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The Five Levitical Offerings
The sacrificial system was ordained by God and placed at the very center and heart of Jewish national life. Whatever the Jews may have thought of it at the time, the unceasing sacrifice of animals, and the never-ending glow of fire at the altar of sacrifice, there is no doubt that god was burning into the hearts of every man, an awareness of their own sin. An object lesson that would make your skin crawl was to be an age long picture of the coming sacrifice of Messiah. The sacrifices pointed to Him and they were fulfilled in Him.
There are many instructions for sacrifice throughout the Pentateuch, but Leviticus chapters 1-7 is completely dedicated to the 5 Levitical offerings which were the main sacrifices used in the rituals. They describe 5 kinds of sacrifices: The burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering. Each of the sacrifices were uniquely fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
The Burnt Offerings
The burnt offering was a sacrifice that was completely burnt. None of it was to be eaten at all, and therefore the fire consumed the whole sacrifice. It is also important to note that the fire on the altar was never to go out:
Lev 6:13 'A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.
Lev 1:3 'Let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD.
The animal had to be without blemish. The worshipper then placed his hands upon the head of the animal and in awareness that this innocent animal was standing in for the sinner he would seek the Lord for forgiveness and then killed the animal immediately.
Lev 1:4-9 'Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. 'He shall kill the bull before the LORD; and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting . . . and the priest shall burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.
The priests were also responsible to wash various parts of the animal before putting it on the altar:
Lev 1:6-9 'And he shall skin the burnt offering and cut it into its pieces. 'The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay the wood in order on the fire. 'Then the priests, Aaron's sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat in order on the wood that is on the fire upon the altar; 'but he shall wash its entrails and its legs with water.
Later In Israel's history there were burnt offerings made twice per day, one at morning and one at evening (when the first star appeared:
Num 28:3-4 "And you shall say to them, 'This is the offering made by fire which you shall offer to the LORD: two male lambs in their first year without blemish, day by day, as a regular burnt offering. 'The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, the other lamb you shall offer in the evening"
The Burnt offering was performed to atone for the peoples sins against the Lord and was a dedication offering of ones life before the Lord continually.
The Meal Offerings
The Israelites offered meal (cereals) or vegetables in addition to the animals. Leviticus chapter 2 mentions 4 kinds of cereal offerings and gives cooking instructions for each. The sinner could offer dough from wheat flour baked in an oven, cooked on a griddle, fried in a pan, or roasted to make bread (as in the offering of the first fruits). All meal offerings were made with oil and salt and no honey and leaven were to be used (oil and salt preserved while honey and leaven would spoil). The worshipper was also to bring a portion of incense (frankincense).
The meal offerings were brought to one of the priests, who took it to the altar and cast a "memorial portion" on the fire and he did this also with the incense. The priest ate the remainder unless he was bringing the meal offering for himself where he would burn the whole thing.
The purpose of the meal offering was an offering of gifts and speaks of a life that is dedicated to generosity and giving.
The Peace Offerings
The peace offering was a meal that was shared with the Lord, the priests, and sometimes the common Israelites. The worshipper was to bring a male or female oxen, sheep, or a goat. The ritual was closely compared to the burnt offering up to the point of the actual burning where the animals blood was poured around the edges of the altar. The fat and entrails were burned and the remainder was eaten by the priests and (if it was a free-will offering) by the worshippers themselves. This sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving was most of the time a voluntary act.
The Peace offerings included unleavened cakes. The priests ate all except the memorial portion of the cakes and certain parts of the animal on the same day the sacrifice was made, and when the worshipper joined in and the offering was free-will the worshipper could eat for 2 days of the whole animal except the breast and the right thigh which were eaten by the priests.
Jacob and Laban offered a peace offering when they made their treaty (Gen 31:43 ff). It was required to make offerings while making a vow of ones life to God and thanking Him with praise while free-will offerings were voluntary.
The Sin Offerings
The sin offering expiated (paid the debt in full) the worshippers unintentional weaknesses and failures before the Lord.
Lev 4:1-4 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'If a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments of the LORD in anything which ought not to be done, and does any of them, 'if the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer to the LORD for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering. 'He shall bring the bull to the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD, lay his hand on the bull's head, and kill the bull before the LORD.
Each class of people had various ordinances to perform:
Sins of the high priest required the offering of a bull and the blood was not poured on the altar but sprinkled from the finger of the high priest 7 times on the altar. Then the fat was burnt, and the remainder was burned (never eaten) outside the camp "unto a clean place" where the sacrifice was made and the ashes were poured out.
Lev 4:12 'the whole bull he shall carry outside the camp to a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire; where the ashes are poured out it shall be burned.
Sins of the leaders required the offering of a male goat. the blood was sprinkled only once and the remainder was poured around the altar as with the burnt offering.
Sins of the common Israelites required female animals, goats, lambs, turtledoves, or pigeons and in the case of the very poor an offering of grain was acceptable just like a meal offering.
Unintentional sins were difficult to identify and could happen at any time and therefore the priests worked closely as mediators with God and the people and were there to instruct the people as they sought the Lord. In case any sins were not brought before the Lord there were offerings for the nation and for the high priest which covered them all in a collective way. On the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) the high priest sprinkled blood on the mercy seat for his own sins and the sins of the nation.
The Trespass Offerings
The trespass offering was very similar to that of the sin offering but the main difference was that the trespass offering was an offering of money for sins of ignorance connected with fraud. For example if someone unintentionally cheated another out of money or property, his sacrifice was to be equal to the amount taken, plus one-fifth to the priest and to the one offended. Therefore he repaid twice the amount taken plus 40 %.
Lev 6:5-7 "He shall restore its full value, add one-fifth more to it, and give it to whomever it belongs, on the day of his trespass offering. And he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD, a ram without blemish from the flock, with your valuation, as a trespass offering, to the priest. So the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD, and he shall be forgiven for any one of these things that he may have done in which he trespasses."
Jewish Tradition - The Treatment of Animals
Even though the Lord prescribed the slaughtering of animals for sacrifice and for food, the treatment of animals is of the utmost importance in Judaism. The Talmud describes with minute care and detail how an animal is to be slaughtered for food, and the regulations are given mainly because of the desire to inflict as painless a death as possible. The slaughterer could not be a deaf-mute, or a minor, and he must be of sound mind (Chul. 1. 1). The knife must be perfectly smooth without the slightest perceptible notch and "the knife must be tested as to its three sides upon the flesh of the finger and upon the nail" (ibid. 17b).
There are five causes of disqualification (ibid. 9a).  Delay (Heb. shehiyah), there must be a continuous forward and backward motion of the knife without any interruption.  Pressure (Heb. derasah), the cut must be made gently, without the exercise of any force.  Digging (Heb. chaladah), the knife must not be inserted into the flesh instead of drawn across the throat.  Slipping (Heb. hagramah), the cut must not be made except through a prescribed section of the neck.  Tearing (Heb. ikkur), the cut must be done without dislocating the windpipe or gullet. Any one of these actions would render the animal unfit for consumption, because it would have inflicted pain upon the animal.
Judaism teaches proper care of animals and a love and respect for them.They were to be properly fed (p. Jeb. 14d), and "a man must not eat his meal before giving food to his cattle (Ber. 40a). This was taken from the Scripture:
Deut 11:15 "And He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and then you shall eat and be satisfied."
Judaism teaches man to praise the animals because they are models for humans to imitate. "Had the Torah not been given to us for our guidance, we could not have learnt modesty from the cat, honesty from the ant, chastity from the dove, and good manners from the cock" (Erub. 100b). The Lord taught Moses to care for sheep before he would care for and lead his fellow man (Exod. R 11.2)
A Type of Christ
Every offering is a clear picture of Christ. Each of the 5 Levitical offerings were a finger pointing to Christ and He was each of them. This topic is further discussed in BKA16 The Five Levitical Offerings which is in the process of being upgraded. (1/98)
also see: Blood Atonement