The children of Israel have "exited" Egypt and are wandering in the wilderness. The Lord has freed them from the bondage of Pharaoh, now He wants them for Himself.
After giving Moses the Commandments defining sin, He speaks again to him explaining how He wants the people to honor and worship Him and how we can receive atonement for said sins.
Because He is holy, God requires His people to be holy. How do we become holy or, "set aside for His purpose?" By honoring Him with the best of what we have to offer. Before we can enter into His presence, we must bring an offering that is worthy our almighty God. The burnt offering is the first of five mentioned offerings; a voluntary offering of one's choicest, unblemished first fruits to be slain and bled as a gift to God.
If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord. Leviticus 1:3
1. The offering must be selected by the worshipper according to God's standard.
The Lord makes it clear. Give me something of worth, something you hold of value. I want what is of value to you because I am worth much more. Show Me how much you love Me by sacrificing the best of what you own; offering Me the best of what you have. In earlier times, the shedding of blood was prescribed because "life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is blood that makes atonement for the soul."
A person's most prized possession would have been, save for his wife, a shiny, brand new, expensive looking male cow, lamb or goat. For the starving college student, turtledoves or pigeons would suffice. But remember, livestock was the gold standard of the day and God expected you to come with your best or don't come at all.
With the new covenant, Jesus shed His own blood as the ultimate sacrifice for sin. He paid the with the purest blood of all that we would be forgiven and in His death, the veil dividing the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies was torn that we'd have direct access to the Father.
2. The offering sacrificed requires the worshipper's full participation.
With your selection made, you and Rocco the shiny, male cow leave camp and amble the dusty road to the entrance of the Tabernacle. Goodbyes are said and now you take to task of killing him before the Lord. You will skin the animal and cut him into pieces. You'll wash the mud and feces from its legs and its entrails. Those are the gooey innards of your sacrifice. The priest sprinkles the blood around the altar then burns the whole sacrifice upon it.
The emphasis here is that we take part in the sacrifice. God wants us to be every bit a part of our reconciliation to Him. We may think that by going to church on Sunday and dropping a little scratch in the offering will keep God at bay, but au contraire! The Lord wants our hearts and our minds and our gifts and our talents AND our first fruits as an acceptable offering to Him.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2
He is either everything to us or nothing. When we come to worship Him, we are saying "I love You. I adore everything about You, Lord." In proclaiming Him King in our life, we are also saying, "everything I have is Yours."
3. The offering must be given spontaneously when led by the Spirit.
The burnt offering, being voluntary, was a way for a person to show their love for God without being under the guilt of sin. God wants us to love Him because we want to; not for fear of death. We had nothing to give Him to atone for our sins in the first place, except that which He gave us His own Son Jesus.
And it's in Him we have life and joy and peace and forgiveness. How much more blessed our lives can be when we give less to the world and more to Him.