SIN and sin offering are different translations of the same Hebrew word, chattath. Sin offerings were so closely connected with sin that one Hebrew word is used to denote both. When Hosea says of the priests, They cat up the sin of My people (Hosea 4:8), chattath is used, and may therefore rightly be translated either sin or sin offering.
Sin offerings are first mentioned in the Bible in connection with the consecration of Aaron and his sons. (Exodus 29:14) There are those who believe that they were in existence and use before, but there is no record of this until the time of Moses. During this early period burnt offerings appear to be the only offerings used.
Sin offerings sufficed only for sins done through ignorance. If a soul shall sin through ignorance (Leviticus 4:2); if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance (verse 13). If any one of the common people sin through ignorance (verse 27); if ought be committed by ignorance (Numbers 15:24); if any soul sin through ignorance (verse 27)-these are statements connected with sin offerings. They concerned sins of errors, mistakes, or rash acts, of which the sinner was unaware at the time, but which afterward became known to him.
Sin offerings did not cover sins done consciously, knowingly, defiantly, or persistently. When Israel sinned deliberately, as in worshiping the golden calf, and refused God's proffered mercy when Moses called them to repentance, they were promptly punished. There fell of the people that day about three thousand men. Exodus 32:28. So with the man who despite God's express command gathered sticks on the Sabbath. (Numbers 15:32-36) He was put to death.
Concerning willful or presumptuous sins, the law reads, But the soul that does ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproaches the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among His people. Because he bath despised the word of the Lord and hath broken His command merit, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him. Verses 30, 31.
To this general rule there were some exceptions which will be discussed in the chapter Trespass Offerings. It should also be noted that though there was no provision in the daily ritual for conscious or willful sins, sins done with a high hand, the services of the Day of Atonement provided for such transgressions. This will be considered later.
The fourth chapter of Leviticus discusses sin offerings under four heads. The sin of the anointed priest (verses 3-12), of the whole people (verses 13-21), of the ruler (verses 22-28), and of one of the common people (verses 27-35). The sacrifices demanded were not the same in all cases, nor was the blood disposed of in the same manner. If the anointed priest sinned according to the sin of the people, or as the American Revised Version reads, so as to bring guilt on the people, he was to bring a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering. Leviticus 4:1 If the whole congregation of Israel sinned through ignorance, they also were to offer a young bullock for the sin, and bring him before the tabernacle of the congregation. Verse 14. If one of the rulers sinned he was to bring a kid of the goats, a male without blemish. Verse 23. If one of the common people sinned through ignorance, he was to bring a kid of the goats, a female without blemish. Verse 28. In case he could not bring a goat he might bring a female lamb. (Verse 32)
In each case the sinner was to provide the offering, lay his hand upon the head of the animal, and kill it. When the whole congregation sinned, the assembly provided the offering, and the elders placed their hands upon the head of the bullock.
In the disposition of the blood there was a difference that should be noted. When the anointed priest sinned and brought his bullock and killed it the priest should dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord, before the vale of the sanctuary. Verse 6. He should also put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord, which is in the tabernacle of the congregation. And shall pour all the blood of the bullock at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. Verse. 7.
When the whole congregation sinned, the blood was disposed of in the same manner as when the anointed priest sinned. Some of it was taken into the first apartment of the sanctuary and sprinkled before the veil. The horns of the altar of incense were touched with the blood, and the rest of the blood was poured out at the foot of the altar of burnt offering in the court outside. (Verse 18)
When a ruler sinned, the blood was not brought into the sanctuary. The record reads: The priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out his blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering. Verse 25. In this case the blood was neither carried into the sanctuary nor sprinkled before the veil. It was put upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering in the court outside, and the rest of the blood poured out at the foot of the same altar.
When one of the common people sinned, the blood was disposed of in the same manner. It was put upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering and the rest poured out at the bottom of the altar. (Verses 30, 34)
In all four cases the fat was removed from the carcass and burned on the altar of burnt offering. (Verses 8-10, 19, 26, 31, 35) The carcass, however, was treated differently in the several cases. If the anointed priest sinned, the skin of the bullock, and all his flesh, with his head, and with his legs, and his inwards, and his dung. Even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the, camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire. Where the ashes are poured out shall he be burnt. [Verses 11, 12], The same was done with the carcass of the bullock offered as a sin offering for the whole congregation. The body was carried without the camp to a clean place and there burned on the wood with fire. (Verse 21)
There is no instruction in the fourth chapter of Leviticus as to what was done with the body when a ruler or one of the common people sinned. In the sixth chapter of Leviticus, however, in the law of the sin offering, is found some further instruction. In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the Lord: it is most holy. The priest that offers it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation. Leviticus 6:25, 26.
This statement is illuminating. The priest that offered the sin offering was to eat it. He was to eat it in a holy place, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation. Verse 29 states, All the males among the priests shall eat thereof: it is most holy. The principle in regard to the disposition of the carcasses of sin offerings is stated in verse 30: No sin offering, whereof any of the blood is brought into the tabernacle of the congregation to reconcile withal in the holy place, shall be eaten: it shall be burnt in the fire.
From the foregoing we summarize the use of the blood in sin offerings as follows: In the first two cases-those of the anointed priest and the whole congregation. The ministration of the blood was alike: it was taken into the first apartment of the sanctuary and sprinkled seven times before the veil and also placed on the horns of the altar of incense. (Leviticus 4:6,7) Only a small portion of the blood was used in sprinkling; the rest was poured out at the foot of the altar of burnt offering.
In the other two cases-those of the ruler and of one of the congregation-the blood was not carried into the sanctuary, but the priest took of the blood and with his finger put some upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering. (Verse 25) The difference to be noted is that in the first two cases the blood was carried into the sanctuary; in the other two cases it was not.
In none of the four cases was the flesh used in any ministration at the altar. While the fat of all animals used in the service was removed from the body and burned upon the altar for a sweet savor unto the Lord (Leviticus 4:8, 19, 26, 31, 35), the flesh itself was either burned without the camp or eaten by the priests (verses 12, 21; 6: 26, 29). The burning of the carcass outside the camp was simply for the purpose of disposing of lit, and had no expiatory significance. In explanation of the eating of the flesh by the priests, Moses says, Behold, the blood of it was not brought in within the holy place: you should indeed have eaten it in the holy place as I commanded. Leviticus 10:1S. This agrees with the principle stated in Leviticus 6:30. One of two things must be done: either the blood of the sacrifice must be brought into the holy place, or else the flesh must be eaten by the priest.
It was not left to the judgment of the priest to choose which of these two ways to do. He was specifically commanded to bring the blood into the sanctuary in the cases of the anointed priest and the whole congregation. In the other two cases he was not to carry the blood into the holy place, but put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and then eat the flesh. He was not permitted to carry the blood into the sanctuary and also cat the flesh, nor could he omit eating the flesh when the blood was not carried in. He could do only one of two things, but that one thing could not be omitted. From this it seems to be indicated that the eating of the flesh was in some way considered the equivalent of carrying the blood into the sanctuary.
Moses diligently sought the goat of the sin offering, and, behold, it was burnt. And he was angry with Eleazar and with Ithamar, the sons of Aaron that were left, saying, Wherefore have you not eaten the sin offering in the place of the sanctuary, seeing it is most holy, and He hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before Jehovah? Behold, the blood of it was not brought into the sanctuary within: you should certainly have eaten it in the sanctuary, as I commanded. Leviticus 10:16-18, A.R.V.
Aaron and his sons had made the mistake of not eating the flesh of the sin offering. When a goat was offered, the blood was put on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and the flesh was to be eaten. In this case they had omitted the eating of the flesh. This made Moses angry. You should certainly have eaten it, he said. The reason for eating the flesh is stated to be: God bath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation. This is a clear assertion that the priest in eating the flesh took on himself the iniquity of the people.
This statement has a definite bearing upon the question of the possibility of transfer of sin from one individual to another. The question is fundamental to Christianity. If sin cannot be transferred, then Christ, of course, cannot and does not bear our sins. And if He cannot and does not bear our sin's, we are without hope. Christianity is built on the proposition that Christ is the Lamb that bears the sin of the world. Take that hope away from humanity, and all is lost.
We now inquire: Is there any parallel to this in the service of the sanctuary? Is any transfer of sin made there? Does one bear the sins of another? The answer is affirmative. Aaron comes to the sanctuary burdened with sin. When he leaves, the burden has fallen off; he has been forgiven, and goes away free and happy. What has happened?
He has brought his sin offering, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering. Leviticus 5:6. (See also 4:28, 31) He has put his hand upon the head of the offering and killed it. He has confessed that he hath sinned in that kind. Leviticus 5:5. After this the priest has taken, of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering. Leviticus 4:30, 31. As the last part of the ceremony the priest has eaten the flesh of the sin offering in the court of the tabernacle, by this act taking the sin upon himself, bearing the iniquity of the congregation. (Leviticus 6:26; 10:17) In doing this the priest is symbolic of Him who bare the sin of many, upon whom the Lord laid the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:1-12. Surely He hath borne our grief, and carried our sorrows; His soul has been made an offering for sin. Because He thus suffered, My righteous Servant shall justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities. Verses 4, 10,11.
Who can fail to see the parallel? Of Christ it is said that He shall bear their iniquities. Of the priests it is said that God bath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation. As Christ took sin upon Him, so the priests took sin upon them. As Christ took our sins upon Him to justify many, so the priests took the sin upon them to make atonement for them before the Lord. Verse 11; Leviticus 10:17. There can be no doubt that in these cases there is a transfer of sin; in one case in type, in the other case in reality.
When the priest ministered the blood and ate the flesh, he not only took the sin upon him but identified himself so completely with the sinner that the sins he took upon himself became his sins, and he became responsible for them. God hath given it [the flesh] you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord. Leviticus 10: 17.
In the course of his week's service at the sanctuary the priest had eaten of many of the sin offerings, and thus carried the sins of many offerers. As he could not atone for these sins with his own life, and as he bore the sins for the avowed purpose of making atonement for them, it became necessary for him to bring a personal offering for all the sins he carried and for which he was responsible. As the sins which he carried were now his own, and as when a priest sinned, the blood was brought into the holy place, so he brought the blood into the sanctuary, an atonement for all the sins which he bore.
That transfer of sin is possible is also taught in the services on the Day of Atonement. 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 transgression, even all their sins. And he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a man that is in readiness into the wilderness. Leviticus 16:21, ARN.
This statement is clear and precise. The high priest lays his hands on the head of the scapegoat and confesses over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel and all their transgressions in all their sins, and puts them upon the head of the goat. Words could not be clearer than these are.
Upon the evidence here presented we confidently hold that transfer of sin is a true Biblical doctrine, that it was prefigured in the sanctuary service, and that it was in actuality carried out in the life of Christ. We believe this doctrine to be vital to salvation, one of the foundation pillars in the atonement.
That blood cleanses is a distinct evangelical doctrine. The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin is the belief and creed of every Christian. 1 John 1:7. Is the doctrine that blood also defiles as truly Biblical? This we shall now consider.
If we should change the question to Does sin defile? all would agree. Out of the heart, says Christ, proceed evil thoughts, (murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man. Matthew 15:19, 20. This is a statement of principle which is confirmed by the general teaching of the Bible. Not only does sin defile a man, but it defiles whatever it touches. Adultery defiles the land and the sanctuary. (Ezekiel 23:37, 38) Murder defiles the land. (Numbers 35:33) Profanation of the Sabbath defiles both the Sabbath and the sanctuary. (Ezekiel 23:38) Uncleanness defiles the tabernacle. (Leviticus 15:31; 16:16) Worship of Molech defiles the sanctuary. (Leviticus 20:3) The ceremonially unclean, who does not purify himself, defiles the tabernacle and the sanctuary of the Lord. (Numbers 19:13,20) In all these cases it is sin that defiles, whether it be a person, a thing, or a day. The land can be defiled, and so can the Sabbath, the tabernacle, the sanctuary, or the human heart. Sin defiles what it touches.
When on the Day of Atonement the sanctuary was cleansed by means of the blood of the goat, Aaron was told to sprinkle the blood upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat, and make atonement for the holy place and for the tabernacle of the congregation and also go out unto the altar that is before the Lord, and . . . cleanse it, and hallow it. Leviticus 16:15-19. In particular, he is to put the blood upon the horns of the altar round about. Verse 18. In the same manner the altar of incense should be cleansed. Aaron shall make atonement upon the horns of it once in the year; with the blood of the sin-offering of atonement once in the year shall he make atonement for-it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto Jehovah. Exodus 30:10, A.R.V.
These altars were cleansed each year, as also the holy and the most holy place. We may, therefore, rightfully inquire what had made these altars and places unclean? The reason for the defilement is said to be because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel and because of their transgressions in all their sins. Leviticus 16:16. This is confirmed by the statement that the blood was put upon the horns of the altar round about and also sprinkled upon it seven times to cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel. Verses 18,19.
We therefore hold that the sanctuary was made unclean because of the sins of Israel, and that this was particularly true of the horns of the altars. 01 the golden altar it is emphasized that Aaron was to make atonement upon the horns of it once in a year and that this atonement was to be made with the blood of the sin offering. Exodus 30:10. He was also to put of the blood of the goat upon the horns of the altar [of burnt offering] round about. . . . and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of
Israel. Leviticus 16:18,19.
It may be pertinent to inquire: If blood only cleanses and never defiles, why is it necessary to cleanse the horns on the Day of Atonement when blood had been placed on these horns every day of the year? If the blood placed daily upon the horns purified, then the horns must have been very clean on the Day of Atonement. But the contrary was the case. They were defiled; they were unclean. Blood had been placed upon them; sin had been recorded by the priest's placing his blood fingerprint upon them. They needed cleansing.
An important statement concerning the blood is found in Leviticus 17:11, which we discussed briefly in the chapter on burnt offerings. The Authorized Version reads: For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul. The American Revised Version translates: For the 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 the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life.
Both of these versions stress the fact that the life of the flesh is in the blood and that it is the blood that makes atonement. The American Revised Version states that the blood . . . makes atonement by reason of the life. It is not the blood in and of itself that atones. It is the life in the blood that does it. It is the person's life that determines the value of the blood, and the blood has value only as the life has value.
For this reason the blood of a sinful being has no atoning value. And for the same reason the blood of Christ does have infinite atoning value. His blood atones, but only by reason of the life. This meaning is inherent in the Hebrew construction. The preposition for in the sentence, It is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul, invariably denotes the means by which atonement is made, and hence may appropriately be translated by reason of.
The plan of salvation is grounded in blood atonement. Because of sin, man has lost his right to life, which must therefore be forfeited to God, to whom it is due. As a merciful provision, God provides a way of escape and accepts another life in place of the life of the transgressor. As the life of the flesh is in the blood, so the blood of the substitute is shed and presented to God on the altar in the place of the blood of the real sinner. But before this is done, the sinner must identify himself with the substitute, must place his hand on the head of the victim, and confess that he hath sinned in that thing and is worthy of death. Leviticus 5:5. The very genius of the transaction being that the substitute takes the place of the sinner and dies in his place, of necessity the sin and guilt is transferred to the substitute, who submits to the penalty. After the sacrifice is slain, the blood symbol of the life is put on the horns of the altar, this act constituting an acknowledgment of a forfeited life and also of the justice of the law in requiring it.
Concerning the blood used in the sin offering, is recorded this: The priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering. Leviticus 4:30. Of this ceremony Jeremiah says, The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond. It is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars. Jeremiah 17:1. As the priest with his finger solemnly marked the horns with the blood, the sin was recorded. He makes a fingerprint, a blood print, upon the horns, and this fingerprint constitutes a record as definite as though it were graven with the point of a diamond. The man has sinned. He has confessed his sin. The sin is recorded with the blood of the sacrifice which the man has brought. He has admitted his guilt. He has recognized the justice of death as the punishment for his sin, and in recognition of this he has with his own hand taken the life of the victim. A record of this transaction is, now placed in blood upon the horns of the altar.
The blood that was put upon the horns of the altar was the blood of an animal to which sin had been imputed. The animal died because sin was placed upon it. The blood that was placed upon the horns of the altar was therefore sin-laden blood. It recorded the sin upon the horns as with a pen of iron. It also recorded the death of the sinner in his substitute. It recorded that a life which because of sin has been forfeited had been given back to Him who gave it. It recorded the payment to the law of that which was its due. It recorded that a misspent life, the life of one who realized and acknowledged his sin, had willingly been renounced and laid down.
The life which the sinner thus laid down was not a perfect, pure life. It was a sinful, polluted life. Of that life the blood was emblematic, for the life is in the blood, and the life determines the value of the blood. If it were, not a sinful life that was thus presented to God, there would be no ground for the confession of sin nor the yielding up of the life upon the altar. The broken law demands the sinner's life of which the sin-charged blood is the symbol-and the man willingly lays it down. The life demanded is the sinful life, not the perfect life, and this sinful life the man now renounces. He has already by confession placed his sin upon the innocent animal, which has become his substitute and is now counted a sinner. As such it must die and pay the penalty for sin, thus maintaining the dignity of law. It is this sin-laden blood which the priest takes and places upon the horns of the altar, thus recording the sin and also the fact that a payment has been made. Thus is fulfilled Jeremiah's statement that the sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart and upon the horns of your altars. Jeremiah 17: 1.
In considering the atonement, many forget the ,Tart which the law plays. Yet it was the law of Ten Commandments around which all the services of the sanctuary revolved. Take the law away, and there would be no need of any atonement, for with no law there is no sin. Considered from this viewpoint, two things are necessary to atonement:
First, an acknowledgment of the just claims of the law, which is another expression for the righteousness of God. This is given by the sinner's confession, and the consequent renouncing and giving back of the life which he has forfeited. This act satisfies the law and the penalty is paid by forfeiting the life. But while the law is thus paid, the sinner, in type, is dead. This is the first part of the transaction, and an important one.
Second, there must be, in type, a freeing of the sinner from death, some transaction whereby a pure, sinless life is exchanged for the sinful, polluted life of the sinner. This sinless life not only must be sinless in itself but must not bear sin or have sins placed upon it or be made to be sin. It must be a pure, holy life, without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke. Numbers 19:2. Such a life is found only in Christ, and the perfect symbol of that life is found in the Lord's goat, which on the Day of Atonement died without having any sins confessed upon it, and the blood of which effected the cleansing of the sanctuary. (Leviticus 16)
These two phases of the ministry of Christ are not to be confused. They are distinct and separate; yet they found their expression in the one perfect Redeemer, who, sinless, yet Himself bore the sin of many, who was made to be sin for us, who knew no sin, who made His soul an offering for sin and poured out His soul unto death. Though He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Isaiah 53:10, 12, 9.
We are now ready to consider further the significance of what took place when a man brought his sin offering to the tabernacle and went away forgiven. We have already discussed this briefly, but shall add some further observations. When one of the people sinned and became aware of it, he was to bring a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering. Leviticus 4:28, 29.
The laying on of the hand was an old custom in Israel, a symbolic act whereby something possessed by one was conveyed to another. Thus Jacob wittingly laid his right hand upon Ephraim and his left upon Manasseh, and blessed them. (Genesis 48:14, 15) Thus also Jesus laid His hands upon the little children and blessed them. (Mark 10: 16) In the same manner Jesus healed people (Mark 6:5); Paul received his sight (Acts 9:12); men received the Holy Ghost (Acts 19:6); Joshua was dedicated to holy office by Moses (Numbers 27:18); and Stephen was ordained to the ministry (Acts 6:6). In each case something was conveyed from one to another by the outward sign of the laying on of hands. In the New Testament the laying on of hands is considered one of the fundamental doctrines of the church (Hebrews 6:2), and instruction is given not to be premature in the bestowal of the gift (1 Timothy 5:22).
If we now inquire what the sinner possesses and what he can impart to another as he appears before God and places his hand on the sacrifice, we find that he is in possession of only one thing, sin, which he hopes and prays to be delivered from. And he is delivered from it. He lays his hand upon the head of the animal, and by this act conveys his sin to the innocent lamb, who now bears his sins.
Then the same hand which conveyed the sins to the lamb slays it. The priestly service now begins, and the blood is placed on the horns of the altar of burnt offering. This blood represents the sinner's forfeited life, which is shed to satisfy the law's demand. The law holds the blood, the life of the sinner, until the Day of Atonement, when redemption is accomplished. As noted before, the priest dipped his finger into the blood, and placed a mark on the horns, a blood mark, a fingerprint. By this mark the sin was recorded, as a fingerprint constitutes a record. This mark recorded the sin, and also the fact that a death had taken place for that sin.
By this transaction the altar became defiled, and particularly the horns. For this reason it became necessary to make an atonement upon the altar once a year with the blood of a sin offering. This atonement was accomplished when the priest took the pure blood of the Lord's goat, upon whom no sins had been placed, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. And he shall go out unto the altar that is before Jehovah, and make atonement for it; and shall take the blood of the bullock, and the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleannesses of the children of Israel. Leviticus 16:18, 19, A.R.V. As during the year these horns had been polluted by the sin-charged blood that had been placed upon them, so now they are cleansed with sinless blood used on the Day of Atonement.
It is of interest to note that oh the Day of Atonement the atoning blood was placed only on the, objects that had previously been defiled. No blood was placed on the laver or the candlestick or the table of show bread, for no blood had previously been applied to them. But blood was applied to the mercy seat, where the blood of the bullock had been sprinkled. The altar of incense and the altar of burnt offering were also sprinkled, and blood put on the horns (Exodus 30:10; 16:18, 19), for these altars had previously been defiled in the daily service. Of the veil we have no clear record that any blood was sprinkled on it, either in the daily service or in the cleansing on the Day of Atonement. The Bible statement is that the blood was sprinkled before the veil, which is probably the correct reading. (Leviticus 4:6, 17)
However, once a year the veil was taken down and a new one hung up. We therefore hold that blood both pollutes an d cleanses. What the blood does, depends upon the value of the of blood used. The life measures the blood, and the blood the life; for the life of the flesh is in the blood. Leviticus 17:11. If it is a sinful life, the blood pollutes; if it is a sinless life, it cleanses. In harmony with this is the fact that while sin was confessed over the sacrifice in the daily service, there is no record that sin was confessed over the Lord's goat in the yearly service. In the first instance the sacrifice was made to bear sin, was made sin, and, as a sinner, must die. In the second instance Christ died as the Sinless One-an innocent, sinless life was given in holy consecration for us. Failure to distinguish these two phases in the work of redemption, shown clearly in the type, makes impossible a true evaluation of the atoning work of Christ. As our Substitute, Christ took our sins upon Him and died in the sinner's place and for sin. As sinner He ought to die-we say it reverently-and thus pay the penalty. But as the Sinless One He was under no obligation to die; but He willingly died for us, and over and above the call of duty redeemed us from death and the grave, and set us in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
The first thirteen verses of the fifth chapter of Leviticus deal with kinds of transgressions that are called both sins and trespasses. Commentators are not in agreement as to the right name, some calling them sin, and others trespass offerings. As they partake of the nature of both, and as the Bible in the section named refers to them under both designations, we shall call them sin-trespass offerings. Ordinarily a trespass is a sin knowingly committed, a stepping over. It might be unwittingly committed, but in such cases it is held that the man should have known better and that he is responsible for his ignorance. The Hebrew word for trespass offering, asham, might well be translated guilt or debt offering. It denotes a greater degree of guilt than the sin offering, though the sin itself may be no greater.
As stated, some sins partake of the nature of a trespass. For instance, a person may to some degree be ignorant of some wrong he is doing, and yet not be entirely ignorant of it. He is not sure he is doing right; yet he continues doing it. These are the kinds of transgressions mentioned in the first part of the fifth chapter of Leviticus. To those belong the withholding of information (verse 1), the touching of any unclean thing (verses 2, 3), and swearing rashly (verse 4). In such cases the sinner was commanded to bring a trespass offering unto the Lord for his sin which he had sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats for a sin offering. Verse 6. It will be noted that in verse 7 they were called trespass offerings and in verse 9 sin offerings. We may therefore consider them a kind of intermediate offering between the two.
A person who sinned in any of the things mentioned above was to bring a female from the flock, a lamb, or a kid of the goats for a sin offering. (Verse 6) If he was unable to bring a lamb he might bring a turtledove or a young pigeon. No direction is given as to how the blood of the animals was to be ministered. In the absence of any specific instruction it is believed that it was disposed of in the same manner as the regular sin offerings. In the case of the birds the blood was sprinkled upon the side of the altar. (Verse 9)
If the sinner was unable to bring a turtledove or a young pigeon, he might bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering. He was not, however, permitted to put oil or frankincense. thereon. The reason: It is a sin offering. The priest, in offering this, took a handful of flour and burnt it for a memorial upon the altar. The remnant belonged to the priest the same as in the meat offering. (Verses 11-13)
We are here face to face with a remarkable fact. Ordinarily a sin offering should be a blood offering, that is, the life of an animal must be taken and the blood placed upon the horns of the altar. Here, however, the offering of a tenth part of an ephah of flour is accepted in lieu of blood. It is definitely stated that the priest shall take a handful of this flour and burn it upon the altar, land the priest shall make atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him. Verse 13. Lest any should think that this is an ordinary meat offering, twice is the statement made: It is a sin offering. (Verses 11, 12) It seems clear, therefore, that in this case at least, a sin offering was accepted which did not contain blood, yet which made atonement for sin.
This calls attention to the statement found in Hebrews 9:22: Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without the shedding of blood is no remission. Although it is true, in general, that in the typical service there could be no remission of sins without the shedding of blood, we are not to forget the exemption here noted. The American Revised Version says, According to the law, I may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission. The adverb almost probably qualifies both clauses; hence the statement would read, I may almost say all things are cleansed with blood, and I may almost say apart from shedding of blood there is no remission. That is, the rule that there is no remission without shedding of blood, holds good; but in the types there is the exception here noted.
A similar situation confronts us with reference to the red heifer. No immediate application of blood in the cleansing process was there mentioned, but only of water and ashes. Yet it was a purification for sin, a sin offering. (Numbers 19:9, A.R.V.)
Our contention is not that sins are ever, or can ever be, forgiven without the sacrifice on Calvary. The death of Christ is necessary for our salvation. It is, however, significant that in the types mentioned above atonement and forgiveness of sin were sometimes accomplished without immediate and direct use of blood.
In searching for an application of this in the Christian economy, may we not believe that it signifies and applies to such persons as have no direct or definite knowledge of the Savior and yet are living up to all the light they have, doing God's will as far as they understand? Might it not signify such heathen as have never heard of the name of Jesus and yet to a greater or lesser extent partake of His spirit? We believe that there are those who have never heard the blessed name of the Master, who know nothing of Calvary and of the redemption wrought for them on the cross, have exhibited the Christ spirit and will be ,saved in the kingdom of heaven. To such, we believe, it applies.
The first case mentioned in the fifth chapter of Leviticus, verse one, is that of withholding information when under oath. If a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity. The voice of swearing is called the voice of adjuration, in the American Revised Version, and has reference to the oath administered in a Jewish court. When Christ was on trial, the high priest answered and said unto Him, I adjure Thee by the living God, that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Matthew 26:63. Under these circumstances Christ could not keep silence, but answered, Thou has said. He felt compelled to answer when the adjuration was invoked, though He previously had held His peace.
An example would be knowledge of a sin committed. A person is called upon in court to testify in regard to what lie knows concerning it, but refuses to do so. This is a sin of omission, and comes under the reproof of God. Such a one shall bear his iniquity.
The second case is the touching of anything unclean, of whatever uncleanness it be. (Leviticus 5:2, 3.) The man may have become unclean unwittingly; it may have been hid from him, and consequently he has neglected to purify himself. Because of this when he knows of it, then he shall be guilty.
This was a sanitary measure. Uncleanness, as the word here is used, denotes more than ceremonial uncleanness. There were many loathsome diseases of both man and beast which were highly communicable. Through carelessness an epidemic could easily occur. It was therefore commanded that a person who had exposed himself should observe the rules governing such cases, and avoid contact with others for a stated period bathe himself and wash his clothes, and take other precautionary measures. If he failed to do so, from ignorance or willful transgression, when he knows it, then he shall be guilty.
The third case is that of a man who swears rashly with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall utter rashly with an oath. Verse 4, A.R.V. To swear rashly may also be translated swear, prate with his lips, that is, swear in idle, empty words, use light profanity, affirm with an oath. All such is forbidden in these injunctions.
It is sometimes urged that God in olden times did not require confession and restitution in order to grant forgiveness, but only asked the sinner to bring the required sacrifice. The ritual of the sin-trespass offering should correct that impression. Confession was definitely required. When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against the Lord and that person be guilty; then they shall confess their sin which they have done. Numbers 5:6, 7. A general confession, however, was not sufficient.
It shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing. Leviticus 5:5. This statement is definite and decisive. Not only is the sinner to confess, but he is to confess that he has sinned in that thing. It is that thing that counts. Only as he thus confesses can he receive the atonement.
In all the offerings mentioned in this chapter atonement is made by the blood, and not the body. The body served as the means of sin transfer when the priest ate of the flesh. And in all cases the fat was burned on the altar as a sweet savor. But the blood accomplished the atonement. And it did this by reason of the life. Christ's life, symbolized by the blood, is our salvation. As we are reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:10. The life by which we are saved is His life, on earth as our example. It is also the resurrection life, including His session at the right hand of God, where He ever lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7: 25). And it is by the power of this indissoluble life (verse 16, A.R.V., margin) that He purges our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:14).
The ceremony of the red heifer deserves special consideration. It differed in many respects from the regular sin offerings; yet it served the-same purpose. Numbers 19:9 says, It is a purification for sin. The word here used, chattath, is the same used elsewhere for sin offering, as noted previously in this chapter. The American Revised Version reads: It is a sin-offering. We therefore rightly include the red
heifer among the sin offerings commanded by God.
Israel was commanded to bring a red heifer, spotless and without blemish, and give it to Eleazar the priest. (Verses 2, 3) The priest was to bring the heifer without the camp and have someone kill it in his presence. He was then to take the blood with his finger and sprinkle the blood toward the tabernacle of the congregation seven times. (Verse 4) After this was done, one was to burn the heifer before Eleazar, her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn. Verse 5. As the heifer was thus being consumed, the priest was to take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer. Verse 6. Then the priest was to wash his clothes, bathe his flesh, come back to the camp, and be unclean until evening. (Verse 7) After this a man that was clean should gather up the ashes of the heifer and lay them up without the camp in a clean place. It was to be a water of separation: it is a purification for sin. Verse 9.
The ashes thus kept were to be used in certain kinds of uncleanness, as in the touching of a dead body. In such a case the ashes were to be taken and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel: and a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave. And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean even. Verses 17-19.
It will be noted that while this ceremony was a purification for sin, no blood as such was used in the cleansing of the man from his defilement. The only time the use of blood is mentioned is at the time of the killing of the heifer, when the priests took the blood and sprinkled it seven times toward the tabernacle of the congregation. (Verse 4) In the application to the individual person, however, there was no sprinkling of blood.
It is also noteworthy that the heifer was not killed within the confines of the court of the tabernacle where the other sacrifices were killed. The blood was not carried into the sanctuary, the blood was not sprinkled before the veil, it was not put on the horns of the altar of incense, it was not put on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, nor was it poured out at the foot of the altar of burnt offering. It did not come in direct contact with either the sanctuary or the altar of burnt offering.
In the ritual of the red heifer it was not required that a priest officiate, but only a clean person. Also, in this offering, provision for cleansing availed not only for the children of Israel but also for the stranger. It shall be unto the children of Israel and unto the stranger that sojourns among them, for a statute for ever. Verse 10.
The occasional ceremony of the red heifer has deep significance for the reverent student of God's Word. Purification from sin is here accomplished by the use of water in which ashes from the slain heifer have been put. Its ministration is without the camp, apart from the ordinary worship of Jehovah, and is not directly, connected with the usual round of the sanctuary service.
It is to this ceremony that the writer of Hebrews refers when he says: If the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:13, 14. David's prayer is, Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:7.
A somewhat similar use of water for purposes of purification is mentioned in the fifth chapter of the book of Numbers. In case of certain sins, the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel; and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take and put it into the water. Verse 17. The holy water- thus prepared is called bitter water in verses 18, 19, 23. While it is not necessary to go into detail in regard to the distressing ceremony mentioned in this chapter, we call attention to the twenty-third verse. The priest was to write these curses in a book, and then blot them out with the bitter water.
While blood is mentioned in the Old Testament as a purification for sin, water in some cases served a similar purpose. The laver situated just before the tabernacle, the water used in the ceremony of the red heifer, the bitter water used for blotting out sin recorded in the fifth chapter of Numbers, testify the use of water for ceremonial cleansing. Of Christ is written, This is He that came by water and blood, even
Jesus Christ. Not by water only, but by water and blood. 1 John 5:6, At the crucifixion one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith there came out blood and water, and he at saw it bare record, and his record is true. And he knows that he said true, that you might believe.
John 19:34, 35. The baptismal water and the precious ordinance of humility do still save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God). 1 Peter 3:21.
We regretfully close this chapter dealing with sin offerings, for there are so many other phases which might profitably be considered, but which do not concern our present study. In finishing this short study You do it with a prayer of thanksgiving to God for His unspeakable Gift.
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