Leviticus opens with three chapters detailing instructions for three offerings central to the problem driving the book’s content – how will God manage His covenant with rebellious Israel? While the placement (and idea of sacrifices and offerings) might seem dull and antiquated to us, the first-place position of the offerings in the book and the amount of space dedicated to them indicates their importance in understanding God’s relationship with Israel. The purposes God gave to those offerings not only provided Israel insight into its relationship with God, but they also help us better understand how to navigate our relationship with God.
The first offering, the burnt offering (Leviticus 1), sought permission to come into God’s presence by offering the life of an innocent (unblemished) animal in place of the worshipper’s tarnished life. Having secured mercy to be in God’s presence, the second offering, the grain offering (Leviticus 2), recognized the covenant binding the worshipper to God. It acknowledged the blessings they enjoyed because of that relationship and the obligations it placed on them.
The third offering, the peace offering (Leviticus 3), permitted the worshipper to share a meal with God while reminding them they owed God their heart and their allegiance. The fourth offering, the sin offering, addressed the contamination peoples’ sins brought into their relationship with God, endangering His ongoing presence in their midst (Leviticus 4). This lesson considers Israel’s sin offering and the insights it provides us into our relationship with God.