OK, so the way I learned it went sort of like this: When a Jew sinned, he had to go to the Temple and offer a sacrifice to expiate his sin. Once Jesus came and died and rose again this was no longer necessary, all you had to do was repent, no animal sacrifice required. But you couldn’t JUST repent: first you had to believe Jesus died for you and then repent. I think. No, maybe you had to repent first, then believe that Jesus died for you. Well in any case, the whole point was that animal sacrifices were no longer necessary. There was no discussion. This is just how it was.
Sadly, I did not have the sense to ask questions. I was not taught how to ask questions, or how to think critically. Yet just a cursory review of the ministry of Yeshua instructs us that questions should be a basic foundation of our spiritual education.
Since animal sacrifice was forbidden anywhere but Jerusalem, maybe I would have raised the question about the mother of five, living in Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, who had a spat with her husband and said awful things to him. Did she have to find a babysitter for an extended period and make the three-day journey to Jerusalem to get herself right with the Most High? Or maybe the shepherd who had violated the Sabbath in some way: should he abandon his flocks and head to the Temple to deal with his spiritual health? But I did not even see these questions that were begging to be asked, I accepted what I was told and went on about my business.
Three of the five sacrifices outlined in Leviticus have nothing to do with sin: the Whole Burnt Offering , or olah, was the offering totally dedicated to God. Neither the priest officiating, nor the offerer received any part of this sacrifice, it was totally consumed on the altar. The person making this offering, depending on his position, could bring a bullock, or a sheep of the flock. These were expensive offerings! However, if you could not afford so much, but wanted to *give it all* to the LORD, you could bring turtledoves or pigeons.
The grain offering or minchah was a memorial as in *may I be remembered before Adonai*. This offering consisted of grain and oil and frankincense. But there is no mention of sin or repentance. Likewise with the next offering, the shelamim, or Peace offerings. These are voluntary, free-will offerings, gifts of the heart. Included with the shelamim offerings were the todah, or thank offerings. These were celebratory offerings, a portion burned on the altar, some eaten by the officiating priest and the rest consumed by the offerer and his family. Again, no mention of repentance, confession, or sin.
Finally, we come to the chatah, or sin offering. This was offered for sins of ignorance, sins that you didn’t realize that you had committed until it was brought to your attention. Different sacrifices were required if you were a priest, or a leader or ruler of the people, or if the entire community had committed a sin of ignorance, or if you were just the common man.
Lastly, Leviticus deals with the asham, or trespass offering. This particular offering was required in the case of a sin of ignorance in regards to the holy things of the LORD (for example, in the tithe), and it also required restitution be made, as determined by the priest. The asham was also offered for wilful sin, such as lying or swearing falsely, and again, the offering and restitution are required.
The other offerings outlined in Torah are the festal offerings, the tamid or daily offering, the Sabbath and new moon offerings, etc. The red heifer is also covered, though this was not an offering, per se, but was a prescription.
This is just an overview and I am sure there is much I have omitted and even more I just plain don’t know yet. Next time, I will try to start answering some of my own questions. Be patient with me, and we will grow along together!