Offerings and Their Meanings and Purpose

Discovery for Teachers

Offerings and Their Meanings and Purpose


Leviticus 2:1 through 7:38

“Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found.” (Leviticus 6:4)


The Children of Israel were situated at the base of Mount Sinai and the Tabernacle had just been built. It was time for the people to learn how to worship, and this portion of Leviticus deals with Israel’s approach to God.

A major part of their worship was to be through sacrificial offerings or sacrifices, and the established requirements in many ways pictured aspects of the believer’s salvation today. The burnt offering illustrates that the only way for the Children of Israel to approach God and find forgiveness was through the shedding of blood. Only blood could atone for sin. In this passage, we see not only what God commanded the Israelites to observe, but also how their sacrifices and other practices look ahead to the sacrifice made on Calvary by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

One of the sacrifices God made provision for was the sacrifice of thanksgiving. It was called a meat offering which, at the time of the translation of our Bible, meant any kind of food. In this case it referred to grain. Like the burnt offering, it was brought voluntarily. There was to be no leaven, which was symbolic of sin, in the grain offering. The meat offerings included oil, which typifies the Spirit of God. These offerings also included salt, which preserves against corruption and denotes purification and healing.

Another sacrifice of thanksgiving, the peace offering, was taken from the herd — a male or female without blemish, typifying purity. The purpose of the peace offering was not to make atonement for sin, but to express gratitude for God’s matchless and gracious care. It was also a voluntary offering and was both an act of worship and of communion.

The people were commanded to offer a sin offering; this was a sacrifice for unintentional acts that displeased God. God called these acts sins of ignorance. There were different animals to be sacrificed for each sin. These sacrifices made people cognizant of what God considered sin and were used to teach and guide the Israelites in God’s way. This offering was not voluntary, but was required of all: the priests, the congregation, the rulers, and common individuals.

God commanded the people to make a trespass offering to atone for specific acts of sin, of which the individual was fully aware. Also, they were commanded to make restitution if they obtained anything that belonged to another through deceit or negligence.

There was a holy fire on the altar that was to burn continuously. Every morning the priest would put on different clothes and remove the ashes into a clean place outside of the camp. He was to lay fresh wood upon the fire to keep it burning continuously. This represented God’s eternal presence among them.


  1. The people were to make an offering of their firstfruits unto the Lord (chapter 2). How can we offer our first fruits to the Lord?

    Usually the very best of the crop is what is harvested first. God expects our best. He wants us to put Him first in our thoughts, time, activities, and tithes. You may ask the class to discuss ways we can do this, making the point that we never want to offer God just what is “left over” of our time, energy, or resources.
  2. God gave directions for the peace offering, which was an expression of thanksgiving and appreciation to Him (Leviticus 3:1-17). Have you ever considered thankfulness to be a sacrifice? What are some times when this may be the case?

    It may seem difficult to be thankful during a trial, but we are to be thankful in the good times and the bad. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In every thing give thanks.” Note that the words are “In every thing” not “for everything.” It is possible to offer praise to God in the midst of a great trial, even though we may not be able to be thankful for the trial itself. Ask your class what the results will be when we offer this type of sacrifice, making the point that we will find a deeper connection to Him and greater blessings will follow. God responds to the sacrifice of praise!
  3. The sacrifice of animals was required because blood was the only atonement for sin; even a sin done through ignorance needed a blood sacrifice (Leviticus 4:1-2). Yet in the New Testament, God said “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). Why do we no longer need to make sacrifice for “sins of ignorance”?

    The blood of animals foreshadowed the Blood of Christ, which would be shed later. While obedience to the law of sacrifice provided atonement, the blood of animals was not sufficient for the continuing perfection of the saints. (See Hebrews 10:1.) They needed to make the sacrifices over and over. Christ’s Blood is powerful and covers Christians today unless they willfully sin and thus break the covenant between Christ and themselves.
  4. Leviticus 5:5 shows that a person not only needed to bring a sacrifice for sin but he needed to confess his sin. Why do you think confession is an important part of repentance?

    Confession shows understanding of one’s guilt before God, realization of the incomparable holiness of God, and provides proper humility before Him. Confession will often lead to repentance.
  5. The focus verse clearly outlines the need to restore what has been stolen, embezzled, or destroyed of another’s property. We know that God forgives us for all our sins at salvation. Why do we need to make restitution?

    Discussion should bring out that when we restore the loss we have caused our fellowman (see Acts 24:16). we are proving the sincerity of our repentance. The action of restoration is also a witness to unbelievers of the change of heart that has taken place. You may ask the class to tell about the times they made restitutions and of the blessings they received.
  6. The holy fire on the altar represented God’s abiding presence among the people. What did the priest need to do every day to keep the flame alive (Leviticus 6:8-13)? How can we liken this to our spiritual walk?

    The priest needed to put on his linen garment and linen breeches and move the ashes from the altar to the side. Then he was to change clothes again and take the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. The priest was to put wood on it every morning and put the sacrifice on the altar, then burn the fat of the peace offerings. He was never to let the fire go out.

    The fire is like God’s presence in our lives when we are saved. Ask your class to develop how we can keep the flame burning. Discussion could bring out that we may need to clean out accumulated clutter from time to time. We need to keep our personal lives clean and to add “fuel” often by reading God’s Word, communing in prayer, and gathering together with God’s people.

  7. What was the purpose of the wave offering? (Leviticus 7:30-36)

    The purpose of the wave offering was to provide food for Aaron and the priests. In the New Testament, God also provided for the ministers of the Gospel to be sustained by the tithes and offerings of the people (1 Corinthians 9:4-14). Ask your group to develop an application to our day.
  8. The sacrifices and offerings were part of the schoolmaster to teach us God’s ways. They could have become rituals to those who undertook to follow them. It was important for the children of Israel to keep in mind the meaning of these rituals. How might our service to God become perfunctory and ritualistic? How can we avoid this?

    If we lose sight of the “vision” of the Gospel we can become indifferent in our service to God. We need to keep alive the goals, purposes, and love that ignited our hearts in the beginning. Discuss ways we can become indifferent and ways we can keep our first love burning.


God is holy, and He expects obedience and commitment from us. Even though it may take sacrifice on our part, we will receive abundant blessing as we honor Him with a complete “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1).