This is the first of the non-sweet savor offerings. The 2 non-sweet offerings are the Sin Offering and the Trespass Offering. The sin offering speaks of the sin as a nature. The trespass offering speaks of sin as an act.
It is the longest account of any offering since it is twice as long as any of the other 4. The burnt offering was 17 verses; the meal offering, 16 verses; the peace offering, 17 verses; the trespass offering, 19 verses; the sin offering, 35 verses. Evidently the Spirit of God thought this was very important.
The burnt offering was a voluntary offering; the sin offering was commanded. The burnt offering ascended; the sin offering was poured out. The one went up and the other went down.
The sin offering had to be brought to the lord no matter who the sinner was, and the higher the sinner’s position in the nation, the more expensive the sacrifice. The greater the privilege, the greater the responsibility and the consequences. If the priest sinned, he had to bring a young bullock (Leviticus 4:1-12). If the whole congregation sinned, they also brought a bullock (vs.13-22). A ruler brought a male kid of the goats (vs.22-26), while one of the “common people” (“a member of the community,”) brought a female kid of the goats or a female lamb (vs.27-35). A poor person could bring a dove or a pigeon, and a very poor person could bring a non-bloody sacrifice of fine flour ( Leviticus 5:7-13).
Whatever animal was brought, the offender had to identify with the sacrifice by laying hands on it. When the whole nation sinned, it was the elders, they were responsible before God to over see the spiritual life of the people. The animal was slain, and the blood presented to God. In the case of the high priest and the nation, some of the blood was sprinkled before the veil and applied to the horns of the altar of incense in the holy place, and the rest was poured out at the base of the altar. This reminded the nation that the sins of the leaders had far greater consequences. The blood of the sacrifices brought by the leaders or the common people was applied to the horns of the brazen altar at the door of the tabernacle.
Note that while the fat of the sacrifice was burned on the altar, the body of the sacrifice was burned in a clean place outside the camp (vs. 8-12,21). Why? For one thing, it made a distinction between the sin offering and the burnt offering so that the worshippers wouldn’t be confused as they watched. But even more, it reminded the people that the sins of the high priest and the whole congregation would pollute the whole camp; and the sin offering was too holy to remain in an unholy camp. The of this ritual was forgiveness (Leviticus 4:20,26,31,35, Leviticus 5:10,13, Leviticus 6:7).
As mentioned before, even though the sacrifice of animals can’t take away sin or change the human heart, the sacrifices pointed to the perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:1-15).
He is our sin offering (Isaiah 53:4-6, 12, Matthew 26:28, 2 Corinthians 5:21 1 Peter 2:24). This offering foreshadowed our forgiveness through Christ’s blood (Hebrews 9:12-14, 1 John 1:9). The larger part of the offering was burned outside the camp, reminding us that the Lord suffered outside the gate (Hebrews 13:12).