Suggested Reading: Chapters 4, 5, 6:1-7, 24-30, and 7:1-10
“If anyone sins because they do not speak up…if they unwittingly touch anything ceremonially unclean…or if they touch human uncleanness…or if anyone thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything…when anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned.” (Leviticus 5:1-5 NIV)
The sin and guilt offerings were a way for the Israelites to receive atonement, or reconciliation, with God. God is pure, holy, and completely sin-free. When we sin, it creates a void in our relationship with Him. But God wasn’t about to abandon the Israelites. He loved them too much to not rekindle the relationship.
As we have learned in the previous sessions, God wants to be in fellowship and communion with His people. He desires to be close to us and continues to bridge the gaps for us. Through the sin and guilt offerings, that void was erased, the sins were forgiven, and the Israelites could continue in relationship with God.
The sin and guilt offerings symbolize what Jesus did for us on the cross. Jesus was the ultimate and final sacrifice ever needed to forgive all sin. He paid the price with His own life so that we could walk free from sin and free in a relationship with God every day.
No more dragging an animal to the slaughterhouse. No more icky blood. Just joyful communion with our Heavenly Father. We are truly blessed.
“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” (Romans 5:11 NLT)
Within these chapters, there is a lot of talk about intentional and unintentional sin. Anytime there was “intentional sin”, that person was cast out of the community or sentenced to death. Anytime there was “unintentional sin”, the sin and guilt offerings were enough to right the wrong.
So, what is the difference? It all comes down to what is in our hearts. Intentional sin would be an act of defiance towards God, specific, thought out, aimed right at God’s head. Unintentional sin occurred out of our fleshy weaknesses or on accident.
Think about the difference between someone who is charged with premeditative murder and someone who is charged with involuntary manslaughter. Both terrible, both wrong, but the thoughts behind the action are different.
God knows that without Him we are imperfect humans. He knows we tend to trip up. Through the sin or guilt offerings, He gave the Israelites a way to fix their mistakes.
What a loving and kindhearted God to give them a break and not hold them to impossible standards. And what an even more gracious God to later send His son to cover all sin, even the intentional ones.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” (Romans 3:23-24 NLT)
Once sin was realized or pointed out, God gave the Israelites a specific process to go through. First they were to confess (Leviticus 5:5), then they would pour blood on the altar and offer all the fat as the sin offering (Leviticus 5:7-8, 18-19, 25-26, 30-31), and then they would burn the rest of the animal outside the camp (Leviticus 5:12, 21).
When we sin, we too must first confess and repent. Simply say a prayer to God, admit your faults and your need for Him. He is always there, ready to forgive and ready to pour His love over you.
“Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” (Psalm 32:5 NLT)
The Israelites had the arduous and grotesque task of killing the animal, pouring out its blood, and burning all the fatty pieces on the altar. But we have the beautiful gift of Christ’s death on the cross that covers our sins, forever. He is the ultimate sin offering for us.
“He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” (Colossian 2:14 NLT)
Just like the Israelites moved the animal remains far outside their camp, Christ’s death removes our sin far away from us. He burns it up, as if it never existed. All we have to do is put our faith in Christ.
“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12 NLT)
Regardless of what sins have been committed in your life, God wants to help. He wants us to turn away from our old ways and start walking towards Him.
Four times it is stated that the sin and guilt offerings are the most holy offering of them all (Leviticus 6:24, 29, 7:1, 5). It is very precious to God when a sinner is restored to Him. He loves us, regardless of our sin, and when He gets us back, it is the most holy interaction we can have with Him.
“In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” (Luke 15:7, 10 NLT)
- What sins might you need to surrender and confess to God?
- How does it make you feel when you realize that God loves you so much He would send His son to die for you?
If you have not put your faith in Christ yet and want to, it’s as simple as saying out loud, “I am a sinner. I realize that I need God. I believe Christ died for my sins and I put my faith in Him as my Savior.”
If you just made that decision, CONGRATULATIONS. God and all the angels are rejoicing in heaven today because of you! I would love to connect with you and give you some resources to begin your faith journey. Please feel free to email me so I can celebrate with you!
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10 NLT)
Most times directions are given for the sin offering the word sin is used generally, but in the beginning of chapter five, four specific sins are brought up: not speaking up, ceremonial uncleanliness, human uncleanliness, and thoughtlessly taking an oath (Leviticus 5:1-5). How might these relate to us today?
Let’s look at the first and last examples. One is talking about words kept in your mouth, when they should have been spoken. The other is talking about words that come out of your mouth, when they should not have. The words we say, or do not say, are very powerful.
We can encourage or we can tear down. We can speak truth in love or we can condemn. We can lie or we can be honest. We can defend the weak or ignore them and go on with our lives. How we use our words is obviously significant to God, or He would not have addressed them so specifically.
“Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.” (James 3:2-5 NLT)
The middle two examples both speak of uncleanliness. There were certain things that caused the Israelites to become unclean and while unclean they were not to come in the presence of God. Not only does this make us more aware of how holy God actually is, but it also brings light to the importance of our purity.
We are definitely called to be in this world, but we are also called to be set apart from it just as the Israelites were. Our actions, our choices, our words – everything about us should look a little different. We should be shining a light and glorifying God in all we do, never conforming to our surrounding environments or culture.
Of course, we will never be perfect and will make mistakes, but that’s the beauty of God’s grace. His grace will fill in the gaps where we lack and will give us the strength to continue on and try again.
“Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind.” (Romans 12:2a The Voice)
“So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16 NLT)