Offerings brought under the Levitical sacrificial system:
1) burnt sacrifice (Lev 1:1-17)
Burnt sacrifice (or burnt offering) is olah in Hebrew, a rising up (as smoke) in worship. If you look in the lexicons written before World War II, the definition of olah is “a holocaust,” an ascending up in smoke. In other words, satan knows what is written in Torah and purposely put the Chosen People into the gas chambers to mock God and slap Him in His face.
The olah was a voluntary offering (Lev 1:3) brought by a man in right relation with God.
2) grain offering (Lev 2:1-16)
Grain offering is minchah in Hebrew, a gift or rest in worship. It was made with flour and prepared in various ways. While the olah was burned entirely on the altar, only a memorial portion of the minchah was burned on the altar, and the rest given to the priest.
The minchah was a voluntary offering brought by a man in right relation to God. I believe this because God’s paragraph divisions include the final paragraph of the law of the olah, Lev 1:14-17, as a weak paragraph included with all the paragraphs of the minchah (Lev 2:1-16).
3) peace offering (Lev 3:1-17)
Peace offering is in Hebrew, shelem, from the same root as shalom, peace, completeness, wholeness. The idea is that when YHVH adds blessing to or subtracts cursing from a man, to bring him to completion or wholeness, to bring him into shalom, he responds with a peace offering, a shelem; thus some Bibles translate shelem as a thank offering.
The shelem was a voluntary offering brought as a form of worship by a man in right relation with God.
Notice that Lev chapters 1-3 are all part of the same speech: Lev 1:1 begins with the LORD speaking to Moses, saying: and then the law for the burnt offering or olah, the grain offering or minchah, and the peace offering or shelem, follows. In Lev 4:1, the LORD begins a new speech. It is because the offerings which follow in a new class of offering.
4) sin offering (Lev 4:1-35)
Sin offering is in Hebrew, chattath, and is from the root word for sin, “to miss the mark.” The picture the ancient pictographs are painting, is of an arrow being shot at a target, only the target is called the LORD’s commandments or Torah. If the target is missed, that is chata, sin. A chattath is brought when it is discovered that a chata has occurred.
The chattath was a mandatory offering brought by a man who is not in right relation with God, because of sin. A man in this state cannot bring an olah, minchah, or shelem. He must first bring a chattath to restore his relationship with God, then he may bring voluntary offerings again.
Please notice that a common theme of the law of the sin offering is that it is provided to restore a man after an unintentional, not malicious or willful, sin; and when the priest offers the sin offering, “the priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them,” (Lev 4: 20, 4:26, 4:35).
The Law or Torah was given to God’s people who had lived their whole lives in pagan Egypt. It not only taught His people brought out of paganism and ignorance, who YHVH is, what righteousness and sin is, what justice looks like, but also provided for mercy (as in the law of the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat) and forgiveness (as in the law of the sin offering) when that righteousness and that justice was transgressed. Is the God of the Old Testament the vengeful and wrathful God while the God of the New Testament is the loving and forgiving God? That is not what Scripture is teaching us!
For further study: Find the similarities and differences among the different kinds of offerings. What is the commonality and contrast teaching us?
Finding Messiah: Three times in Lev chapter 4, the chapter giving the law of the sin offering, the priest who offers the sacrifice is called the anointed priest. The priest who offers the burnt offering or olah is not called the anointed priest. The priest who offers the grain offering or minchah is not called the anointed priest. The priest who offers the peace offering or shelem is not called the anointed priest.
This break in pattern draws our attention, and, that it occurs three times, three being a sign of the Messiah, also draws our attention. The Hebrew word for “Messiah” means “anointed.” Torah is prophesying that when the one who is anointed — Messiah — makes atonement for sin, sin shall be forgiven them. Yippee!