Monday: Laying on of Hands

Read Leviticus 4:27–31. What ritual activities were performed along with the sacrifice?

Image © Darrel Tank from

Image © Darrel Tank from

The goal of the offering was to remove sin and guilt from the sinner, to transfer responsibility to the sanctuary, and to let the sinner leave forgiven and cleansed. (In extremely rare cases one could bring a certain amount of fine flour as a purification offering, and although this purification offering was bloodless, it was understood that “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” [Heb. 9:22, NASB]).

The ritual itself included the laying on of hands, the death of the animal, blood manipulation, the burning of fat, and the eating of the animal’s flesh. The sinner who brought the offering was granted forgiveness, but only after the blood ritual.

A crucial part of this process involved the laying on of hands (Lev. 1:4, 4:4, 16:21). This was done so that the offering “may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf” (Lev. 1:4, NASB). The offering applied only for the one who put his hands on the animal’s head. According to Leviticus 16:21, the laying on of hands would be accompanied by a confession of sin; this would acknowledge the transfer of sin from the sinner to the innocent animal.

The slaughter was, of course, basic to any animal offering. After the animal was killed, the spilled blood was used to make atonement on the altar (Lev. 17:11). Because the sins had been transferred to the animal by the laying on of hands, we should understand the death of the animal as a substitutionary death. The animal died in the place of the sinner. This may explain why the act of killing the animal had to be performed by the sinner, by the guilty one, and not by the priest.

Next time you are tempted to sin, envision Jesus dying on the cross and see yourself putting your hands on His head and confessing your sins over Him. How might this concept, played out in your mind, help you to understand just what it cost in order to be forgiven? How could this idea help you to resist succumbing to that temptation?



Monday: Laying on of Hands — 17 Comments

  1. So great was the power of the blood from the under rated animal like the goat,that its blood like the best soap in this world washes clean me and my sins to glory,so the laying of hands atone me and my sins,how good was Christ a Nazarite, come for me so great that when I think of him in Calvary Glory be to God

  2. Now that I see this whole idea of Christ on the cross as me literally taking a knife and cutting him open and not the Romans it opens my eyes to the actual sinfulness of sin!!
    Hey, but our God is merciful!

  3. Amazing grace!! Lord help us to understand Your love for us,help us to picture the humilation You went through for our salvation.Change of attitude is of great importance.

  4. Indeed the laying on of hands on an innocent animal is evidence enough that when we sin we are supposed to die (Romans 3;23). That sinner were forgiven after transferring their sins to an innocent animal was a prefiguration of the death of Christ on Calvary. In essence, we daily lay hands on him when we sin to avoid death in sin. The transference of sin to the innocent animal is in itself equivalent to the transference of sinners' guilty and sin from the sinner to the sin pardoning Saviour who gave His life for a ransome. He is merciful for real. Thank you Saviour.

  5. The closer that I come to Jesus and the more I concentrate on His Love, the more I love Him. If I also focus on just what my sin does to this One I love, the more horrifying it becomes. I do not want to cause Jesus any pain, let alone murder Him! God help me!

    He is able to take my punishment amd is strong enough to bear the cost. Still, I pray that His suffering for me will be turned to joy and that it will be effective. I pray He will help me keep following Him and His way so that I will be a child that will bring Him much gladness.

  6. [Moderator's Note: Please use full names when commenting.]

    can you emagine yourself nailing Jesus again on the cross, by your continued indulging in sins? He died for our sins and what are we doing in response?

  7. I am thankful for Jesus the lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world and that he takes away the sins of the world.

  8. It's interesting that for an "unintentional sin" the offering was a female goat. The female offering reminds me of Adam and Eve. Eve, sinned after honestly being mislead by the serpent. While Adam sinned knowing from Eve's offer it was against what God had spoken. I wondered if Eve's sin is the first example of an "unintentional sin" and as such a female was to be offered.

    God at times not only gives us instructions but examples of what He's talking about so we can understand Him a little better and abide by His will more appropriately.

    I was also moved by the instructions that the sinner must slay the innocent sacrifice. It becomes personal when I have to slay the young perfect little goat or lamb. I realize it wasn't just "those people" who killed Jesus the sinless sacrifice, it was me. My own sins whether intentional or unintentional cost the life of God. In His grace and mercy He made an escape not just for "those people" but for me.

  9. While studying the lesson, i made the following observation. The transference of sin from the sinner to the innocent animal was two pronged. The sinner had to have pity for the innocent animal that was dying instead of the sinner while at the same time acknowledging one's guilty over the sin. In the same realm, we have to acknowledge that we are destined to die for our sins but because Jesus has done it for us, we have to have pity for ourselves and for causing all the pain and suffering on the innocent and guiltless Saviour. To come to terms with it is to acknowledge the existence of a special relationship between man and God. He paid it all through his only begotten son.

  10. In the modern western world, preparation of meat foods typically begins by buying packed meat from a supermarket - no blood, no transition from life to death, just sterile packages of meat. In the ancient world, when meat was on the menu, the first instruction of the recipe was, "kill the animal". Even when I was a child, growing up on a farm, most of our neighbors butchered their own animals to supply their family meat requirements. The rooster had its head chopped off before it was dressed and became chicken on the menu. I mention this because we have become so protected in our modern living that we sometimes forget that for most of history, people have been much more aware of the need to kill animals for food.

    I am not dismissing the cost of sin but I think we should see the sacrifical system in the light of how people would have thought about animal killing in their culture.

    There is another aspect that should also be considered. Not all of the animal was burned. Some of it was eaten. It has been suggested that the temple had an atmosphere a bit like a barbeque. Perhaps there may have even been some celebration over sins forgiven. This would make sense of some of those passages describing the sacrifice of thousands of animals at the opening of Solomon's Temple.

    I am not suggesting that we ignore the enormous cost of sin, but I think there is sufficient evidence to suggest that forgiveness should lead to the celebration of freedom from guilt and the opportunity for a new beginning.

    • Maurice, that is a very interesting way of looking at sacrifices in ancient times. I have read that at Passover time in Jerusalem during the first century when the city swelled to over a million people the number of sacrifices that were made literally turned some of the local stream beds into streams of blood. Because of that and what you said concerning meat for the table I wonder if the sacrifices didn’t become all too common where their significance was all but totally lost every bit as much as it is for us today.

      For Adam and Eve the extreme opposite was true since many of the animals to them were friends and pets. I think if we had to kill a beloved family pet because of our sin in some cases the lesson would be driven home with such a force that we wouldn’t forget it for the rest of our lives. I say “some” because sin has the tendency to deaden our sense of attachment and value of life.

    • Maurice, I have often made the connection of holding a barbecue to the thought of the animal sacrifices in the temple. Some of the same implements are present: the fire, the flesh of the animal, the people milling about until the flesh is cooked. The unfortunate part, as you alluded in your message, is that no one goes through the process of killing the animal before it is cooked and eaten.

      I've met many Americans who refuse to give up their flesh foods because they are addicted to the taste. They gleefully claim that Adventists are "missing out" when we choose not to eat meat. I believe they are the ones who are missing out. The act of eating flesh foods, cooked on a barbeque, without going through the sacrificial process of killing the animal and dressing it removes one from the ugliness of sin. Such practice allows the people to sink down further into their animal instincts becoming more animalistic; unaware of the great cost and sacrifice that sin has exacted upon this world.

      It has been said that people who kill animals for sport (or profit) will also kill humans for sport or profit. By partaking of the flesh food without the sacrificial system that renders the flesh as food, we become partakers with those who would kill for sport. Is it any wonder that we are living in the era of many holocausts and an ever growing number of mass shooters killing 5, 10, 15, 20+ persons in one act of madness?

  11. This 'image' is really a vivid one. It really brings to our understanding the text which states that every time we sin we crucify Christ afresh. The suggestion was made by the late Roger Morneau in his book Incredible Answers to Prayer, that each day in our devotion we should read Matthew 27:24-54. This he suggested will keep the sacrifice our Lord made fresh in our minds.

  12. guys, help understand what those people who pray for others mean when they lay their hands or raise up their hands when praying.

  13. Thank you Lord for dying for me! You are The Lamb that takes away the sins of the world, this science of redemption is awesome, thank you Jesus!

  14. Sin demands that the sinner should die. Therefore,God provided the Animal to die in place of Man - a sinner.

    Could you help explain how the fine flour sacrifice represented Christ's sacfricial death?

  15. One thing that puzzles me is that no one consider that there are two purposes of the sacrifice. One obvious one is the removal of sin from the sinner - this is done by shedding and applying the blood. The second one is that the slaying of the "sinless" substitute should make us feel sorry for what we have done and that we actually have to kill to get rid of our sin. We should feel so sorry about this that we choose to never sin again. The purpose of the sanctuary service was not to bring so many sacrifices as possible but to give us a very real experience of what sin costs (being sorry) and on the other hand make us so happy that we got rid of sin that we never sin again. Go and sin no more....


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