Bible Question:

How many offerings along with the tithe were people in the Old Testament to give? What was the purpose of the different offerings?

Bible Answer:

To answer your next question we want to consider each of the different offerings or sacrifices that God required of the Israelites. The major sacrifices are the burnt, sin, guilt, grain, and peace offerings. In spite of all the attention to these sacrifices, none of them could forgive a person’s sin(s). They could only cover one’s sins.

BurntCovering of our sinsThe entire animal was offered. The sacrifice was to be a male lamb or goat which had no defect, or a poor person could offer two birds.Lev. 1:3-17; Lev. 6:8-13
SinCovering of sins committed in ignoranceRitual of the sacrifice changed with the type of person.

Priests: bull with no defect

Nation: bull with no defect

Ruler: male goat

Anyone: female goat or sheep

Poor: two birds

Very poor: flour

Lev. 4:1-5:13; Lev. 6:24-30
Guilt or TrespassForgiveness of sins that are not intentionalThe sacrifice was a ram without defect. If there was an offense against a person, he/she had to make restitution of 120%.Lev. 5:14-6:7; Lev. 7:1-10
GrainMemorial to GodFine flour, cakes, wafers, or fruits with oil, frankincense, and salt without leaven or honey.Lev. 2:1-16; Lev. 6:14-23
PeaceFellowship with GodThis was a voluntary offering. Any animal, except a bird, was acceptable.Lev. 3:1-17; Lev. 7:11-36
FreewillOffering given to express thankfulness to GodThe sacrifice could be any male (even with a defect) from the cattle, the sheep, or the goats.Lev. 7:16-18 Lev. 22:17-23
VowOffered to mark the end of vowThe sacrifice could be any male from among the cattle, the sheep, or the goats.Lev. 22:21-23
PraiseOffered as an expression of praise to GodThis is a fruit offering from any kind of tree.Lev. 19:24
The burnt, sin, and guilt sacrifices are imperfect pictures of Jesus Christ. They help us understand why Jesus had to die for our sins. While they could never forgive the offerer’s sins, they help us to know that Jesus can.

But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “SACRIFICE AND OFFERING THOU HAST NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY THOU HAST PREPARED FOR ME; IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN THOU HAST TAKEN NO PLEASURE. (NASB) Hebrews 10:3-6

But Jesus came and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice.

And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.  (NASB) Hebrews 10:11-14

The sacrifices only covered up sins. Now anyone can have their sins completely forgiven if they want. It is a personal choice.


Each of these sacrifices are a picture of Jesus and ourselves.

LeviticusMajor SacrificesPicture of Each Sacrifice
Chap. 1Burnt Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for our sins.
Chap. 2GrainThis is a reminder of Jesus’ humanity and death.
Chap. 3PeaceJesus is our peace.
Chap. 4 SinJesus died for those sins we commit in ignorance. We are sinners.
Chap. 5Guilt or TrespassJesus died for those sins we purposely commit.

The order in which these sacrifices are presented is wonderful. They remind us that Jesus can completely forgive sins and then we are reminded that it is our nature to sin. We choose to sin. We are reminded that only God can rescue us from the coming doom we deserve because we want to sin and we choose to sin! Only Jesus can rescue you. You must believe Jesus can do it and then you must want Him to forgive your sins. I encourage you to read “Searching For God” to learn more.

Suggested Links:

Jesus - our eternal High Priest
Once for all