The Way to God…Sacrifice Leviticus 1-10, cont’d.
Leviticus 1-7 Through the Offerings, cont’d.
Leviticus 4:1-5:13-the Sin Offering...for sin committed unintentionally
A sacrifice offered for unintentional sin. "Unintentional" means known sins committed out of weakness, or waywardness, or being unaware…in contrast to sins of presumption, those intentionally done in defiance of God. A partial list of unintentional sins is given in 5:1-4.
The “unintentional sin” stands in contradiction to the sin committed defiantly…
5:1-4 Three examples of sins requiring a sin offering are given. The first is that of withholding evidence when called upon to testify; a public adjuration to testify, i.e.; a summons to testify. Verses 2-3 give the case of accidental ceremonial defilement by contact with an unclean animal or man. The third example is that of being unable to fulfill a rash vow (v. 4).
The Ryrie Study Bible, Numbers 5L1-4 footnote, p. 164
15:30-31 No propitiatory offering, only judgment, awaited the one who sinned defiantly (lit., with a high hand; i.e., with a raised, clenched fist in defiance of God and His commands).
The Ryrie Study Bible, Numbers 15:30-31 footnote, p. 233
Unintentional sins and sins of omission were dealt with in the sin offering. These were sins people committed in ignorance of the Mosaic code or when they forgot those laws they had learned. Sins committed with a “high hand” were not covered (Numbers 15:22–31). A high-handed sin is one a professing believer commits boldly and defiantly, not caring about the consequences and feeling no guilt about it once committed. It is a sin people commit fearlessly as they shake their fists, literally or figuratively, at the Lord. A sin committed with a high hand is not always the same thing as an intentional sin — all high-handed sins are intentional but not all intentional sins are high-handed. The truly converted will not commit high-handed sins, though they may commit sins of intention, albeit only after and during a struggle against the flesh (Rom. 7:7–25).
That an intentional sin is not always a high-handed sin is seen in God’s willingness to forgive sins that were clearly intentional (2 Sam. 11–12). Only those who are unconverted may sin with a high hand, for a converted person will express sorrow and contrition after an intentional sin, thereby proving it was never high-handed in the first place. As we repent over sins both intentional and unintentional, we are assured that we belong to Jesus.
- Sin offering (chatta't; “purification” in REB). This was designed to deal with sin that was committed unintentionally. The sacrifice varied according to who committed the sin. If the priest or the congregation of Israel sinned, then a bull was required. A leader of the people had to bring a male goat, while anyone else sacrificed a female goat or a lamb. The poor were allowed to bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons. The one bringing the offering placed a hand on the animal and then slaughtered it. When the priest or the congregation sinned, the blood was sprinkled seven times before the veil in the sanctuary, and some of it was placed on the horns of the incense altar. The rest of the blood was poured out at the base of the sacrificial altar. For others who sinned, the sprinkling of the blood before the veil was omitted. The same internal organs that were designated for burning in the peace offering were likewise designated in this sacrifice. The rest of the animal was taken outside of the camp to the place where the ashes of the sacrifices were disposed, and there it was burned. These disposal procedures were not followed when the sin offering was made on behalf of a nonpriestly person (Leviticus 6:24-30 ). In this case, the priest was allowed to eat some of the meat.
For additional study of Intentional vs. unintentional sin see:
- This is an offering for Expiation…which is the acknowledgement of sin by a convicted sinner. It dealt with known sins committed out of weakness or waywardness, in contrast to sins of presumption done in defiance of God (cf. Numbers 15:30; Leviticus 5:1-4 has some examples).
- Compulsory…non-sweet savour
- It shows us Christ on the cross in the sinner’s place…our sin-bearer Jesus was the full and final sin offering (2 Corinthians 5:21). It portrays the Substitution of Christ for Sin
The sacrifice requires an animal. It is a propitiatory offering…meaning that the offerer is cleansed of his sin, and God’s judgment and wrath against the sin is satisfied, paid for. Notice that the place where the animal is to be killed changes and where the blood is sprinkled changes depending on whom the offering is for (who has sinned). This could be to show that those in more prominent positions of leadership have a greater responsibility, or are held to a higher standard. The result being that the more public their sin, the more public their repentance, the more public their forgiveness. Also, it is always necessary for the Priest to make the offering for the person who has sinned.
Leviticus 4:3-12-If a Priest sins the sacrifice had to be a bull. The priest was to "lay his hand on the head of the bull"...then he sprinkles some of the blood seven times in front of the veil of the sanctuary, some on the horns of the altar of incense, base of the altar of burnt offering; burn fat; hide and entrails burn outside the camp.
Leviticus 4:13-21-If the whole congregation (Israel as a people, nation) sins the sacrifice had to be a bull. The "elders...lay their hands on the head of the bull" (as representatives of Israel)..."before the tent of meeting"...then "they shall be forgiven" (:20).
Leviticus 4:22-26-If one of the leaders sins the sacrifice was to be a goat (male). The priest was to "slay it in the place where they slay the burnt offering". It would be "an atonement for sin for him in regard to his sin, and he shall be forgiven" (:26).
Leviticus 4:27-35-If a common person the sacrifice was to be a goat or lamb (female). It was to be sacrificed "at the place of the burnt offering". Then their sin would be "forgiven" (:35).
Leviticus 5:1-13-Three examples of unintentional sin are given here: 1.-withholding evidence; 2.-accidental ceremonial defilement by contact with an unclean animal or man; 3.-being unable to fulfill a rash vow. It required an animal sacrifice, either a lamb or a goat (female), two turtle doves or pigeons (one for a sin offering, one for a burnt offering), flour (if the person was too poor for an animal) with oil or incense (a sin offering). The offerer “shall confess that in which he has sinned" (:5)…and then he will be "forgiven" (:13).
Leviticus 5:14-6:7-the Trespass (Guilt) Offering...for restitution with someone that a person had sinned against
If a person suspected that he had unintentionally used something holy (dedicated to God) for himself, he was to bring a Trespass Offering in order for his possible guilt to be forgiven. Such holy things would include neglecting to pay a tithe, eating parts of the sacrifice that were reserved for the priests, failing to redeem the firstborn. This was a "guilt offering". Even though he may not have been aware of his sin…he is still guilty of it (5:17).
A Trespass Offering was also required when a person sinned against another person. This too was a guilt offering…since the person was guilty of sinning against his brother. "When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the LORD, and deceives his companion"...sin against another person is sin against God (:2).
- Guilt offering (asham , trespass in KJV; reparation in REB). This is hard to distinguish from the sin offering (Leviticus 4-5 ). In Leviticus 5:6-7, the guilt offering is called the sin offering. Both offerings also were made for similar types of sin. The guilt offering was concerned supremely with restitution. Someone who took something illegally was expected to repay it in full plus 20 percent of the value and then bring a ram for the guilt offering. Other instances in which the guilt offering was prescribed included the cleansing of a leper (Leviticus 14:1 ), having sexual relations with the female slave of another person (Leviticus 19:20-22 ), and for the renewing of a Nazirite vow that had been broken (Numbers 6:11-12 ).
- This is an offering for Restitution…when a person sins against another person.
- Compulsory…non-sweet savour.
- Christ has even taken care of our sins against each other (2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 2:1).
The sacrifice was to be a ram. It required restitution for what was done (equal to its value), plus 20% (a double tithe) was to be paid to the one person sinned against. He is to do this on the day that he presents his offering…in order to prevent someone from giving the sacrifice to God, but holding out on the person! (6:5; cf. Matthew 5:21-26). Then he will be "forgiven" (6:7).
Leviticus 5:17-19-If a person sins, but is unaware of having done it...it is still a sin, he is guilty, and will be punished...so, he must make a guilt offering. Then he will be “forgiven" (5:18).
Leviticus 6:1-7-Here is a list of examples of sins requiring a Trespass Offering for forgiveness.
Leviticus 6:8-30-Additional instructions concerning Offerings…
Leviticus 6:8-13-the Burnt Offering (add'l. instructions)
It is to stay on the fire all night...the fire on the altar is to be kept going all of the time.
Leviticus 6:14-23-the Grain Offering (add'l. instructions)
The Priests are to eat their portion in the tent of meeting…whatever was left over had to be burned.
Leviticus 6:24-30-the Sin Offering (add'l. instructions)
Thought: When someone sins against me I have to be careful to not place myself in the role of the judge. On the one hand, I am to judge, identify sin. However, on the other hand, I am not the judge...the one who sets the standard, who passes the sentence, who holds accountable, and who provides forgiveness...that is God's role. If I allow myself to assume the role of the judge...then I am likely to require restitution to me and often my requirement is not fair...and ultimately, I can only give my forgiveness and not God's.
Prayer: Lord, as I read Leviticus I become keenly aware that every act of sin has a consequence that requires death...even those that I do unintentionally. And, I also realize that the way that I treat other people is actually the way that I am treating You...they are not two separate things, but one. As I think about Jesus pronouncing "woe" over the Pharisees it makes me consider the difference between my being guilty of sinning against someone (sinning back against them...when they have mistreated me or sinned against me), and the act of pronouncing them as being guilty for their sin. It is so difficult to keep me out of the picture (my feelings...when I am the one who has been hurt)...and to let another person's sin stand alone, as sin, and not as an act in which I have been personally hurt. If I don't keep myself separate...then I begin to pass judgment on them myself, and don't leave them in Your hands...the only place where they can find ultimate forgiveness (even my forgiveness of their sin is dependent on You to give me the ability and the right to do so). Help me to see every act of Your judgment as a catalyst to lead people to repentance and forgiveness.