Leviticus four brings us to the sin offerings. People who sin unknowingly or unintentionally make these offerings. They are sacrifices for specific sins. These sins may be due to oversight or lack of understanding. For example, you tell the truth (Exodus 20:16); but you state your case unkindly (1 Corinthians 13:4). You also express hatred for your adversary and call him a fool (Matthew 5:22). You subsequently realize your sin.
When David sinned with Bathsheba and had Uriah murdered, he sinned intentionally. The penalty for both these sins was death (Deuteronomy 22:22, Numbers 35:17). No sin offering sufficed. David could only cast himself on the mercy of God. Here the sins are less flagrant. Yet the worshiper must acknowledge them, repent of them, and seek God’s forgiveness. Worshipers do this through sin offerings.
Like the burnt offerings, the worshiper lays his hands on the head of the sacrifice confessing his sin. Thus he symbolically transfers his sin to the sacrifice (Leviticus 4:4). Then, “the priest shall put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the LORD” (Leviticus 4:7). Much like the peace offerings, the priest also places the fat portions and volatile internal organs on the altar of burnt offering (Leviticus 4:8-10).
“But the hide of the bull and all its flesh with its head and its legs and its entrails and its refuse, that is, all the rest of the bull, he is to bring out to a clean place outside the camp where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire; where the ashes are poured out it shall be burned” (Leviticus 4:11-12).
There are clear connections with Christ. “The bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate” (Hebrews 13:11-12). The sin offering speaks about Christ.
In Psalm 141:2, David cries out to God, “May my prayer be counted as incense before You.” David is a type of Christ. The incense on this altar is prayer. Specifically, the incense pictures the prayers of Christ. Revelation 8:3-4 gives us further guidance. “Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand.”
Christ therefore adds His prayers to those of the saints and presents them before the Father in perfection. Augustine likened this to a young child bringing a disheveled bouquet to his father. Mom intervenes and arranges the bouquet making it beautiful and acceptable to the father. So Christ makes our prayers acceptable to the Father in heaven. He does so on the basis of His sacrifice outside the gate.
All this points to Christ, your advocate. “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). You regularly sin in thought, word, and deed. You should flee to Christ and present your sin offerings. That is, you should seek God’s forgiveness. Remember, Christ represents you before the Father. Because of His sacrifice outside the gate, God the Father accepts your prayers and grants you forgiveness. Hallelujah.