In the Bible, there are many different sacrificial offerings (Leviticus 1-5) which were to be performed in the Tabernacle/Temple.

  1. Burnt Offering
  2. Sin Offering
  3. Meat offering or Drink Offering
  4. Trespass offering.
  5. Peace Offering.

I know that all of the sacrifices prescribed by the Mosaic Law were all pointing to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, but why were there so many different kinds of offerings and different steps for the priests to perform in each service?

For example, in burnt offerings, the blood was not to be taken inside the sanctuary. Conversely, in sin offerings, the blood was to taken inside.

Is there anywhere in the Bible where it explains the meaning behind each of the sacrifices and the symbolism behind the ways in which they were to be performed? Short of Biblical evidence, are there any historical, or even modern-day explanations for these various rituals? Is there any kind of scholarly consensus about what the rituals meant, especially in the light of Christ's final sacrifice?

  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is about the motivations of God.
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  • @selva Perhaps better asked here Mi Yodeya?
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    Dec 2, 2014 at 19:02

2 Answers 2


Short answer: Yes

Long(er) answer: Yes, there are symbols in each of them. Some of them we may not understand anymore today, some we maybe understand better than the people at the time. Note how most of the symbols are not explicitely explained. It is left to the participant to find spiritual meaning with the help of personal revelation (And so are we, for the most part).

One reason to have multiple rituals is that each represents different things. Without analyzing every ritual, which I am neither capable of, nor have the time to do, here are a few things that I see in different rituals:

  1. Sacrifice to show God devotion, and thankfulness, to give back, etc.
  2. Sacrifice meant to cleanse from sin, symbolizing many things, the repentance of the sinner, God's mercy, the atonement (to name a few)
  3. Sacrifice shows that in reality, everything belongs to God (related to 1)

As you see, there are many meanings, some of which are not even meant to be understood with the intellect, but are to be felt with the heart. Some of the meanings we can decipher (and I hope a different answer will do that), but to think we "got it all" would be to diminuish the temple service in a way that keeps us from a lot of its intended meaning. It is intentional that the meaning is not explained in full depth.

(Sorry if that is not really an answer as you sought)

  • Hi #kutschkem though it was not the answer, yet i would consider this as a good read. As you said 'but to think we "got it all" would be to diminuish the temple service' yes its true GOD's thought cant be understood i understand what you are trying to say. Yet i will try in the principle in Deut. 29:29-"the things revealed belong to us " Thanks for the reply Kutschkem :)
    – selva
    Dec 2, 2014 at 9:47

The Bible can be looked at as God’s lesson plan for humanity. And just like all lesson plans it is designed so that it is progressive and begins with simple things then works its way up to the more complicated things.

  1. Genesis through Deuteronomy somewhat compares to Primary education. In that it teaches you the essentials. Just as primary education teaches you the basics of learning to read and write, the Pentateuch teaches you the basics of who God is and how he should be worshiped.

  2. Joshua through Song of Solomon somewhat compares to intermediate school. In that it teaches you how to take the essentials and apply them to serving God.

  3. The remainder of the Old Testament Isaiah through Malachi somewhat compares to High School. In that it teaches you the background of what you have learned, and how to apply it in a general form.

  4. And finally the New Testament somewhat compares to Higher education. In that it is a refinement of all let you have previously learned, that giving you the why, and wherefore, and how to apply what you have learned to your life.

Now that we have covered the basics let us take a look at the book of Leviticus and determine exactly what we are supposed to learn from that book. just as in first grade you learned ABC's and the numbers, after that you learned how to make words and finally how to make sentences.

Just as first grade taught us our ABC's and numbers so Genesis taught us the basics of who God is and his relationship to man. Leviticus thing is equal to the part where we learned him make sentences and how to use what we learned in first grade. Now that we have mastered who God is in the book of Genesis, we are taught in Leviticus how to worship God.

The book of Exodus in some ways reflects early childhood in that after a child is born he must learn how to walk and talk. So with the nation of Israel, God had taken them from slavery and was now teaching them how to survive in the world. But the nation of Israel had not learned to completely depend upon God, when as the spies returned from looking at the promised land, they were afraid of the people that are and did not fully put their faith in God to give them the promised land.

So now we get to the book of Leviticus the main thing in the book, which God is teaching Israel is that there is no forgive this of sin without blood sacrifice. In answer to your question, God was having Israel repeat part of what they should have learned in Genesis. Apparently the reason that God had them make some sort of atonement for each and everything given them by God was necessary to their understanding that God was in control of everything. And just as God had used animal sacrifice in Genesis to show Adam and Eve required death because of sin, so he used animal sacrifices to take the Israelites the same message. Just as the teacher in primary schools re-emphasize or place greater emphasis in assuring that we learn everything completely, so was God teaching Israel that every sin required a blood sacrifice. And just as any good teacher will take the time to repeat something as often as necessary so God was repeating the lessons that Adam and Eve did not seem to pass on about God using animal skins to cover their naked bodies, and those skins represented the sacrifice of life.

I hope this helps.

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