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Scripture reading – Leviticus 4

Our study of sacrifices continues with the sacrifices to be offered for a “sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD” (4:1). A “sin through ignorance” was not a willful violation of the Law and ordinances of God, but an oversight, unintentional defilement that was nevertheless a sin.

The Sin Offering for the Priest (4:1-12)

Leviticus 4:1-12 examined the sacrifices a priest was instructed to offer when he was guilty of sinning through ignorance. Identifying with the young bull that would be sacrificed for his sin, the priest was asked to bring “a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering” (4:3). At the door of the Tabernacle; the priest would “lay his hand upon the bullock’s head, and kill the bullock before the Lord” (4:4). After anointing himself and the altar with the blood of the sacrifice (4:5-7), the priest would flay the bull and burn the choice parts on the burnt offer (4:8-10), taking the rest outside the camp where it would be burned (4:11-12)

The Sin Offering for the Congregation (4:13-21)

Leviticus 4:13-21 addressed the sacrifices offered for “the whole congregation of Israel “sins through ignorance” (4:13). The “elders of the congregation,” acting on behalf of the people, were instructed to “lay their hands upon the head of the bullock before the Lord: and the bullock [would] be killed before the Lord” (4:15). The handling of the young bull that was sacrificed followed the same guidelines as those noted earlier (4:16-21). Thus, the leaders of Israel identified the slaying of the bull as a sacrifice for the nation’s sins.

The Sin Offering for a Leader (4:22-26)

Should a leader of the people sin “through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord his God concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty” (4:22), he was instructed to “bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a male without blemish” (4:23). Placing his hand on the young goat, the leader identified the killing and the burning of the goat as his “sin offering” (4:24). As an atonement for the leader’s sin, the blood of the goat was applied to the “horns” or raised corners of the altar (4:25). The fat was burned upon the altar (4:26), and was “an atonement.” The leader was assured his sin was forgiven (4:26b).

The Sin Offering for Individuals (4:27-35)

Not to be overlooked were the sins of the “common,” ordinary citizens of Israel who, like the priests and leaders, found themselves guilty of “sin through ignorance” (4:27). When such a sin came to one’s knowledge, the “common people” were instructed to “bring [their] offering, a kid of the goats (or a lamb, 4:32), a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned” (4:28). As with other sacrifices, the penitent sinner was instructed to “lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering” (4:29).

The priest, acting as mediator, would take the blood of the sacrifice, put the blood on the “horns” or the corners of the altar, and then “pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar” (4:30). Taking the fat of the sacrifice and burning it upon the altar, it was declared a “peace offering…and atonement” for the sinner, whose sin was forgiven (4:31).

Closing thoughts: Why do we no longer offer sacrifices for sins?

Because Jesus Christ is not only our high priest (Hebrews 9:11), but He is our “once and for all” substitutionary sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12, 14). His death on the cross, and His blood, fulfilled the law’s demands for a perfect, sinless sacrifice.

Nevertheless, we are responsible for confessing our sins to God (1 John 1:9) and one another when we have sinned against them (Matthew 5:23-24). We no longer offer “a burnt sacrifice of the herd” (bulls, goats, or sheep) for our sins (Leviticus 1:2-4), for Christ fulfilled the demands of the law. He was the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29), a “male without blemish” (1:3), and was sacrificed for our sins “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

Hebrews 9:28 – “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

Is He your Savior, your sacrifice for sin?

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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