December 08, 2014
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
The Sin offering
“If any soul sin through ignorance …”
“If a soul shall sin” (Lev 4:2). This is the first mention of sin in Leviticus. We have been through three chapters detailing three distinct offerings; but no mention has been made of sin as yet. There are many words in the O.T. for “sin,” but this one, chatta, means “missing the mark” or “falling short of a standard.” The divine standard for actions is expressed in verse 2. It is not man’s opinion or standards. No longer is it a voluntary offering. The Spirit of God speaks in the imperative, “Let him bring … a young bullock.” Notice as well that the priest had to bring it to the door of the Tabernacle. There was no attempt to cover up his failure. Exposed before God, as well as others, he brought his offering “before the Lord.”
The priest was to lay his hand upon the bullock’s head and to kill the victim before the Lord (v 4). There is in the ritual of the hand being placed on the animal’s head, the thought of transfer; but perhaps it is more than simply the transfer of guilt and sin. The sinner himself became completely identified with the victim. Acts of sin make me aware of my “sinnership.” I see the forgiveness of my sins, but also God’s judgment on all that I am as a sinner.
It is significant that there are more mentions of “the blood” in Leviticus 4 than any other chapter in the Bible (15 times). The chapter with the most frequent mentions in the N.T. is Hebrews 9. The Bullock was to be without blemish. Valuable and unique, the sacrifice was to be costly. Sin is costly. It was a young bullock, full of potential and strength. Cut off in the prime of its life, its death was by the hand of the sinner, the priest.
As the knife came down on the victim, its blood was shed, reinforcing to the sinner that his sin had occasioned the death of an innocent victim. In the sin offering, the stress is on “all the blood” (v 7). In the burnt offering it was all the victim; in the meal offering, it was all the frankincense; in the peace offering all the fat. But it is the blood which is prominent here. A life must be given!
The Best of the Bullock – The word for “fat” (v 8) is different from the word used in ch.1:8 (suet). The word here means the best or choicest of the animal. This fat was removed and placed on the altar, linking it with the Burnt offering, the Meal offering, and the Peace offering. In this manner, God was testifying to the inward purity and perfection of His Son, even while He was suffering for sin. Later God will underline this by stating that the sin offering was “most holy” (ch 6:25).
The bullock was to be burned. In the case of the priest it was taken outside the camp and consumed in a holocaust of fire. It was totally engulfed in the fire of God’s wrath. Thus, not only was God showing the condemnation of sin in its burning, but the curse of sin in that it had to be outside the camp.
- What can be learned from the different animals demanded as sacrifice for different individuals?
- Look at the places where blood had to be applied and consider the effects of sin which need to be dealt with for us.