December 15, 2014
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
The Trespass Offering
If a soul commit a trespass and sin through ignorance …
There were two spheres in which a man might commit a trespass: it could be against God (Leviticus 5:14-19) or as a result of something done to a neighbor (although still against the Lord, 6:2). Thus both portions of the law were violated – God and his neighbor.
In the sin offering, it would appear that it is the awareness of my sin and that it springs from a nature that is sinful. The stress in the trespass offering is upon “the harm that he hath done” (5:16). So it is not so much sin and what it reveals of me and my need before God, as it is an offering for the consequences of my sin.
An obvious difference from the sin offering is that in the case of the trespass offering, there was only one grade of sacrifice. Whether a trespass was against God in the holy things or against His law, or if a trespass was against God in my relationship with others, in each case, a ram is brought. The ram is linked with consecration. We see that in Genesis 22 and Exodus 29. The Lord Jesus in His ram-like consecration to God never failed to give God and man their due. Fully yielded to the will of God, He did not sin in the holy things, or in the human things.
This offering teaches us that God is vitally interested in relationships. He covets the relationship He has with His own; and He desires us to have right relationships with each other. Trespasses hinder right relationships. God is in the repair business. So He begins with repairing the relationship between God and man. We are reminded of the words of Psalm 69:4, “Then I restored that which I took not away.”
The Lord Jesus had no part in the entrance of sin into our world. The sundering of that pristine and blessed relationship between God and man was driven asunder by the awful reality of sin. Christ did not “take it away,” but He did restore it. By virtue of Him, we are reconciled unto God by the death of His Son.”
God is, however, vitally interested in relationships among believers as well. Man was made to enjoy relationships. Having been reconciled to God and brought into the family of God, we are to maintain relationships on the basis of righteousness and love.
Whether by dishonesty, duplicity, defrauding, or deception, a trespass against a brother hinders spiritual relationships. Matthew 5:23, 24, and Matthew 18:1-35 are all about “gaining my brother.” Transparent and honest dealings are needed before God and men to heal the breach and maintain fellowship.
But God always does “exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think.” On the one hand, the adding of the fifth part was to ensure that no one profited from sin. Imagine finding something of your neighbors that was lost and not telling him. If discovered, the worst that would ensue is that you would return it to him. You would have had the use of it all the time it was with you, and, perhaps, he might never have discovered that you had it. It might be worth the risk to just keep it. But by adding the fifth part, a man would recognize that a trespass is costly. He could not possibly profit by trifling with the sin.
And yet, God has also suggested that in the adding of the fifth part, something greater has been effected: Adam was lost in innocency, but we are saved and sanctified, holy, beyond a second “temptation and fall.” Eternally secure, brought nigh to God – we are light years ahead of Adam in his relationship with God.
- How would you apply the adding of the “fifth part” when it was given to a neighbor? Do honest and Scriptural reconciliations improve and further relationships?
- Think about Zacchaeus and his restoring five-fold. He exceeded the law’s demands out of devotion and appreciation.