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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Bible Commentary
Leviticus 4

 

 

Verses 1-35

THE SIN OFFERING

Leviticus 4:1-35

BOTH in the burnt offering and in the peace offering, Israel was taught, as we are, that all consecration and all fellowship with God must begin with, and ever depends upon, atonement made for sin. But this was not the dominant thought in either of these offerings; neither did the atonement, as made in these, have reference to particular acts of sin. For such, these offerings were never prescribed. They remind us therefore of the necessity of atonement, not so much for what we do or fail to do, as for what we are.

But the sin even of true believers, whether then or now, is more than sin of nature. The true Israelite was liable to be overtaken in some overt act of sin; and for all such cases was ordained, in this section of the law, {Leviticus 4:1-35; Leviticus 5:1-13} the sin offering; an offering which should bring out into sole and peculiar prominence the thought revealed in other sacrifices more imperfectly, that in order to pardon of sin, there must be expiation. There was indeed a limitation to the application of this offering; for if a man, in those days, sinned wilfully, presumptuously, stubbornly, or, as the phrase is, "with a high hand," there was no provision made in the law for his restoration to covenant standing. "He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses"; he was "cut off from his people." But for sins of a lesser grade, such as resulted not from a spirit of wilful rebellion against God, but were mitigated in their guilt by various reasons, especially ignorance, rashness, or inadvertence, God made provision, in a typical way, for their removal by means of the atonement of the sin and the guilt offerings. By means of these, accompanied also with full restitution of the wrong done, when such restitution was possible, the guilty one might be restored in those days to his place as an accepted citizen of the kingdom of God.

No part of the Levitical law is more full of deep, heart-searching truth than the law of the sin offering. First of all, it is of consequence to observe that the sins for which this chief atoning sacrifice was appointed, were, for the most part, sins of ignorance. For so runs the general statement with which this section opens (Leviticus 4:2): "If anyone shall sin unwittingly, in any of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and shall do any of them." And to these are afterwards added sins committed through rashness, the result rather of heat and hastiness of spirit than of deliberate purpose of sin; as, for instance, in Leviticus 5:4 : "Whatsoever it be that a man shall utter rashly with an oath, and it be hid from him." Besides these, in the same section (Leviticus 5:1-4), as also in all the cases mentioned under the guilt offering, and the special instance of a wrong done to a slave girl, {Leviticus 19:20-21} a number of additional offences are mentioned which all seem to have their special palliation, not indeed in the ignorance of the sinner, but in the nature of the acts themselves, as admitting of reparation. For all such it was also ordained that the offender should bring a sin (or a guilt) offering, and that by this, atonement being made for him, his sin might be forgiven.

All this must have brought before Israel, and is meant to bring before us, the absolute equity of God in dealing with His creatures. We think often of His stern justice in that He so unfailingly takes note of every sin. But here we may learn also to observe His equity in that He notes no less carefully every circumstance that may palliate our sin. We thankfully recognise in these words the spirit of Him of whom it was said {Hebrews 5:2, marg.} that in the days of His flesh He could "reasonably bear with the ignorant"; and who said concerning those who know not their Master’s will and do it not, {Luke 12:48} that their "stripes" shall be "few"; and who, again, with equal justice and mercy, said of His disciples’ fault in Gethsemane, {Matthew 26:41} "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." We do well to note this. For in these days we hear it often charged against the holy religion of Christ, that it represents God as essentially and horribly unjust in consigning all unbelievers to one and the same unvarying punishment, the eternal lake of fire; and as thus making no difference between those who have sinned against the utmost light and knowledge, wilfully and inexcusably, and those who may have sinned through ignorance, or weakness of the flesh. To such charges as these we have simply to answer that neither in the Old Testament nor in the New is God so revealed. We may come back to this book of Leviticus, and declare that even in those days when law reigned, and grace and love were less clearly revealed than now, God made a difference, a great difference, between some sins and others; He visited, no doubt, wilful and defiant sin with condign punishment; but, on the other hand, no less justly than mercifully, He considered also every circumstance which could lessen guilt, and ordained a gracious provision for expiation and forgiveness. The God revealed in Leviticus, like the God revealed in the Gospel, the God "with whom we have to do," is then no hard and unreasonable tyrant, but a most just and equitable King. He is no less the Most Just, that He is the Most Holy; but, rather, because He is most holy, is He therefore most just. And because God is such a God, in the New Testament also it is plainly said that ignorance, as it extenuates guilt, shall also ensure mitigation of penalty; and in the Old Testament, that while he who sins presumptuously and with a high hand against God, shall "die without mercy under two or three witnesses," on the other hand, he who sins unwittingly, or in some sudden rash impulse, doing that of which he afterward truly repents; or who, again, has sinned, if knowingly, still in such a way as admits of some adequate reparation of the wrong, -all these things shall be judged palliation of his guilt; and if he confess his sin, and make all possible reparation for it, then, if he present a sin or a guilt offering, atonement may therewith be made, and the sinner be forgiven.

This then is the first thing which the law concerning the sin offering brings before us: it calls our attention to the fact that the heavenly King and Judge of men is righteous in all His ways, and therefore will ever make all the allowance that strict justice and righteousness demand, for whatever may in any way palliate our guilt.

But none the less for this do we need also to heed another intensely practical truth which the law of the sin offering brings before us: namely, that while ignorance or other circumstances may palliate guilt, they do not and cannot nullify it. We may have sinned without a suspicion that we were sinning, but here we are taught that there can be no pardon without a sin offering. We may have sinned through weakness or sudden passion, but still sin is sin, and we must have a sin offering before we can be forgiven.

We may observe, in passing, the bearing of this teaching of the law on the question so much discussed in our day, as to the responsibility of the heathen for the sins which they commit through ignorance. In so far as their ignorance is not wilful and avoidable, it doubtless greatly diminishes their guilt; and the Lord Himself has said of such that their stripes shall be few. And yet more than this He does not say. Except we are prepared to cast aside the teaching alike of Leviticus and the Gospels, it is certain that their ignorance does not cancel their guilt. That the ignorance of anyone concerning moral law can secure his exemption from the obligation to suffer for his sin, is not only against the teaching of all Scripture, but is also contradicted by all that we can see about us of God’s government of the world. For when does God ever suspend the operation of physical laws, because the man who violates them does not know that he is breaking them? And so also, will we but open our eyes, we may see that it is with moral law. The heathen, for example, are ignorant of many moral laws; but do they therefore escape the terrible consequences of their law breaking, even in this present life, where we can see for ourselves how God is dealing with them? And is there any reason to think it will be different in the life hereafter?

Does it seem harsh that men should be punished even for sins of ignorance, and pardon be impossible, even for these, without atonement? It would not seem so, would men but think more deeply. For beyond all question, the ignorance of men as to the fundamental law of God, to love Him with all the heart, and our neighbour as ourselves, which is the sum of all law, has its reason, not in any lack of light, but in the evil heart of man, who everywhere and always, until he is regenerated, loves self more than he loves God. The words of Christ {John 3:20} apply: "He that doeth evil cometh not to the light"; not even to the light of nature.

And yet, one who should look only at this chapter might rejoin to this, that the Israelite was only obliged to bring a sin offering, when afterward he came to the knowledge of his sin as sin; but, in case he never came to that knowledge, was not then his sin passed by without an atoning sacrifice? To this question, the ordinance which we find in chapter 16 is the decisive answer. For therein it was provided that once every year a very solemn sin offering should be offered by the high priest, for all the multitudinous sins of Israel, which were not atoned for in the special sin offerings of each day. Hence it is strictly true that no sin in Israel was ever passed over without either penalty or shedding of blood. And so the law keeps it ever before us that our unconsciousness of sinning does not alter the fact of sin, or the fact of guilt, nor remove the obligation to suffer because of sin; and that even the sin of which we are quite ignorant, interrupts man’s peace with God and harmony with him. Thus the best of us must take as our own the words of the Apostle Paul: {1 Corinthians 4:4, R.V} "I know nothing against myself; yet am I not hereby justified; He that judgeth me is the Lord."

Nor does the testimony of this law end here. We are by it taught that the guilt of sins unrecognised as sins at the time of their committal, cannot be cancelled merely by penitent confession when they become known. Confession must indeed, be made, according to the law, as one condition of pardon, but, besides this, the guilty man must bring his sin offering.

What truths can be more momentous and vital than these! Can anyone say, in the light of such a revelation, that all in this ancient law of the sin offering is now obsolete, and of no concern to us? For how many there are who are resting all their hopes for the future on the fact that they have sinned, if at all, then ignorantly; or that they have meant to do right; or that they have confessed the sin when it was known, and have been very sorry. And yet, if this law teach anything, it teaches that this is a fatal mistake, and that such hopes rest on a foundation of sand. If we would be forgiven, we must indeed confess our sin and we must repent; but this is not enough. We must have a sin offering; we must make use of the great sin offering which that of Leviticus typified; we must tell our compassionate High Priest how in ignorance, or in the rashness of some unholy, overmastering impulse, we sinned, and commit our case to Him, that He may apply the precious blood in our behalf with God.

It is a third impressive fact, that after we include all the cases for which the sin offering was provided, there still remain many sins for the forgiveness of which no provision was made. It was ordered elsewhere, for instance {Numbers 35:31-33} that no satisfaction should be taken for the life of a murderer. He might confess and bewail his sin, and be never so sorry, but there was no help for him; he must die the death. So was it also with blasphemy; so with adultery, and with many other crimes. This exclusion of so many cases from the merciful provision of the typical offering had a meaning. It was intended, not only to emphasise to the conscience the aggravated wickedness of such crimes, but also to develop in Israel the sense of need for a more adequate provision, a better sacrifice than any the Levitical law could offer; blood which should cleanse, not merely in a ceremonial and sacramental way, but really and effectively; and not only from some sins, but from all sins.

The law of the sin offering is introduced by phraseology different from that which is used in the case of the preceding offerings. In the case of each of these, the language used implies that the Israelites were familiar with the offering before its incorporation into the Levitical sacrificial system. The sin offering, on the other hand, is introduced as a new thing. And such, indeed, it was. While, as we have seen, each of the offerings before ordered had been known and used, both by the Shemitic and the other nations, since long before the days of Moses, before this time there is no mention anywhere, in Scripture or out of it, of a sacrifice corresponding to the sin or the guilt offering. The significance of this fact is apparent so soon as we observe what was the distinctive conception of the sin offering, as contrasted with the other offerings. Without question, it was the idea of expiation of guilt by the sacrifice of a substituted victim. This idea, as we have seen, was indeed not absent from the other bloody offerings; but in those its place was secondary and subordinate. In the ritual of the sin offering, on the contrary, this idea was brought out into almost solitary prominence; -sin pardoned on the ground of expiation made through the presentation to God of the blood of an innocent victim.

The introduction of this new sacrifice, then, marked the fact that the spiritual training of man, of Israel in particular, herewith entered on a new stadium; which was to be distinguished by the development, in a degree to that time without a precedent, of the sense of sin and of guilt, and the need therefore of atonement in order to pardon. This need had not indeed been unfelt before; but never in any ritual had it received so full expression. Not only is the idea of expiation by the shedding of blood almost the only thought represented in the ritual of the offering, but in the order afterward prescribed for the different sacrifices, the sin offering, in all cases where others were offered, must go before them all; before the burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering. So again, this new law insists upon expiation even for those sins which have the utmost possible palliation and excuse, in that at the time of their committal the sinner knew them not as sins; and thus teaches that even these so fatally interrupt fellowship with the holy God, that only such expiation can restore the broken harmony. What a revelation was this law, of the way in which God regards sin and of the extremity, in consequence, of the sinner’s need!

Most instructive, too, were the circumstances under which this new offering, with such a special purpose, embodying such a revelation of the extent of human guilt and responsibility, was first ordained. For its appointment followed quickly upon the tremendous revelation of the consuming holiness of God upon Mount Sinai. It was in the light of the holy mount, quaking and flaming with fire, that the eye of Moses was opened to receive from God this revelation of His will, and he was moved by the Holy Ghost to appoint for Israel, in the name of Jehovah, an offering which should differ from all other offerings in this-that it should hold forth to Israel, in solitary and unprecedented prominence, this one thought, that "without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin," not even of sins which are not known as sins at the time of their committal.

Our own generation, and even the Church of today, greatly needs to consider the significance of this fact. The spirit of our age is much more inclined to magnify the greatness and majesty of man, than the infinite greatness and holy majesty of God. Hence many talk lightly of atonement, and cannot admit its necessity to the pardon of sin. But can we doubt, with this narrative before us, that if men saw God more clearly as He is, there would be less talk of this kind? When Moses saw God on Mount Sinai, he came down to ordain a sin offering even for sins of ignorance! And nothing is more certain, as a fact of human experience in all ages, than this, that the more clearly men have perceived the unapproachable holiness and righteousness of God, the more clearly they have seen that expiation of our sins, even of our sins of ignorance, by atoning blood, is the most necessary and fundamental of all conditions, if we will have pardon of sin and peace with a Holy God.

Man is indeed slow to learn this lesson of the sin offering. It is quite too humbling and abasing to our natural, self-satisfied pride, to be readily received. This is strikingly illustrated by the fact that it is not until late in Israel’s history that the sin offering is mentioned in the sacred record: while even from that first mention till the Exile, it is mentioned only rarely. This fact is indeed often in our day held up as evidence that the sin offering was not of Mosaic origin, but a priestly invention of much later days. But the fact is quite as well accounted for by the spiritual obtuseness of Israel. The whole narrative shows that they were a people hard of heart and slow to learn the solemn lessons of Sinai; slow to apprehend the holiness of God, and the profound spiritual truth set forth in the institution of the sin offering. And yet it was not wholly unobserved, nor did every individual fail to learn its lessons. Nowhere in heathen literature do we find such a profound conviction of sin, such a sense of responsibility even for sins of ignorance, as in some of the earliest Psalms, and the earlier prophets. The self-excusing which so often marks the heathen confessions, finds no place in the confessions of those Old Testament believers, brought up under the moral training of that Sinaitic law which had the sin offering as its supreme expression on this subject. "Search me, O God, and try my heart; and see if there be in me any wicked way"; {Psalms 139:23-24} "Cleanse Thou me from secret sins."; {Psalms 19:12} "Against Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight". {Psalms 51:4} Such words as these, with many other like prayers and confessions, bear witness to the deepening sense of sin, till at the last the sin offering teaches, as its own chief lesson, its own inadequacy for the removal of guilt, in those words of the prophetic, {Psalms 40:6} from the man who mourned iniquities more than the hairs of his head: "Sin offering Thou hast not required."

But, according to the Epistle to the Hebrews, we are to regard David in these words, speaking by the Holy Ghost, as typifying Christ; for we thus Hebrews 10:5-10 : "When He cometh into the world He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldst not, but a body didst Thou prepare for Me; in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings Thou hadst no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I am come (in the roll of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God."

Which words are then expounded thus: "Saying above, Sacrifices and offerings, and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein (the which are offered according to the law); then hath He said, Lo, I am come to do Thy will. He taketh away the first that He may establish the second. By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

And so, as the deepest lesson of the sin offering, we are taught to see in it a type and prophecy of Christ, as the true and one eternally effectual sin offering for the sins of His people; who, Himself at once High Priest and Victim, offering Himself for us, perfects us forever, as the old sin offering could not, giving us therefore "boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus." May we all have grace by faith to receive and learn this deepest lesson of this ordinance, and thus in the law of the sin offering discover Him who in His person and work became the Fulfiller of this law.


Verse 3

GRADED RESPONSIBILITY

Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 4:13-14; Leviticus 4:22-23; Leviticus 4:27-28

"If the anointed priest shall sin so as to bring guilt on the people; then let him offer for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering And if the whole congregation of Israel shall err, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done any of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and are guilty; when the sin wherein they have sinned is known, then the assembly shall offer a young bullock for a sin offering, and bring it before the tent of meeting When a ruler sinneth, and doeth unwittingly any one of all the things which the Lord his God hath commanded not to be done. and is guilty; if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, be made known to him, he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a male without blemish And if any one of the common people sin unwittingly, in doing any of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and be guilty; if this sin, which he hath sinned, be made known to him, then he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned."

The law concerning the sin offering is given in four sections, of which the last, again, is divided into two parts, separated by the division of the chapter. These four sections respectively treat of-first, the law of the sin offering for the "anointed priest" (Leviticus 4:3-12); secondly, the law for the offering for the whole congregation (Leviticus 4:13-21); thirdly, that for a ruler (Leviticus 4:22-26); and lastly, the law for an offering made by a private person, one of "the common people". {Leviticus 4:27-35; Leviticus 5:1-16} In this last section we have, first, the general law, {Leviticus 4:27-35} and then are added {Leviticus 5:1-16} special prescriptions having reference to various circumstances under which a sin offering should be offered by one of the people. Under this last head are mentioned first, as requiring a sin offering, in addition to sins of ignorance or inadvertence, which only were mentioned in the preceding chapter, also sins due to rashness or weakness (Leviticus 4:1-4): and then are appointed, in the second place, certain variations in the material of the offering, allowed out of regard to the various ability of different offerers (Leviticus 4:5-16).

In the law as given in chapter 4, it is to be observed that the selection of the victim prescribed is determined by the position of the persons who might have occasion to present the offering.

For the whole congregation, the victim must be a bullock, the most valuable of all; for the high priest, as the highest religious official of the nation, and appointed also to represent them before God, it must also be a bullock. For the civil ruler, the offering must be a he-goat-an offering of a value less than that of the victim ordered for the high priest, but greater than that of those which were prescribed for the common people. For these, a variety of offerings were appointed, according to their several ability. If possible, it must be a female goat or lamb, or, if the worshipper could not bring that, then two turtledoves, or two young pigeons. If too poor to bring even this small offering, then it was appointed that, as a substitute for the bloody, offering, he might bring an offering of fine flour, without oil or frankincense, to be burnt upon the altar.

Evidently, then, the choice of the victim was determined by two considerations: first, the rank of the person who sinned, and, secondly, his ability. As regards the former point, the law as to the victim for the sin offering was this: the higher the theocratic rank of the sinning person might be, the more costly offering he must bring. No one can well miss of perceiving the meaning of this. The guilt of any sin in God’s sight is proportioned to the rank and station of the offender. What truth could be of more practical and personal concern to all than this?

In applying this principle, the law of the sin offering teaches, first, that the guilt of any sin is the heaviest, when it is committed by one who is placed in a position of religious authority. For this graded law is headed by the case of the sin of the anointed priest, that is, the high priest, the highest functionary in the nation.

We read (Leviticus 4:3): "If the anointed priest shall sin so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer for his sin which he hath committed, a young bullock without blemish, unto the Lord, for a sin offering."

That is, the high priest, although a single individual, if he sin, must bring as large and valuable an offering as is required from the whole congregation. For this law there are two evident reasons. The first is found in the fact that in Israel the high priest represented before God the entire nation. When he sinned it was as if the whole nation sinned in him. So it is said that by his sin he "brings guilt on the people"-a very weighty matter. And this suggests a second reason for the costly offering that was required from him. The consequences of the sin of one in such a high position of religious authority must, in the nature of the case, be much more serious and far-reaching than in the case of any other person.

And here we have another lesson as pertinent to our time as to those days. As the high priest, so, in modern time, the bishop, minister, or elder, is ordained as an officer in matters of religion, to act for and with men in the things of God. For the proper administration of this high trust, how indispensable that such a one shall take heed to maintain unbroken fellowship with God! Any shortcoming here is sure to impair by so much the spiritual value of his own ministrations for the people to whom he ministers. And this evil consequence of any unfaithfulness of his is the more certain to follow, because, of all the members of the community, his example has the widest and most effective influence; in whatever that example be bad or defective, it is sure to do mischief in exact proportion to his exalted station. If then such a one sin, the case is very grave, and his guilt proportionately heavy.

This very momentous fact is brought before us in an impressive way in the New Testament, where, in the epistles to the Seven Churches of Asia {Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22} it is "the angel of the church," the presiding officer of the church in each city, who is held responsible for the spiritual state of those committed to his charge. No wonder that the Apostle James wrote: {James 3:1} "Be not many teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment." Well may every true-hearted minister of Christ’s Church tremble, as here in the law of the sin offering he reads how the sin of the officer of religion may bring guilt, not only on himself, but also "on the whole people"! Well may he cry out with the Apostle Paul: {2 Corinthians 2:16} "Who is sufficient for these things?" and, like him, beseech those to whom he ministers, "Brethren, pray for us!"

With the sin of the high priest is ranked that of the congregation, or the collective nation. It is written (Leviticus 4:13-14): "If the whole congregation of Israel shall err, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done any one of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and are guilty, then the assembly shall offer a young bullock for a sin offering."

Thus Israel was taught by this law, as we are, that responsibility attaches not only to each individual person, but also to associations of individuals in their corporate character, as nations, communities, and-we may add-all Societies and Corporations, whether secular or religious. Let us emphasise it to our own consciences, as another of the fundamental lessons of this law: there is individual sin; there is also such a thing as a sin by "the whole congregation." In other words, God holds nations, communities-in a word, all associations and combinations of men for whatever purpose, no less under obligation in their corporate capacity to keep His law than as individuals, and will count them guilty if they break it, even through ignorance.

Never has a generation needed this reminder more than our own. The political and social principles which, since the French Revolution in the end of the last century, have been, year by year, more and more generally accepted among the nations of Christendom, are everywhere tending to the avowed or practical denial of this most important truth. It is a maxim ever more and more extensively accepted as almost axiomatic in our modern democratic communities, that religion is wholly a concern of the individual; and that a nation or community, as such, should make no distinction between various religions as false or true, but maintain an absolute neutrality, even between Christianity and idolatry, or theism and atheism. It should take little thought to see that this modern maxim stands in direct opposition to the principle assumed in this law of the sin offering; namely, that a community or nation is as truly and directly responsible to God as the individual in the nation. But this corporate responsibility the spirit of the age squarely denies.

Not that all, indeed, in our modern so-called Christian nations have come to this. But no one will deny that this is the mind of the vanguard of nineteenth century liberalism in religion and politics. Many of our political leaders in all lands make no secret of their views on the subject. A purely secular state is everywhere held up, and that with great plausibility and persuasiveness, as the ideal of political government; the goal to the attainment of which all good citizens should unite their efforts. And, indeed, in some parts of Christendom the complete attainment of this evil ideal seems not far away.

It is not strange, indeed, to see atheists, agnostics, and others who deny the Christian faith, maintaining this position; but when we hear men who call themselves Christians-in many cases, even Christian ministers-advocating, in one form or another, governmental neutrality in religion as the only right basis of government, one may well be amazed. For Christians are supposed to accept the Holy Scriptures as the law of faith and of morals, private and public; and where in all the Scripture will anyone find such an attitude of any nation or people mentioned, but to be condemned and threatened with the judgment of God?

Will anyone venture to say that this teaching of the law of the sin offering was only intended, like the offering itself, for the old Hebrews? Is it not rather the constant and most emphatic teaching of the whole Scriptures, that God dealt with all the ancient Gentile nations on the same principle? The history which records the overthrow of those old nations and empires does so, even professedly, for the express purpose of calling the attention of men in all ages to this principle, that God deals with all nations as under obligations to recognise Himself as King of nations, and submit in all things to His authority. So it was in the case of Moab, of Ammon, of Nineveh, and Babylon; in regard to each of which we are told, in so many words, that it was because they refused to recognise this principle of national responsibility to the one true God, which was brought before Israel in this part of the law of the sin offering, that the Divine judgment came upon them in their utter national overthrow. How awfully plain, again, is the language of the second Psalm on this same subject, where it is precisely this national repudiation of the supreme authority of God and of His Christ, so increasingly common in our day, which is named as the ground of the derisive judgment of God, and is made the occasion of exhorting all nations, not merely to belief in God, but also to the obedient recognition of His only-begotten Son, the Messiah, as the only possible means of escaping the future kindling of His wrath.

No graver sign of our times could perhaps be named than just this universal tendency in Christendom, in one way or another, to repudiate that corporate responsibility to God which is assumed as the basis of this part of the law of the sin offering. There can be no worse omen for the future of an individual than the denial of his obligations to God and to His Son, our Saviour; and there can be no worse sign for the future of Christendom, or of any nation in Christendom, than the partial or entire denial of national obligation to God and to His Christ. What it shall mean in the end, what is the future toward which these popular modern principles are conducting the nations, is revealed in Scripture with startling clearness, in the warning that the world is yet to see one who shall be in a peculiar and eminent sense "the Antichrist"; {1 John 2:18} who shall deny both the Father and Son, and be "the Lawless One," and the "Man of Sin," in that He shall "set Himself forth as God"; {2 Thessalonians 2:3-8} to whom authority will be given "over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation." {Revelation 13:7}

The nation, then, as such, is held responsible to God! So stands the law. And, therefore, in Israel, if the nation should sin, it was ordained that they also, like the high priest, should bring a bullock for a sin offering, the most costly victim that was ever prescribed. This was so ordained, no doubt, in part because of Israel’s own priestly station as a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation," exalted to a position of peculiar dignity and privilege before God, that they might mediate the blessings of redemption to all nations. It was because of this fact that, if they sinned, their guilt was peculiarly heavy.

The principle, however, is of present day application. Privilege is the measure of responsibility, no less now than then, for nations as well as for individuals. Thus national sin, on the part of the British or American nation, or indeed with any of the so-called Christian nations, is certainly judged by God to be a much more evil thing than the same sin if committed, for example, by the Chinese or Turkish nation, who have had no such degree of Gospel light and knowledge.

And the law in this case evidently also implies that sin is aggravated in proportion to its universality. It is bad, for example, if in a community one man commit adultery, forsaking his own wife; but it argues a condition of things far worse when the violation of the marriage relation becomes common; when the question can actually be held open for discussion whether marriage, as a permanent union between one man and one woman, be not "a failure," as debated not long ago in a leading London paper; and when, as in many of the United States of America and other countries of modern Christendom, laws are enacted for the express purpose of legalising the violation of Christ’s law of marriage, and thus shielding adulterers and adulteresses from the condign punishment their crime deserves. It is bad, again, when individuals in a State teach doctrines subversive of morality; but it evidently argues a far deeper depravation of morals when a whole community unite in accepting, endowing, and upholding such in their work.

Next in order comes the case of the civil ruler. For him it was ordered: "When a ruler sinneth, and doeth unwittingly any of the things which the Lord his God hath commanded not to be done, and is guilty: if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, be made known to him, he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a male without blemish" (Leviticus 4:22). Thus, the ruler was to bring a victim of less value than the high priest or the collective congregation; but it must still be of more value than that of a private person; for his responsibility, if less than that of the officer of religion, is distinctly greater than that of a man in private life.

And here is a lesson for modern politicians, no less than for rulers of the olden time in Israel. While there are many in our Parliaments and like governing bodies in Christendom who cast their every vote with the fear of God before their eyes, yet, if there be any truth in the general opinion of men upon this subject, there are many in such places who, in their voting, have before their eyes the fear of party more than the fear of God; and who, when a question comes before them, first of all consider, not what would the law of absolute righteousness, the law of God, require, but how will a vote, one way or the other, in this matter, be likely to affect their party? Such certainly need to be emphatically reminded of this part of the law of the sin offering, which held the civil ruler specially responsible to God for the execution of his trust. For so it is still; God has not abdicated His throne in favour of the people, nor will He waive His crown rights out of deference to the political necessities of a party.

Nor is it only those who sin in this particular way who need the reminder of their personal responsibility to God. All need it who either are or may be called to places of greater or less governmental responsibility; and it is those who are the most worthy of such trust who will be the first to acknowledge their need of this warning. For in all times those who have been lifted to positions of political power have been under peculiar temptation to forget God, and become reckless of their obligation to Him as His ministers. But under the conditions of modern life, in many countries of Christendom, this is true as perhaps never before. For now it has come to pass that, in most modern communities, those who make and execute laws hold their tenure of office at the pleasure of a motley army of voters, Protestants and Romanists, Jews, atheists, and what not, a large part of whom care not the least for the will of God in civil government, as revealed in Holy Scripture. Under such conditions, the place of the civil ruler becomes one of such special trial and temptation that we do well to remember in our intercessions, with peculiar sympathy, all who in such positions are seeking to serve supremely, not their party, but their God, and so best serve their country. It is no wonder that the temptation too often to many becomes overpowering, to silence conscience with plausible sophistries, and to use their office to carry out in legislation, instead of the will of God, the will of the people, or rather, of that particular party which put them in power.

Yet the great principle affirmed in this law of the sin offering stands, and will stand forever, and to it all will do well to take heed; namely, that God will hold the civil ruler responsible, and more heavily responsible than any private person, for any sin he may commit, and especially for any violation of law in any matter committed to his trust. And there is abundant reason for this. For the powers that be are ordained of God, and in His providence are placed in authority; not as the modern notion is, for the purpose of executing the will of their constituents, whatever that will may be, but rather the unchangeable will of the Most Holy God, the Ruler of all nations, so far as revealed, concerning the civil and social relations of men. Nor must it be forgotten that this eminent responsibility attaches to them, not only in their official acts, but in all their acts as individuals. No distinction is made as to the sin for which the ruler must bring his sin offering, whether public and official, or private and personal. Of whatsoever kind the sin may be, if committed by a ruler, God holds him specially responsible, as being a ruler; and reckons the guilt of that sin, even if a private offence, to be heavier than if it had been committed by one of the common people. And this, for the evident reason that, as in the case of the high priest, his exalted position gives his example double influence and effect. Thus, in all ages and all lands, a corrupt king or nobility have made a corrupt court; and a corrupt court or corrupt legislators are sure to demoralise all the lower ranks of society. But however it may be under the governments of men, under the equitable government of the Most Holy God, high station can give no immunity to sin. And in the day to come, when the Great Assize is set, there will be many who in this world stood high in authority, who will learn, in the tremendous decisions of that day, if not before, that a just God reckoned the guilt of their sins and crimes in exact proportion to their rank and station.

Last of all, in this chapter, comes the law of the sin offering for one of the common people, of which the first part is given Leviticus 4:27-35. The victim which is appointed for those who are best able to give, a female goat, is yet of less value than those ordered in the cases before given; for the responsibility and guilt in the case of such is less. The first prescription for a sin offering by one of the common people is introduced by these words: -" If any one of the common people sin unwittingly, in doing any of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and be guilty; if his sin, which he hath sinned, be made known to him, then he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned" (Leviticus 4:27-28).

In case of his inability to bring so much as this, offerings of lesser value are authorised in the section following, {Leviticus 5:5-13} to which we shall attend hereafter.

Meanwhile it is suggestive to observe that this part of the law is expanded more fully than any other part of the law of the sin offering. We are hereby reminded that if none are so high as to he above the reach of the judgment of God, but are held in that proportion strictly responsible for their sin; so, on the other hand, none are of station so low that their sins shall therefore be overlooked. The common people, in all lands, are the great majority of the population; but no one is to imagine that, because he is a single individual, of no importance in a multitude, he shall therefore, if he sin, escape the Divine eye, as it were, in a crowd. Not so. We may be of the very lowest social station; the provision in Leviticus 5:11 regards the case of such as might be so poor as that they could not even buy two doves. Men may judge the doings of such poor folk of little or no consequence; but not so God. With Him is no respect of persons, either of rich or poor. From all alike, from the anointed high priest, who ministers in the Holy of Holies, down to the common people, and among these, again, from the highest down to the very lowest, poorest, and meanest in rank, is demanded, even for a sin of ignorance, a sin offering for atonement.

What a solemn lesson we have herein concerning the character of God! His omniscience, which not only notes the sin of those who are in some conspicuous position, but also each individual sin of the lowest of the people! His absolute equity, exactly and accurately grading responsibility for sin committed, in each case, according to the rank and influence of him who commits it! His infinite holiness, which cannot pass by without expiation even the transient act or word of rash hands or lips, not even the sin not known as sin by the sinner; a holiness which, in a word, unchangeably and unalterably requires from every human being, nothing less than absolute moral perfection like His own!


Verses 4-35

THE RITUAL OF THE SIN OFFERING

Leviticus 4:4-35; Leviticus 5:1-13; Leviticus 6:24-30

ACCORDING to the Authorised Version, {Leviticus 5:6-7} it might seem that the section, Leviticus 5:1-13, referred not to the sin offering, but to the guilt offering, like the latter part of the chapter; but, as suggested in the margin of the Revised Version, in these verses we may properly read, instead of "guilt offering," "for his guilt." That the latter rendering is to be preferred is clear when we observe that in Leviticus 5:6, Leviticus 5:7, Leviticus 5:9 this offering is called a sin offering; that, everywhere else, the victim for the guilt offering is a ram; and, finally, that the estimation of a money value for the victim, which is the most characteristic feature of the guilt offering, is absent from all the offerings described in these verses. We may safely take it therefore as certain that the marginal reading should be adopted in Leviticus 5:6, so that it will read, "he shall bring for his guilt unto the Lord"; and understand the section to contain a further development of the law of the sin offering. In the law of the preceding chapter we have the direction for the sin offering as graded with reference to the rank and station of the offerer; in this section we have the law for the sin offering for the common people, as graded with reference to the ability of the offerer.

The specifications {Leviticus 5:1-5} indicate several cases under which one of the common people was required to bring a sin offering as the condition of forgiveness. As an exhaustive list would be impossible, those named are taken as illustrations. The instances selected are significant as extending the class of offences for which atonement could be made by a sin offering, beyond the limits of sins of inadvertence as given in the previous chapter. For however some cases come under this head, we cannot so reckon sins of rashness (Leviticus 5:4), and still less, the failure of the witness placed under oath to tell the whole truth as he knows it. And herein it is graciously intimated that it is in the heart of God to multiply His pardons; and, on condition of the presentation of a sin offering, to forgive also those sins in palliation of which no such excuse as inadvertence or ignorance can be pleaded. It is a faint foreshadowing, in the law concerning the type, of that which should afterward be declared concerning the great Antitype, {1 John 1:7} "The blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sin."

When we look now at the various prescriptions regarding the ritual of the offering which are given in this and the foregoing chapter, it is plain that the numerous variations from the ritual of the other sacrifices were intended to withdraw the thought of the sinner from all other aspects in which sacrifice might be regarded, and centre his mind upon the one thought of sacrifice as expiating sin, through the substitution of an innocent life for the guilty. In many particulars, indeed, the ritual agrees with that of the sacrifices before prescribed. The victim must be brought by the guilty person to be offered to God by the priest; he must, as in other cases of bloody offerings, then lay his hand on the head of the victim, and then (a particular not mentioned in the other cases) he must confess the sin which he has committed, and then and thus entrust the victim to the priest, that he may apply its blood for him in atonement before God. The priest then slays the victim, and now comes that part of the ceremonial which by its variations from the law of other offerings is emphasised as the most central and significant in this sacrifice.


Verse 6-7

THE SPRINKLING OF THE BLOOD

Leviticus 4:6-7; Leviticus 4:16-18; Leviticus 4:25; Leviticus 4:30; Leviticus 5:9

"And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord, before the veil of the sanctuary. And the priest shall put of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord, which is in the tent of meeting; and all the blood of the bullock shall he pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the tent of meeting And the anointed priest shall bring of the blood of the bullock to the tent of meeting, and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, before the veil. And he shall put of the blood upon the horns of the altar which is before the Lord, that is in the tent of meeting, and all the blood shall he pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the tent of meeting And 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 the blood thereof shall he pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and all the blood thereof shall he pour out at the base of the altar And he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering upon the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar; it is a sin offering."

In the case of the burnt offering and of the peace offering, in which the idea of expiation, although not absent, yet occupied a secondary place in their ethical intent, it sufficed that the blood of the victim, by whomsoever brought, be applied to the sides of the altar. But in the sin offering, the blood must not only be sprinkled on the sides of the altar of burnt offering, but, even in the case of the common people, be applied to the horns of the altar, its most conspicuous and, in a sense, most sacred part. In the case of a sin committed by the whole congregation, even this is not enough; the blood must be brought even into the Holy Place, be applied to the horns of the altar of incense, and be sprinkled seven times before the Lord before the veil which hung immediately before the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies, the place of the Shekinah glory. And in the great sin offering of the high priest once a year for the sins of all the people, yet more was required. The blood was to be taken even within the veil, and be sprinkled on the mercy seat itself over the tables of the broken law.

These several cases, according to the symbolism of these several parts of the tabernacle, differ in that atoning blood is brought ever more and more nearly into the immediate presence of God. The horns of the altar had a sacredness above the sides; the altar of the Holy Place before the veil, a sanctity beyond that of the altar in the outer court; while the Most Holy Place, where stood the ark, and the mercy seat, was the very place of the most immediate and visible manifestation of Jehovah, who is often described in Holy Scripture, with reference to the ark, the mercy seat, and the overhanging cherubim, as the God who "dwelleth between the cherubim."

From this we may easily understand the significance of the different prescriptions as to the blood in the case of different classes. A sin committed by any private individual or by a ruler, was that of one who had access only to the outer court, where stood the altar of burnt offering; for this reason, it is there that the blood must be exhibited, and that on the most sacred and conspicuous spot in that court, the horns of the altar where God meets with the people. But when it was the anointed priest that had sinned, the case was different. In that he had a peculiar position of nearer access to God than others, as appointed of God to minister before Him in the Holy Place, his sin is regarded as having defiled the Holy Place itself; and in that Holy Place must Jehovah therefore see atoning blood ere the priest’s position before God can be reestablished.

And the same principle required that also in the Holy Place must the blood be presented for the sin of the whole congregation. For Israel in its corporate unity was "a kingdom of priests," a priestly nation: and the priest in the Holy Place represented the nation in that capacity. Thus because of this priestly office of the nation, their collective sin was regarded as defiling the Holy Place in which, through their representatives, the priests, they ideally ministered. Hence, as the law for the priests, so is the law for the nation. For their corporate sin the blood must be applied, as in the case of the priest who represented them, to the horns of the altar in the Holy Place, whence ascended the smoke of the incense which visibly symbolised accepted priestly intercession, and, more than this, before the veil itself; in other words, as near to the very mercy seat itself as it was permitted to the priest to go; and it must be sprinkled there, not once, nor twice, but seven times, in token of the reestablishment, through the atoning blood, of God’s covenant of mercy, of which, throughout the Scripture, the number seven, the number of sabbatic rest and covenant fellowship with God, is the constant symbol.

And it is not far to seek for the spiritual thought which underlies this part of the ritual. For the tabernacle was represented as the earthly dwelling place, in a sense, of God; and just as the defiling of the house of my fellow man may be regarded as an insult to him who dwells in the house, so the sin of the priest and of the priestly people is regarded as, more than that of those outside of this relation, a special affront to the holy majesty of Jehovah, criminal just in proportion as the defilement approaches more nearly the innermost shrine of Jehovah’s manifestation.

But though Israel is at present suspended from its priestly position and function among the nations of the earth, the Apostle Peter {1 Peter 2:5} reminds us that the body of Christian believers now occupies Israel’s ancient place, being now on earth the "royal priesthood, the holy nation." Hence this ritual solemnly reminds us that the sin of a Christian is a far more evil thing than the sin of others; it is as the sin of the priest, and defiles the Holy Place, even though unwittingly committed; and thus, even more imperatively than other sin, demands the exhibition of the atoning blood of the Lamb of God, not now in the Holy Place, but more than that, in the true Holiest of all, where our High Priest is now entered. And thus, in every possible way, with this elaborate ceremonial of sprinkling of blood does the sin offering emphasise to our own consciences, no less than for ancient Israel, the solemn fact affirmed in the Epistle to the Hebrews, {Hebrews 9:22} "Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin."

Because of this, we do well to meditate much and deeply on this symbolism of the sin offering, which, more than any other in the law, has to do with the propitiation of our Lord for sin. Especially does this use of the blood, in which the significance of the sin offering reached its supreme expression, claim our most reverent attention. For the thought is inseparable from the ritual, that blood of the slain victim must be presented, not before the priest, or before the offerer, but before Jehovah. Can anyone mistake the evident significance of this? Does it not luminously hold forth the thought that atonement by sacrifice has to do, not only with man, but with God?

There is cause enough in our day for insisting on this. Many are teaching that the need for the shedding of blood for the remission of sin, lies only in the nature of man; that, so far as concerns God, sin might as well have been pardoned without it; that it is only because man is so hard and rebellious, so stubbornly distrusts the Divine love, that the death of the Holy Victim of Calvary became a necessity. Nothing less than such a stupendous exhibition of the love of God could suffice to disarm his enmity to God and win him back to loving trust. Hence the need of the atonement. That all this is true, no one will deny; but it is only half the truth, and the less momentous half, -which indeed is hinted in no offering, and in the sin offering least of all. Such a conception of the matter as completely fails to account for this part of the symbolic ritual of the bloody sacrifices, as it fails to agree with other teachings of the Scriptures. If the only need for atonement in order to pardon is in the nature of the sinner, then why this constant insistence that the blood of the sacrifice should always be solemnly presented, not before the sinner, but before Jehovah? We see in this fact most unmistakably set forth, the very solemn truth that expiation by blood as a condition of forgiveness of sin is necessary, not merely because man is what he is, but most of all because God is what He is. Let us then not forget that the presentation unto God of an expiation for sin, accomplished by the death of an appointed substitutionary victim, was in Israel made an indispensable condition of the pardon of sin. Is this, as many urge, against the love of God? By no means! Least of all will it so appear, when we remember who appointed the great Sacrifice, and, above all, who came to fulfil this type. Goal does not love us because atonement has been made, but atonement has been made because the Father loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

God is none the less just, that He is love; and none the less holy, that He is merciful: and in His nature, as the Most Just and Holy One, lies this necessity of the shedding of blood in order to the forgiveness of sin, which is impressively symbolised in the unvarying ordinance of the Levitical law, that as a condition of the remission of sin, the blood of the sacrifice must be presented, not before the sinner, but before Jehovah. To this generation of ours, with its so exalted notions of the greatness and dignity of man, and its correspondingly low conceptions of the ineffable greatness and majesty of the Most Holy God, this altar truth may be most distasteful, so greatly does it magnify the evil of sin; but just in that degree is it necessary to the humiliation of man’s proud self-complacency, that, whether pleasing or not, this truth be faithfully held forth.

Very instructive and helpful to our faith are the allusions to this sprinkling of Blood in the New Testament. Thus, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, {Hebrews 12:24} believers are reminded that they are come "unto the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better than that of Abel." The meaning is plain. For we are told, {Genesis 4:10} that the blood of Abel cried out against Cain from the ground; and that its cry for vengeance was prevailing; for God came down, arraigned the murderer, and visited him with instant judgment. But in these words we are told that the sprinkled blood of the holy Victim of Calvary, sprinkled on the heavenly altar, also has a voice, and a voice which "speaketh better than that of Abel"; better, in that it speaks, not for vengeance, but for pardoning mercy; better, in that it procures the remission even of a penitent murderer’s guilt; so that, "being now justified through His blood" we may all be saved from wrath through. {Romans 5:9} And, if we are truly Christ’s, it is our blessed comfort to remember also that we are said {1 Peter 1:2} to have been chosen of God unto the sprinkling of this precious blood of Jesus Christ; words which remind us, not only that the blood of a Lamb "without blemish and without spot" has been presented unto God for us, but also that the reason for this distinguishing mercy is found, not in us, but in the free love of God, who chose us in Christ Jesus to this grace.

And as in the burnt offering, so in the sin offering, the blood was to be sprinkled by the priest. The teaching is the same in both cases. To present Christ before God, laying the hand of faith upon His head as our sin offering, this is all we can do or are required to do. With the sprinkling of the blood we have nothing to do. In other words, the effective presentation of the blood before God is not to be secured by some act of our own; it is not something, to be procured through some subjective experience, other or in addition to the faith which brings the Victim. As in the type, so in the Antitype, the sprinkling of the atoning blood-that is, its application God-ward as a propitiation-is the work of our heavenly Priest. And our part in regard to it is simply and only this, that we entrust this work to Him. He will not disappoint us; He is appointed of God to this end, and He will see that it is done.

In a sacrifice in which the sprinkling of the blood occupies such a central and essential place in the symbolism, one would anticipate that this ceremony would never be dispensed with. Very strange it thus appears, at first sight, to find that to this law an exception was made. For it was ordained (ver. 11) that a man so poor that "his means suffice not" to bring even two doves or young pigeons, might bring, as a substitute, an offering of fine flour. From this, some have hastened to infer that the shedding of the blood, and therewith the idea of substituted life, was not essential to the idea of reconciliation with God; but with little reason. Most illogical and unreasonable it is to determine a principle, not from the general rule, but from an exception; especially when, as in this case, for the exception a reason can be shown, which is not inconsistent with the rule. For had no such exceptional offering been permitted in the case of the extremely poor man, it would have followed that there would have remained a class of persons in Israel whom God had excluded from the provision of the sin offering, which He had made the inseparable condition of forgiveness. But two truths were to be set forth in the ritual; the one, atonement by means of a life surrendered in expiation of guilt; the other, -as in a similar way in the burnt offering, -the sufficiency of God’s gracious provision for even the neediest of sinners. Evidently, here was a case in which something must be sacrificed in the symbolism. One of these truths may be perfectly set forth; both cannot be, with equal perfectness; a choice must therefore be made, and is made in this exceptional regulation, so as to hold up clearly, even though at the expense of some distinctness in the other thought of expiation, the unlimited sufficiency of God’s provision of forgiving grace.

And yet the prescriptions in this form of the offering were such as to prevent anyone from confounding it with the meal offering, which typified consecrated and accepted service. The oil and the frankincense which belonged to the latter are to be left out (Leviticus 5:11); incense, which typifies accepted prayer, -thus reminding us of the unanswered prayer of the Holy Victim when He cried upon the cross, "My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?" and oil, which typifies the Holy Ghost, -reminding us, again, how from the soul of the Son of God was mysteriously withdrawn in that same hour all the conscious presence and comfort of the Holy Spirit, which withdrawment alone could have wrung from His lips that unanswered prayer. And, again, whereas the meal for the meal offering had no limit fixed as to quantity, in this case the amount is prescribed-"the tenth part of an ephah" (Leviticus 5:11); an amount which, from the story of the manna, appears to have represented the sustenance of one full day. Thus it was ordained that if, in the nature of the case, this sin offering could not set forth the sacrifice of life by means of the shedding of blood, it should at least point in the same direction, by requiring that, so to speak, the support of life for one day shall be given up, as forfeited by sin.

All the other parts of the ceremonial are in this ordinance made to take a secondary place, or are omitted altogether. Not all of the offering is burnt upon the altar, but only a part; that part, however, the fat, the choicest; for the same reason as in the peace offering. There is, indeed, a peculiar variation in the case of the offering of the two young pigeons, in that, of the one, the blood only was used in the sacrifice, while the other was wholly burnt like a burnt offering. But for this variation the reason is evident enough in the nature of the victims. For in the case of a small creature like a bird, the fat would be so insignificant in quantity, and so difficult to separate with thoroughness from the flesh, that the ordinance must needs be varied, and a second bird be taken for the burning, as a substitute for the separated fat of larger animals. The symbolism is not essentially affected by the variation. What the burning of the fat means in other offerings, that also means the burning of the second bird in this case.


Verses 8-12

THE EATING AND THE BURNING OF THE SIN OFFERING WITHOUT THE CAMP

Leviticus 4:8-12; Leviticus 4:19-21; Leviticus 4:26; Leviticus 4:31;, Leviticus 5:10; Leviticus 5:12

"And all the fat of the bullock of the sin offering he shall take off from it; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the loins, and the caul upon the liver, with the kidneys, shall he take away, as it is taken off from the ox of the sacrifice of, peace offerings: and the priest shall burn them upon the altar of burnt offering. And the skin of the bullock, and all its flesh, with its head, and with its legs, and its inwards, and its dung, even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall it be burnt And all the fat thereof shall he take off from it, and burn it upon the altar. Thus shall he do with the bullock; as he did with the bullock of the sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven. And he shall carry forth the bullock without the camp, and burn it as he burned the first bullock: it is the sin offering for the assembly. And all the fat thereof shall he burn upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make atonement for him as concerning his sin, and he shall be forgiven. And all the fat thereof shall he take away, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour unto the Lord and the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering according to the ordinance: and the priest shall make atonement for him as concerning his sin which he hath sinned, and he shall be forgiven. And he shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it as the memorial thereof, and burn it on the altar, upon the offerings of the Lord made by fire: it is a sin offering."

In the ritual of the sin offering, sacrificial meal, such as that of the peace offering, wherein the offerer and his house, with the priest and the Levite, partook together of the flesh of the sacrificed victim, there was none. The eating of the flesh of the sin offerings by the priests, prescribed in Leviticus 6:26, had, primarily, a different intention and meaning. As set forth elsewhere, {Leviticus 7:35} it was "the anointing portion of Aaron and his sons"; an ordinance expounded by the Apostle Paul to this effect, {1 Corinthians 9:13} they which wait upon the altar should "have their portion with the altar." Yet not of all the sin offerings might the priest thus partake. For when he was himself the one for whom the offering was made, whether as an individual, or as included in the congregation, then it is plain that he for the time stood in the same position before God as the private individual who had sinned. It was a universal principle of the law that because of the peculiarly near and solemn relation into which the expiatory victim had been brought to God, it was "most holy," and therefore he for whose sin it is offered could not eat of its flesh. Hence the general law is laid down: {Leviticus 6:30} "No sin offering, whereof any of the blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the holy place, shall be eaten; it shall be burnt with fire."

And yet, although, because the priests could not eat of the flesh, it must be burnt, it could not be burnt upon the altar; not, as some have fancied, because it was regarded as unclean, which is directly contradicted by the statement that it is "most holy," but because so to dispose of it would have been to confound the sin offering with the burnt offering, which had, as we have seen, a specific symbolic meaning, quite distinct from that of the sin offering. It must be so disposed of that nothing shall divert the mind of the worshipper from the fact that, not sacrifice as representing full consecration, as in the burnt offering, but sacrifice as representing expiation, is set forth in this offering. Hence it was ordained that the flesh of these sin offerings for the anointed priest, or for the congregation, which included him, should be "burnt on wood with fire without the camp." {Leviticus 4:11-12; Leviticus 4:21} And the more carefully to guard against the possibility of confounding this burning of the flesh of the sin offering with the sacrificial burning of the victims on the altar, the Hebrew uses here, and in all places where this burning is referred to, a verb wholly distinct from that which is used of the burnings on the altar, and which, unlike that, is used of any ordinary burning of anything for any purpose.

But this burning of the victim without the camp was not therefore empty of all typical significance. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews calls our attention to the fact that in this part of the appointed ritual there was also that which prefigured Christ and the circumstances of His death. For we, {Hebrews 13:10-12} after an exhortation to Christians to have done with the ritual observances of Judaism regarding meats:-"We," that is, we Christian believers, "have an altar,"-the cross upon which Jesus suffered, -"whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle"; i.e., they who adhere to the now effete Jewish tabernacle service, the unbelieving Israelites, derive no benefit from this sacrifice of ours. "For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the Holy Place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned without the camp"; the priesthood are debarred from eating them, according to the law we have before us. And then attention is called to the fact that in this respect Jesus fulfilled this part of the type of the sin offering, thus: "Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the camp." That is, as Alford interprets (Comm. sub. loc.), in the circumstance that Jesus suffered without the gate, is seen a visible adumbration of the fact that He suffered outside the camp of legal Judaism, and thus, in that He suffered for the sin of the whole congregation of Israel, fulfilled the type of this sin offering in this particular. Thus a prophecy is discovered here which perhaps we had not else discerned, concerning the manner of the death of the antitypical victim. He should suffer as a victim for the sin of the whole congregation, the priestly people, who should for that reason be debarred, in fulfilment of the type, from that benefit of His death which had else been their privilege. And herein was accomplished to the uttermost that surrender of His whole being to God, in that, in carrying out that full consecration, "He, bearing His cross, went forth," not merely outside the gate of Jerusalem, -in itself a trivial circumstance, -but, as this fitly symbolised, outside the congregation of Israel, to suffer. In other words, His consecration of Himself to God in self-sacrifice found its supreme expression in this, that He voluntarily submitted to be cast out from Israel, despised and rejected of men, even of the Israel of God.

And so this burning of the flesh of the sin offering of the highest grade in two places, the fat upon the altar, in the court of the congregation, and the rest of the victim outside the camp, set forth prophetically the full self-surrender of the Son to the Father, as the sin offering, in a double aspect: in the former, emphasising simply, as in the peace offering, His surrender of all that was highest and best in Him, as Son of God and Son of man, unto the Father as a Sin offering; in the latter, foreshowing that He should also, in a special manner, be a sacrifice for the sin of the congregation of Israel, and that His consecration should receive its fullest exhibition and most complete expression in that He should die outside the camp of legal Judaism, as an outcast from the congregation of Israel.

Accordingly we find that this part of the type of the sin offering was formally accomplished when the high priest, upon Christ’s confession before the Sanhedrim of His Sonship to God, declared Him to be guilty of blasphemy; an offence for which it had been ordered by the Lord {Leviticus 24:14} that the guilty person should be taken "without the camp" to suffer for his sin.

In the light of these marvellous correspondences between the typical sin offering and the self offering of the Son of God, what a profound meaning more and more appears in those words of Christ concerning Moses: "He wrote of Me."


Verse 13-14

ete_me Leviticus 4:13-14

GRADED RESPONSIBILITY

Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 4:13-14; Leviticus 4:22-23; Leviticus 4:27-28

"If the anointed priest shall sin so as to bring guilt on the people; then let him offer for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering And if the whole congregation of Israel shall err, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done any of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and are guilty; when the sin wherein they have sinned is known, then the assembly shall offer a young bullock for a sin offering, and bring it before the tent of meeting When a ruler sinneth, and doeth unwittingly any one of all the things which the Lord his God hath commanded not to be done. and is guilty; if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, be made known to him, he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a male without blemish And if any one of the common people sin unwittingly, in doing any of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and be guilty; if this sin, which he hath sinned, be made known to him, then he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned."

The law concerning the sin offering is given in four sections, of which the last, again, is divided into two parts, separated by the division of the chapter. These four sections respectively treat of-first, the law of the sin offering for the "anointed priest" (Leviticus 4:3-12); secondly, the law for the offering for the whole congregation (Leviticus 4:13-21); thirdly, that for a ruler (Leviticus 4:22-26); and lastly, the law for an offering made by a private person, one of "the common people". {Leviticus 4:27-35; Leviticus 5:1-16} In this last section we have, first, the general law, {Leviticus 4:27-35} and then are added {Leviticus 5:1-16} special prescriptions having reference to various circumstances under which a sin offering should be offered by one of the people. Under this last head are mentioned first, as requiring a sin offering, in addition to sins of ignorance or inadvertence, which only were mentioned in the preceding chapter, also sins due to rashness or weakness (Leviticus 4:1-4): and then are appointed, in the second place, certain variations in the material of the offering, allowed out of regard to the various ability of different offerers (Leviticus 4:5-16).

In the law as given in chapter 4, it is to be observed that the selection of the victim prescribed is determined by the position of the persons who might have occasion to present the offering.

For the whole congregation, the victim must be a bullock, the most valuable of all; for the high priest, as the highest religious official of the nation, and appointed also to represent them before God, it must also be a bullock. For the civil ruler, the offering must be a he-goat-an offering of a value less than that of the victim ordered for the high priest, but greater than that of those which were prescribed for the common people. For these, a variety of offerings were appointed, according to their several ability. If possible, it must be a female goat or lamb, or, if the worshipper could not bring that, then two turtledoves, or two young pigeons. If too poor to bring even this small offering, then it was appointed that, as a substitute for the bloody, offering, he might bring an offering of fine flour, without oil or frankincense, to be burnt upon the altar.

Evidently, then, the choice of the victim was determined by two considerations: first, the rank of the person who sinned, and, secondly, his ability. As regards the former point, the law as to the victim for the sin offering was this: the higher the theocratic rank of the sinning person might be, the more costly offering he must bring. No one can well miss of perceiving the meaning of this. The guilt of any sin in God’s sight is proportioned to the rank and station of the offender. What truth could be of more practical and personal concern to all than this?

In applying this principle, the law of the sin offering teaches, first, that the guilt of any sin is the heaviest, when it is committed by one who is placed in a position of religious authority. For this graded law is headed by the case of the sin of the anointed priest, that is, the high priest, the highest functionary in the nation.

We read (Leviticus 4:3): "If the anointed priest shall sin so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer for his sin which he hath committed, a young bullock without blemish, unto the Lord, for a sin offering."

That is, the high priest, although a single individual, if he sin, must bring as large and valuable an offering as is required from the whole congregation. For this law there are two evident reasons. The first is found in the fact that in Israel the high priest represented before God the entire nation. When he sinned it was as if the whole nation sinned in him. So it is said that by his sin he "brings guilt on the people"-a very weighty matter. And this suggests a second reason for the costly offering that was required from him. The consequences of the sin of one in such a high position of religious authority must, in the nature of the case, be much more serious and far-reaching than in the case of any other person.

And here we have another lesson as pertinent to our time as to those days. As the high priest, so, in modern time, the bishop, minister, or elder, is ordained as an officer in matters of religion, to act for and with men in the things of God. For the proper administration of this high trust, how indispensable that such a one shall take heed to maintain unbroken fellowship with God! Any shortcoming here is sure to impair by so much the spiritual value of his own ministrations for the people to whom he ministers. And this evil consequence of any unfaithfulness of his is the more certain to follow, because, of all the members of the community, his example has the widest and most effective influence; in whatever that example be bad or defective, it is sure to do mischief in exact proportion to his exalted station. If then such a one sin, the case is very grave, and his guilt proportionately heavy.

This very momentous fact is brought before us in an impressive way in the New Testament, where, in the epistles to the Seven Churches of Asia {Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22} it is "the angel of the church," the presiding officer of the church in each city, who is held responsible for the spiritual state of those committed to his charge. No wonder that the Apostle James wrote: {James 3:1} "Be not many teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment." Well may every true-hearted minister of Christ’s Church tremble, as here in the law of the sin offering he reads how the sin of the officer of religion may bring guilt, not only on himself, but also "on the whole people"! Well may he cry out with the Apostle Paul: {2 Corinthians 2:16} "Who is sufficient for these things?" and, like him, beseech those to whom he ministers, "Brethren, pray for us!"

With the sin of the high priest is ranked that of the congregation, or the collective nation. It is written (Leviticus 4:13-14): "If the whole congregation of Israel shall err, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done any one of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and are guilty, then the assembly shall offer a young bullock for a sin offering."

Thus Israel was taught by this law, as we are, that responsibility attaches not only to each individual person, but also to associations of individuals in their corporate character, as nations, communities, and-we may add-all Societies and Corporations, whether secular or religious. Let us emphasise it to our own consciences, as another of the fundamental lessons of this law: there is individual sin; there is also such a thing as a sin by "the whole congregation." In other words, God holds nations, communities-in a word, all associations and combinations of men for whatever purpose, no less under obligation in their corporate capacity to keep His law than as individuals, and will count them guilty if they break it, even through ignorance.

Never has a generation needed this reminder more than our own. The political and social principles which, since the French Revolution in the end of the last century, have been, year by year, more and more generally accepted among the nations of Christendom, are everywhere tending to the avowed or practical denial of this most important truth. It is a maxim ever more and more extensively accepted as almost axiomatic in our modern democratic communities, that religion is wholly a concern of the individual; and that a nation or community, as such, should make no distinction between various religions as false or true, but maintain an absolute neutrality, even between Christianity and idolatry, or theism and atheism. It should take little thought to see that this modern maxim stands in direct opposition to the principle assumed in this law of the sin offering; namely, that a community or nation is as truly and directly responsible to God as the individual in the nation. But this corporate responsibility the spirit of the age squarely denies.

Not that all, indeed, in our modern so-called Christian nations have come to this. But no one will deny that this is the mind of the vanguard of nineteenth century liberalism in religion and politics. Many of our political leaders in all lands make no secret of their views on the subject. A purely secular state is everywhere held up, and that with great plausibility and persuasiveness, as the ideal of political government; the goal to the attainment of which all good citizens should unite their efforts. And, indeed, in some parts of Christendom the complete attainment of this evil ideal seems not far away.

It is not strange, indeed, to see atheists, agnostics, and others who deny the Christian faith, maintaining this position; but when we hear men who call themselves Christians-in many cases, even Christian ministers-advocating, in one form or another, governmental neutrality in religion as the only right basis of government, one may well be amazed. For Christians are supposed to accept the Holy Scriptures as the law of faith and of morals, private and public; and where in all the Scripture will anyone find such an attitude of any nation or people mentioned, but to be condemned and threatened with the judgment of God?

Will anyone venture to say that this teaching of the law of the sin offering was only intended, like the offering itself, for the old Hebrews? Is it not rather the constant and most emphatic teaching of the whole Scriptures, that God dealt with all the ancient Gentile nations on the same principle? The history which records the overthrow of those old nations and empires does so, even professedly, for the express purpose of calling the attention of men in all ages to this principle, that God deals with all nations as under obligations to recognise Himself as King of nations, and submit in all things to His authority. So it was in the case of Moab, of Ammon, of Nineveh, and Babylon; in regard to each of which we are told, in so many words, that it was because they refused to recognise this principle of national responsibility to the one true God, which was brought before Israel in this part of the law of the sin offering, that the Divine judgment came upon them in their utter national overthrow. How awfully plain, again, is the language of the second Psalm on this same subject, where it is precisely this national repudiation of the supreme authority of God and of His Christ, so increasingly common in our day, which is named as the ground of the derisive judgment of God, and is made the occasion of exhorting all nations, not merely to belief in God, but also to the obedient recognition of His only-begotten Son, the Messiah, as the only possible means of escaping the future kindling of His wrath.

No graver sign of our times could perhaps be named than just this universal tendency in Christendom, in one way or another, to repudiate that corporate responsibility to God which is assumed as the basis of this part of the law of the sin offering. There can be no worse omen for the future of an individual than the denial of his obligations to God and to His Son, our Saviour; and there can be no worse sign for the future of Christendom, or of any nation in Christendom, than the partial or entire denial of national obligation to God and to His Christ. What it shall mean in the end, what is the future toward which these popular modern principles are conducting the nations, is revealed in Scripture with startling clearness, in the warning that the world is yet to see one who shall be in a peculiar and eminent sense "the Antichrist"; {1 John 2:18} who shall deny both the Father and Son, and be "the Lawless One," and the "Man of Sin," in that He shall "set Himself forth as God"; {2 Thessalonians 2:3-8} to whom authority will be given "over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation." {Revelation 13:7}

The nation, then, as such, is held responsible to God! So stands the law. And, therefore, in Israel, if the nation should sin, it was ordained that they also, like the high priest, should bring a bullock for a sin offering, the most costly victim that was ever prescribed. This was so ordained, no doubt, in part because of Israel’s own priestly station as a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation," exalted to a position of peculiar dignity and privilege before God, that they might mediate the blessings of redemption to all nations. It was because of this fact that, if they sinned, their guilt was peculiarly heavy.

The principle, however, is of present day application. Privilege is the measure of responsibility, no less now than then, for nations as well as for individuals. Thus national sin, on the part of the British or American nation, or indeed with any of the so-called Christian nations, is certainly judged by God to be a much more evil thing than the same sin if committed, for example, by the Chinese or Turkish nation, who have had no such degree of Gospel light and knowledge.

And the law in this case evidently also implies that sin is aggravated in proportion to its universality. It is bad, for example, if in a community one man commit adultery, forsaking his own wife; but it argues a condition of things far worse when the violation of the marriage relation becomes common; when the question can actually be held open for discussion whether marriage, as a permanent union between one man and one woman, be not "a failure," as debated not long ago in a leading London paper; and when, as in many of the United States of America and other countries of modern Christendom, laws are enacted for the express purpose of legalising the violation of Christ’s law of marriage, and thus shielding adulterers and adulteresses from the condign punishment their crime deserves. It is bad, again, when individuals in a State teach doctrines subversive of morality; but it evidently argues a far deeper depravation of morals when a whole community unite in accepting, endowing, and upholding such in their work.

Next in order comes the case of the civil ruler. For him it was ordered: "When a ruler sinneth, and doeth unwittingly any of the things which the Lord his God hath commanded not to be done, and is guilty: if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, be made known to him, he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a male without blemish" (Leviticus 4:22). Thus, the ruler was to bring a victim of less value than the high priest or the collective congregation; but it must still be of more value than that of a private person; for his responsibility, if less than that of the officer of religion, is distinctly greater than that of a man in private life.

And here is a lesson for modern politicians, no less than for rulers of the olden time in Israel. While there are many in our Parliaments and like governing bodies in Christendom who cast their every vote with the fear of God before their eyes, yet, if there be any truth in the general opinion of men upon this subject, there are many in such places who, in their voting, have before their eyes the fear of party more than the fear of God; and who, when a question comes before them, first of all consider, not what would the law of absolute righteousness, the law of God, require, but how will a vote, one way or the other, in this matter, be likely to affect their party? Such certainly need to be emphatically reminded of this part of the law of the sin offering, which held the civil ruler specially responsible to God for the execution of his trust. For so it is still; God has not abdicated His throne in favour of the people, nor will He waive His crown rights out of deference to the political necessities of a party.

Nor is it only those who sin in this particular way who need the reminder of their personal responsibility to God. All need it who either are or may be called to places of greater or less governmental responsibility; and it is those who are the most worthy of such trust who will be the first to acknowledge their need of this warning. For in all times those who have been lifted to positions of political power have been under peculiar temptation to forget God, and become reckless of their obligation to Him as His ministers. But under the conditions of modern life, in many countries of Christendom, this is true as perhaps never before. For now it has come to pass that, in most modern communities, those who make and execute laws hold their tenure of office at the pleasure of a motley army of voters, Protestants and Romanists, Jews, atheists, and what not, a large part of whom care not the least for the will of God in civil government, as revealed in Holy Scripture. Under such conditions, the place of the civil ruler becomes one of such special trial and temptation that we do well to remember in our intercessions, with peculiar sympathy, all who in such positions are seeking to serve supremely, not their party, but their God, and so best serve their country. It is no wonder that the temptation too often to many becomes overpowering, to silence conscience with plausible sophistries, and to use their office to carry out in legislation, instead of the will of God, the will of the people, or rather, of that particular party which put them in power.

Yet the great principle affirmed in this law of the sin offering stands, and will stand forever, and to it all will do well to take heed; namely, that God will hold the civil ruler responsible, and more heavily responsible than any private person, for any sin he may commit, and especially for any violation of law in any matter committed to his trust. And there is abundant reason for this. For the powers that be are ordained of God, and in His providence are placed in authority; not as the modern notion is, for the purpose of executing the will of their constituents, whatever that will may be, but rather the unchangeable will of the Most Holy God, the Ruler of all nations, so far as revealed, concerning the civil and social relations of men. Nor must it be forgotten that this eminent responsibility attaches to them, not only in their official acts, but in all their acts as individuals. No distinction is made as to the sin for which the ruler must bring his sin offering, whether public and official, or private and personal. Of whatsoever kind the sin may be, if committed by a ruler, God holds him specially responsible, as being a ruler; and reckons the guilt of that sin, even if a private offence, to be heavier than if it had been committed by one of the common people. And this, for the evident reason that, as in the case of the high priest, his exalted position gives his example double influence and effect. Thus, in all ages and all lands, a corrupt king or nobility have made a corrupt court; and a corrupt court or corrupt legislators are sure to demoralise all the lower ranks of society. But however it may be under the governments of men, under the equitable government of the Most Holy God, high station can give no immunity to sin. And in the day to come, when the Great Assize is set, there will be many who in this world stood high in authority, who will learn, in the tremendous decisions of that day, if not before, that a just God reckoned the guilt of their sins and crimes in exact proportion to their rank and station.

Last of all, in this chapter, comes the law of the sin offering for one of the common people, of which the first part is given Leviticus 4:27-35. The victim which is appointed for those who are best able to give, a female goat, is yet of less value than those ordered in the cases before given; for the responsibility and guilt in the case of such is less. The first prescription for a sin offering by one of the common people is introduced by these words: -" If any one of the common people sin unwittingly, in doing any of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and be guilty; if his sin, which he hath sinned, be made known to him, then he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned" (Leviticus 4:27-28).

In case of his inability to bring so much as this, offerings of lesser value are authorised in the section following, {Leviticus 5:5-13} to which we shall attend hereafter.

Meanwhile it is suggestive to observe that this part of the law is expanded more fully than any other part of the law of the sin offering. We are hereby reminded that if none are so high as to he above the reach of the judgment of God, but are held in that proportion strictly responsible for their sin; so, on the other hand, none are of station so low that their sins shall therefore be overlooked. The common people, in all lands, are the great majority of the population; but no one is to imagine that, because he is a single individual, of no importance in a multitude, he shall therefore, if he sin, escape the Divine eye, as it were, in a crowd. Not so. We may be of the very lowest social station; the provision in Leviticus 5:11 regards the case of such as might be so poor as that they could not even buy two doves. Men may judge the doings of such poor folk of little or no consequence; but not so God. With Him is no respect of persons, either of rich or poor. From all alike, from the anointed high priest, who ministers in the Holy of Holies, down to the common people, and among these, again, from the highest down to the very lowest, poorest, and meanest in rank, is demanded, even for a sin of ignorance, a sin offering for atonement.

What a solemn lesson we have herein concerning the character of God! His omniscience, which not only notes the sin of those who are in some conspicuous position, but also each individual sin of the lowest of the people! His absolute equity, exactly and accurately grading responsibility for sin committed, in each case, according to the rank and influence of him who commits it! His infinite holiness, which cannot pass by without expiation even the transient act or word of rash hands or lips, not even the sin not known as sin by the sinner; a holiness which, in a word, unchangeably and unalterably requires from every human being, nothing less than absolute moral perfection like His own!


Verses 16-18

elete_me Leviticus 4:16-18

THE SPRINKLING OF THE BLOOD

Leviticus 4:6-7; Leviticus 4:16-18; Leviticus 4:25; Leviticus 4:30; Leviticus 5:9

"And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord, before the veil of the sanctuary. And the priest shall put of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord, which is in the tent of meeting; and all the blood of the bullock shall he pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the tent of meeting And the anointed priest shall bring of the blood of the bullock to the tent of meeting, and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, before the veil. And he shall put of the blood upon the horns of the altar which is before the Lord, that is in the tent of meeting, and all the blood shall he pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the tent of meeting And 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 the blood thereof shall he pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and all the blood thereof shall he pour out at the base of the altar And he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering upon the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar; it is a sin offering."

In the case of the burnt offering and of the peace offering, in which the idea of expiation, although not absent, yet occupied a secondary place in their ethical intent, it sufficed that the blood of the victim, by whomsoever brought, be applied to the sides of the altar. But in the sin offering, the blood must not only be sprinkled on the sides of the altar of burnt offering, but, even in the case of the common people, be applied to the horns of the altar, its most conspicuous and, in a sense, most sacred part. In the case of a sin committed by the whole congregation, even this is not enough; the blood must be brought even into the Holy Place, be applied to the horns of the altar of incense, and be sprinkled seven times before the Lord before the veil which hung immediately before the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies, the place of the Shekinah glory. And in the great sin offering of the high priest once a year for the sins of all the people, yet more was required. The blood was to be taken even within the veil, and be sprinkled on the mercy seat itself over the tables of the broken law.

These several cases, according to the symbolism of these several parts of the tabernacle, differ in that atoning blood is brought ever more and more nearly into the immediate presence of God. The horns of the altar had a sacredness above the sides; the altar of the Holy Place before the veil, a sanctity beyond that of the altar in the outer court; while the Most Holy Place, where stood the ark, and the mercy seat, was the very place of the most immediate and visible manifestation of Jehovah, who is often described in Holy Scripture, with reference to the ark, the mercy seat, and the overhanging cherubim, as the God who "dwelleth between the cherubim."

From this we may easily understand the significance of the different prescriptions as to the blood in the case of different classes. A sin committed by any private individual or by a ruler, was that of one who had access only to the outer court, where stood the altar of burnt offering; for this reason, it is there that the blood must be exhibited, and that on the most sacred and conspicuous spot in that court, the horns of the altar where God meets with the people. But when it was the anointed priest that had sinned, the case was different. In that he had a peculiar position of nearer access to God than others, as appointed of God to minister before Him in the Holy Place, his sin is regarded as having defiled the Holy Place itself; and in that Holy Place must Jehovah therefore see atoning blood ere the priest’s position before God can be reestablished.

And the same principle required that also in the Holy Place must the blood be presented for the sin of the whole congregation. For Israel in its corporate unity was "a kingdom of priests," a priestly nation: and the priest in the Holy Place represented the nation in that capacity. Thus because of this priestly office of the nation, their collective sin was regarded as defiling the Holy Place in which, through their representatives, the priests, they ideally ministered. Hence, as the law for the priests, so is the law for the nation. For their corporate sin the blood must be applied, as in the case of the priest who represented them, to the horns of the altar in the Holy Place, whence ascended the smoke of the incense which visibly symbolised accepted priestly intercession, and, more than this, before the veil itself; in other words, as near to the very mercy seat itself as it was permitted to the priest to go; and it must be sprinkled there, not once, nor twice, but seven times, in token of the reestablishment, through the atoning blood, of God’s covenant of mercy, of which, throughout the Scripture, the number seven, the number of sabbatic rest and covenant fellowship with God, is the constant symbol.

And it is not far to seek for the spiritual thought which underlies this part of the ritual. For the tabernacle was represented as the earthly dwelling place, in a sense, of God; and just as the defiling of the house of my fellow man may be regarded as an insult to him who dwells in the house, so the sin of the priest and of the priestly people is regarded as, more than that of those outside of this relation, a special affront to the holy majesty of Jehovah, criminal just in proportion as the defilement approaches more nearly the innermost shrine of Jehovah’s manifestation.

But though Israel is at present suspended from its priestly position and function among the nations of the earth, the Apostle Peter {1 Peter 2:5} reminds us that the body of Christian believers now occupies Israel’s ancient place, being now on earth the "royal priesthood, the holy nation." Hence this ritual solemnly reminds us that the sin of a Christian is a far more evil thing than the sin of others; it is as the sin of the priest, and defiles the Holy Place, even though unwittingly committed; and thus, even more imperatively than other sin, demands the exhibition of the atoning blood of the Lamb of God, not now in the Holy Place, but more than that, in the true Holiest of all, where our High Priest is now entered. And thus, in every possible way, with this elaborate ceremonial of sprinkling of blood does the sin offering emphasise to our own consciences, no less than for ancient Israel, the solemn fact affirmed in the Epistle to the Hebrews, {Hebrews 9:22} "Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin."

Because of this, we do well to meditate much and deeply on this symbolism of the sin offering, which, more than any other in the law, has to do with the propitiation of our Lord for sin. Especially does this use of the blood, in which the significance of the sin offering reached its supreme expression, claim our most reverent attention. For the thought is inseparable from the ritual, that blood of the slain victim must be presented, not before the priest, or before the offerer, but before Jehovah. Can anyone mistake the evident significance of this? Does it not luminously hold forth the thought that atonement by sacrifice has to do, not only with man, but with God?

There is cause enough in our day for insisting on this. Many are teaching that the need for the shedding of blood for the remission of sin, lies only in the nature of man; that, so far as concerns God, sin might as well have been pardoned without it; that it is only because man is so hard and rebellious, so stubbornly distrusts the Divine love, that the death of the Holy Victim of Calvary became a necessity. Nothing less than such a stupendous exhibition of the love of God could suffice to disarm his enmity to God and win him back to loving trust. Hence the need of the atonement. That all this is true, no one will deny; but it is only half the truth, and the less momentous half, -which indeed is hinted in no offering, and in the sin offering least of all. Such a conception of the matter as completely fails to account for this part of the symbolic ritual of the bloody sacrifices, as it fails to agree with other teachings of the Scriptures. If the only need for atonement in order to pardon is in the nature of the sinner, then why this constant insistence that the blood of the sacrifice should always be solemnly presented, not before the sinner, but before Jehovah? We see in this fact most unmistakably set forth, the very solemn truth that expiation by blood as a condition of forgiveness of sin is necessary, not merely because man is what he is, but most of all because God is what He is. Let us then not forget that the presentation unto God of an expiation for sin, accomplished by the death of an appointed substitutionary victim, was in Israel made an indispensable condition of the pardon of sin. Is this, as many urge, against the love of God? By no means! Least of all will it so appear, when we remember who appointed the great Sacrifice, and, above all, who came to fulfil this type. Goal does not love us because atonement has been made, but atonement has been made because the Father loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

God is none the less just, that He is love; and none the less holy, that He is merciful: and in His nature, as the Most Just and Holy One, lies this necessity of the shedding of blood in order to the forgiveness of sin, which is impressively symbolised in the unvarying ordinance of the Levitical law, that as a condition of the remission of sin, the blood of the sacrifice must be presented, not before the sinner, but before Jehovah. To this generation of ours, with its so exalted notions of the greatness and dignity of man, and its correspondingly low conceptions of the ineffable greatness and majesty of the Most Holy God, this altar truth may be most distasteful, so greatly does it magnify the evil of sin; but just in that degree is it necessary to the humiliation of man’s proud self-complacency, that, whether pleasing or not, this truth be faithfully held forth.

Very instructive and helpful to our faith are the allusions to this sprinkling of Blood in the New Testament. Thus, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, {Hebrews 12:24} believers are reminded that they are come "unto the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better than that of Abel." The meaning is plain. For we are told, {Genesis 4:10} that the blood of Abel cried out against Cain from the ground; and that its cry for vengeance was prevailing; for God came down, arraigned the murderer, and visited him with instant judgment. But in these words we are told that the sprinkled blood of the holy Victim of Calvary, sprinkled on the heavenly altar, also has a voice, and a voice which "speaketh better than that of Abel"; better, in that it speaks, not for vengeance, but for pardoning mercy; better, in that it procures the remission even of a penitent murderer’s guilt; so that, "being now justified through His blood" we may all be saved from wrath through. {Romans 5:9} And, if we are truly Christ’s, it is our blessed comfort to remember also that we are said {1 Peter 1:2} to have been chosen of God unto the sprinkling of this precious blood of Jesus Christ; words which remind us, not only that the blood of a Lamb "without blemish and without spot" has been presented unto God for us, but also that the reason for this distinguishing mercy is found, not in us, but in the free love of God, who chose us in Christ Jesus to this grace.

And as in the burnt offering, so in the sin offering, the blood was to be sprinkled by the priest. The teaching is the same in both cases. To present Christ before God, laying the hand of faith upon His head as our sin offering, this is all we can do or are required to do. With the sprinkling of the blood we have nothing to do. In other words, the effective presentation of the blood before God is not to be secured by some act of our own; it is not something, to be procured through some subjective experience, other or in addition to the faith which brings the Victim. As in the type, so in the Antitype, the sprinkling of the atoning blood-that is, its application God-ward as a propitiation-is the work of our heavenly Priest. And our part in regard to it is simply and only this, that we entrust this work to Him. He will not disappoint us; He is appointed of God to this end, and He will see that it is done.

In a sacrifice in which the sprinkling of the blood occupies such a central and essential place in the symbolism, one would anticipate that this ceremony would never be dispensed with. Very strange it thus appears, at first sight, to find that to this law an exception was made. For it was ordained (ver. 11) that a man so poor that "his means suffice not" to bring even two doves or young pigeons, might bring, as a substitute, an offering of fine flour. From this, some have hastened to infer that the shedding of the blood, and therewith the idea of substituted life, was not essential to the idea of reconciliation with God; but with little reason. Most illogical and unreasonable it is to determine a principle, not from the general rule, but from an exception; especially when, as in this case, for the exception a reason can be shown, which is not inconsistent with the rule. For had no such exceptional offering been permitted in the case of the extremely poor man, it would have followed that there would have remained a class of persons in Israel whom God had excluded from the provision of the sin offering, which He had made the inseparable condition of forgiveness. But two truths were to be set forth in the ritual; the one, atonement by means of a life surrendered in expiation of guilt; the other, -as in a similar way in the burnt offering, -the sufficiency of God’s gracious provision for even the neediest of sinners. Evidently, here was a case in which something must be sacrificed in the symbolism. One of these truths may be perfectly set forth; both cannot be, with equal perfectness; a choice must therefore be made, and is made in this exceptional regulation, so as to hold up clearly, even though at the expense of some distinctness in the other thought of expiation, the unlimited sufficiency of God’s provision of forgiving grace.

And yet the prescriptions in this form of the offering were such as to prevent anyone from confounding it with the meal offering, which typified consecrated and accepted service. The oil and the frankincense which belonged to the latter are to be left out (Leviticus 5:11); incense, which typifies accepted prayer, -thus reminding us of the unanswered prayer of the Holy Victim when He cried upon the cross, "My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?" and oil, which typifies the Holy Ghost, -reminding us, again, how from the soul of the Son of God was mysteriously withdrawn in that same hour all the conscious presence and comfort of the Holy Spirit, which withdrawment alone could have wrung from His lips that unanswered prayer. And, again, whereas the meal for the meal offering had no limit fixed as to quantity, in this case the amount is prescribed-"the tenth part of an ephah" (Leviticus 5:11); an amount which, from the story of the manna, appears to have represented the sustenance of one full day. Thus it was ordained that if, in the nature of the case, this sin offering could not set forth the sacrifice of life by means of the shedding of blood, it should at least point in the same direction, by requiring that, so to speak, the support of life for one day shall be given up, as forfeited by sin.

All the other parts of the ceremonial are in this ordinance made to take a secondary place, or are omitted altogether. Not all of the offering is burnt upon the altar, but only a part; that part, however, the fat, the choicest; for the same reason as in the peace offering. There is, indeed, a peculiar variation in the case of the offering of the two young pigeons, in that, of the one, the blood only was used in the sacrifice, while the other was wholly burnt like a burnt offering. But for this variation the reason is evident enough in the nature of the victims. For in the case of a small creature like a bird, the fat would be so insignificant in quantity, and so difficult to separate with thoroughness from the flesh, that the ordinance must needs be varied, and a second bird be taken for the burning, as a substitute for the separated fat of larger animals. The symbolism is not essentially affected by the variation. What the burning of the fat means in other offerings, that also means the burning of the second bird in this case.


Verses 19-21

THE EATING AND THE BURNING OF THE SIN OFFERING WITHOUT THE CAMP

Leviticus 4:8-12; Leviticus 4:19-21; Leviticus 4:26; Leviticus 4:31;, Leviticus 5:10; Leviticus 5:12

"And all the fat of the bullock of the sin offering he shall take off from it; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the loins, and the caul upon the liver, with the kidneys, shall he take away, as it is taken off from the ox of the sacrifice of, peace offerings: and the priest shall burn them upon the altar of burnt offering. And the skin of the bullock, and all its flesh, with its head, and with its legs, and its inwards, and its dung, even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall it be burnt And all the fat thereof shall he take off from it, and burn it upon the altar. Thus shall he do with the bullock; as he did with the bullock of the sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven. And he shall carry forth the bullock without the camp, and burn it as he burned the first bullock: it is the sin offering for the assembly. And all the fat thereof shall he burn upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make atonement for him as concerning his sin, and he shall be forgiven. And all the fat thereof shall he take away, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour unto the Lord and the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering according to the ordinance: and the priest shall make atonement for him as concerning his sin which he hath sinned, and he shall be forgiven. And he shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it as the memorial thereof, and burn it on the altar, upon the offerings of the Lord made by fire: it is a sin offering."

In the ritual of the sin offering, sacrificial meal, such as that of the peace offering, wherein the offerer and his house, with the priest and the Levite, partook together of the flesh of the sacrificed victim, there was none. The eating of the flesh of the sin offerings by the priests, prescribed in Leviticus 6:26, had, primarily, a different intention and meaning. As set forth elsewhere, {Leviticus 7:35} it was "the anointing portion of Aaron and his sons"; an ordinance expounded by the Apostle Paul to this effect, {1 Corinthians 9:13} they which wait upon the altar should "have their portion with the altar." Yet not of all the sin offerings might the priest thus partake. For when he was himself the one for whom the offering was made, whether as an individual, or as included in the congregation, then it is plain that he for the time stood in the same position before God as the private individual who had sinned. It was a universal principle of the law that because of the peculiarly near and solemn relation into which the expiatory victim had been brought to God, it was "most holy," and therefore he for whose sin it is offered could not eat of its flesh. Hence the general law is laid down: {Leviticus 6:30} "No sin offering, whereof any of the blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the holy place, shall be eaten; it shall be burnt with fire."

And yet, although, because the priests could not eat of the flesh, it must be burnt, it could not be burnt upon the altar; not, as some have fancied, because it was regarded as unclean, which is directly contradicted by the statement that it is "most holy," but because so to dispose of it would have been to confound the sin offering with the burnt offering, which had, as we have seen, a specific symbolic meaning, quite distinct from that of the sin offering. It must be so disposed of that nothing shall divert the mind of the worshipper from the fact that, not sacrifice as representing full consecration, as in the burnt offering, but sacrifice as representing expiation, is set forth in this offering. Hence it was ordained that the flesh of these sin offerings for the anointed priest, or for the congregation, which included him, should be "burnt on wood with fire without the camp." {Leviticus 4:11-12; Leviticus 4:21} And the more carefully to guard against the possibility of confounding this burning of the flesh of the sin offering with the sacrificial burning of the victims on the altar, the Hebrew uses here, and in all places where this burning is referred to, a verb wholly distinct from that which is used of the burnings on the altar, and which, unlike that, is used of any ordinary burning of anything for any purpose.

But this burning of the victim without the camp was not therefore empty of all typical significance. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews calls our attention to the fact that in this part of the appointed ritual there was also that which prefigured Christ and the circumstances of His death. For we, {Hebrews 13:10-12} after an exhortation to Christians to have done with the ritual observances of Judaism regarding meats:-"We," that is, we Christian believers, "have an altar,"-the cross upon which Jesus suffered, -"whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle"; i.e., they who adhere to the now effete Jewish tabernacle service, the unbelieving Israelites, derive no benefit from this sacrifice of ours. "For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the Holy Place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned without the camp"; the priesthood are debarred from eating them, according to the law we have before us. And then attention is called to the fact that in this respect Jesus fulfilled this part of the type of the sin offering, thus: "Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the camp." That is, as Alford interprets (Comm. sub. loc.), in the circumstance that Jesus suffered without the gate, is seen a visible adumbration of the fact that He suffered outside the camp of legal Judaism, and thus, in that He suffered for the sin of the whole congregation of Israel, fulfilled the type of this sin offering in this particular. Thus a prophecy is discovered here which perhaps we had not else discerned, concerning the manner of the death of the antitypical victim. He should suffer as a victim for the sin of the whole congregation, the priestly people, who should for that reason be debarred, in fulfilment of the type, from that benefit of His death which had else been their privilege. And herein was accomplished to the uttermost that surrender of His whole being to God, in that, in carrying out that full consecration, "He, bearing His cross, went forth," not merely outside the gate of Jerusalem, -in itself a trivial circumstance, -but, as this fitly symbolised, outside the congregation of Israel, to suffer. In other words, His consecration of Himself to God in self-sacrifice found its supreme expression in this, that He voluntarily submitted to be cast out from Israel, despised and rejected of men, even of the Israel of God.

And so this burning of the flesh of the sin offering of the highest grade in two places, the fat upon the altar, in the court of the congregation, and the rest of the victim outside the camp, set forth prophetically the full self-surrender of the Son to the Father, as the sin offering, in a double aspect: in the former, emphasising simply, as in the peace offering, His surrender of all that was highest and best in Him, as Son of God and Son of man, unto the Father as a Sin offering; in the latter, foreshowing that He should also, in a special manner, be a sacrifice for the sin of the congregation of Israel, and that His consecration should receive its fullest exhibition and most complete expression in that He should die outside the camp of legal Judaism, as an outcast from the congregation of Israel.

Accordingly we find that this part of the type of the sin offering was formally accomplished when the high priest, upon Christ’s confession before the Sanhedrim of His Sonship to God, declared Him to be guilty of blasphemy; an offence for which it had been ordered by the Lord {Leviticus 24:14} that the guilty person should be taken "without the camp" to suffer for his sin.

In the light of these marvellous correspondences between the typical sin offering and the self offering of the Son of God, what a profound meaning more and more appears in those words of Christ concerning Moses: "He wrote of Me."


Verse 22-23

ete_me Leviticus 4:13-14

GRADED RESPONSIBILITY

Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 4:13-14; Leviticus 4:22-23; Leviticus 4:27-28

"If the anointed priest shall sin so as to bring guilt on the people; then let him offer for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering And if the whole congregation of Israel shall err, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done any of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and are guilty; when the sin wherein they have sinned is known, then the assembly shall offer a young bullock for a sin offering, and bring it before the tent of meeting When a ruler sinneth, and doeth unwittingly any one of all the things which the Lord his God hath commanded not to be done. and is guilty; if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, be made known to him, he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a male without blemish And if any one of the common people sin unwittingly, in doing any of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and be guilty; if this sin, which he hath sinned, be made known to him, then he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned."

The law concerning the sin offering is given in four sections, of which the last, again, is divided into two parts, separated by the division of the chapter. These four sections respectively treat of-first, the law of the sin offering for the "anointed priest" (Leviticus 4:3-12); secondly, the law for the offering for the whole congregation (Leviticus 4:13-21); thirdly, that for a ruler (Leviticus 4:22-26); and lastly, the law for an offering made by a private person, one of "the common people". {Leviticus 4:27-35; Leviticus 5:1-16} In this last section we have, first, the general law, {Leviticus 4:27-35} and then are added {Leviticus 5:1-16} special prescriptions having reference to various circumstances under which a sin offering should be offered by one of the people. Under this last head are mentioned first, as requiring a sin offering, in addition to sins of ignorance or inadvertence, which only were mentioned in the preceding chapter, also sins due to rashness or weakness (Leviticus 4:1-4): and then are appointed, in the second place, certain variations in the material of the offering, allowed out of regard to the various ability of different offerers (Leviticus 4:5-16).

In the law as given in chapter 4, it is to be observed that the selection of the victim prescribed is determined by the position of the persons who might have occasion to present the offering.

For the whole congregation, the victim must be a bullock, the most valuable of all; for the high priest, as the highest religious official of the nation, and appointed also to represent them before God, it must also be a bullock. For the civil ruler, the offering must be a he-goat-an offering of a value less than that of the victim ordered for the high priest, but greater than that of those which were prescribed for the common people. For these, a variety of offerings were appointed, according to their several ability. If possible, it must be a female goat or lamb, or, if the worshipper could not bring that, then two turtledoves, or two young pigeons. If too poor to bring even this small offering, then it was appointed that, as a substitute for the bloody, offering, he might bring an offering of fine flour, without oil or frankincense, to be burnt upon the altar.

Evidently, then, the choice of the victim was determined by two considerations: first, the rank of the person who sinned, and, secondly, his ability. As regards the former point, the law as to the victim for the sin offering was this: the higher the theocratic rank of the sinning person might be, the more costly offering he must bring. No one can well miss of perceiving the meaning of this. The guilt of any sin in God’s sight is proportioned to the rank and station of the offender. What truth could be of more practical and personal concern to all than this?

In applying this principle, the law of the sin offering teaches, first, that the guilt of any sin is the heaviest, when it is committed by one who is placed in a position of religious authority. For this graded law is headed by the case of the sin of the anointed priest, that is, the high priest, the highest functionary in the nation.

We read (Leviticus 4:3): "If the anointed priest shall sin so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer for his sin which he hath committed, a young bullock without blemish, unto the Lord, for a sin offering."

That is, the high priest, although a single individual, if he sin, must bring as large and valuable an offering as is required from the whole congregation. For this law there are two evident reasons. The first is found in the fact that in Israel the high priest represented before God the entire nation. When he sinned it was as if the whole nation sinned in him. So it is said that by his sin he "brings guilt on the people"-a very weighty matter. And this suggests a second reason for the costly offering that was required from him. The consequences of the sin of one in such a high position of religious authority must, in the nature of the case, be much more serious and far-reaching than in the case of any other person.

And here we have another lesson as pertinent to our time as to those days. As the high priest, so, in modern time, the bishop, minister, or elder, is ordained as an officer in matters of religion, to act for and with men in the things of God. For the proper administration of this high trust, how indispensable that such a one shall take heed to maintain unbroken fellowship with God! Any shortcoming here is sure to impair by so much the spiritual value of his own ministrations for the people to whom he ministers. And this evil consequence of any unfaithfulness of his is the more certain to follow, because, of all the members of the community, his example has the widest and most effective influence; in whatever that example be bad or defective, it is sure to do mischief in exact proportion to his exalted station. If then such a one sin, the case is very grave, and his guilt proportionately heavy.

This very momentous fact is brought before us in an impressive way in the New Testament, where, in the epistles to the Seven Churches of Asia {Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22} it is "the angel of the church," the presiding officer of the church in each city, who is held responsible for the spiritual state of those committed to his charge. No wonder that the Apostle James wrote: {James 3:1} "Be not many teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment." Well may every true-hearted minister of Christ’s Church tremble, as here in the law of the sin offering he reads how the sin of the officer of religion may bring guilt, not only on himself, but also "on the whole people"! Well may he cry out with the Apostle Paul: {2 Corinthians 2:16} "Who is sufficient for these things?" and, like him, beseech those to whom he ministers, "Brethren, pray for us!"

With the sin of the high priest is ranked that of the congregation, or the collective nation. It is written (Leviticus 4:13-14): "If the whole congregation of Israel shall err, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done any one of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and are guilty, then the assembly shall offer a young bullock for a sin offering."

Thus Israel was taught by this law, as we are, that responsibility attaches not only to each individual person, but also to associations of individuals in their corporate character, as nations, communities, and-we may add-all Societies and Corporations, whether secular or religious. Let us emphasise it to our own consciences, as another of the fundamental lessons of this law: there is individual sin; there is also such a thing as a sin by "the whole congregation." In other words, God holds nations, communities-in a word, all associations and combinations of men for whatever purpose, no less under obligation in their corporate capacity to keep His law than as individuals, and will count them guilty if they break it, even through ignorance.

Never has a generation needed this reminder more than our own. The political and social principles which, since the French Revolution in the end of the last century, have been, year by year, more and more generally accepted among the nations of Christendom, are everywhere tending to the avowed or practical denial of this most important truth. It is a maxim ever more and more extensively accepted as almost axiomatic in our modern democratic communities, that religion is wholly a concern of the individual; and that a nation or community, as such, should make no distinction between various religions as false or true, but maintain an absolute neutrality, even between Christianity and idolatry, or theism and atheism. It should take little thought to see that this modern maxim stands in direct opposition to the principle assumed in this law of the sin offering; namely, that a community or nation is as truly and directly responsible to God as the individual in the nation. But this corporate responsibility the spirit of the age squarely denies.

Not that all, indeed, in our modern so-called Christian nations have come to this. But no one will deny that this is the mind of the vanguard of nineteenth century liberalism in religion and politics. Many of our political leaders in all lands make no secret of their views on the subject. A purely secular state is everywhere held up, and that with great plausibility and persuasiveness, as the ideal of political government; the goal to the attainment of which all good citizens should unite their efforts. And, indeed, in some parts of Christendom the complete attainment of this evil ideal seems not far away.

It is not strange, indeed, to see atheists, agnostics, and others who deny the Christian faith, maintaining this position; but when we hear men who call themselves Christians-in many cases, even Christian ministers-advocating, in one form or another, governmental neutrality in religion as the only right basis of government, one may well be amazed. For Christians are supposed to accept the Holy Scriptures as the law of faith and of morals, private and public; and where in all the Scripture will anyone find such an attitude of any nation or people mentioned, but to be condemned and threatened with the judgment of God?

Will anyone venture to say that this teaching of the law of the sin offering was only intended, like the offering itself, for the old Hebrews? Is it not rather the constant and most emphatic teaching of the whole Scriptures, that God dealt with all the ancient Gentile nations on the same principle? The history which records the overthrow of those old nations and empires does so, even professedly, for the express purpose of calling the attention of men in all ages to this principle, that God deals with all nations as under obligations to recognise Himself as King of nations, and submit in all things to His authority. So it was in the case of Moab, of Ammon, of Nineveh, and Babylon; in regard to each of which we are told, in so many words, that it was because they refused to recognise this principle of national responsibility to the one true God, which was brought before Israel in this part of the law of the sin offering, that the Divine judgment came upon them in their utter national overthrow. How awfully plain, again, is the language of the second Psalm on this same subject, where it is precisely this national repudiation of the supreme authority of God and of His Christ, so increasingly common in our day, which is named as the ground of the derisive judgment of God, and is made the occasion of exhorting all nations, not merely to belief in God, but also to the obedient recognition of His only-begotten Son, the Messiah, as the only possible means of escaping the future kindling of His wrath.

No graver sign of our times could perhaps be named than just this universal tendency in Christendom, in one way or another, to repudiate that corporate responsibility to God which is assumed as the basis of this part of the law of the sin offering. There can be no worse omen for the future of an individual than the denial of his obligations to God and to His Son, our Saviour; and there can be no worse sign for the future of Christendom, or of any nation in Christendom, than the partial or entire denial of national obligation to God and to His Christ. What it shall mean in the end, what is the future toward which these popular modern principles are conducting the nations, is revealed in Scripture with startling clearness, in the warning that the world is yet to see one who shall be in a peculiar and eminent sense "the Antichrist"; {1 John 2:18} who shall deny both the Father and Son, and be "the Lawless One," and the "Man of Sin," in that He shall "set Himself forth as God"; {2 Thessalonians 2:3-8} to whom authority will be given "over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation." {Revelation 13:7}

The nation, then, as such, is held responsible to God! So stands the law. And, therefore, in Israel, if the nation should sin, it was ordained that they also, like the high priest, should bring a bullock for a sin offering, the most costly victim that was ever prescribed. This was so ordained, no doubt, in part because of Israel’s own priestly station as a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation," exalted to a position of peculiar dignity and privilege before God, that they might mediate the blessings of redemption to all nations. It was because of this fact that, if they sinned, their guilt was peculiarly heavy.

The principle, however, is of present day application. Privilege is the measure of responsibility, no less now than then, for nations as well as for individuals. Thus national sin, on the part of the British or American nation, or indeed with any of the so-called Christian nations, is certainly judged by God to be a much more evil thing than the same sin if committed, for example, by the Chinese or Turkish nation, who have had no such degree of Gospel light and knowledge.

And the law in this case evidently also implies that sin is aggravated in proportion to its universality. It is bad, for example, if in a community one man commit adultery, forsaking his own wife; but it argues a condition of things far worse when the violation of the marriage relation becomes common; when the question can actually be held open for discussion whether marriage, as a permanent union between one man and one woman, be not "a failure," as debated not long ago in a leading London paper; and when, as in many of the United States of America and other countries of modern Christendom, laws are enacted for the express purpose of legalising the violation of Christ’s law of marriage, and thus shielding adulterers and adulteresses from the condign punishment their crime deserves. It is bad, again, when individuals in a State teach doctrines subversive of morality; but it evidently argues a far deeper depravation of morals when a whole community unite in accepting, endowing, and upholding such in their work.

Next in order comes the case of the civil ruler. For him it was ordered: "When a ruler sinneth, and doeth unwittingly any of the things which the Lord his God hath commanded not to be done, and is guilty: if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, be made known to him, he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a male without blemish" (Leviticus 4:22). Thus, the ruler was to bring a victim of less value than the high priest or the collective congregation; but it must still be of more value than that of a private person; for his responsibility, if less than that of the officer of religion, is distinctly greater than that of a man in private life.

And here is a lesson for modern politicians, no less than for rulers of the olden time in Israel. While there are many in our Parliaments and like governing bodies in Christendom who cast their every vote with the fear of God before their eyes, yet, if there be any truth in the general opinion of men upon this subject, there are many in such places who, in their voting, have before their eyes the fear of party more than the fear of God; and who, when a question comes before them, first of all consider, not what would the law of absolute righteousness, the law of God, require, but how will a vote, one way or the other, in this matter, be likely to affect their party? Such certainly need to be emphatically reminded of this part of the law of the sin offering, which held the civil ruler specially responsible to God for the execution of his trust. For so it is still; God has not abdicated His throne in favour of the people, nor will He waive His crown rights out of deference to the political necessities of a party.

Nor is it only those who sin in this particular way who need the reminder of their personal responsibility to God. All need it who either are or may be called to places of greater or less governmental responsibility; and it is those who are the most worthy of such trust who will be the first to acknowledge their need of this warning. For in all times those who have been lifted to positions of political power have been under peculiar temptation to forget God, and become reckless of their obligation to Him as His ministers. But under the conditions of modern life, in many countries of Christendom, this is true as perhaps never before. For now it has come to pass that, in most modern communities, those who make and execute laws hold their tenure of office at the pleasure of a motley army of voters, Protestants and Romanists, Jews, atheists, and what not, a large part of whom care not the least for the will of God in civil government, as revealed in Holy Scripture. Under such conditions, the place of the civil ruler becomes one of such special trial and temptation that we do well to remember in our intercessions, with peculiar sympathy, all who in such positions are seeking to serve supremely, not their party, but their God, and so best serve their country. It is no wonder that the temptation too often to many becomes overpowering, to silence conscience with plausible sophistries, and to use their office to carry out in legislation, instead of the will of God, the will of the people, or rather, of that particular party which put them in power.

Yet the great principle affirmed in this law of the sin offering stands, and will stand forever, and to it all will do well to take heed; namely, that God will hold the civil ruler responsible, and more heavily responsible than any private person, for any sin he may commit, and especially for any violation of law in any matter committed to his trust. And there is abundant reason for this. For the powers that be are ordained of God, and in His providence are placed in authority; not as the modern notion is, for the purpose of executing the will of their constituents, whatever that will may be, but rather the unchangeable will of the Most Holy God, the Ruler of all nations, so far as revealed, concerning the civil and social relations of men. Nor must it be forgotten that this eminent responsibility attaches to them, not only in their official acts, but in all their acts as individuals. No distinction is made as to the sin for which the ruler must bring his sin offering, whether public and official, or private and personal. Of whatsoever kind the sin may be, if committed by a ruler, God holds him specially responsible, as being a ruler; and reckons the guilt of that sin, even if a private offence, to be heavier than if it had been committed by one of the common people. And this, for the evident reason that, as in the case of the high priest, his exalted position gives his example double influence and effect. Thus, in all ages and all lands, a corrupt king or nobility have made a corrupt court; and a corrupt court or corrupt legislators are sure to demoralise all the lower ranks of society. But however it may be under the governments of men, under the equitable government of the Most Holy God, high station can give no immunity to sin. And in the day to come, when the Great Assize is set, there will be many who in this world stood high in authority, who will learn, in the tremendous decisions of that day, if not before, that a just God reckoned the guilt of their sins and crimes in exact proportion to their rank and station.

Last of all, in this chapter, comes the law of the sin offering for one of the common people, of which the first part is given Leviticus 4:27-35. The victim which is appointed for those who are best able to give, a female goat, is yet of less value than those ordered in the cases before given; for the responsibility and guilt in the case of such is less. The first prescription for a sin offering by one of the common people is introduced by these words: -" If any one of the common people sin unwittingly, in doing any of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and be guilty; if his sin, which he hath sinned, be made known to him, then he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned" (Leviticus 4:27-28).

In case of his inability to bring so much as this, offerings of lesser value are authorised in the section following, {Leviticus 5:5-13} to which we shall attend hereafter.

Meanwhile it is suggestive to observe that this part of the law is expanded more fully than any other part of the law of the sin offering. We are hereby reminded that if none are so high as to he above the reach of the judgment of God, but are held in that proportion strictly responsible for their sin; so, on the other hand, none are of station so low that their sins shall therefore be overlooked. The common people, in all lands, are the great majority of the population; but no one is to imagine that, because he is a single individual, of no importance in a multitude, he shall therefore, if he sin, escape the Divine eye, as it were, in a crowd. Not so. We may be of the very lowest social station; the provision in Leviticus 5:11 regards the case of such as might be so poor as that they could not even buy two doves. Men may judge the doings of such poor folk of little or no consequence; but not so God. With Him is no respect of persons, either of rich or poor. From all alike, from the anointed high priest, who ministers in the Holy of Holies, down to the common people, and among these, again, from the highest down to the very lowest, poorest, and meanest in rank, is demanded, even for a sin of ignorance, a sin offering for atonement.

What a solemn lesson we have herein concerning the character of God! His omniscience, which not only notes the sin of those who are in some conspicuous position, but also each individual sin of the lowest of the people! His absolute equity, exactly and accurately grading responsibility for sin committed, in each case, according to the rank and influence of him who commits it! His infinite holiness, which cannot pass by without expiation even the transient act or word of rash hands or lips, not even the sin not known as sin by the sinner; a holiness which, in a word, unchangeably and unalterably requires from every human being, nothing less than absolute moral perfection like His own!


Verse 25

7

THE SPRINKLING OF THE BLOOD

Leviticus 4:6-7; Leviticus 4:16-18; Leviticus 4:25; Leviticus 4:30; Leviticus 5:9

"And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord, before the veil of the sanctuary. And the priest shall put of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord, which is in the tent of meeting; and all the blood of the bullock shall he pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the tent of meeting And the anointed priest shall bring of the blood of the bullock to the tent of meeting, and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, before the veil. And he shall put of the blood upon the horns of the altar which is before the Lord, that is in the tent of meeting, and all the blood shall he pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the tent of meeting And 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 the blood thereof shall he pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and all the blood thereof shall he pour out at the base of the altar And he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering upon the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar; it is a sin offering."

In the case of the burnt offering and of the peace offering, in which the idea of expiation, although not absent, yet occupied a secondary place in their ethical intent, it sufficed that the blood of the victim, by whomsoever brought, be applied to the sides of the altar. But in the sin offering, the blood must not only be sprinkled on the sides of the altar of burnt offering, but, even in the case of the common people, be applied to the horns of the altar, its most conspicuous and, in a sense, most sacred part. In the case of a sin committed by the whole congregation, even this is not enough; the blood must be brought even into the Holy Place, be applied to the horns of the altar of incense, and be sprinkled seven times before the Lord before the veil which hung immediately before the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies, the place of the Shekinah glory. And in the great sin offering of the high priest once a year for the sins of all the people, yet more was required. The blood was to be taken even within the veil, and be sprinkled on the mercy seat itself over the tables of the broken law.

These several cases, according to the symbolism of these several parts of the tabernacle, differ in that atoning blood is brought ever more and more nearly into the immediate presence of God. The horns of the altar had a sacredness above the sides; the altar of the Holy Place before the veil, a sanctity beyond that of the altar in the outer court; while the Most Holy Place, where stood the ark, and the mercy seat, was the very place of the most immediate and visible manifestation of Jehovah, who is often described in Holy Scripture, with reference to the ark, the mercy seat, and the overhanging cherubim, as the God who "dwelleth between the cherubim."

From this we may easily understand the significance of the different prescriptions as to the blood in the case of different classes. A sin committed by any private individual or by a ruler, was that of one who had access only to the outer court, where stood the altar of burnt offering; for this reason, it is there that the blood must be exhibited, and that on the most sacred and conspicuous spot in that court, the horns of the altar where God meets with the people. But when it was the anointed priest that had sinned, the case was different. In that he had a peculiar position of nearer access to God than others, as appointed of God to minister before Him in the Holy Place, his sin is regarded as having defiled the Holy Place itself; and in that Holy Place must Jehovah therefore see atoning blood ere the priest’s position before God can be reestablished.

And the same principle required that also in the Holy Place must the blood be presented for the sin of the whole congregation. For Israel in its corporate unity was "a kingdom of priests," a priestly nation: and the priest in the Holy Place represented the nation in that capacity. Thus because of this priestly office of the nation, their collective sin was regarded as defiling the Holy Place in which, through their representatives, the priests, they ideally ministered. Hence, as the law for the priests, so is the law for the nation. For their corporate sin the blood must be applied, as in the case of the priest who represented them, to the horns of the altar in the Holy Place, whence ascended the smoke of the incense which visibly symbolised accepted priestly intercession, and, more than this, before the veil itself; in other words, as near to the very mercy seat itself as it was permitted to the priest to go; and it must be sprinkled there, not once, nor twice, but seven times, in token of the reestablishment, through the atoning blood, of God’s covenant of mercy, of which, throughout the Scripture, the number seven, the number of sabbatic rest and covenant fellowship with God, is the constant symbol.

And it is not far to seek for the spiritual thought which underlies this part of the ritual. For the tabernacle was represented as the earthly dwelling place, in a sense, of God; and just as the defiling of the house of my fellow man may be regarded as an insult to him who dwells in the house, so the sin of the priest and of the priestly people is regarded as, more than that of those outside of this relation, a special affront to the holy majesty of Jehovah, criminal just in proportion as the defilement approaches more nearly the innermost shrine of Jehovah’s manifestation.

But though Israel is at present suspended from its priestly position and function among the nations of the earth, the Apostle Peter {1 Peter 2:5} reminds us that the body of Christian believers now occupies Israel’s ancient place, being now on earth the "royal priesthood, the holy nation." Hence this ritual solemnly reminds us that the sin of a Christian is a far more evil thing than the sin of others; it is as the sin of the priest, and defiles the Holy Place, even though unwittingly committed; and thus, even more imperatively than other sin, demands the exhibition of the atoning blood of the Lamb of God, not now in the Holy Place, but more than that, in the true Holiest of all, where our High Priest is now entered. And thus, in every possible way, with this elaborate ceremonial of sprinkling of blood does the sin offering emphasise to our own consciences, no less than for ancient Israel, the solemn fact affirmed in the Epistle to the Hebrews, {Hebrews 9:22} "Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin."

Because of this, we do well to meditate much and deeply on this symbolism of the sin offering, which, more than any other in the law, has to do with the propitiation of our Lord for sin. Especially does this use of the blood, in which the significance of the sin offering reached its supreme expression, claim our most reverent attention. For the thought is inseparable from the ritual, that blood of the slain victim must be presented, not before the priest, or before the offerer, but before Jehovah. Can anyone mistake the evident significance of this? Does it not luminously hold forth the thought that atonement by sacrifice has to do, not only with man, but with God?

There is cause enough in our day for insisting on this. Many are teaching that the need for the shedding of blood for the remission of sin, lies only in the nature of man; that, so far as concerns God, sin might as well have been pardoned without it; that it is only because man is so hard and rebellious, so stubbornly distrusts the Divine love, that the death of the Holy Victim of Calvary became a necessity. Nothing less than such a stupendous exhibition of the love of God could suffice to disarm his enmity to God and win him back to loving trust. Hence the need of the atonement. That all this is true, no one will deny; but it is only half the truth, and the less momentous half, -which indeed is hinted in no offering, and in the sin offering least of all. Such a conception of the matter as completely fails to account for this part of the symbolic ritual of the bloody sacrifices, as it fails to agree with other teachings of the Scriptures. If the only need for atonement in order to pardon is in the nature of the sinner, then why this constant insistence that the blood of the sacrifice should always be solemnly presented, not before the sinner, but before Jehovah? We see in this fact most unmistakably set forth, the very solemn truth that expiation by blood as a condition of forgiveness of sin is necessary, not merely because man is what he is, but most of all because God is what He is. Let us then not forget that the presentation unto God of an expiation for sin, accomplished by the death of an appointed substitutionary victim, was in Israel made an indispensable condition of the pardon of sin. Is this, as many urge, against the love of God? By no means! Least of all will it so appear, when we remember who appointed the great Sacrifice, and, above all, who came to fulfil this type. Goal does not love us because atonement has been made, but atonement has been made because the Father loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

God is none the less just, that He is love; and none the less holy, that He is merciful: and in His nature, as the Most Just and Holy One, lies this necessity of the shedding of blood in order to the forgiveness of sin, which is impressively symbolised in the unvarying ordinance of the Levitical law, that as a condition of the remission of sin, the blood of the sacrifice must be presented, not before the sinner, but before Jehovah. To this generation of ours, with its so exalted notions of the greatness and dignity of man, and its correspondingly low conceptions of the ineffable greatness and majesty of the Most Holy God, this altar truth may be most distasteful, so greatly does it magnify the evil of sin; but just in that degree is it necessary to the humiliation of man’s proud self-complacency, that, whether pleasing or not, this truth be faithfully held forth.

Very instructive and helpful to our faith are the allusions to this sprinkling of Blood in the New Testament. Thus, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, {Hebrews 12:24} believers are reminded that they are come "unto the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better than that of Abel." The meaning is plain. For we are told, {Genesis 4:10} that the blood of Abel cried out against Cain from the ground; and that its cry for vengeance was prevailing; for God came down, arraigned the murderer, and visited him with instant judgment. But in these words we are told that the sprinkled blood of the holy Victim of Calvary, sprinkled on the heavenly altar, also has a voice, and a voice which "speaketh better than that of Abel"; better, in that it speaks, not for vengeance, but for pardoning mercy; better, in that it procures the remission even of a penitent murderer’s guilt; so that, "being now justified through His blood" we may all be saved from wrath through. {Romans 5:9} And, if we are truly Christ’s, it is our blessed comfort to remember also that we are said {1 Peter 1:2} to have been chosen of God unto the sprinkling of this precious blood of Jesus Christ; words which remind us, not only that the blood of a Lamb "without blemish and without spot" has been presented unto God for us, but also that the reason for this distinguishing mercy is found, not in us, but in the free love of God, who chose us in Christ Jesus to this grace.

And as in the burnt offering, so in the sin offering, the blood was to be sprinkled by the priest. The teaching is the same in both cases. To present Christ before God, laying the hand of faith upon His head as our sin offering, this is all we can do or are required to do. With the sprinkling of the blood we have nothing to do. In other words, the effective presentation of the blood before God is not to be secured by some act of our own; it is not something, to be procured through some subjective experience, other or in addition to the faith which brings the Victim. As in the type, so in the Antitype, the sprinkling of the atoning blood-that is, its application God-ward as a propitiation-is the work of our heavenly Priest. And our part in regard to it is simply and only this, that we entrust this work to Him. He will not disappoint us; He is appointed of God to this end, and He will see that it is done.

In a sacrifice in which the sprinkling of the blood occupies such a central and essential place in the symbolism, one would anticipate that this ceremony would never be dispensed with. Very strange it thus appears, at first sight, to find that to this law an exception was made. For it was ordained (ver. 11) that a man so poor that "his means suffice not" to bring even two doves or young pigeons, might bring, as a substitute, an offering of fine flour. From this, some have hastened to infer that the shedding of the blood, and therewith the idea of substituted life, was not essential to the idea of reconciliation with God; but with little reason. Most illogical and unreasonable it is to determine a principle, not from the general rule, but from an exception; especially when, as in this case, for the exception a reason can be shown, which is not inconsistent with the rule. For had no such exceptional offering been permitted in the case of the extremely poor man, it would have followed that there would have remained a class of persons in Israel whom God had excluded from the provision of the sin offering, which He had made the inseparable condition of forgiveness. But two truths were to be set forth in the ritual; the one, atonement by means of a life surrendered in expiation of guilt; the other, -as in a similar way in the burnt offering, -the sufficiency of God’s gracious provision for even the neediest of sinners. Evidently, here was a case in which something must be sacrificed in the symbolism. One of these truths may be perfectly set forth; both cannot be, with equal perfectness; a choice must therefore be made, and is made in this exceptional regulation, so as to hold up clearly, even though at the expense of some distinctness in the other thought of expiation, the unlimited sufficiency of God’s provision of forgiving grace.

And yet the prescriptions in this form of the offering were such as to prevent anyone from confounding it with the meal offering, which typified consecrated and accepted service. The oil and the frankincense which belonged to the latter are to be left out (Leviticus 5:11); incense, which typifies accepted prayer, -thus reminding us of the unanswered prayer of the Holy Victim when He cried upon the cross, "My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?" and oil, which typifies the Holy Ghost, -reminding us, again, how from the soul of the Son of God was mysteriously withdrawn in that same hour all the conscious presence and comfort of the Holy Spirit, which withdrawment alone could have wrung from His lips that unanswered prayer. And, again, whereas the meal for the meal offering had no limit fixed as to quantity, in this case the amount is prescribed-"the tenth part of an ephah" (Leviticus 5:11); an amount which, from the story of the manna, appears to have represented the sustenance of one full day. Thus it was ordained that if, in the nature of the case, this sin offering could not set forth the sacrifice of life by means of the shedding of blood, it should at least point in the same direction, by requiring that, so to speak, the support of life for one day shall be given up, as forfeited by sin.

All the other parts of the ceremonial are in this ordinance made to take a secondary place, or are omitted altogether. Not all of the offering is burnt upon the altar, but only a part; that part, however, the fat, the choicest; for the same reason as in the peace offering. There is, indeed, a peculiar variation in the case of the offering of the two young pigeons, in that, of the one, the blood only was used in the sacrifice, while the other was wholly burnt like a burnt offering. But for this variation the reason is evident enough in the nature of the victims. For in the case of a small creature like a bird, the fat would be so insignificant in quantity, and so difficult to separate with thoroughness from the flesh, that the ordinance must needs be varied, and a second bird be taken for the burning, as a substitute for the separated fat of larger animals. The symbolism is not essentially affected by the variation. What the burning of the fat means in other offerings, that also means the burning of the second bird in this case.


Verse 26

12

THE EATING AND THE BURNING OF THE SIN OFFERING WITHOUT THE CAMP

Leviticus 4:8-12; Leviticus 4:19-21; Leviticus 4:26; Leviticus 4:31;, Leviticus 5:10; Leviticus 5:12

"And all the fat of the bullock of the sin offering he shall take off from it; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the loins, and the caul upon the liver, with the kidneys, shall he take away, as it is taken off from the ox of the sacrifice of, peace offerings: and the priest shall burn them upon the altar of burnt offering. And the skin of the bullock, and all its flesh, with its head, and with its legs, and its inwards, and its dung, even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall it be burnt And all the fat thereof shall he take off from it, and burn it upon the altar. Thus shall he do with the bullock; as he did with the bullock of the sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven. And he shall carry forth the bullock without the camp, and burn it as he burned the first bullock: it is the sin offering for the assembly. And all the fat thereof shall he burn upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make atonement for him as concerning his sin, and he shall be forgiven. And all the fat thereof shall he take away, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour unto the Lord and the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering according to the ordinance: and the priest shall make atonement for him as concerning his sin which he hath sinned, and he shall be forgiven. And he shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it as the memorial thereof, and burn it on the altar, upon the offerings of the Lord made by fire: it is a sin offering."

In the ritual of the sin offering, sacrificial meal, such as that of the peace offering, wherein the offerer and his house, with the priest and the Levite, partook together of the flesh of the sacrificed victim, there was none. The eating of the flesh of the sin offerings by the priests, prescribed in Leviticus 6:26, had, primarily, a different intention and meaning. As set forth elsewhere, {Leviticus 7:35} it was "the anointing portion of Aaron and his sons"; an ordinance expounded by the Apostle Paul to this effect, {1 Corinthians 9:13} they which wait upon the altar should "have their portion with the altar." Yet not of all the sin offerings might the priest thus partake. For when he was himself the one for whom the offering was made, whether as an individual, or as included in the congregation, then it is plain that he for the time stood in the same position before God as the private individual who had sinned. It was a universal principle of the law that because of the peculiarly near and solemn relation into which the expiatory victim had been brought to God, it was "most holy," and therefore he for whose sin it is offered could not eat of its flesh. Hence the general law is laid down: {Leviticus 6:30} "No sin offering, whereof any of the blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the holy place, shall be eaten; it shall be burnt with fire."

And yet, although, because the priests could not eat of the flesh, it must be burnt, it could not be burnt upon the altar; not, as some have fancied, because it was regarded as unclean, which is directly contradicted by the statement that it is "most holy," but because so to dispose of it would have been to confound the sin offering with the burnt offering, which had, as we have seen, a specific symbolic meaning, quite distinct from that of the sin offering. It must be so disposed of that nothing shall divert the mind of the worshipper from the fact that, not sacrifice as representing full consecration, as in the burnt offering, but sacrifice as representing expiation, is set forth in this offering. Hence it was ordained that the flesh of these sin offerings for the anointed priest, or for the congregation, which included him, should be "burnt on wood with fire without the camp." {Leviticus 4:11-12; Leviticus 4:21} And the more carefully to guard against the possibility of confounding this burning of the flesh of the sin offering with the sacrificial burning of the victims on the altar, the Hebrew uses here, and in all places where this burning is referred to, a verb wholly distinct from that which is used of the burnings on the altar, and which, unlike that, is used of any ordinary burning of anything for any purpose.

But this burning of the victim without the camp was not therefore empty of all typical significance. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews calls our attention to the fact that in this part of the appointed ritual there was also that which prefigured Christ and the circumstances of His death. For we, {Hebrews 13:10-12} after an exhortation to Christians to have done with the ritual observances of Judaism regarding meats:-"We," that is, we Christian believers, "have an altar,"-the cross upon which Jesus suffered, -"whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle"; i.e., they who adhere to the now effete Jewish tabernacle service, the unbelieving Israelites, derive no benefit from this sacrifice of ours. "For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the Holy Place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned without the camp"; the priesthood are debarred from eating them, according to the law we have before us. And then attention is called to the fact that in this respect Jesus fulfilled this part of the type of the sin offering, thus: "Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the camp." That is, as Alford interprets (Comm. sub. loc.), in the circumstance that Jesus suffered without the gate, is seen a visible adumbration of the fact that He suffered outside the camp of legal Judaism, and thus, in that He suffered for the sin of the whole congregation of Israel, fulfilled the type of this sin offering in this particular. Thus a prophecy is discovered here which perhaps we had not else discerned, concerning the manner of the death of the antitypical victim. He should suffer as a victim for the sin of the whole congregation, the priestly people, who should for that reason be debarred, in fulfilment of the type, from that benefit of His death which had else been their privilege. And herein was accomplished to the uttermost that surrender of His whole being to God, in that, in carrying out that full consecration, "He, bearing His cross, went forth," not merely outside the gate of Jerusalem, -in itself a trivial circumstance, -but, as this fitly symbolised, outside the congregation of Israel, to suffer. In other words, His consecration of Himself to God in self-sacrifice found its supreme expression in this, that He voluntarily submitted to be cast out from Israel, despised and rejected of men, even of the Israel of God.

And so this burning of the flesh of the sin offering of the highest grade in two places, the fat upon the altar, in the court of the congregation, and the rest of the victim outside the camp, set forth prophetically the full self-surrender of the Son to the Father, as the sin offering, in a double aspect: in the former, emphasising simply, as in the peace offering, His surrender of all that was highest and best in Him, as Son of God and Son of man, unto the Father as a Sin offering; in the latter, foreshowing that He should also, in a special manner, be a sacrifice for the sin of the congregation of Israel, and that His consecration should receive its fullest exhibition and most complete expression in that He should die outside the camp of legal Judaism, as an outcast from the congregation of Israel.

Accordingly we find that this part of the type of the sin offering was formally accomplished when the high priest, upon Christ’s confession before the Sanhedrim of His Sonship to God, declared Him to be guilty of blasphemy; an offence for which it had been ordered by the Lord {Leviticus 24:14} that the guilty person should be taken "without the camp" to suffer for his sin.

In the light of these marvellous correspondences between the typical sin offering and the self offering of the Son of God, what a profound meaning more and more appears in those words of Christ concerning Moses: "He wrote of Me."


Verse 27-28

ete_me Leviticus 4:13-14

GRADED RESPONSIBILITY

Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 4:13-14; Leviticus 4:22-23; Leviticus 4:27-28

"If the anointed priest shall sin so as to bring guilt on the people; then let him offer for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering And if the whole congregation of Israel shall err, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done any of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and are guilty; when the sin wherein they have sinned is known, then the assembly shall offer a young bullock for a sin offering, and bring it before the tent of meeting When a ruler sinneth, and doeth unwittingly any one of all the things which the Lord his God hath commanded not to be done. and is guilty; if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, be made known to him, he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a male without blemish And if any one of the common people sin unwittingly, in doing any of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and be guilty; if this sin, which he hath sinned, be made known to him, then he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned."

The law concerning the sin offering is given in four sections, of which the last, again, is divided into two parts, separated by the division of the chapter. These four sections respectively treat of-first, the law of the sin offering for the "anointed priest" (Leviticus 4:3-12); secondly, the law for the offering for the whole congregation (Leviticus 4:13-21); thirdly, that for a ruler (Leviticus 4:22-26); and lastly, the law for an offering made by a private person, one of "the common people". {Leviticus 4:27-35; Leviticus 5:1-16} In this last section we have, first, the general law, {Leviticus 4:27-35} and then are added {Leviticus 5:1-16} special prescriptions having reference to various circumstances under which a sin offering should be offered by one of the people. Under this last head are mentioned first, as requiring a sin offering, in addition to sins of ignorance or inadvertence, which only were mentioned in the preceding chapter, also sins due to rashness or weakness (Leviticus 4:1-4): and then are appointed, in the second place, certain variations in the material of the offering, allowed out of regard to the various ability of different offerers (Leviticus 4:5-16).

In the law as given in chapter 4, it is to be observed that the selection of the victim prescribed is determined by the position of the persons who might have occasion to present the offering.

For the whole congregation, the victim must be a bullock, the most valuable of all; for the high priest, as the highest religious official of the nation, and appointed also to represent them before God, it must also be a bullock. For the civil ruler, the offering must be a he-goat-an offering of a value less than that of the victim ordered for the high priest, but greater than that of those which were prescribed for the common people. For these, a variety of offerings were appointed, according to their several ability. If possible, it must be a female goat or lamb, or, if the worshipper could not bring that, then two turtledoves, or two young pigeons. If too poor to bring even this small offering, then it was appointed that, as a substitute for the bloody, offering, he might bring an offering of fine flour, without oil or frankincense, to be burnt upon the altar.

Evidently, then, the choice of the victim was determined by two considerations: first, the rank of the person who sinned, and, secondly, his ability. As regards the former point, the law as to the victim for the sin offering was this: the higher the theocratic rank of the sinning person might be, the more costly offering he must bring. No one can well miss of perceiving the meaning of this. The guilt of any sin in God’s sight is proportioned to the rank and station of the offender. What truth could be of more practical and personal concern to all than this?

In applying this principle, the law of the sin offering teaches, first, that the guilt of any sin is the heaviest, when it is committed by one who is placed in a position of religious authority. For this graded law is headed by the case of the sin of the anointed priest, that is, the high priest, the highest functionary in the nation.

We read (Leviticus 4:3): "If the anointed priest shall sin so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer for his sin which he hath committed, a young bullock without blemish, unto the Lord, for a sin offering."

That is, the high priest, although a single individual, if he sin, must bring as large and valuable an offering as is required from the whole congregation. For this law there are two evident reasons. The first is found in the fact that in Israel the high priest represented before God the entire nation. When he sinned it was as if the whole nation sinned in him. So it is said that by his sin he "brings guilt on the people"-a very weighty matter. And this suggests a second reason for the costly offering that was required from him. The consequences of the sin of one in such a high position of religious authority must, in the nature of the case, be much more serious and far-reaching than in the case of any other person.

And here we have another lesson as pertinent to our time as to those days. As the high priest, so, in modern time, the bishop, minister, or elder, is ordained as an officer in matters of religion, to act for and with men in the things of God. For the proper administration of this high trust, how indispensable that such a one shall take heed to maintain unbroken fellowship with God! Any shortcoming here is sure to impair by so much the spiritual value of his own ministrations for the people to whom he ministers. And this evil consequence of any unfaithfulness of his is the more certain to follow, because, of all the members of the community, his example has the widest and most effective influence; in whatever that example be bad or defective, it is sure to do mischief in exact proportion to his exalted station. If then such a one sin, the case is very grave, and his guilt proportionately heavy.

This very momentous fact is brought before us in an impressive way in the New Testament, where, in the epistles to the Seven Churches of Asia {Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22} it is "the angel of the church," the presiding officer of the church in each city, who is held responsible for the spiritual state of those committed to his charge. No wonder that the Apostle James wrote: {James 3:1} "Be not many teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment." Well may every true-hearted minister of Christ’s Church tremble, as here in the law of the sin offering he reads how the sin of the officer of religion may bring guilt, not only on himself, but also "on the whole people"! Well may he cry out with the Apostle Paul: {2 Corinthians 2:16} "Who is sufficient for these things?" and, like him, beseech those to whom he ministers, "Brethren, pray for us!"

With the sin of the high priest is ranked that of the congregation, or the collective nation. It is written (Leviticus 4:13-14): "If the whole congregation of Israel shall err, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done any one of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and are guilty, then the assembly shall offer a young bullock for a sin offering."

Thus Israel was taught by this law, as we are, that responsibility attaches not only to each individual person, but also to associations of individuals in their corporate character, as nations, communities, and-we may add-all Societies and Corporations, whether secular or religious. Let us emphasise it to our own consciences, as another of the fundamental lessons of this law: there is individual sin; there is also such a thing as a sin by "the whole congregation." In other words, God holds nations, communities-in a word, all associations and combinations of men for whatever purpose, no less under obligation in their corporate capacity to keep His law than as individuals, and will count them guilty if they break it, even through ignorance.

Never has a generation needed this reminder more than our own. The political and social principles which, since the French Revolution in the end of the last century, have been, year by year, more and more generally accepted among the nations of Christendom, are everywhere tending to the avowed or practical denial of this most important truth. It is a maxim ever more and more extensively accepted as almost axiomatic in our modern democratic communities, that religion is wholly a concern of the individual; and that a nation or community, as such, should make no distinction between various religions as false or true, but maintain an absolute neutrality, even between Christianity and idolatry, or theism and atheism. It should take little thought to see that this modern maxim stands in direct opposition to the principle assumed in this law of the sin offering; namely, that a community or nation is as truly and directly responsible to God as the individual in the nation. But this corporate responsibility the spirit of the age squarely denies.

Not that all, indeed, in our modern so-called Christian nations have come to this. But no one will deny that this is the mind of the vanguard of nineteenth century liberalism in religion and politics. Many of our political leaders in all lands make no secret of their views on the subject. A purely secular state is everywhere held up, and that with great plausibility and persuasiveness, as the ideal of political government; the goal to the attainment of which all good citizens should unite their efforts. And, indeed, in some parts of Christendom the complete attainment of this evil ideal seems not far away.

It is not strange, indeed, to see atheists, agnostics, and others who deny the Christian faith, maintaining this position; but when we hear men who call themselves Christians-in many cases, even Christian ministers-advocating, in one form or another, governmental neutrality in religion as the only right basis of government, one may well be amazed. For Christians are supposed to accept the Holy Scriptures as the law of faith and of morals, private and public; and where in all the Scripture will anyone find such an attitude of any nation or people mentioned, but to be condemned and threatened with the judgment of God?

Will anyone venture to say that this teaching of the law of the sin offering was only intended, like the offering itself, for the old Hebrews? Is it not rather the constant and most emphatic teaching of the whole Scriptures, that God dealt with all the ancient Gentile nations on the same principle? The history which records the overthrow of those old nations and empires does so, even professedly, for the express purpose of calling the attention of men in all ages to this principle, that God deals with all nations as under obligations to recognise Himself as King of nations, and submit in all things to His authority. So it was in the case of Moab, of Ammon, of Nineveh, and Babylon; in regard to each of which we are told, in so many words, that it was because they refused to recognise this principle of national responsibility to the one true God, which was brought before Israel in this part of the law of the sin offering, that the Divine judgment came upon them in their utter national overthrow. How awfully plain, again, is the language of the second Psalm on this same subject, where it is precisely this national repudiation of the supreme authority of God and of His Christ, so increasingly common in our day, which is named as the ground of the derisive judgment of God, and is made the occasion of exhorting all nations, not merely to belief in God, but also to the obedient recognition of His only-begotten Son, the Messiah, as the only possible means of escaping the future kindling of His wrath.

No graver sign of our times could perhaps be named than just this universal tendency in Christendom, in one way or another, to repudiate that corporate responsibility to God which is assumed as the basis of this part of the law of the sin offering. There can be no worse omen for the future of an individual than the denial of his obligations to God and to His Son, our Saviour; and there can be no worse sign for the future of Christendom, or of any nation in Christendom, than the partial or entire denial of national obligation to God and to His Christ. What it shall mean in the end, what is the future toward which these popular modern principles are conducting the nations, is revealed in Scripture with startling clearness, in the warning that the world is yet to see one who shall be in a peculiar and eminent sense "the Antichrist"; {1 John 2:18} who shall deny both the Father and Son, and be "the Lawless One," and the "Man of Sin," in that He shall "set Himself forth as God"; {2 Thessalonians 2:3-8} to whom authority will be given "over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation." {Revelation 13:7}

The nation, then, as such, is held responsible to God! So stands the law. And, therefore, in Israel, if the nation should sin, it was ordained that they also, like the high priest, should bring a bullock for a sin offering, the most costly victim that was ever prescribed. This was so ordained, no doubt, in part because of Israel’s own priestly station as a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation," exalted to a position of peculiar dignity and privilege before God, that they might mediate the blessings of redemption to all nations. It was because of this fact that, if they sinned, their guilt was peculiarly heavy.

The principle, however, is of present day application. Privilege is the measure of responsibility, no less now than then, for nations as well as for individuals. Thus national sin, on the part of the British or American nation, or indeed with any of the so-called Christian nations, is certainly judged by God to be a much more evil thing than the same sin if committed, for example, by the Chinese or Turkish nation, who have had no such degree of Gospel light and knowledge.

And the law in this case evidently also implies that sin is aggravated in proportion to its universality. It is bad, for example, if in a community one man commit adultery, forsaking his own wife; but it argues a condition of things far worse when the violation of the marriage relation becomes common; when the question can actually be held open for discussion whether marriage, as a permanent union between one man and one woman, be not "a failure," as debated not long ago in a leading London paper; and when, as in many of the United States of America and other countries of modern Christendom, laws are enacted for the express purpose of legalising the violation of Christ’s law of marriage, and thus shielding adulterers and adulteresses from the condign punishment their crime deserves. It is bad, again, when individuals in a State teach doctrines subversive of morality; but it evidently argues a far deeper depravation of morals when a whole community unite in accepting, endowing, and upholding such in their work.

Next in order comes the case of the civil ruler. For him it was ordered: "When a ruler sinneth, and doeth unwittingly any of the things which the Lord his God hath commanded not to be done, and is guilty: if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, be made known to him, he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a male without blemish" (Leviticus 4:22). Thus, the ruler was to bring a victim of less value than the high priest or the collective congregation; but it must still be of more value than that of a private person; for his responsibility, if less than that of the officer of religion, is distinctly greater than that of a man in private life.

And here is a lesson for modern politicians, no less than for rulers of the olden time in Israel. While there are many in our Parliaments and like governing bodies in Christendom who cast their every vote with the fear of God before their eyes, yet, if there be any truth in the general opinion of men upon this subject, there are many in such places who, in their voting, have before their eyes the fear of party more than the fear of God; and who, when a question comes before them, first of all consider, not what would the law of absolute righteousness, the law of God, require, but how will a vote, one way or the other, in this matter, be likely to affect their party? Such certainly need to be emphatically reminded of this part of the law of the sin offering, which held the civil ruler specially responsible to God for the execution of his trust. For so it is still; God has not abdicated His throne in favour of the people, nor will He waive His crown rights out of deference to the political necessities of a party.

Nor is it only those who sin in this particular way who need the reminder of their personal responsibility to God. All need it who either are or may be called to places of greater or less governmental responsibility; and it is those who are the most worthy of such trust who will be the first to acknowledge their need of this warning. For in all times those who have been lifted to positions of political power have been under peculiar temptation to forget God, and become reckless of their obligation to Him as His ministers. But under the conditions of modern life, in many countries of Christendom, this is true as perhaps never before. For now it has come to pass that, in most modern communities, those who make and execute laws hold their tenure of office at the pleasure of a motley army of voters, Protestants and Romanists, Jews, atheists, and what not, a large part of whom care not the least for the will of God in civil government, as revealed in Holy Scripture. Under such conditions, the place of the civil ruler becomes one of such special trial and temptation that we do well to remember in our intercessions, with peculiar sympathy, all who in such positions are seeking to serve supremely, not their party, but their God, and so best serve their country. It is no wonder that the temptation too often to many becomes overpowering, to silence conscience with plausible sophistries, and to use their office to carry out in legislation, instead of the will of God, the will of the people, or rather, of that particular party which put them in power.

Yet the great principle affirmed in this law of the sin offering stands, and will stand forever, and to it all will do well to take heed; namely, that God will hold the civil ruler responsible, and more heavily responsible than any private person, for any sin he may commit, and especially for any violation of law in any matter committed to his trust. And there is abundant reason for this. For the powers that be are ordained of God, and in His providence are placed in authority; not as the modern notion is, for the purpose of executing the will of their constituents, whatever that will may be, but rather the unchangeable will of the Most Holy God, the Ruler of all nations, so far as revealed, concerning the civil and social relations of men. Nor must it be forgotten that this eminent responsibility attaches to them, not only in their official acts, but in all their acts as individuals. No distinction is made as to the sin for which the ruler must bring his sin offering, whether public and official, or private and personal. Of whatsoever kind the sin may be, if committed by a ruler, God holds him specially responsible, as being a ruler; and reckons the guilt of that sin, even if a private offence, to be heavier than if it had been committed by one of the common people. And this, for the evident reason that, as in the case of the high priest, his exalted position gives his example double influence and effect. Thus, in all ages and all lands, a corrupt king or nobility have made a corrupt court; and a corrupt court or corrupt legislators are sure to demoralise all the lower ranks of society. But however it may be under the governments of men, under the equitable government of the Most Holy God, high station can give no immunity to sin. And in the day to come, when the Great Assize is set, there will be many who in this world stood high in authority, who will learn, in the tremendous decisions of that day, if not before, that a just God reckoned the guilt of their sins and crimes in exact proportion to their rank and station.

Last of all, in this chapter, comes the law of the sin offering for one of the common people, of which the first part is given Leviticus 4:27-35. The victim which is appointed for those who are best able to give, a female goat, is yet of less value than those ordered in the cases before given; for the responsibility and guilt in the case of such is less. The first prescription for a sin offering by one of the common people is introduced by these words: -" If any one of the common people sin unwittingly, in doing any of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done, and be guilty; if his sin, which he hath sinned, be made known to him, then he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned" (Leviticus 4:27-28).

In case of his inability to bring so much as this, offerings of lesser value are authorised in the section following, {Leviticus 5:5-13} to which we shall attend hereafter.

Meanwhile it is suggestive to observe that this part of the law is expanded more fully than any other part of the law of the sin offering. We are hereby reminded that if none are so high as to he above the reach of the judgment of God, but are held in that proportion strictly responsible for their sin; so, on the other hand, none are of station so low that their sins shall therefore be overlooked. The common people, in all lands, are the great majority of the population; but no one is to imagine that, because he is a single individual, of no importance in a multitude, he shall therefore, if he sin, escape the Divine eye, as it were, in a crowd. Not so. We may be of the very lowest social station; the provision in Leviticus 5:11 regards the case of such as might be so poor as that they could not even buy two doves. Men may judge the doings of such poor folk of little or no consequence; but not so God. With Him is no respect of persons, either of rich or poor. From all alike, from the anointed high priest, who ministers in the Holy of Holies, down to the common people, and among these, again, from the highest down to the very lowest, poorest, and meanest in rank, is demanded, even for a sin of ignorance, a sin offering for atonement.

What a solemn lesson we have herein concerning the character of God! His omniscience, which not only notes the sin of those who are in some conspicuous position, but also each individual sin of the lowest of the people! His absolute equity, exactly and accurately grading responsibility for sin committed, in each case, according to the rank and influence of him who commits it! His infinite holiness, which cannot pass by without expiation even the transient act or word of rash hands or lips, not even the sin not known as sin by the sinner; a holiness which, in a word, unchangeably and unalterably requires from every human being, nothing less than absolute moral perfection like His own!


Verse 30

7

THE SPRINKLING OF THE BLOOD

Leviticus 4:6-7; Leviticus 4:16-18; Leviticus 4:25; Leviticus 4:30; Leviticus 5:9

"And the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord, before the veil of the sanctuary. And the priest shall put of the blood upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord, which is in the tent of meeting; and all the blood of the bullock shall he pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the tent of meeting And the anointed priest shall bring of the blood of the bullock to the tent of meeting, and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, before the veil. And he shall put of the blood upon the horns of the altar which is before the Lord, that is in the tent of meeting, and all the blood shall he pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the tent of meeting And 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 the blood thereof shall he pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and all the blood thereof shall he pour out at the base of the altar And he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering upon the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar; it is a sin offering."

In the case of the burnt offering and of the peace offering, in which the idea of expiation, although not absent, yet occupied a secondary place in their ethical intent, it sufficed that the blood of the victim, by whomsoever brought, be applied to the sides of the altar. But in the sin offering, the blood must not only be sprinkled on the sides of the altar of burnt offering, but, even in the case of the common people, be applied to the horns of the altar, its most conspicuous and, in a sense, most sacred part. In the case of a sin committed by the whole congregation, even this is not enough; the blood must be brought even into the Holy Place, be applied to the horns of the altar of incense, and be sprinkled seven times before the Lord before the veil which hung immediately before the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies, the place of the Shekinah glory. And in the great sin offering of the high priest once a year for the sins of all the people, yet more was required. The blood was to be taken even within the veil, and be sprinkled on the mercy seat itself over the tables of the broken law.

These several cases, according to the symbolism of these several parts of the tabernacle, differ in that atoning blood is brought ever more and more nearly into the immediate presence of God. The horns of the altar had a sacredness above the sides; the altar of the Holy Place before the veil, a sanctity beyond that of the altar in the outer court; while the Most Holy Place, where stood the ark, and the mercy seat, was the very place of the most immediate and visible manifestation of Jehovah, who is often described in Holy Scripture, with reference to the ark, the mercy seat, and the overhanging cherubim, as the God who "dwelleth between the cherubim."

From this we may easily understand the significance of the different prescriptions as to the blood in the case of different classes. A sin committed by any private individual or by a ruler, was that of one who had access only to the outer court, where stood the altar of burnt offering; for this reason, it is there that the blood must be exhibited, and that on the most sacred and conspicuous spot in that court, the horns of the altar where God meets with the people. But when it was the anointed priest that had sinned, the case was different. In that he had a peculiar position of nearer access to God than others, as appointed of God to minister before Him in the Holy Place, his sin is regarded as having defiled the Holy Place itself; and in that Holy Place must Jehovah therefore see atoning blood ere the priest’s position before God can be reestablished.

And the same principle required that also in the Holy Place must the blood be presented for the sin of the whole congregation. For Israel in its corporate unity was "a kingdom of priests," a priestly nation: and the priest in the Holy Place represented the nation in that capacity. Thus because of this priestly office of the nation, their collective sin was regarded as defiling the Holy Place in which, through their representatives, the priests, they ideally ministered. Hence, as the law for the priests, so is the law for the nation. For their corporate sin the blood must be applied, as in the case of the priest who represented them, to the horns of the altar in the Holy Place, whence ascended the smoke of the incense which visibly symbolised accepted priestly intercession, and, more than this, before the veil itself; in other words, as near to the very mercy seat itself as it was permitted to the priest to go; and it must be sprinkled there, not once, nor twice, but seven times, in token of the reestablishment, through the atoning blood, of God’s covenant of mercy, of which, throughout the Scripture, the number seven, the number of sabbatic rest and covenant fellowship with God, is the constant symbol.

And it is not far to seek for the spiritual thought which underlies this part of the ritual. For the tabernacle was represented as the earthly dwelling place, in a sense, of God; and just as the defiling of the house of my fellow man may be regarded as an insult to him who dwells in the house, so the sin of the priest and of the priestly people is regarded as, more than that of those outside of this relation, a special affront to the holy majesty of Jehovah, criminal just in proportion as the defilement approaches more nearly the innermost shrine of Jehovah’s manifestation.

But though Israel is at present suspended from its priestly position and function among the nations of the earth, the Apostle Peter {1 Peter 2:5} reminds us that the body of Christian believers now occupies Israel’s ancient place, being now on earth the "royal priesthood, the holy nation." Hence this ritual solemnly reminds us that the sin of a Christian is a far more evil thing than the sin of others; it is as the sin of the priest, and defiles the Holy Place, even though unwittingly committed; and thus, even more imperatively than other sin, demands the exhibition of the atoning blood of the Lamb of God, not now in the Holy Place, but more than that, in the true Holiest of all, where our High Priest is now entered. And thus, in every possible way, with this elaborate ceremonial of sprinkling of blood does the sin offering emphasise to our own consciences, no less than for ancient Israel, the solemn fact affirmed in the Epistle to the Hebrews, {Hebrews 9:22} "Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin."

Because of this, we do well to meditate much and deeply on this symbolism of the sin offering, which, more than any other in the law, has to do with the propitiation of our Lord for sin. Especially does this use of the blood, in which the significance of the sin offering reached its supreme expression, claim our most reverent attention. For the thought is inseparable from the ritual, that blood of the slain victim must be presented, not before the priest, or before the offerer, but before Jehovah. Can anyone mistake the evident significance of this? Does it not luminously hold forth the thought that atonement by sacrifice has to do, not only with man, but with God?

There is cause enough in our day for insisting on this. Many are teaching that the need for the shedding of blood for the remission of sin, lies only in the nature of man; that, so far as concerns God, sin might as well have been pardoned without it; that it is only because man is so hard and rebellious, so stubbornly distrusts the Divine love, that the death of the Holy Victim of Calvary became a necessity. Nothing less than such a stupendous exhibition of the love of God could suffice to disarm his enmity to God and win him back to loving trust. Hence the need of the atonement. That all this is true, no one will deny; but it is only half the truth, and the less momentous half, -which indeed is hinted in no offering, and in the sin offering least of all. Such a conception of the matter as completely fails to account for this part of the symbolic ritual of the bloody sacrifices, as it fails to agree with other teachings of the Scriptures. If the only need for atonement in order to pardon is in the nature of the sinner, then why this constant insistence that the blood of the sacrifice should always be solemnly presented, not before the sinner, but before Jehovah? We see in this fact most unmistakably set forth, the very solemn truth that expiation by blood as a condition of forgiveness of sin is necessary, not merely because man is what he is, but most of all because God is what He is. Let us then not forget that the presentation unto God of an expiation for sin, accomplished by the death of an appointed substitutionary victim, was in Israel made an indispensable condition of the pardon of sin. Is this, as many urge, against the love of God? By no means! Least of all will it so appear, when we remember who appointed the great Sacrifice, and, above all, who came to fulfil this type. Goal does not love us because atonement has been made, but atonement has been made because the Father loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

God is none the less just, that He is love; and none the less holy, that He is merciful: and in His nature, as the Most Just and Holy One, lies this necessity of the shedding of blood in order to the forgiveness of sin, which is impressively symbolised in the unvarying ordinance of the Levitical law, that as a condition of the remission of sin, the blood of the sacrifice must be presented, not before the sinner, but before Jehovah. To this generation of ours, with its so exalted notions of the greatness and dignity of man, and its correspondingly low conceptions of the ineffable greatness and majesty of the Most Holy God, this altar truth may be most distasteful, so greatly does it magnify the evil of sin; but just in that degree is it necessary to the humiliation of man’s proud self-complacency, that, whether pleasing or not, this truth be faithfully held forth.

Very instructive and helpful to our faith are the allusions to this sprinkling of Blood in the New Testament. Thus, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, {Hebrews 12:24} believers are reminded that they are come "unto the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better than that of Abel." The meaning is plain. For we are told, {Genesis 4:10} that the blood of Abel cried out against Cain from the ground; and that its cry for vengeance was prevailing; for God came down, arraigned the murderer, and visited him with instant judgment. But in these words we are told that the sprinkled blood of the holy Victim of Calvary, sprinkled on the heavenly altar, also has a voice, and a voice which "speaketh better than that of Abel"; better, in that it speaks, not for vengeance, but for pardoning mercy; better, in that it procures the remission even of a penitent murderer’s guilt; so that, "being now justified through His blood" we may all be saved from wrath through. {Romans 5:9} And, if we are truly Christ’s, it is our blessed comfort to remember also that we are said {1 Peter 1:2} to have been chosen of God unto the sprinkling of this precious blood of Jesus Christ; words which remind us, not only that the blood of a Lamb "without blemish and without spot" has been presented unto God for us, but also that the reason for this distinguishing mercy is found, not in us, but in the free love of God, who chose us in Christ Jesus to this grace.

And as in the burnt offering, so in the sin offering, the blood was to be sprinkled by the priest. The teaching is the same in both cases. To present Christ before God, laying the hand of faith upon His head as our sin offering, this is all we can do or are required to do. With the sprinkling of the blood we have nothing to do. In other words, the effective presentation of the blood before God is not to be secured by some act of our own; it is not something, to be procured through some subjective experience, other or in addition to the faith which brings the Victim. As in the type, so in the Antitype, the sprinkling of the atoning blood-that is, its application God-ward as a propitiation-is the work of our heavenly Priest. And our part in regard to it is simply and only this, that we entrust this work to Him. He will not disappoint us; He is appointed of God to this end, and He will see that it is done.

In a sacrifice in which the sprinkling of the blood occupies such a central and essential place in the symbolism, one would anticipate that this ceremony would never be dispensed with. Very strange it thus appears, at first sight, to find that to this law an exception was made. For it was ordained (ver. 11) that a man so poor that "his means suffice not" to bring even two doves or young pigeons, might bring, as a substitute, an offering of fine flour. From this, some have hastened to infer that the shedding of the blood, and therewith the idea of substituted life, was not essential to the idea of reconciliation with God; but with little reason. Most illogical and unreasonable it is to determine a principle, not from the general rule, but from an exception; especially when, as in this case, for the exception a reason can be shown, which is not inconsistent with the rule. For had no such exceptional offering been permitted in the case of the extremely poor man, it would have followed that there would have remained a class of persons in Israel whom God had excluded from the provision of the sin offering, which He had made the inseparable condition of forgiveness. But two truths were to be set forth in the ritual; the one, atonement by means of a life surrendered in expiation of guilt; the other, -as in a similar way in the burnt offering, -the sufficiency of God’s gracious provision for even the neediest of sinners. Evidently, here was a case in which something must be sacrificed in the symbolism. One of these truths may be perfectly set forth; both cannot be, with equal perfectness; a choice must therefore be made, and is made in this exceptional regulation, so as to hold up clearly, even though at the expense of some distinctness in the other thought of expiation, the unlimited sufficiency of God’s provision of forgiving grace.

And yet the prescriptions in this form of the offering were such as to prevent anyone from confounding it with the meal offering, which typified consecrated and accepted service. The oil and the frankincense which belonged to the latter are to be left out (Leviticus 5:11); incense, which typifies accepted prayer, -thus reminding us of the unanswered prayer of the Holy Victim when He cried upon the cross, "My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?" and oil, which typifies the Holy Ghost, -reminding us, again, how from the soul of the Son of God was mysteriously withdrawn in that same hour all the conscious presence and comfort of the Holy Spirit, which withdrawment alone could have wrung from His lips that unanswered prayer. And, again, whereas the meal for the meal offering had no limit fixed as to quantity, in this case the amount is prescribed-"the tenth part of an ephah" (Leviticus 5:11); an amount which, from the story of the manna, appears to have represented the sustenance of one full day. Thus it was ordained that if, in the nature of the case, this sin offering could not set forth the sacrifice of life by means of the shedding of blood, it should at least point in the same direction, by requiring that, so to speak, the support of life for one day shall be given up, as forfeited by sin.

All the other parts of the ceremonial are in this ordinance made to take a secondary place, or are omitted altogether. Not all of the offering is burnt upon the altar, but only a part; that part, however, the fat, the choicest; for the same reason as in the peace offering. There is, indeed, a peculiar variation in the case of the offering of the two young pigeons, in that, of the one, the blood only was used in the sacrifice, while the other was wholly burnt like a burnt offering. But for this variation the reason is evident enough in the nature of the victims. For in the case of a small creature like a bird, the fat would be so insignificant in quantity, and so difficult to separate with thoroughness from the flesh, that the ordinance must needs be varied, and a second bird be taken for the burning, as a substitute for the separated fat of larger animals. The symbolism is not essentially affected by the variation. What the burning of the fat means in other offerings, that also means the burning of the second bird in this case.


Verse 31

12

THE EATING AND THE BURNING OF THE SIN OFFERING WITHOUT THE CAMP

Leviticus 4:8-12; Leviticus 4:19-21; Leviticus 4:26; Leviticus 4:31;, Leviticus 5:10; Leviticus 5:12

"And all the fat of the bullock of the sin offering he shall take off from it; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the loins, and the caul upon the liver, with the kidneys, shall he take away, as it is taken off from the ox of the sacrifice of, peace offerings: and the priest shall burn them upon the altar of burnt offering. And the skin of the bullock, and all its flesh, with its head, and with its legs, and its inwards, and its dung, even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall it be burnt And all the fat thereof shall he take off from it, and burn it upon the altar. Thus shall he do with the bullock; as he did with the bullock of the sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven. And he shall carry forth the bullock without the camp, and burn it as he burned the first bullock: it is the sin offering for the assembly. And all the fat thereof shall he burn upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make atonement for him as concerning his sin, and he shall be forgiven. And all the fat thereof shall he take away, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour unto the Lord and the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering according to the ordinance: and the priest shall make atonement for him as concerning his sin which he hath sinned, and he shall be forgiven. And he shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it as the memorial thereof, and burn it on the altar, upon the offerings of the Lord made by fire: it is a sin offering."

In the ritual of the sin offering, sacrificial meal, such as that of the peace offering, wherein the offerer and his house, with the priest and the Levite, partook together of the flesh of the sacrificed victim, there was none. The eating of the flesh of the sin offerings by the priests, prescribed in Leviticus 6:26, had, primarily, a different intention and meaning. As set forth elsewhere, {Leviticus 7:35} it was "the anointing portion of Aaron and his sons"; an ordinance expounded by the Apostle Paul to this effect, {1 Corinthians 9:13} they which wait upon the altar should "have their portion with the altar." Yet not of all the sin offerings might the priest thus partake. For when he was himself the one for whom the offering was made, whether as an individual, or as included in the congregation, then it is plain that he for the time stood in the same position before God as the private individual who had sinned. It was a universal principle of the law that because of the peculiarly near and solemn relation into which the expiatory victim had been brought to God, it was "most holy," and therefore he for whose sin it is offered could not eat of its flesh. Hence the general law is laid down: {Leviticus 6:30} "No sin offering, whereof any of the blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the holy place, shall be eaten; it shall be burnt with fire."

And yet, although, because the priests could not eat of the flesh, it must be burnt, it could not be burnt upon the altar; not, as some have fancied, because it was regarded as unclean, which is directly contradicted by the statement that it is "most holy," but because so to dispose of it would have been to confound the sin offering with the burnt offering, which had, as we have seen, a specific symbolic meaning, quite distinct from that of the sin offering. It must be so disposed of that nothing shall divert the mind of the worshipper from the fact that, not sacrifice as representing full consecration, as in the burnt offering, but sacrifice as representing expiation, is set forth in this offering. Hence it was ordained that the flesh of these sin offerings for the anointed priest, or for the congregation, which included him, should be "burnt on wood with fire without the camp." {Leviticus 4:11-12; Leviticus 4:21} And the more carefully to guard against the possibility of confounding this burning of the flesh of the sin offering with the sacrificial burning of the victims on the altar, the Hebrew uses here, and in all places where this burning is referred to, a verb wholly distinct from that which is used of the burnings on the altar, and which, unlike that, is used of any ordinary burning of anything for any purpose.

But this burning of the victim without the camp was not therefore empty of all typical significance. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews calls our attention to the fact that in this part of the appointed ritual there was also that which prefigured Christ and the circumstances of His death. For we, {Hebrews 13:10-12} after an exhortation to Christians to have done with the ritual observances of Judaism regarding meats:-"We," that is, we Christian believers, "have an altar,"-the cross upon which Jesus suffered, -"whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle"; i.e., they who adhere to the now effete Jewish tabernacle service, the unbelieving Israelites, derive no benefit from this sacrifice of ours. "For the bodies of those beasts whose blood is brought into the Holy Place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned without the camp"; the priesthood are debarred from eating them, according to the law we have before us. And then attention is called to the fact that in this respect Jesus fulfilled this part of the type of the sin offering, thus: "Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the camp." That is, as Alford interprets (Comm. sub. loc.), in the circumstance that Jesus suffered without the gate, is seen a visible adumbration of the fact that He suffered outside the camp of legal Judaism, and thus, in that He suffered for the sin of the whole congregation of Israel, fulfilled the type of this sin offering in this particular. Thus a prophecy is discovered here which perhaps we had not else discerned, concerning the manner of the death of the antitypical victim. He should suffer as a victim for the sin of the whole congregation, the priestly people, who should for that reason be debarred, in fulfilment of the type, from that benefit of His death which had else been their privilege. And herein was accomplished to the uttermost that surrender of His whole being to God, in that, in carrying out that full consecration, "He, bearing His cross, went forth," not merely outside the gate of Jerusalem, -in itself a trivial circumstance, -but, as this fitly symbolised, outside the congregation of Israel, to suffer. In other words, His consecration of Himself to God in self-sacrifice found its supreme expression in this, that He voluntarily submitted to be cast out from Israel, despised and rejected of men, even of the Israel of God.

And so this burning of the flesh of the sin offering of the highest grade in two places, the fat upon the altar, in the court of the congregation, and the rest of the victim outside the camp, set forth prophetically the full self-surrender of the Son to the Father, as the sin offering, in a double aspect: in the former, emphasising simply, as in the peace offering, His surrender of all that was highest and best in Him, as Son of God and Son of man, unto the Father as a Sin offering; in the latter, foreshowing that He should also, in a special manner, be a sacrifice for the sin of the congregation of Israel, and that His consecration should receive its fullest exhibition and most complete expression in that He should die outside the camp of legal Judaism, as an outcast from the congregation of Israel.

Accordingly we find that this part of the type of the sin offering was formally accomplished when the high priest, upon Christ’s confession before the Sanhedrim of His Sonship to God, declared Him to be guilty of blasphemy; an offence for which it had been ordered by the Lord {Leviticus 24:14} that the guilty person should be taken "without the camp" to suffer for his sin.

In the light of these marvellous correspondences between the typical sin offering and the self offering of the Son of God, what a profound meaning more and more appears in those words of Christ concerning Moses: "He wrote of Me."

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Leviticus 4:4". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/leviticus-4.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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