Offerings and Their Meanings and Purpose

Discovery for Students

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


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).