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Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Leviticus 4

 

 

Verses 1-13

4. The Sin Offering

CHAPTERS 4-5:13

1. The second utterance of Jehovah (Leviticus 4:1-2)

2. The sin offering for the high priest (Leviticus 4:3-12)

3. The sin offering for the congregation (Leviticus 4:13-21)

4. The sin offering for the ruler (Leviticus 4:22-26)

5. The sin offering for one of the people (Leviticus 4:27-35)

6. The sin offering for special inadvertent offences (Leviticus 5:1-13)

The burnt offering, meal offering, and peace offering typified the absolute and blessed perfection and devotion of Christ, and are therefore the sweet savour offerings. The remaining offerings, the sin and trespass offerings, are not called a sweet savour. In these offerings we see Christ typified as the bearer of the sins of His people. And as such He had to take upon Himself the judgment of God. This, no doubt, is the reason why these two offerings are not called a “sweet savour”; for God does not delight in judgment. Judgment is His strange work (Isaiah 28:21). Note also that the preceding three offerings were voluntary, the two remaining were compulsory. Forgiveness had to be sought and secured by them. In the actual approach of man to God, the sin offering always occupied the first place; the burnt offering followed. As we have seen the burnt offering is mentioned first, because it tells out the perfection and infinite worth of Him in whom, according to the eternal purpose of God, we are accepted. And now as accepted in the Beloved One, made nigh and brought into fellowship with God, the need which we have on account of our sins is fully met in the work of Christ, who bore our sins in His own body on the tree.

It is impossible to follow all the manifold types in connection with the sin offering for the priest, the ruler, and the congregation. The details of it demand a very careful and minute study which we cannot attempt here. We can treat the sin offering only in a general way. The bullock is the sin offering for the anointed priest and for the whole congregation (verses 4 and 13). Like in the burnt offering, the offerers had to identify themselves with the offering by laying their hands on the head of the bullock. But this difference must be noticed: in the burnt offering the believer is seen identified with Christ and accepted in Christ; in the sin offering Christ became identified with us in our sin. Sin was transferred to Him as our substitute. “The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” The blood then was sprinkled seven times before the Lord. Some of it was put upon the horns of the altar of incense; while the blood of the bullock, the greater portion of it, was poured at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering.

The skin of the bullock with the whole bullock was burned without the camp. The Hebrew word for “burned” is different from that used in the burnt offering. The word used in connection with the sin offering is “saraph”; it speaks of the burning of judgment. The commentary to this is Hebrews 13:11-12. “The bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood suffered without the gate.” With the case of a ruler having sinned the offering was a kid of the goats, a male; and in the case of any one of the common people having sinned through ignorance still other instructions are given.

“It is evident, therefore, that there is a graduated scale in these different instances. Why so? Because of a most solemn principle. The gravity of sin depends on the position of him that sins. It is not so, that man is prone to adjust matters, though his conscience feels its rectitude. How often man would screen the offense of him that is great, if he could! The same might be hard on the poor, friendless, and despised. The life of such at any rate seems of no great account. It is not so with God, nor ought it to be in the minds and estimate of His saints. And another witness of this in the last instance is not without interest for our souls. Only to one of the common people is allowed the alternative of a female lamb instead of a kid (verses 32-35), the offering of which for his sin is reiterated with the same minute care.

“When the anointed priest sinned, the result was precisely such as if the whole congregation sinned. When a prince sinned, it was a different matter, though a stronger case for sacrifice than where it was a private man. In short, therefore, the relationship of the person that was guilty determines the relative extent of the sin, though none was obscure enough for his sin to be passed by. Our blessed Lord on the other hand meets each and all, Himself the true anointed priest, the only One who needs no offering--who could therefore be the offering for all, for any. This is the general truth, at least on the surface of the sin offering. The offence that was brought forward, confessed, and judged becomes the substitute in this case for him that was guilty; and the blood was put in the care of individuals on the brazen altar, as it only needed to be dealt with in the place of sinful man’s access to God.” (W. Kelly, Introduction to the Pentateuch.)

In studying the interesting details of the sin offerings it must be remembered that all is the “shadow of good things to come,” and that the good things which have come, and which we now enjoy, as believers in Christ, are far higher and more blessed than the types could reveal.

 


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Bibliography Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Leviticus 4:4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/leviticus-4.html. 1913-1922.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, December 16th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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