Jesus’ death provided forgiveness, or remission, for our sins. The remission of our sins, however, involves much more than the cancellation of the penalty for our transgression of the covenant. It involves other elements as important. That is why the Israelite sacrificial system had five different kinds of sacrifices. Each was necessary to express the richness of the meaning of the cross of Christ.
Read Ephesians 3:14-19. What was the prayer request of Paul in behalf of believers?
The holocaust offering (or burnt offering) required that the whole animal be consumed on the altar (Leviticus 1:1-17). It represented Jesus, whose life was consumed for us. Expiation required Jesus’ total commitment to us. Even though He was equal with God, Jesus “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:5-8, ESV).
The grain offering was a gift of gratitude for God’s provision of sustenance for His people (Leviticus 2:1-16). It also represents Jesus, “the bread of life” (John 6:35, John 6:48), through whom we have eternal life.
The peace or fellowship offering implied a communal meal with friends and family to celebrate the well-being provided by God (Leviticus 3:1-17). It represented Christ, whose sacrifice provided peace for us (Isaiah 53:5, Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:14). It also emphasizes that we need to participate in Jesus’ sacrifice by eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood (John 6:51-56).
The sin or purification offering provided expiation for sins (Leviticus 4:1-5:13). This sacrifice emphasized the role of the blood of the animal — which represented its life — to provide redemption from sins (Leviticus 17:11) and pointed forward to the blood of Jesus who redeems us from our sins (Matthew 26:28, Romans 3:25, Hebrews 9:14).
The guilt or reparation offering (Leviticus 5:14-6:7) provided forgiveness in cases where reparation or restitution was possible. It tells us that God’s forgiveness does not free us from the responsibility to provide reparation or restitution, where possible, to those whom we have wronged.
The sanctuary sacrifices teach us that the experience of salvation is more than just accepting Jesus as our Substitute. We also need to “feed” on Him, share His benefits with others, and provide reparation to those whom we have wronged.