June 22, 2015.
Daily Reading: Leviticus 4-6.
Background: Leviticus 1-3.
Concepts and Connections.
Unintentional sin offerings: This chapter outlines the instructions that were to be carried out for sins that were committed unintentionally and then realized later. The Lord addresses different grounds in turn, giving instruction of what He commanded concerning sin offerings. Then the audience is split into four sections: the priest (1-12), the people as a whole (13-21), the leaders (22-26) and the common people (27-35). It is interesting that such a large section of the Levitical law is dedicated to unintentional sins, giving the offender a way to atone for his or her sin. Each of the different sections that are addressed here have slightly different instructions when it comes to the sin offering, reflecting their position and responsibility. The two longest sets of instruction are given to the priests and the congregation as a whole. There is special note to these two groups that the rest of the bull which is not used inside the camp is to be taken outside the camp and burned as a sin offering for the priest or for the people, respectively. It is this concept of burring the sin offering outside of the camp for the people that is incorporated in Christ’s death on the cross that happened outside of the gate, as He was the sin offering for the world (see Hebrews 13:7-16).
1. Tiered unintentional sin offerings: This chapter continues the instructions for unintentional sin offerings that was begun in the previous chapter, but makes some interesting distinction of the expense of offering for different people. The first few verses outline other reasons that an individual might need to offer a sin offering, whether that be for not testifying, touching an unclean thing or uttering a rash oath. Again, these are for unintentional sins, showing that it was a matter of the heart. A lamb was to be offered as the sin offering. However, there are two other options given in one could not afford a lamb, providing an opportunity for those who were not as well off to still be able to be right with God. This shows that the Lord is not concerned with how much money you have, nor does He only allow the rich to be forgiven of their sins (this would go against the character of God as revealed throughout scripture). If one could not afford a lamb, two turtle doves or two pigeons could be offered instead. And if even that were too much, one could offer a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for the sin offering. God is concerned with our hearts, not what is in our bank account.
2. Laws for guilt offerings: After the different instructions concerning general unintentional sins and their sin offerings, then the Lord turns to guilt offerings, which will be outlined at the end of this chapter and continued on into the next chapter. The guilt offering was much like the sin offering in that it was still unintentional (at least for the two given in this chapter), but it was more specific in the sin. The first reason given to offer a guilt offering was if someone had touch something holy that they were not supposed to touch. Notice here that there is a monetary offering that is obligated in addition to the animal offering that was similar to the sin offerings above, adding a fifth to the value of his animal offering. The second reason for a guilt offering is if anyone had unintentionally transgressed one of the commandments that had been given the people on Mount Sinai (see Exodus 20–23).
1. Guilt offerings continued: The instructions for guilt offerings continue from the previous chapter at the beginning of this chapter, focusing here on social guilt and wronging your neighbor. Specifically, this guilt offering deals with robbery, or taking something from your neighbor that you should not have taken/exacted. Notice that there are two things that the individual who realizes his guilt must do here to make atonement for what he has done: first he must restore what he has taken in full and add a fifth to it, and then he must take a ram (or its equivalent, according to the tiers, see previous chapter) to the priest to offer before the Lord for atonement.
2. instructions concerning the priests: After finishing the instructions concerning guilt offerings, the Lord then turns His address to the priests and some specific things that they were instructed to do. First, He talks about the burnt offerings and gives specific instruction as to how they were to be carried out. Then He talks about grain offerings and the portion that Aaron and his sons were to take of the offering as their food, for they were in service to the Lord. Next, the Lord addresses what the priests should offer when they are anointed as priest. Note that all of this offering was to be burned, and none of it was to be eaten by the priest. This might be because the offering was for the priest himself, and thus he was not to keep back part of what he himself was offering. Finally, the chapter concludes with some of the specifics for the priests concerning sin offerings, and giving the priest the sin offering to eat as their food.
Tomorrow’s Reading: I Kings 14-18.