Leviticus 4 Commentary
Chapter 1 introduced us to burnt offerings. The entire offering was burnt – whole burnt offerings.
Chapter 2 introduced us to grain offerings. Only part of the offering was burnt. The rest was given to the priests
Chapter 3 introduced us to fellowship offerings. It appears only part of it was burnt.
Now chapter 4 introduces us to sin offerings – unintentional sin comes up first. First for the priest, followed by the entire community, them a leader and lastly a member of the community. These sacrifices here are not fines. They are a means to obtain grace. Indeed a scene of crime is a place of punishment under normal circumstances. But in the scripture the LORD wants us to remember a moment of sin as a moment of grace. This appears to be the key line in these pages. Forgiveness is available. For now we have various rules – the presence of diversity is in itself a message to us.
It is interesting that when the priest sins, his sin brings guilty on the people. It points to the fact that the sin of the saint has community-wide consequences. By laying hands on the animal the priest transfers his sins onto the animal. But interestingly the fat and blood of the now sinful and guilty animal are treated differently.
By burning the flesh outside, the LORD is making the point that the guilty will be punished while the part that belongs to the LORD will enjoy a restored relationship. Importantly, in the LORD Jesus, both are achieved. The bad is burned and destroyed. But the redeemed of the LORD is preserved and treated differently in the Holy place.
By splashing the blood 7 times against the curtain of the Most Holy place, the LORD is indicating to us the reconnection with the LORD. The blood on the altar of incense shows us the opening of the prayer line for the redeemed. So upon repentance part of the sinner is destroyed while part of the sinner is preserved and all of this is fully achieved at Calvary.
When the community sins, the elders of the people must repent on behalf of the people. This goes for men who are leaders of families. How often do we repent on behalf of our families, (on behalf of our women)? It’s clear from my own situation that many family heads are failing in this area. As in the case for the sinful priest, the rest of the animal is burnt outside on the ash heap – where it belongs. But the other items such as the fat and blood are taken for further rituals meant to reconnect the sinner to the LORD in both repentance and fellowship.
Remember that both the priest and community required a young bull. A male goat was required for a leader. We also see that for ordinary members of the public a female goat was required. We can see a descending order in terms of size. It doesn’t mean the sin of one is bigger than the other. It simply means that the bigger the responsibility the higher the stakes. This is what we notice even in everyday life. A mistake by toddler results in a couple of broken plates. A mistake by a teenage results in failure at school and delayed progress. A mistake by a man affects the entire family both in the present and in the future. A sin by a national leader plunges the entire nation in trouble. The Bible wants us to see this concept.
Here we also notice that all this trouble is for some unintentional sin. How often do we repent of unintentional sin? Many of us are guilty on this one, I guess. Such are the high standards required by the LORD! You won’t just show up with excuses!
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