In these readings, five different types of offerings are mentioned and it is easy for the modern reader to get them confused.
The burnt offering was a general offering for sin, seeking the forgiveness of God by giving God a gift. The whole of the offering was to be burned before the Lord. On the other hand, a sin offering was an effort to secure forgiveness for a particular sin or type of uncleanness. Only a part of that offering was burned on the altar. The rest was burned outside the camp of Israel. The grain offering often accompanied the burnt offering as a gift. The size of the grain offering depended on the size of the burnt offering and can be thought of as balancing the meal (meat and grain) offered to the Lord. The fellowship offering (sometimes called the “peace offering” was given to symbolize fellowship between God and His people and is the only meat offering that could be eaten by all the people.
The guilt offering and the “sin” offering are difficult to distinguish, but perhaps the following will be helpful: The guilt offering was made to cleanse the sinner guilty of desecrating some holy thing. The sin offering was to secure forgiveness for acting in an unholy way.
Leviticus 1 – 5 consists of directions given to the people regarding what sacrifice to make, how they were to make it, and why. Chapters 6 – 7 contains instructions for the priests, giving them direction on their role as priests when the Israelites come to make their offerings.
As I read these chapters, it occurs to me how very expensive, time-consuming, and exacting a relationship with God can be. Christians are not called on to offer these sacrifices today, but we should take no less seriously the nature of our relationship with God illustrated by these chapters.