The Sacrificial Animals of Leviticus 


Typology contents




This simple study  will illustrate how to go about finding lessons from types.


A. Introduction 

 Read Lev. Ch.1. notice the following verses:  vv 3,5,10,14.   It will be noted that in the burnt offering several different types of animals could be used. We know that the sacrificial system  pointed to the Lord Jesus, so the question arises: what does the use of each of these animals teach us about the Lord? The basic idea is to find what the Bible has to say about these animals and then see how it  applies it to Jesus ( If it does - remember, do not force meanings where there is none!)

To find the typical meanings we will find  other verses in scripture that refer to that animal and see what we can learn.



B. The Animals

Cattle    sheep   goat   dove   pigeon



1.  The Bullock/ox/ cattle:   the Hebrew word indicates any.

  • The following verse shows that cattle were used as beasts of service.  
Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together
Dt. 22:10


  Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.
Dt. 25:4


I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God.
Jer. 31:18


  • These scriptures show that cattle were used   for  plowing and treading the corn, that is as beasts of SERVICE. Having established that point we now seek NT scriptures to see how this  corresponds to Jesus.
  • Consider these NT scriptures
 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
  For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Mk. 10:44-45

Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.  And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;  Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;  He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
Jn. 13:1-5

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness (= 'the habit of') of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he  humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Phil. 2:5-8
  • The scriptures quoted show that Jesus was a servant, both the servant of God and men. Thus the cattle animals  typify Jesus as the Servant of God  and of us all.  

2. Sheep/Lamb/ flock

  • In scripture a picture of one who follows and is meek/humble,  following someone.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Isa. 53:6-7

 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgement is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
Jn. 5:30

For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.  And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

Jn. 6:38-39

  Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.  Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;  Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

 Heb.10:7-8;

  The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

 Jn.1:29.
  • We see that  Jesus the Lamb  is the one who bore our sin. See the section  Jesus the Lamb


3. Goats

  • Goats were used on the day of Atonement and mentioned  by the Lord in the parable of the sheep and goats.

And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat:   And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, puttingthem upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

Lev. 16:20-22

 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:   And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation   of the world:  For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:  Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:  For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.  Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.  And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Mtt. 25:  31-46

  • In the parable the goats are seen as the unrighteous ones, and in Leviticus as the one who took on itself the sin of  the nation on the day of Atonement.
  • We can conclude that goats typify Jesus as being the one who became sin for us, in comparison to sheep which  typify Jesus as the one who bore our sin. As the following scriptures show:
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

Rom. 8:3

  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Cor. 5:21



4. The dove 



Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;   But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark;  And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.  And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more.

Gen.8:8-9


 Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O LORD, I am oppressed; undertake for me.

Isa.38:14
 

 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Mtt.10:16




The three scriptures above  show that the dove is associated with: rest, mourning and  being harmless. Now consider the following passages with reference to Jesus

 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.  For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus  ( ie JOSHUA) had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Heb. 4
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Isa. 53:3-5

  For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

Heb.7:26



Jesus  is  our 'Joshua' who has gone before to give us the perfect rest, notice that Noah and the others were coming into a 'new creation' after the flood.  Jesus is the man of sorrows who was smitten of God for our sakes. Finally Jesus is the harmless one,  which once more is linked to Him being our Great High Priest.


5. Pigeon


And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin. And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the LORD; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering.

Lev.5:6-7


 And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

Lev.12:8

The above scriptures show that pigeons are associated with poverty, and this brings to mind the scriptures concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

II Cor.8:9



C. Summary 


We see then that the animals used show the following  truths of our Lord Jesus Christ:
  • He was the servant of both  God and men.
  • He both bore  sin for us.
  • He became sin for us.
  • He is the man of sorrows.
  • He is the harmless one.
  • He is our heavenly Joshua.
  • He became poor for our sakes.

This is not exhaustive by any mean, so a few suggestions for further study:

  • How did the priests prepare the animals for sacrifice, and what aspect of Jesus do you think this shows?
  •  Why were some animals used and not others, eg why wasn't a horse allowed?