to provide for forgiveness or even willful sins! Therefore we also are to forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32).
7) How available Christ is today to forgive, cleanse, and give a new life and new direction to those who flee to Him for forgiveness of their trespasses and guilt (Romans 4:5-8; cf. Psalm 32:1, 2).
36-7 Special Offerings
The following special sacrifices are of particular interest, and convey vital and touching lessons to the believer:
1) Mary and Joseph, according to Luke 2:22-24, offered a pair of turtledoves or pigeons, after the birth of Jesus, to comply with verse 6. While in Leviticus both a lamb and a bird (turtledove or pigeon) are commanded, if one had no lamb or could not afford one, one could instead bring a second bird. This was the case with Mary and Joseph, as described by Luke. Their poverty was evident in that they were only Abel and required to bring turtledoves.
2) The sacrifice of the red heifer, a female cow (Numbers 19:1-13), required that the ashes of this offering be placed in water. This water then became the water of cleansing, and was sprinkled on anyone who became ceremonially defiled by touching a dead body. We note that even cleansing by water must be based on prior sacrifice of blood (Hebrews 9:22)
3) The Passover sacrifice, on the fourteenth day of the first month of the religious calendar¬ March/April (Leviticus 23:5)—was to be a lamb for a household (Exodus 12:3). This was a family sacrifice. The blood of the lamb was applied to the door posts of each family dwelling to save the firstborn from the plague (Exodus 12:7-13). This slain lamb was a type of Christ (Revelation 5:5-13).
4) The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, “Day of Covering”) occurs on the tenth day of the seventh month of the sacred calendar—September/October (Leviticus 23:27). On this day two goats were brought before the high priest and the congregation.
a) One was selected, by lot, for death. Its blood was sprinkled within the veil, upon the ark, as an atonement for the sins of the people.
b) The second was the “scapegoat.” The sins of the people were confessed over it. It was then led off to be lost in the wilderness, showing that sins confessed and atoned for were now removed from God’s sight (Leviticus 16:7-10; cf. Psalm 103:12)
Master Outline 36 – Old Testament Sacrifices
 What were the two (2) reasons God instituted the sacrificial order?
 Why did God establish the shedding of blood?
 God’s law pertaining to the offerings has two (2) meanings. Name them.
 As we mediate upon the sacrificial order which God laid down in the Old Testament Law, what five (5) things does it prompt us to do?
 The __________________________ of God is to be performed by all according to His
 God’s ceremonial worship was coupled with His call for obedience to His law. TRUE or FALSE. Explain.
 What were the two (2) primary reasons God instructed the sacrifices to be made at the tabernacle?
 The Lord clearly and forever forbade mixing His sacrifices with sacrifices made to idols, angels or demons. TRUE or FALSE. Explain.
 What’s the meaning of the two (2) Hebrew words for “WHOLE BURNT OFFERING?”
 The Whole Burnt Offering represented what?
 What seven (7) things do we know about the Whole Burnt Offerings?
 What did the grain and drink offerings express?
 The Hebrew word “MINCHAH” best translated means what?
 The three (3) elements of the grain offering represent what?
 This offering was not given as ___________________ _____________________
_____________________, but as an expression of ________________________.
 What were the three (3) national annual grain offerings?
 What are six (6) lessons for our time?
 What is the literal meaning of “ZEBACH SHALOMIM”?
 Describe a love feast of contentment for the Lord’s blessing?
 What are the three (3) types of peace offerings?
 What are the five (5) lessons the New Testament believer can learn from a peace offering?
 What seven (7) lessons do we learn from the “Sin of Ignorance Offering”?
 Trepass offering pertain to what?
 What is the dual requirement God requires when you have wronged someone through robbery, fraud, embezzlement, theft, extortion, or retaining property unlawfully?
 True inward _______________________ is expressed by a sincere ____________________
___________________________ to amend for wrongs.
 Explain the significance of the “Red Heifer”.
 Explain the “Day of Atonement.”