An Examination of the Old Testament Offerings and
Sacrifices and what they Teach us about God and our
Relationship with Him
F. Wayne Mac Leod
Light To My Path Book Distribution
Copyright © 2020 F. Wayne Mac Leod
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Title Page
Chapter 1 - The Burnt Offering
Chapter 2 - The Grain Offering
Chapter 3 - The Drink Offering
Chapter 4 - The Peace Offering
Chapter 5 - The Sin Offering
Chapter 6 - The Guilt Offering
Chapter 7 - The Wave Offering
Chapter 8 - The Tithe
Chapter 9 - The Freewill Offering
Chapter 10 - The Grain Offering of Jealousy
Chapter 11 - Atonement for an Unsolved Murder
About The Author
The Old Testament can be confusing for the new believer. I would venture
to say that even the more mature struggle to understand the rituals,
sacrifices, and festivals of this time. This study is about the offerings and
sacrifices ordained by God in the Law of Moses. Admittedly, this might not
be very appealing to the reader, but the reality of the matter is that these
sacrifices and offerings have much to teach us about God and the kind of
relationship He wants with us.
God gave His law to the Jewish nation, not just to show them how they
were to live but also to reveal His nature to them. Through these sacrifices
and offerings, the Lord showed His people what was important to Him. He
also taught them the seriousness of sin and its implications in their lives. I
would venture to say that in these New Testament days, we have often lost
sight of what these offerings and sacrifices teach us about God and our
responsibility toward Him. As a result, we have become complacent about
sin in our lives, our church, and our society.
I trust that as the reader takes the time to examine the teaching in this study,
he or she will come to a deeper sense of the holiness of God and His desire
for us to walk in that holiness as well. I also trust that it will also give us a
greater appreciation of the work the Lord Jesus Christ did on the cross to
make forgiveness possible.
May the Lord God be pleased to use this work to elevate His name and
bless His people.
F. Wayne Mac Leod
The book of Leviticus is the primary source of information about the
offerings and sacrifices God expected from His people. Leviticus 1 begins
with the law for the burnt offering. Isreal brought this as a tribute to God
and recognition of His worth.
From Exodus 29:38-42, we learn that every morning and evening, the priest
sacrificed a one-year-old lamb to God.
[38] “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a
year old day by day regularly. [39] One lamb you shall offer in the
morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. [40] And
with the first lamb a tenth measure of fine flour mingled with a
fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and a fourth of a hin of wine for a drink
offering. [41] The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall
offer with it a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the
morning, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the LORD. [42] It
shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the
entrance of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet
with you, to speak to you there. (Exodus 29)
On the Sabbath, in addition to the regular morning and evening burnt
offerings, the Israelites sacrificed another two one-year-old male lambs to
the Lord God as burnt offerings.
[9] “On the Sabbath day, two male lambs a year old without
blemish, and two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour for a grain
offering, mixed with oil, and its drink offering: [10] this is the burnt
offering of every Sabbath, besides the regular burnt offering and its
drink offering. (Numbers 28)
At the beginning of every month, during the new moon, God required two
bulls, one ram and seven more lambs for the burnt offering:
[11] At the beginnings of your months, you shall offer a burnt
offering to the LORD: two bulls from the herd, one ram, seven male
lambs a year old without blemish; [12] also three-tenths of an
ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, for each bull,
and two-tenths of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, for
the one ram; [13] and a tenth of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain
offering for every lamb; for a burnt offering with a pleasing aroma,
a food offering to the LORD. [14] Their drink offerings shall be half
a hin of wine for a bull, a third of a hin for a ram, and a quarter of a
hin for a lamb. This is the burnt offering of each month throughout
the months of the year. (Numbers 28)
The fourteenth day of the first month was the beginning of Passover. At that
time, in addition to the regular morning and evening offerings, God
expected a burnt offering of seven lambs, two bulls and one ram each day
for the seven days of the celebration.
[16] “On the fourteenth day of the first month is the LORD’s
Passover, [17] and on the fifteenth day of this month is a feast.
Seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten. [18] On the first day
there shall be a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary
work, [19] but offer a food offering, a burnt offering to the LORD:
two bulls from the herd, one ram, and seven male lambs a year old;
see that they are without blemish; [23] You shall offer these
besides the burnt offering of the morning, which is for a regular
burnt offering. [24] In the same way you shall offer daily, for seven
days, the food of a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the
LORD. It shall be offered besides the regular burnt offering and its
drink offering. [25] And on the seventh day you shall have a holy
convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. (Numbers 28)
Later, during the celebration of the Feast of Weeks, the priests sacrificed
another two bulls, one ram and seven one-year-old lambs:
[26] “On the day of the firstfruits, when you offer a grain offering
of new grain to the LORD at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a
holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, [27] but offer
a burnt offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD: two bulls from
the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old (Numbers 28)
The first day of the seventh month was the celebration of the Feast of
Trumpets. Like the other celebrations, this again called for a burnt offering
of one bull, one ram and seven one-year-old lambs.
[29:1] “On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy
convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a day for you
to blow the trumpets, [2] and you shall offer a burnt offering, for a
pleasing aroma to the LORD: one bull from the herd, one ram,
seven male lambs a year old without blemish (Numbers 29)
Ten days after the Feast of Trumpets was the Day of Atonement. Similar to
the Feast of Trumpets, Israel again offered one bull, one ram and seven
lambs as a burnt offering to the Lord.
[7] “On the tenth day of this seventh month you shall have a holy
convocation and afflict yourselves. You shall do no work, [8] but
you shall offer a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma: one
bull from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old: see that
they are without blemish. (Numbers 29)
The Feast of Booths on the fifteenth day of the seventh month began with
the sacrifice of thirteen bulls, two rams and fourteen lambs. Every day for
seven days, the priests sacrificed two rams and fourteen lambs, but the
number of bulls required each day decreased by one per day. In total, Israel
sacrificed seventy bulls at the Feast of Booths over seven days. On the
eighth day, Israel concluded the celebration with the sacrifice of another
bull, ram and seven lambs.
God also required burnt offerings at special events in the lives of His
children. When a mother purified herself after the birth of a child, she
offered a burnt offering to the Lord God. This offering was either a lamb, a
turtle dove or a pigeon, depending on what she could afford:
[6] “And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for
a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance
of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a
pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, [7] and he shall offer it
before the LORD and make atonement for her. Then she shall be
clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a
child, either male or female. [8] And if she cannot afford a lamb,
then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt
offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make
atonement for her, and she shall be clean.” (Leviticus 12)
God also expected a burnt offering after a person was cleansed from a
bodily discharge that defiled him or her. When the individual was cleansed,
he or she offered a turtledove or a pigeon to the Lord:
[13] “And when the one with a discharge is cleansed of his
discharge, then he shall count for himself seven days for his
cleansing, and wash his clothes. And he shall bathe his body in fresh
water and shall be clean. [14] And on the eighth day he shall take
two turtledoves or two pigeons and come before the LORD to the
entrance of the tent of meeting and give them to the priest. [15] And
the priest shall use them, one for a sin offering and the other for a
burnt offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him before
the LORD for his discharge. (Leviticus 15)
If an individual made a special vow to the Lord, upon completion of that
vow, he or she offered a male lamb as a burnt offering to the Lord:
[13] “And this is the law for the Nazirite, when the time of his
separation has been completed: he shall be brought to the entrance
of the tent of meeting, [14] and he shall bring his gift to the LORD,
one male lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering, and
one ewe lamb a year old without blemish as a sin offering, and one
ram without blemish as a peace offering, (Numbers 6)
What we see here is that God’s people brought burnt offerings every day
and during their religious feasts and celebrations. They also brought this
offering after they were cleansed from defilement or upon completion of a
vow. Along with the burnt offering, the people of Israel generally offered a
food offering, drink offering and a sin offering. This fact shows us that the
burnt offering was not for cleansing or forgiveness. God also required
offerings for forgiveness to be sacrificed alongside the burnt offering. This
offering appears to be a tribute paid to God in recognition of His worth and
Lordship in the lives of His people.
Leviticus 1 describes the procedure for a burnt offering. Israel brought the
offering to the entrance of the tabernacle (Leviticus 1:3). The individuals
laid their hands on the head of the animal to remind themselves that it was
sacrificed on their behalf (Leviticus 1:4). God expected that the animal
offered as a burnt offering be a male without blemish (Leviticus 1:3, 10).
After the sacrifice, the priest threw its blood on the sides of the altar
(Leviticus 1:5, 11).
If the offering brought was a bull, goat or sheep, the priest would cut it up
(Leviticus 1:6, 12) and wash its organs and legs in water (Leviticus 1:9, 13).
He would then lay its head and fat on the altar and burn it before the Lord
(Leviticus 1:8-9, 13). If the offering was a turtledove or pigeon, the priest
would wring off its head (Leviticus 1:14), and drain the blood on the side of
the altar (Leviticus 1:15). He would then remove the crop and contents and
throw it to the east side of the altar. When that was complete, he tore the
bird open by its wings and burnt it on the altar (Leviticus 1:17).
What was unique about the burnt offering is that it was burned in its entirety
before the Lord. The whole animal, head, intestines and all were consumed
in the fire for the Lord.
What Does The Offering Teach Us About God
And Our Relationship With Him?
The question that is important for us in the context of this study is what this
sacrifice teaches us about God and our relationship with Him. There are
several points I would like to make here about the burnt offering.
Regular Tribute To God
God’s people brought the burnt offering twice a day. They also brought
additional burnt offerings every month and to each feast or festival in the
Old Testament. The burnt offering was a continual reminder to Israel of her
indebtedness to the Lord God. When she rose in the morning, she offered
her best lambs to her Creator. As the sun went down and she prepared to
sleep, she remembered the Lord her God with her unblemished lambs. In
every celebration of her nation, she offered her sacrifices to Her Sustainer
and Provider.
The burnt offering communicates something significant to us. What place
does the remembrance of God have in our daily routine? When we rise in
the morning, do we take the time to recognize that He is deserving of our
tribute and sacrifice? Do we offer our time, effort and resources to Him as
we awake to face the day? Do we end the day with a token of our gratitude
to Him for His many blessings?
The burnt offering regularly placed Israel before her God and caused her to
remember Him as worthy of all praise and thanksgiving. It forced her to
remember that she owed Him much. How easy it is to go through our day
without having time for God. How many days have I lived without any
recognition of His favour and blessing?
The burnt offering calls us to stop for a moment every day and remember
the worthiness and provision of our Creator. As I open my eyes in the
morning, I offer myself to Him for His service during the day. As I lay my
head down at night, I take a moment to recognize my indebtedness to Him
for the blessings of that day. As I lift my spoon to my mouth to nourish my
body, I confess God as the source of each benefit I have received. As
believers today, we must seek to incorporate times and activities into our
lives that keep us in tune with the reality of our need and dependence on the
Lord our God. It is easy for us to live our lives without a deep awareness of
the source of every blessing.
Recognition Of God’s Grace In Times Of
God’s people offered the burnt offering after being cleansed from impurity.
When they recovered from these impurities, they brought a burnt offering to
the Lord God.
Consider this for a moment. This impurity caused a separation between
God’s people and Himself. The holiness of God was such that any
defilement, natural or through illness, was an offence to Him. Many things
make us unclean before the Lord God. Our thoughts and attitudes can be
offensive to Him. Sometimes we don’t even intend to think the way we do
or say the things we say, but those words and thoughts arise from the flesh
within and are an offence to a holy God.
The burnt offering was a reminder to the Israelites that their God was a God
of grace. After their cleansing, they offered the Lord a token of their
gratitude for His mercy and forgiveness.
There is not a day that goes by that we are not guilty before God of some
impurity of thought, action or word. Consider the great patience of God
toward us in forgiving and cleansing us of these impurities. As the day
comes to a close, recognize that God has been gracious toward you. He has
not consumed you in His anger or turned His back on you for your sin. He
is deserving of an offering of thanksgiving and praise.
The burnt offering was a symbol of the grace of God in forgiving impurity.
It reminded the one who offered his or her sacrifice that God was a patient
God who bore with an imperfect and sinful people. It was also a reminder
of the seriousness of their impurity. An animal died because of their offence
to God. As Israel watched the blood drain from the sacrifice and its body
grow limp, they saw just how serious God took their impurity. Their sin and
diseases offended God’s holiness, but He continued to love them. Our
fleshly nature, like a running sore, oozes out its vile attitudes, but God is
patient. Just as Israel offered her burnt offering after her cleansing, so we
too must take a moment every day to recognize the cleansing work of Christ
and offer Him thanksgiving for His wonderful grace and mercy toward us.
Complete Surrender
There is one more detail I want to touch in this chapter. With other
offerings, God only required certain parts of the animal to be burnt. The
burnt offering, however, was burned completely. The entire animal was
consumed on the altar.
There is a lesson for us here. First, we must recognize that this burnt
offering points us to the Lord Jesus, who offered Himself entirely for our
forgiveness. He held nothing back. He left the glories of heaven. He
suffered for His creation and willingly laid down His life for those who
rejected Him. He was sacrificed for our forgiveness.
Just as Jesus held nothing back for us, we too must offer ourselves wholly
to Him. We must be burnt offerings for Him through the surrender of
everything we have. The burnt offering is a symbol of what God requires of
us –absolute surrender of all we have and are. As the sun rises in the
morning, we lay our lives down before Him as a burnt offering. As the sun
sets in the evening, we lay ourselves down to sleep and offer ourselves
afresh to Him as a burnt offering, keeping nothing to ourselves. We offer
ourselves unconditionally to our Saviour. We do not say, “I am yours as
long as it is convenient for me, or I give myself as long as it doesn’t cost too
much.” There were no conditions attached to the burnt offering. God
demanded everything.
For Prayer:
Father, the burnt offering reminds us of how much we owe you. You are
worthy of our praise and sacrifice. You deserve the daily tribute of our lips
and lives. As we rise in the morning, we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice
to You. As we lay our heads down at night, we remember your grace and
patience with us and offer our token of thanksgiving and praise. Thank you,
Lord Jesus, that you gave Yourself entirely, and without reservation, for our
forgiveness. Give us that same attitude. Teach us to take the time each day
to recognize what You have done for us. Help us not to become so busy that
we fail to confess our indebtedness to You.
The next Old Testament offering I want to consider is the grain offering.
Leviticus 2 describes the requirements for this offering. The grain offering
was a mixture of fine flour, oil and frankincense:
[2:1] “When anyone brings a grain offering as an offering to the
LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour. He shall pour oil on it and
put frankincense on it (Leviticus 2)
While God was clear about the ingredients in the grain offering, the
presentation of the offering could differ. An individual could bring the flour
mixed with oil and frankincense just as it was. In this case, the priest would
take a handful of the mixture and burn it on the altar. This portion given to
the Lord was called a memorial portion (Leviticus 2:2). The remainder of
the grain offering belonged to the priest and his sons for their personal use
(Leviticus 2:3).
The grain offering could also be baked in an oven and made into loaves or
wafers. The person bringing the offering was to spread oil on the top of
these loaves and presented them to the Lord as a baked grain offering
(Leviticus 2:4).
Not everyone would have had access to an oven in those days, so the Lord
permitted the worshipper to cook the mixture of flour and oil on a grill. The
resulting product was broken into pieces with oil poured over it before
bringing it to the priest (Leviticus 2:5-6).
Finally, the worshipper could also cook the grain offering in a pan
(Leviticus 2:7). While there was room for a variety of presentations, the
essential ingredients were to remain –flour, oil and frankincense. The Lord
also permitted the use of salt for these offerings (Leviticus 2:13), but
nothing else was to be added or taken away. God prohibited adding yeast or
honey to any grain offering.
[11] “No grain offering that you bring to the LORD shall be made
with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey as a food
offering to the LORD.
Leviticus 2:14-16 also permitted the offering of the first fruits of the harvest
as a grain offering to the Lord. In this case, the crushed new grain was
roasted with fire, sprinkled with oil, and frankincense was laid on top. This
crushed, roasted grain would then be brought to the priest. As with the other
grain offerings, a memorial portion was burned on the altar, and the
remainder belonged to the priest.
One notable exception to the rule was when a priest offered a grain offering
on his own behalf. It this case, he was not permitted to keep any of the grain
for himself. The entire grain offering was burned on the altar as an offering
to the Lord (see Leviticus 6:19-23).
God also required a grain offering alongside the burnt offering. The amount
of grain and oil required depended on the animal offered for a burnt
offering. Let me provide this chart to simplify God’s requirements:
This first chart shows the flour requirements that accompanied a burnt
offering with their equivalent in modern measurements. An ephah of flour
is estimated to be approximately 17.6 litres or half a bushel.
Animal Ephah Litre UK Gallon US Gallons
Bull 3/10th 5.28 1.16 1.39
Ram 2/10th 3.52 0.77 0.92
Lamb 1/10th 1.76 0.38 0.45
The oil required for each grain offering was measured in hin. The hin was
the equivalent of 3.8 litres. This next chart details and amount of oil that
was to accompany the flour per animal.
Animal Hin Litre UK Gallon US Gallon
Bull 1/2 1.9 0.42 0.50
Ram 1/3 1.26 0.28 0.34
Lamb ¼ 0.95 0.21 0.25
According to Leviticus 14, a person cleansed of leprosy was to bring a grain
offering to the Lord:
[8] And he who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes and shave
off all his hair and bathe himself in water, and he shall be clean.
And after that he may come into the camp, but live outside his tent
seven days. [9] And on the seventh day he shall shave off all his hair
from his head, his beard, and his eyebrows. He shall shave off all
his hair, and then he shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in
water, and he shall be clean. [10] “And on the eighth day he shall
take two male lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb a year old
without blemish, and a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of
fine flour mixed with oil, and one log of oil. (Leviticus 14)
Also, upon completion of a Nazirite vow, God required another grain
[13] “And this is the law for the Nazirite, when the time of his
separation has been completed: he shall be brought to the entrance
of the tent of meeting, [14] and he shall bring his gift to the LORD,
one male lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering, and
one ewe lamb a year old without blemish as a sin offering, and one
ram without blemish as a peace offering, [15] and a basket of
unleavened bread, loaves of fine flour mixed with oil, and
unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and their grain offering and
their drink offerings. (Numbers 6)
The grain offering was offered alongside the burnt offering as a token of
thanksgiving and gratitude to God. It was also brought upon completion of
a vow or after healing from an infection. It reminded people of the grace of
God and called them to be thankful for His benefits. Because a large portion
of the grain offering went to the priest, it was also a way to support the
priests and provide for their basic needs.
Let’s now take a moment to consider what this offering teaches us about
God and His expectations of us as His children.
Variety Of Presentation
First, notice that the grain offering was presented to the Lord in a variety of
ways. It was brought as it was, cooked in an oven as loaves, cooked on a
grill or in a pot. There was room for variety in the offering. The principle is
the same today.
Not everybody’s offering of praise to God will look the same. As we come
to the Lord God with our offering of thanksgiving and praise, my offering
will not look the same as my neighbours. I have a unique personality and
express myself to God in a specific way. As we look at believers around us
today, we find all kinds of expressions of praise to God. Some churches are
lively in their worship. Others are more sedate. Imagine two people coming
to the priest with their grain offerings. One offering is baked in an oven
while the other was cooked on a grill. What would you think if those two
people began to look down on each other because their offering was not
prepared in the same way? The grain offerings did not look the same but
delighted the Lord. How careful we need to be that we do not criticize our
brother or sister because their expression of worship does not look like ours.
No Compromise On The Essential
While there was room for different presentations of the grain offering, there
were some essential elements that could never be compromised. God had
precise requirements for what went into the grain offering and what was
forbidden. Every offering required flour, oil and frankincense. We could
speculate as to why these three elements were needed, but that is not our
purpose here. What is important is that we understand that all of these
ingredients were to be in the grain offering.
God also had a specific recipe for the grain offering. If it was to accompany
the burnt offering, then a particular quantity of flour and oil had to be
offered. There could be no compromise in these details. An individual could
not bring less than what was required, not could they add more.
We learn from this that some things in the worship of God can never be
compromised. The challenge for us as the church today is to distinguish
between the different presentations of worship and the principles that
cannot be compromised. All too often, problems arise in the church because
we are not able to make these distinctions.
Believers divide over the style of worship or the type of music used in
praise of God. I have met people who have become so focused on the
church building that it is more important than God Himself. I have been in
churches that focus on particular spiritual gifts and believe that if we are not
using these gifts, we are not honouring God. The grain offering teaches us
that we need to find a balance between allowing for a variety of
presentations in worship without compromising the requirements of God.
No Honey Or Yeast
It may be helpful for us to note that the Lord forbade the use of honey or
yeast in the grain offerings. Throughout the Scripture, yeast is a symbol of
sin. Consider what the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
[8] Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven,
the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of
sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5)
Notice how Paul speaks of the leaven of malice and evil. God forbade the
use of leaven in the grain offering. We must understand that all our
offerings need to be free of sinful attitudes and thoughts. On one occasion,
Jesus stood by the offering box in the temple. He watched the rich people
come in with their large gifts. He also saw a poor widow bring in the last
coins she had. To all outward appearances, the rich gave more, but Jesus
saw behind the outward act to the heart of these individuals. He saw the
leaven of pride in the hearts of the rich. He saw how they wanted people to
see them. The leaven of sin in their hearts made their offerings unacceptable
to God. On the other hand, Jesus saw the sacrificial spirit in the poor
widow. Her gift touched Him, and it delighted Him more than the large gifts
of the rich, given with a self-seeking attitude.
Whatever we do, we must do with a pure heart before God. My offering
may not look like the offering of my brother or sister, but if it comes from a
genuine and sincere heart, that does not compromise the standard of God, it
is acceptable before God.
God also prohibited the use of honey in any grain offering. The sweetness
of honey makes our food more attractive. There are many things we can do
in an attempt to make our offering or worship of God more appealing.
No doubt, you have heard of churches that do not want to speak about sin
because it might offend the newcomer or visitor. In doing so, we water
down the gospel. Seminars and courses are offered that teach us how to
attract new people and keep them in the church. We do this, however, at the
expense of ignoring the Spirit of God and His leading. We become so
focused on creating an environment that pleases people that we close our
ears to the voice of the Spirit.
Are we not putting honey in our offering to God? Do we believe that the
gospel of Jesus and the ministry of the Holy Spirit is enough? Do we feel
that we need to make the message more attractive? Do we add to what God
has required. The message of the gospel must be kept pure and undefiled by
our attempts to make it more appealing. We dare not add honey to the
message lest it compromises the truth or water down the message we
The offerings we bring may differ one from another, but they must be pure.
We must examine every offering we bring to be sure that it is undefiled by
the yeast of sin and evil intentions or attitudes. We must also be sure that
the honey of compromise is not present in any gift we present to God. We
must neither add to nor take away from the requirements of God. Within
these parameters, there is the freedom to bring our unique gifts.
Support For God’s Workers
There is one final detail we need to understand from the grain offerings.
The Lord God required that a large portion of the grain offering go to the
priests for their support. The flour, loaves and wafers brought to the temple
were a means of providing for the basic needs of the servants of God. These
gifts were not financial but very practical. The grain offering provided the
priests with bread to eat.
The law of God required that His people provide the practical needs of His
priests so that they could devote themselves to full-time service. It is easy
for us to assume that the only offerings God accepts today are financial
offerings. This, however, is not the case. God’s people brought bread and
wafers to the temple as an offering. I am part of a church where the women
bake or cook a meal and bring it to families in need. This offering is not put
in an offering plate at church, but it is a food offering given in the name of
the Lord Jesus to His servants. Does not Jesus say:
[42] And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold
water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no
means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10)
The grain offering shows us that in sharing our food and possessions, we
give to the Lord.
For Prayer:
Father, thank you for the lessons we learn from the grain offering of the Old
Testament. Thank you that You receive our simple gifts. Teach us to use
what You have given us for Your glory. Give us eyes to see the needs
around us and hearts that are willing to bless each other. Keep us from
judging one another in regard to our worship. Show us what you require,
and may we be uncompromisingly faithful. Cause us to examine our lives to
be sure that there is no leaven of sin. Keep us from the honey of
compromise to make the gospel more appealing.
In the last chapter, we saw how Israel brought grain offerings (cooked or
uncooked) to the priest as a contribution to the Lord. We move now to what
was known as the drink offering. The drink offering was an offering of
wine. Numbers 28:7 calls this an “offering of strong drink.”
[7] Its drink offering shall be a quarter of a hin for each lamb. In
the Holy Place you shall pour out a drink offering of strong drink to
the LORD. (Numbers 28)
Other Bible versions translate the phrase as “strong wine” (KJV), or
“fermented drink” (NIV and NLT). The Hebrew word used here is the word
רָכֵׁש šēār with is defined as follows in
ār: A masculine noun referring to strong drink; beer.
It refers to an intoxicating drink and is usually understood as some
kind of beer. Priests were not to drink it when serving at the
Tabernacle or Temple (Lev 10:9). (Baker, Warren D.R.E., Carpenter,
Eugene Ph.D. “7941
ār,” AMG Word Study Dictionary Old
Testament LARIDIAN: Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 2003)
It would appear from this that the wine used was fermented. Note that
according to Numbers 10:9, the priests were not permitted to drink this kind
of wine when they were on duty:
[8] And the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying, [9] “Drink no wine or
strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of
meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your
generations. (Leviticus 10)
Unlike the grain offering, where the priest offered a memorial portion to the
Lord and kept the rest for himself, the drink offering was poured out
entirely before the Lord. The priest was not given any of the fermented
drink for himself.
Israel’s dring offering usually accompanied other offerings. The amount of
wine required for the offering depended on the animal sacrificed at the time.
Numbers 15:4-10 details the requirements of God.
Animal Hin Litre Gallon (UK) Gallon (US)
Bull ½ 1.9 0.42 0.50
Ram 1/3 1.26 0.28 0.34
Lamb ¼ 0.95 0.21 0.25
Numbers 15:4 tells us that the drink offering was a “pleasing aroma to the
[7] And for the drink offering you shall offer a third of a hin of wine,
a pleasing aroma to the LORD. (Numbers 15)
The drink offering was brought to the Lord after the completion of a
Nazirite vow. At that time, the individual completing his vow brought this
along with his burnt offering.
[13] “And this is the law for the Nazirite, when the time of his
separation has been completed: he shall be brought to the entrance
of the tent of meeting, [14] and he shall bring his gift to the LORD,
one male lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering, and
one ewe lamb a year old without blemish as a sin offering, and one
ram without blemish as a peace offering, [15] and a basket of
unleavened bread, loaves of fine flour mixed with oil, and
unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and their grain offering and
their drink offerings. [16] And the priest shall bring them before the
LORD and offer his sin offering and his burnt offering, [17] and he
shall offer the ram as a sacrifice of peace offering to the LORD,
with the basket of unleavened bread. The priest shall offer also its
grain offering and its drink offering. (Numbers 6)
Genesis 35:9-15 describes how God met Jacob in the region of Paddan-
Aram. On that occasion, the Lord blessed Jacob and changed his name to
Israel, promising to make his descendants a great nation. When the Lord
left, Jacob set up a pillar and poured out a drink offering on it:
[14] And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken
with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and
poured oil on it. [15] So Jacob called the name of the place where
God had spoken with him Bethel. (Genesis 35)
In this instance, we have no record of an associated animal sacrifice. Jacob
poured out his drink offering and, according to Genesis 35:14, added some
oil to it. He gave this offering to the Lord in response to His wonderful
promises to make his descendants into a great nation. It was a token of
thanksgiving and gratitude to God.
On two separate occasions, the apostle Paul used the illustration of the drink
offering to speak of his own life and ministry. In Philippians 2, the apostle
wrote to the Philippians about his hard work on their behalf:
[16] holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I
may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. [17] Even if
I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial
offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
(Philippians 2)
Paul uses the words “run,” “labour,” and “sacrificial offering” to describe
the effort he had made for the believers in Philippi. He challenged the
believers to hold fast to the word of life he had taught them so that these
labours would not be in vain. Paul told the Philippians that if he were
poured out as a drink offering, it would be upon the faith of the Philippians.
This phrase merits some consideration.
The drink offering was often poured out on an accompanying offering. The
offering Paul speaks about here is the faith of the Philippians. Through the
apostle's ministry, many Philippians had come to faith in Jesus Christ. Paul
was pleased to offer these converts to the Lord as the fruit of his hard
labours. This was a gift in which God was well-pleased for nothing delights
Him more than that the lost come to know His Son.
Paul told the Philippians that if he had to die for this work, his death would
be like a drink offering poured out on their faith. He poured out his life as a
drink offering on the new-found faith of the Philippians. Just as God would
be pleased with the faith of the Philippians, so He would be pleased with
the efforts of Paul, poured out on them.
In Timothy 4, as the apostle comes to the end of his life, he said to Timothy:
[6] For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the
time of my departure has come. [7] I have fought the good fight, I
have finished the race, I have kept the faith. [8] Henceforth there is
laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the
righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me
but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4)
Paul compared his life to a drink offering poured out entirely for the Lord
God. He had fought a good fight. He had finished the race. He had kept the
faith. He knew that he had given his all for the cause of the Lord.
What should we learn from the drink offering? There are two points I want
to make here.
Poured Out Completely
The apostle Paul saw his life as a drink offering poured out entirely for the
Lord. This is how Paul looked at his life. His attitude is in direct contrast to
the teaching that all believers should prosper materially in this world.
Material blessings were not the focus of Paul’s life, nor were they the focus
of Jesus. Listen to the Lord’s words in Matthew 8:
[20] And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air
have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
(Matthew 8)
Jesus devoted His life to the will of the Father. He did not have a home or
even a bed to lay on at night. His entire life was given to accomplish the
purpose of the Father. He held nothing back but gave Himself for our
salvation. He sets an example for us to follow.
What does it mean for you to follow the Lord Jesus today? Do you follow
Him like the people of His day –for what you can get out of Him? Or are
you willing to pour out your life like a drink offering? We certainly are to
delight in the good things God gives. The Christian life is a life of receiving
from God, for we cannot give unless we receive from Him. We are not to
grow fat on those blessings, however, but share them with those around us.
We are to use what He gives and pour out his resources on those God sends
our way.
Paul willingly suffered for the Lord and His cause. He was mocked, beaten
and stoned for the gospel he represented. He was imprisoned for
relentlessly preaching the good news of Jesus.
Is your life a drink offering to the Lord? Are you a channel of refreshing
through which the Spirit of God can flow, or is that stream blocked? Will
you submit yourself to the Spirit of God today for Him to use as He sees fit.
Will you pour out your strength and efforts for the cause of the Father?
Pleasing Aroma To God
The drink offering is described as a pleasing aroma to God. That wine
poured out on the sacrificed animal, pleased the Lord and delighted His
heart. Consider the fact that we have all fallen short of the standard of God.
Consider the attitudes of our heart and the weakness of our efforts. How
could our efforts ever please the Lord God?
Some years ago, I was refinishing the stairs in my house. My grandson was
living with us at the time. He watched me work, scraping and sanding the
wood on the steps. On one occasion, he climbed up the steps and stood with
me. Picking up a scraper, he began to imitate what he had seen me do. He
was not strong enough to apply the pressure required to scrap off the old
paint and varnish, and I had to put my work aside to keep him from falling
down the stairs. I remember this occasion fondly, however. His imitation of
my efforts was a delight to my heart. The fact that he wanted to help me
was a tremendous blessing.
Somehow, as feeble as I am in my efforts for God, He is still pleased. My
sincere efforts to obey and walk in obedience to Him, delight His heart. As I
offer myself, all these efforts rise up to Him as a pleasing aroma. This is my
act of worship.
Listen to the words of Paul to the Romans:
[12:1] I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to
present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to
God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12)
Notice that Paul told the Romans that they were to present their bodies as a
living sacrifice. This offering was a holy and acceptable offering to God.
God delighted in their sacrifice. It rose to Him as a sweet-smelling
fragrance. How do we please God? We do so by pouring out our lives as a
drink offering to the Lord entirely and without reserve. This kind of
sacrifice is a blessing to His heart and a sweet aroma in His nostrils.
For Prayer:
Father, I ask that my life would be poured out to you, just like the Old
Testament drink offering. I pray that I would hold nothing back but devote
myself entirely to you. Forgive me for making my life about all that I can
receive and teach me what you mean when you say that it was more blessed
to give than to receive. I pray that I would live my life so that when I come
to stand before you, I would have the confidence to say, I have fought a
good fight, I have run a good race, I have kept the faith. My life has been a
drink offering and a pleasing aroma to you.
Leviticus 3 explains the requirements of God for the peace offering. The
animal offered was an unblemished male or female either from a herd or
flock. Individuals bringing their gift would lay their hands on the head of
the animal and kill it at the front of the tabernacle. The priest would take the
blood and throw it against the altar. The fat, the kidneys and the long lobe
of the liver were removed and burned as an offering to the Lord on the altar
(see Leviticus 3:3-5; 7-11; 12-16).
Leviticus 7:11-18 tells us that an individual could bring a peace offering out
of thankfulness to God (verses 11-15) or as part of a vow he or she had
made (verses 16-18). An offering of unleavened loaves or wafers made with
fine flour and oil accompanied the peace offering (Leviticus 7:12).
One of the loaves brought with the peace offering belonged to the priest
who performed the sacrifice (Leviticus 7:15). Leviticus 7:32 tells us that the
right thigh (Leviticus 7:32-33) and the breast (Leviticus 7:34) also belonged
to the priest as a contribution from the worshipper. The remainder of the
animal was returned to the individual who brought it. The worshipper
would eat the meat with “rejoicing before the Lord.” Eating this meat and
rejoicing before the Lord was an essential part of the offering.
[17] You may not eat within your towns the tithe of your grain or of
your wine or of your oil, or the firstborn of your herd or of your
flock, or any of your vow offerings that you vow, or your freewill
offerings or the contribution that you present, [18] but you shall eat
them before the LORD your God in the place that the LORD your
God will choose, you and your son and your daughter, your male
servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your
towns. And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all that
you undertake. [19] Take care that you do not neglect the Levite as
long as you live in your land. (Deuteronomy 12)
The meat of the peace offering was eaten on the day of the offering
nothing was to be left over until the morning.
[15] And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for
thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering. He shall not
leave any of it until the morning. (Leviticus 7)
The only exception to this rule was if the peace offering was given as a
result of a vow. In this case, the individual could eat the meat the day after
the sacrifice. Anything left over on the third day, however, was to be
[16] But if the sacrifice of his offering is a vow offering or a freewill
offering, it shall be eaten on the day that he offers his sacrifice, and
on the next day what remains of it shall be eaten. [17] But what
remains of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burned
up with fire. (Leviticus 7)
To eat the meat of the peace offering after the second day would invalidate
the sacrifice and make the individual guilty of sin:
[18] If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten
on the third day, he who offers it shall not be accepted, neither shall
it be credited to him. It is tainted, and he who eats of it shall bear
his iniquity. (Leviticus 7)
Israel brought peace offerings to the Lord on a variety of occasions. It was
part of the celebration of the Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15-19). Upon
completion of a Nazirite vow, the Israelite would offer a peace offering to
the Lord (Numbers 6:16-20). A peace offering was also one of the sacrifices
required for the consecration of a priest to his position (Exodus 29:19-28).
One of the largest peace offerings recorded in Scripture took place at the
dedication of Solomon’s temple. At that time, King Solomon offered 22,000
oxen and 120,000 sheep:
[62] Then the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before
the LORD. [63] Solomon offered as peace offerings to the LORD
22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the people of
Israel dedicated the house of the LORD. (1 Kings 8)
1 Samuel 11 describes the trouble Israel had with the Ammonites. Led by
the Lord, Saul took up arms and defeated them at Bezek. After the battle, 1
Samuel 11:12-15 tells us that Samuel led them in the sacrifice of a peace
offering in gratitude to God for the victory.
2 Chronicles 29:31-36 describes a time of renewal when the temple was
purified of its impurities. Part of the consecration of the people in those
days involved a peace offering.
While there were certain times of the year when God required a peace
offering, it was also offered voluntarily on special occasions as an act of
worship and thanksgiving to God.
A Sacrifice Of Gratitude
There are several details about the peace offering we need to examine more
closely. Notice first that while God required a peace offering on certain
occasions, it was also a voluntary sacrifice brought out of gratitude.
Consider this for a moment. When God gave Israel victory over her
oppressors in 1 Samuel 11, the people expressed their appreciation by
bringing a peace offering. When the temple was cleansed after years of
abandonment, the people of God repented and brought their voluntary peace
offering. This peace offering went further than a simple “thank you” to
God. In response to His goodness, the people sacrificed a lamb from the
flock to celebrate God’s goodness. They shared that lamb with the priest
and their family as they ate together in gratitude.
What is our response when we know the victory of the Lord after a long
battle? What is our reaction when we experience forgiveness from our sin
and rebellion? Somehow a simple “thanks” does not seem to be enough.
The deliverance of the Lord demands a sacrifice of our lives, resources and
energies. The peace offering was not just a sacrifice, however, it was also a
celebration and sharing the goodness of God with others. A portion of the
sacrifice blessed the priest. The family ate the meat of this sacrifice in
celebration of the goodness and deliverance of God. God’s people
remembered His kindness and shared their blessing with others. When God
brings deliverance and victory, this is a cause for celebration. May God give
us the grace to know how to express our gratitude in deeper ways.
Honouring God In Our Sacrifices
Another significant point we need to see in the law of the peace offering is
that while the sacrifice was voluntary and God allowed for freedom in what
His people could bring, it still had to be without blemish. God deserved the
very best they had. They could not give Him what they did not want
themselves and expect that He would be pleased.
When God stopped the plague on the nation because of the sin of David, the
king chose to offer a peace offering to Him. He asked a man by the name of
Araunah to sell him a piece of property on which he could offer his
sacrifice. Araunah offered to give the property to David without cost. Listen
to the response of David to this offer in 2 Samuel 24:
[24] But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you
for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that
cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen
for fifty shekels of silver. [25] And David built there an altar to the
LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the
LORD responded to the plea for the land, and the plague was
averted from Israel. (2 Samuel 24)
After all that God had done for him, David refused to offer a sacrifice that
cost him nothing. David wanted His act of worship to involve personal
sacrifice. He gave the best he had. Are we giving God what cost us
nothing? Are we giving what we do not want or need ourselves? Or are we
giving the best we have? What do our offerings tell us about what we feel
about God? What sacrifices are you willing to make for God as a result of
His blessings in your life?
Notice that nothing of the peace offering was left over until the morning.
The greatest offering of all time was the Lord Jesus as the Lamb of God. He
hung on a cross to pay the legal penalty for our sin. This penalty gives us
peace with God. Consider what took place when the Lord Jesus died as
recorded in Mark 15:
[42] And when evening had come, since it was the day of
Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, [43] Joseph of
Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself
looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate
and asked for the body of Jesus. [44] Pilate was surprised to hear
that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he
asked him whether he was already dead. [45] And when he learned
from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to
Joseph. (Mark 15)
It was the evening of the death of Jesus that His body was taken down from
the cross and buried. It was not left hanging there until the next day. While
there were health reasons why the meat of the peace offering could not be
left over until the next day, there is also a symbolism found in this
requirement as well. It points us to the most excellent peace offering ever
made and how the Lamb of God was not left on the cross until the next day.
Notice something else about the peace offering. The meat remaining after
the Lord and the priest had received their portion was eaten with the family.
Israel did this in remembrance of the goodness of God. Consider the words
of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 26 when He instituted the Lord’s Supper:
[26] Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it
broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my
body.” [27] And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he
gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, [28] for this is my
blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the
forgiveness of sins. [29] I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit
of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Fathers
kingdom.” (Matthew 26)
Jesus asked His disciples to share a meal in remembrance of the sacrifice
He would make on the cross. They took bread and drank wine to symbolize
the broken body and blood spilled for them. As a family of believers, they
shared a meal to celebrate their victory. This is what took place with the
peace offering.
God’s people brought a peace offering in response to the goodness of God.
They shared the meat of the animal sacrificed with the priest, and the
members of their family. They ate together, celebrating the goodness of
God. Certainly as believers, we have cause for rejoicing. Eating the peace
offering together provided God’s people with the opportunity to remember
and share the goodness of their God.
For Prayer:
Father, we recognize that you have blessed us abundantly in this life. As we
look over our lives, we are aware of the tremendous victories you have
given us time and time again. Somehow a simple “thank you” does not
seem sufficient for these blessings. We pray that you would teach us to give
our sacrifices to you in return. We offer our lives, our efforts, our resources
to you, realizing that these cannot compare to what you have done for us.
Teach us to bring the best we have to you. Forgive us for offering sacrifices
that cost us nothing. We thank you also for the greatest peace offering of all
time—the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. Teach us to be
thankful for His life and death. Give us the grace to become living
sacrifices for Him. Father, teach us not to keep our blessing to ourselves.
Help us to share the goodness of God. May we be a celebrating people who
declare to our family and those around us the goodness of God.
The next offering recorded in the book of Leviticus is the sin offering.
Notice the words of introduction in Leviticus 4:2:
[2] “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If anyone sins
unintentionally in any of the LORD’s commandments about things
not to be done, and does any one of them,
This verse shows us the purpose of the sin offering “if anyone sins
unintentionally in any of the Lord’s commandments.” Jamieson, Fausset
and Brown, in their commentary on this verse, say the following:
“The sins, however, referred to in this law were unintentional
violations of the ceremonial laws,—breaches made through haste,
or inadvertency of some negative precepts, which, if done knowingly
and wilfully, would have involved a capital punishment.” (Jamieson,
Robert; Fausset, A.R.; Brown, David: Commentary Critical and
Explanatory on the Whole Bible, “Leviticus 4:2” LARIDIAN, 1871)
The sin offering involved an animal sacrifice for sins done unintentionally.
This offering was not for those who willfully sinned against the Lord.
Consider what the Lord Jesus said about those who crucified Him in Luke
[34] And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what
they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. (Luke 23)
Notice that Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of those who did not know
what they did. These individuals acted in ignorance because they did not
truly understand the truth about Jesus. There is hope for those who have not
come to the knowledge of the truth.
Writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul said
[12] I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord,
because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, [13]
though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent
opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in
unbelief, [14] and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the
faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1)
At one point in the apostle’s life, he was a great enemy to the church of
Jesus Christ. He actively persecuted believers and rejected the Lord Jesus as
the Son of God. Paul told Timothy, however, that through he was a
blasphemer, persecutor and insolent opponent to the gospel, he received
mercy because he “acted ignorantly in unbelief.” At this time, the apostle
had not come to an understanding of the truth of Jesus. He persecuted the
church because he had never met the Lord. Everything changed the day he
came to know Him.
While there is forgiveness for sins done in unbelief and ignorance, the
writer to the Hebrews warns us that deliberate and willful sin is a different
[26] For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the
knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
[27] but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that
will consume the adversaries. (Hebrews 10)
There is no sacrifice for those who deliberately turn their back on the Lord
Jesus after coming to know the truth about Him. The writer to the Hebrews
tells us that the only hope for those who willfully reject the truth is a
“fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire.” The sin offering was
not intended for those who deliberately sinned but those who sinned
through ignorance or weakness.
The animal sacrificed for the sin offering depended on the social status of
the individual bringing the offering. The following chart explains the
requirements of God for each social status in the community:
Individual Offering Passage
Priest Young bull Leviticus 4:3
Congregation Young bull Leviticus 4:13-14
Leader Male goat Leviticus 4:22-23
Common People Female goat or lamb Leviticus 4:27-32
Poor person 2 turtledoves or pigeons
OR 1/10th ephah of flour
Leviticus 5:7
Leviticus 5:11
God required the following for a priest who unintentionally sinned against
1) The guilty priest brought his offering to the entrance of the
tabernacle (Lev. 4:4)
2) He laid his hand on the animal to identify with its demise
3) They killed the animal at the entrance (Leviticus 4:4)
4) The officiating priest took the blood into the tabernacle and
sprinkled it seven times in front of the curtain before the Holy of
Holies (Leviticus 4:5)
5) The officiating priest put blood on the horns of the altar and
poured the remainder at the base of the altar (Leviticus 4:7)
6) The officiating priest removed the fat, the two kidneys and the
long lobe of the liver from the animal and burned them on the altar
as an offering to the Lord (Leviticus 4:8-10)
7) The remainder of the animal was carried outside the camp and
burned (Leviticus 4:11-12)
The priests followed the same procedure when the whole community was
guilty. If the offering was for a leader or ordinary person, the priest did not
sprinkle blood in front of the curtain in the tabernacle. All other steps,
however, were the same.
When a poor person brought a bird as an offering for sin, the priest would
follow this procedure:
1) The guilty party brought his or her offering of two pigeons or
turtledoves to the priest (Leviticus 5:8)
2) The priest wrung the neck of the bird to kill it (Leviticus 5:8)
3) The priest sprinkled blood on the side of the altar and the
remainder at the base (Leviticus 5:9)
4) The priest burned the second bird on the altar (Leviticus 5:10)
If the poor person could not afford two pigeons or turtledoves, he or she
would bring 1/10th of an ephah of fine flour. There was to be no oil or
frankincense in the flour. The priest took a handful of this flour and burned
it on the altar as a sin offering. The promise of God for those who brought
these offerings was that they would be forgiven:
[13] Thus the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin which
he has committed in any one of these things, and he shall be
forgiven. (Leviticus 5)
God required that Israel offer Him a sin-offering during their yearly
festivals and celebrations:
Celebration Passage
New Moon Numbers 28:15
Passover Numbers 28:22
Feast of Weeks Numbers 28:30
Feast of Trumpets Numbers 29:5
Day of Atonement Numbers 29:11
Feast of Booths Numbers 29: 16,19,22,25,28,31,34,38
Besides these regular celebrations, God required a sin offering as part of the
purification rite after recovering from childbirth, infection or disease (see
Leviticus 12:6-8; Leviticus 14:19; 15:13-15). It was also required when a
Nazirite vow had to be broken for unforeseen reasons (see Numbers 6:1-
Leviticus 5 gives us further examples of occasions when a sin offering was
1) When a witness to a crime or offence did not speak up about what
he or she saw (Leviticus 5:1)
2) When a person touched a dead body, an unclean animal, insect, or
human impurity (Leviticus 5:2,3)
3) When a person uttered a careless or thoughtless oath (Leviticus
The sin offering was not just for obvious sins but also for sins of omission
when an individual did not do what he or she was supposed to do. It
covered careless words spoken by the people of God, as well as things they
saw and touched that defiled them.
The sin offering was vital in the life of Israel. It offered forgiveness for sin.
For this reason, the meat of the sin offering was considered holy.
[25] “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the sin
offering. In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin
offering be killed before the LORD; it is most holy. (Leviticus 6)
Because this offering was holy, there were special restrictions placed on it.
Leviticus 6 tells us that only the priest who offered it to the Lord could eat
it, but only in the tabernacle. It was not eaten anywhere else:
[26] The priest who offers it for sin shall eat it. In a holy place it
shall be eaten, in the court of the tent of meeting. (Leviticus 6)
This sacrifice was so holy that if it touched anything, the object it touched
become holy “Whatever touches its flesh shall be holy” (Leviticus 6:27).
If the blood of this sacrifice splashed on a garment, it was only to be
washed off in a holy place. (Leviticus 6:27).
If the priest cooked the meat offered for a sin offering in an earthenware
vessel, the vessel was broken and discarded. It was never used to cook
anything else (Leviticus 6:28). If the container used for preparing the holy
meat was bronze, it was thoroughly cleaned with water before being used
again (Leviticus 6:28). The sin offering was treated with the utmost respect.
What do we learn from the sin offering about God and our relationship with
Him? Let me offer several suggestions.
The Seriousness Of Deliberate Sin
Consider first that the sin offering was for unintentional sins. There was no
offering for deliberate and intentional sin. The judgement of God fell on all
who, knowing the truth, refuse it and reject God’s purpose for their lives.
Hell and eternal punishment is the only reward left for those who
deliberately turn from the truth they know. As the apostle Peter says:
[20] For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world
through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are
again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become
worse for them than the first. [21] For it would have been better for
them never to have known the way of righteousness than after
knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to
them. (2 Peter 2)
God Recognizes Our Imperfections
God expects that those who belonged to Him serve Him with all their heart.
He understands, however, that we are not perfect. We all have our
weaknesses. The Lord knows that not one of us will live a perfect life. We
will fall short of His standard, l fall into temptation and sin against him. We
will sin because of human weakness.
All sin needs forgiveness. It is easy to excuse our actions. None of those
excuses are valid. Yes, we are weak. Yes, it was only natural for us to
respond as we do. But we still fall short of God’s standard, and God holds
us responsible for our actions.
God knows our imperfections, but we tend to use them as an excuse to
justify our sin instead of seeking His forgiveness. God has provided a
means for cleansing due to human weakness and failure. The fact that the
sin offering was established for sins committed through weakness and
failures shows us that none of our excuses are legitimate. Our inability to
keep God’s standard through human weakness requires forgiveness. God
provided Israel with a means of forgiveness for these unintentional sins in
the sin offering.
God’s Forgiveness Is For Everyone
Notice that the sin offering was for everyone in society. If a poor person
could not afford a lamb, they could bring a turtledove or pigeon. If they did
not have the money to purchase these birds, they could bring flour. This
provision of God shows us just how important it was for people of all status
in society to experience the forgiveness of God.
God wanted to forgive the wealthy and influential, but He was also
concerned for those who were at the bottom of the social ladder. There was
forgiveness for everyone, regardless of social standing. Jesus demonstrated