Leviticus 1: The Burnt Offering

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 56–57

The Apostle Paul taught that the law of Moses was a “schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” (Galatians 3:24). In other words, the purpose of the law of Moses was to help the Israelites focus their attention on principles that would point them to Jesus Christ (see Jacob 4:4–5; Jarom 1:11; Alma 34:13–14). The law of Moses was very strict and required many specific performances designed to help the children of Israel continually remember God and their duty toward Him. For example, killing an animal as a sacrifice for sin reminded an individual that the consequences of sin are “deadly.” On the other hand, the innocent animal who died in the place of the person who sinned also served as a symbol of what would occur when the sinless Savior would come to earth and have His blood shed for us, saving us from sin.Leviticus 1 gives instructions for a burnt offering. The priests made this offering twice a day. Individuals could also make a burnt offering to show their devotion and commitment to God. Many of the instructions concerning the burnt offering are the same as for other offerings explained in Leviticus. The biggest difference between the burnt offering and other offerings is that to make a burnt offering the entire animal was burned on the altar, symbolizing total commitment or surrender to God.As you read, think about different ways the burnt offering can teach us about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how it reminded the Israelites of their duty to God.

Understanding the Scriptures

Leviticus 1

Blemish (vv. 3, 10)Mark or imperfection of any kind 
Flay (v. 6)Skin 
Wrung (v. 15)Drained 
Crop (v. 16)Stomach 
Cleave it (v. 17)Cut it open 
Divide it asunder (v. 17)Cut it completely in half 

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A as you study Leviticus 1.

Activity A iconFind the Symbols of Repentance

Highlight the specific requirements of the burnt offering found in Leviticus 1:1–9 that are listed in the following chart. Make the chart in your notebook and explain what each element of the burnt offering teaches us about repentance through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.


What You Learn about Repentance or Jesus Christ’s Atonement

You must make “your offering” (Leviticus 1:2), meaning you can’t offer something that belongs to someone else.

You must offer an animal that is a “male without blemish” (v. 3).

You must make the offering of your “own voluntary will” (v. 3).

You must first bring your offering to “the door of the tabernacle,” which tabernacle represents the place where God dwells (v. 3).

You must put your hand on the head of the sacrificial animal and then kill it yourself (see vv. 4–5).

You must “flay,” or skin, the offering (v. 6).

The priests lay the “head,” “fat,” “inward” organs, and the “legs” on the altar (vv. 8–9).

The sacrifice is completely burned by the fire (see v. 9).

Leviticus 1:8–9 speaks of offering various parts of the animal’s body. The head represents our thoughts. The legs represent our walk, or the direction we are going. The “inwards” represent our feelings, desires, and motivations. The fat represents our strength and health. What is symbolized by the events in verses 8–9? (see also D&C 59:5).