1 The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock. 3 “If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord. 4 He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. 5 Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 6 Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, 7 and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. 8 And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; 9 but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
-Reading this carefully, it says the individual who is making the offering has to be the one to bring the livestock, lay his hands on it, kill it, and flay it into pieces. The priests throw the blood and arrange wood on the fire as well as the pieces on the altar. The individual washes the entrails and legs and then the priests burn it. There is a lot that an individual has to do and it really is a team effort between the man making the offering and the priests. This is very symbolic to our relationship with Christ. He will help you, but you have to humble yourself, you have to take the time and effort to pray to Him and accept His sacrifice, and you have to show Him you mean it by the way you live your life. Jesus of course handles the actual salvation alone, but you still have to do things. Forgiveness of sins is grace but it is not unconditional. We are all unconditionally loved but not unconditionally forgiven. It takes two to have a relationship and it is no different with God.
-To the sacrifice itself, a burnt offering is an offering of dedication. This is similar to us whenever we notice a pattern of sin and will “rededicate” our lives or humble ourselves and realize that we have not been as “good” as we could have been. I will not list all the times a burnt offering is necessary because we will cover them throughout Leviticus and Numbers but the general idea is it is a way of telling God you want to be close to Him. All the parts of the animal are burnt and it is described as “a food offering” to God. Obviously, God doesn’t “eat” but the idea is that symbolically we are giving all of ourselves. So whenever we have been giving some of ourselves to something else, we need to catch ourselves and realize we have to give everything to God.
10 “If his gift for a burnt offering is from the flock, from the sheep or goats, he shall bring a male without blemish, 11 and he shall kill it on the north side of the altar before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. 12 And he shall cut it into pieces, with its head and its fat, and the priest shall arrange them on the wood that is on the fire on the altar, 13 but the entrails and the legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall offer all of it and burn it on the altar; it is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 14 “If his offering to the Lord is a burnt offering of birds, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves or pigeons. 15 And the priest shall bring it to the altar and wring off its head and burn it on the altar. Its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. 16 He shall remove its crop with its contents and cast it beside the altar on the east side, in the place for ashes. 17 He shall tear it open by its wings, but shall not sever it completely. And the priest shall burn it on the altar, on the wood that is on the fire. It is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
-Whether a bull, creature from the flock (sheep or goat), or birds (turtledove or pigeon) had to do with how poor you were. Not everyone could afford a bull and God accounts for that and does not hold against you if you cannot afford the largest sacrifice. He does however demand quality because it must always be a male without blemish. God is interested in us giving completely to him and as mentioned above, it is the whole point of the sacrifice. If a poor family can just barely afford a pigeon to sacrifice without starving, that says more to God than a rich family who sacrifices a bull every day voluntarily but still has plenty to eat. It is just like what Jesus said about the woman who gave just two small copper coins to the offering box in Mark 12:44, “For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on”.