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Leviticus Bible Study – Lesson #3

Lesson 3:  Leviticus 4 thru Leviticus 6:1-7      

Read Leviticus 4:1-35

The sin offering (Heb., hattã’th) was appointed for a redeemed people. It does not speak of a sinner coming to the Lord for salvation, but of an Israelite, in covenant relationship with the Lord, seeking forgiveness. It has to do with sins committed unconsciously or unintentionally.  See 1 John 1:5-10.

The offering itself: There were different grades of offerings, depending upon the person who sinned: The anointed priest—that is, the high priest, if he by sinning brought guilt on the people (Lev. 4:3)—brought a young bull without blemish; the whole congregation (Lev. 4:13) brought a young bull also; a ruler (Lev. 4:22)  brought a kid of the goats, a male without blemish; an ordinary person (Lev. 4:27) brought a female goat, without blemish (Lev. 4:28), or a female sheep, without blemish (Lev. 4:32). (The Hebrew wording here indicates full-grown animals.)

Duties of the offerer(s): In general, the offerer brought the animal to the gate of the tabernacle court, presented it to the Lord, laid his hand on its head, killed it, and removed the fat, the kidneys, and the fatty lobe above the liver. The elders acted for the congregation (Lev. 4:15). The victim’s death was regarded symbolically as the sinner’s death.

Duties of the priest: For himself and for the congregation, the high priest carried the blood of the sacrifice into the holy place of the tabernacle, sprinkled it seven times before the veil (Lev. 4:5, 6, 16, 17) and on the horns of the golden altar of incense (Lev. 4:7, 18). Then he poured the rest of the blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering (Lev. 4:7, 18). For a ruler and for common people, a priest sprinkled the blood on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and poured the rest of the blood at the bottom of the altar (Lev. 4:25, 30, 34). For all classes, he burned the fat, kidneys, fatty lobe above the liver, and fat tail on the altar of burnt offering (Lev. 4:8-10, and Lev. 4:19, 26, 31). In the case of the offering for the high priest or for the whole congregation, all the rest of the animal was taken outside the camp and burned (Lev. 4:11, 12, 21).

Distribution of the offering: The Lord’s share was the portion that was burned upon the altar—the fat, kidneys, fatty lobe above the liver, etc. The priest was allowed to eat the flesh of the offerings of a ruler or of a commoner because the blood of these offerings was not taken into the sanctuary (Lev. 7:30), as in the case of the offerings of the high priest and the congregation (Lev. 4:5, 6, 16, 17). He could also eat the offerings described in Lev. 5:6, 7, 11 for the same reason. No part of the above offerings was set aside for the offerer.

The body of any sin offering whose blood was taken into the holy place was burned outside the camp. So our Lord, through His own blood, entered the holy place once for all (Heb. 9:12) after He had suffered outside the city ofJerusalem. We are admonished to “go forth to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb. 13:13).

Note: The expression “sin through ignorance” seems to mean more than lack of knowledge of the sin. It means that the sin was not willful, deliberate, or done in defiance or rebellion. There was no sacrifice for willful sin; the death penalty had to be exacted (Num. 15:30).  See Hebrews 10:26.

The person who brought a sin offering was acknowledging that he had sinned unintentionally through weakness or negligence. He sought forgiveness of sins and ceremonial cleansing.

The sin offering points symbolically to Christ, who was “made sin” for us, though He knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Some suggest that the sin offering speaks of Christ dealing with what we are, whereas the trespass offering pictures Him dealing with what we have done.

Read Leviticus 5:1-13

The first 13 verses of chapter 5 seem to describe the trespass offering (Lev. 5:6), but it is generally agreed that these verses have to do with two additional grades of sin offering. The reason for not treating them with the trespass offering is that there is no mention of restitution, which was an important part of the trespass offering. (However, it is freely admitted that verses Lev. 5:1-13 are closely linked to both the sin and trespass offerings.)

Instead of dealing with various classes of people, these offerings have to do with differing types of sins: Verse 1 describes a man who has knowledge of a crime, and yet refuses to testify after hearing the high priest or judge put him under oath. As a Jew living under the Law, Jesus testified when the chief priest put Him under oath (Matt. 26:63, 64).   Lev. 5:2 deals with the defilement which a Jew contracted by touching a dead body, even if he did not know it at the time. Lev. 5:3 describes the uncleanness contracted by touching a person with leprosy, a running sore, etc. Lev. 5:4 has to do with the making of rash oaths or promises which one later finds he cannot fulfill.

The offering itself: There were three types of offerings for these sins, depending upon the ability of the offerer to pay: a female lamb or goat—as a sin offering (Lev. 5:6); two turtledoves or two young pigeons—one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering (Lev. 5:7); the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour with no oil or frankincense (Lev. 5:11). This put the sin offering within reach of the poorest person. Likewise, no one is excluded from forgiveness through Christ. The question arises in verses Lev. 5:11–13, “How can a meal offering serve as a sin offering to make atonement for sin when we know that without the shedding of blood is no remission?” (Heb. 9:22). The answer is that it was offered on top of a fire offering on the altar (which did have blood), and this gave the meal offering the value of a blood sacrifice.

Duties of the offerer: He first of all confessed his guilt (Lev. 5:5), then brought his offering to the priest (Lev. 5:8).

Duties of the priest: In the case of the female lamb or goat, he offered it in accordance with the instructions for a sin offering in Lev. Chapter 4. If the offering was two birds, he first offered one bird as a sin offering, wringing its neck, sprinkling some blood on the side of the altar, and draining out the rest at the base of the altar (Lev. 5:8, 9). He next offered the second bird as a burnt offering, burning it completely on the brazen altar (Lev. 5:10). If the offering was fine flour, the priest took a handful of it and burned it on the altar of burnt offering. He burned it over other offerings involving the shedding of blood, thus giving it the character of a sin offering (Lev. 5:12).

Distribution of the offering: The Lord’s portion consisted of whatever was burned on the altar. The priest was entitled to whatever was left (Lev. 5:13).

Read Leviticus 5:14 and Leviticus 6:1-7

The trespass offering (Heb., ’ãshãm) is taken up in Lev. 5:14 thru Lev. 6:7. The distinctive feature of this offering is that restitution had to be made for the sin committed before the offering was presented (Lev. 5:16).

There were several types of sin for which an offering had to be made. Trespass against God: Withholding from the Lord that which rightly belonged to Him—tithes and offerings, consecration of firstfruits or of the firstborn, etc. (Lev. 5:14). Unwittingly committing some act forbidden by the Lord (Lev. 5:17), and presumably an act that required restitution. In cases where it was not possible to know whether another had been wronged, the scrupulously devout Israelite would still offer a guilt offering by itself.

Trespass against man: Dealing falsely with one’s neighbor in a matter of deposit or bargain or robbery or oppression (Lev. 6:2). Finding a lost article and swearing to a lie about it (Lev. 6:3). A trespass offering was also required in the case of immorality with a slave girl who was engaged (Lev. 19:20-22), the cleansing of a leper (Lev. 14:10-14), and the defilement of a Nazirite (Num. 6:6-12).

The offering itself: A ram without blemish (Lev. 5:15, 18 and Lev. 6:6) or a male lamb in the case of a leper (Lev. 14:12) or a Nazirite (Num. 6:12).

Duties of the offerer: In the case of a trespass against God, he first brought the restitution to the priest, with twenty percent added. Then he brought the animal to the priest at the entrance to the tabernacle court, presented it to the Lord, placed his hand on its head, and killed it. He also removed the fat, fat tail, kidneys, and fatty lobe above the liver. The procedure was the same in the case of a trespass against a neighbor. In both instances, the offerer had to pay the twenty percent penalty, reminding him that sin is unprofitable and costly.

Duties of the priest: He sprinkled the blood around the brazen altar (Lev. 7:2); he then burned the fat, the fat tail (rump), the kidneys, and the fatty lobe above the liver on the altar (Lev. 7:3, 4).

Distribution of the offering: The Lord’s portion was that which was burned on the altar (Lev. 7:5). The officiating priest received the skin of the ram (Lev. 7:8). All the priests shared the meat of the animal as food (Lev. 7:6). The offerer had no part in the sin or trespass offerings.

As has been mentioned, the person bringing a trespass offering was seeking to make amends for some action of his that had caused loss or damage to someone else.

Symbolically, the trespass offering points to that aspect of the work of Christ by which He restored that which He took not away (Ps. 69:4b). Through man’s sin, God was robbed of service, worship, obedience, and glory. And man himself was robbed of life, peace, gladness, and fellowship with God. As our trespass offering, the Lord Jesus not only restored what had been stolen through man’s sin, but He added more. For God has received more glory through the finished work of Christ than if sin had never entered the world. And we are better off in Christ than we ever could have been in unfallen Adam.