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David Guzik :: Study Guide for Leviticus 4

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The Sin Offering

A. The procedure for the Sin Offering.

1. (Lev 4:1-2) The purpose of the Sin Offering.

Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'If a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments of the LORD in anything which ought not to be done, and does any of them,' "

a. If a person sins unintentionally: The idea is not so much of an accidental sin, but of a sin committed by a person who basically loves God. The contrast to an unintentional sin is to sin presumptuously (Numbers 15:30). Literally, this was "to sin with a high hand." There was no atonement available for the one whose heart was so defiantly turned against the LORD in presumptuous sin. If your heart wasn't turned towards the LORD, then all the animals in the world sacrificed on your behalf did you no good.

2. (Lev 4:3-12) The sin offering for a priest.

If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer to the LORD for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering. He shall bring the bull to the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD, lay his hand on the bull's head, and kill the bull before the LORD. Then the anointed priest shall take some of the bull's blood and bring it to the tabernacle of meeting. The priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle some of the blood seven times before the LORD, in front of the veil of the sanctuary. And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the LORD, which is in the tabernacle of meeting; and he shall pour the remaining blood of the bull at the base of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. He shall take from it all the fat of the bull as the sin offering. The fat that covers the entrails and all the fat which is on the entrails, the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove, as it was taken from the bull of the sacrifice of the peace offering; and the priest shall burn them on the altar of the burnt offering. But the bull's hide and all its flesh, with its head and legs, its entrails and offal; the whole bull he shall carry outside the camp to a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire; where the ashes are poured out it shall be burned.

a. If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people: If a priest needed a sin offering made on his behalf, a bull had to be sacrificed on his behalf, with the priest identifying with the victim through the laying on of hands.

i. The presence of a separate ritual of cleansing for the sin of the priest shows that they had a great accountability before the LORD and were, in a sense, judged according to a stricter measure.

b. Sprinkle some of the blood seven times before the LORD, in front of the veil of the sanctuary: The blood of this bull was applied to the veil in the tabernacle of meeting, to the altar of incense, and to the altar of sacrifice outside the tabernacle.

i. Sin is an offense against the holiness of God, and so the veil guarding His holy presence must receive sacrificial blood.

ii. Sin affects our prayer life, and so the altar of incense representing the prayers of God's people must receive sacrificial blood.

iii. Sin makes our atonement necessary, so the altar of the burnt offering - the place of atonement - must receive sacrificial blood.

c. He shall take from it all the fat of the bull as the sin offering: The fatty portions of the animal were offered to God. In this, the best was once again dedicated to God after the blood covered the sin.

d. The bull's hide and all its flesh … burn it on wood with fire: The valuable hide and the meat of the bull were burnt outside the camp, along with the worthless portions of the bull. It could not be offered to God, but it was burned as if it were a worthless thing.

i. All selfish motives had to be removed in the sin offering. If a priest brought the offering, the whole offering had to be destroyed. If a non-priest brought the offering, the priest could eat of it, but not the one bringing the sacrifice. You couldn't bring a sin offering because you wanted meat or leather, but only because you wanted to get right with God. This emphasized the idea that there is no benefit to our sin.

ii. Paul expressed this attitude of heart in Philippians 3:7-8: But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

3. (Lev 4:13-21) The sin offering for the whole congregation of Israel.

Now if the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally, and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done something against any of the commandments of the LORD in anything which should not be done, and are guilty; when the sin which they have committed becomes known, then the assembly shall offer a young bull for the sin, and bring it before the tabernacle of meeting. And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the LORD. Then the bull shall be killed before the LORD. The anointed priest shall bring some of the bull's blood to the tabernacle of meeting. Then the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it seven times before the LORD, in front of the veil. And he shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar which is before the LORD, which is in the tabernacle of meeting; and he shall pour the remaining blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. He shall take all the fat from it and burn it on the altar. And he shall do with the bull as he did with the bull as a sin offering; thus he shall do with it. So the priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. Then he shall carry the bull outside the camp, and burn it as he burned the first bull. It is a sin offering for the assembly.

a. If the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally: The procedure was the same as the sin offering on behalf of a priest, except that the elders of the congregation laid their hands on the head of the bull, representing the nation.

4. (Lev 4:22-26) The sin offering for a ruler of the people.

When a ruler has sinned, and done something unintentionally against any of the commandments of the LORD his God in anything which should not be done, and is guilty, or if his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge, he shall bring as his offering a kid of the goats, a male without blemish. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the goat, and kill it at the place where they kill the burnt offering before the LORD. It is a sin offering. The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering. And he shall burn all its fat on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of the peace offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.

a. When a ruler has sinned: The procedure was similar to, yet distinct from the offering for a priest or the nation at large. The sacrificial victim was a male goat, and the blood was only applied to the altar of burnt offering, and the fat was burnt on the altar - as in the peace offering.

i. According to Leviticus 6:24-30, the rest of the animal was available for the priest.

5. (Lev 4:27-35) The sin offering for a common man or woman.

If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally by doing something against any of the commandments of the LORD in anything which ought not to be done, and is guilty, or if his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge, then he shall bring as his offering a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering. Then the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour all the remaining blood at the base of the altar. He shall remove all its fat, as fat is removed from the sacrifice of the peace offering; and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a sweet aroma to the LORD. So the priest shall make atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him. If he brings a lamb as his sin offering, he shall bring a female without blemish. Then he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill it as a sin offering at the place where they kill the burnt offering. The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour all the remaining blood at the base of the altar. He shall remove all its fat, as the fat of the lamb is removed from the sacrifice of the peace offering. Then the priest shall burn it on the altar, according to the offerings made by fire to the LORD. So the priest shall make atonement for his sin that he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him.

a. If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally: This was the same procedure for a ruler of the people, except that a female goat or a lamb could be offered instead of a male goat.

b. Then the priest shall burn it on the altar, according to the offerings made by fire to the LORD: Again, presumably, the rest of the animal was available for the priest. This meant that the sin offering for a civil ruler or common man was lest costly than the sin offering for a priest or the nation as a whole, and that the only profit a priest could gain from his own sin offering was spiritual, not material.

© 2004 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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