The Burnt Offering
The primary laws regulating the burnt offering are found in Leviticus 1, but what I want to point out in particular is found in verse 3.
If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord.
The burnt offering was a free will offering—one people made because they wanted to, not because they had to. It was intended as a high praise and signified the full consecration to God of the individual offering it. The one making the offering would place his hands on the head of the sacrificial animal in consecration to God. “As I give this animal wholly to You,” he was saying, “so I wholly consecrate myself to You.”
8 And the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order upon the wood that is on the fire which is upon the altar:
9 But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.
Though the blood of the burnt offering was placed on the altar, the actual focal point of this sacrifice was its entire consummation by the flames of the altar. These flames were originally ignited by God and signified the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. The consecrated gift was transformed by the holy fire of God and rose to the Lord as a “sweet savor.”
“A sweet savor unto the Lord” is the hallmark language of the burnt and peace offerings. I believe it is only used one time with regard to the sin offering. When we consecrate our lives to God, when we decide to walk a sanctified walk, it is a well-pleasing aroma to Him. Our life ceases to have the repugnant stench of the unclean about it. Instead, it becomes a perfume He is pleased to inhale.
The Peace Offering
The primary laws regulating the peace offering are found in Leviticus 3. It is a food offering made by fire unto the Lord (verses 11 and 16). The focal point of this sacrifice was the fellowship meal that concluded it. In the sin sacrifice we had confession. In the burnt offering we had consecration. Now, in the peace offering, we can enjoy communion with God and one another.
Have you ever noticed that when your conscience is bothering you it is hard to fellowship with other believers or to press into the presence of God? The guilt of our sin causes us to close off and pull away. This is the deadly poison of the devil. Godly sorrow leads to repentance. This is the type of sorrow over sin that prods us to the Father’s presence to seek His pardon. It works salvation (wholeness) in our lives because in addition to asking for forgiveness for our sins, we actually turn away from them. The devil wants us to get stuck in worldly sorrow, a sorrow over sin that moves from regret for being caught to self-pity for having committed the crime. In such a state, we are seldom prone to turn to the forgiving grace of God and get covered in the blood! Pleading the blood is our only out. He spent His life because He knew we couldn’t afford to be captives to sin!
The peace or fellowship offering was the ultimate ceremony that signified to the Old Testament saints that they were no longer stuck in sin and ostracized from the covenant community. In the culmination of the peace offering, they literally feasted with God. As the choice parts ascended to Jehovah in the smoke of the altar, the one offering the sacrifice and his friends and family enjoyed their portion with great thanksgiving. Feasting has been God’s sign of fellowship with man since He planted the garden. When an Israelite ate the peace offering, he knew that all was well between him and his Lord, between him and his brethren.
There were three types of peace offerings in the Old Covenant. These can be found in Leviticus 7:11-16. They are the thank offering, an offering in fulfillment of a vow, and a voluntary offering.
Having now laid the foundation of these three primary offerings from the Law, let us see how they were carried out.