When it comes to the Torah, many people love Genesis and Exodus. They are full of interesting stories, plot twists, and God doing amazing things. But when we turn the page to the book of Leviticus, most skim or skip it completely because it just seems like a bunch of ancient laws that don’t apply to us. However, the opposite could not be more true. When it comes to Leviticus, two sets of laws are really interesting, the offerings and festivals. Though ancient and out of practice for most Christians, these laws are so meaningful to Jesus. If they were important to Him, maybe they’re important for us too. We’re going to look at these two sets of laws in Leviticus to see what they have in store for us today and our faith.
Let’s talk about the offerings. These offerings were ritualistic in nature, but that’s where the normality ends for these sets of laws. There were five main offerings the Israelites would present to Yahweh. Burnt, gift, fellowship, sin, and guilt offerings. We will look at these five in depth and connect them to Jesus and ourselves thousands of years later.
The first offering is the burnt offering or ascension offering. This offering was made by fire by sacrificing a bull, goat, or sheep. Sometimes birds were used for the poor. In this offering, the entire animal was burned up. The Hebrew word here, “olah” means, “going up”. This was an offering that went up to Yahweh. By sacrificing the entire animal, this was a symbol of complete surrender and trust in God by whoever was offering. After Jesus resurrected, he also ascended into the heavens. Now we can surrender our lives to Christ not with an offering of an animal but by allegiance to Christ (Romans 12:1). Instead of an animal, we give our lives to Jesus because of the offering he made on our behalf.
The second offering is a gift offering or grain offering. This was an offering of grain, fruits, or vegetables. This is like the offering Cain gave to God in Genesis 4. This was a way to say thank you to God for his graciousness and blessings in the land in which they lived. By this offering, the Levites also ate which is why it was important.
The next offering, fellowship or peace offering is an interesting one. The offerer would bring an animal and offer it to the Lord as an expression of gratitude to God. This sacrifice would provide food for the priests and other people. So there would be a meal that would come out of this in which everyone ate, hence the term fellowship offering. It also communicated peace to everyone. Three different situations occur with this offering. You can offer if you wanted to express gratitude to God, for a vow you made, or a free-will offering because you wanted to. This offering was communal on purpose, to bring people together under Yahweh. Now, we partake of the Lord’s Supper, in which we are united under Jesus because of His offering.
The next offering was mandatory. A sin offering or better put, a purification offering was one of two mandatory offerings. If a priest, leader, person, or even the community as a whole, they were to offer this offering. By doing so, they made atonement or purified themselves of the sin committed. The priests were the ones who made atonement for them by the offering they brought. In the same way, Jesus died as our High Priest and purified us of our sins (1 John 3:3).
The last offering is a guilt offering. This was made if anyone sinned against the Lord or does something to hurt his neighbor. If they sinned against God, they were to offer a ram plus ⅕ of value. This would make restitution or make peace for the person who committed the offense. If the offense was disobeying a command, the person offered a ram. If it was done against another person, they repaid the person fully, gave a ram, and ⅕ of the value. God wanted to make sure we knew to love our neighbors as ourselves. This was quoted by Jesus, to love God and others. This guilt offering made sure everyone was at peace and the person was atoned for the wrong.