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Scripture reading – Leviticus 5-6
Leviticus 5:1-13 – Trespass Offerings
Continuing our study of the sacrificial offerings, we come to the “Trespass Offerings” for particular offences. Referred to by some as “Purification” offerings, three sins required “trespass offerings.”
Three Offenses Required “Trespass Offerings” (5:1-5)
The first was an offering for the sin of omission. For example, a man was judged guilty of “swearing” under oath if he failed to report all he had seen or heard. Failure to bear witness was a sin, and a sacrifice was necessary to atone (5:1).
Understanding dead and decaying animals carry disease, a second offense that obliged a trespass offering was for touching, and thereby being defiled, by a lifeless body of beasts, cattle, or other creatures (5:2). Even if unintentional, a man was deemed guilty of an offense until he offered a trespass offering for his sin (5:3).
Because a man’s word was binding, a third offense was to swear an oath and fail to keep it. Such was a sin and required a trespass offering (5:4-5).
Three Types of “Trespass Offerings” (5:6-13)
Three trespass, or purification offerings, might be offered to atone for a sinner’s guilt (5:6-13). Because the LORD is just, the economic means of the guilty dictated the amount required as the offering. A man of wealth who committed a trespass was to bring “a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest [would] make an atonement for him concerning his sin” (5:6).
Should a man not have the financial means to offer a lamb or goat, he might offer “two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the Lord; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering” (5:7). Then, the blood of the sacrifice would be sprinkled on the altar, and declared a “sin offering” (5:9).
Finally, should a man be so poor he was unable to bring the lesser trespass offering (“two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the LORD”), he would “bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put any frankincense thereon: for it is a sin offering” (5:11).
Reparation Offerings (5:13-16)
Unlike the trespass offerings, a reparation or compensation offering was mandatory when a man failed to give what the LORD required. An example would be a man’s failure to give “in the holy things of the LORD” (i.e., a tithe or offering of first fruits) as the Law required. To make amends, a sinner was required to offer both “a ram without blemish” (5:14-15) and an additional sacrifice described as “the fifth part” (5:16). Giving a “fifth part” meant that the reparations sacrifice was equal to 120% more than what the Law required.
Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse (5:17-19)
We are reminded that sinning, even if the guilty know “it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity” (5:17). To state the same truth in another form: There are times when saying, “I’m sorry,” is not enough! Though pleading ignorance, the LORD required a trespass offering, and the guilty would “bring a ram without blemish out of the flock [and it would be]…a trespass offering: he hath certainly trespassed against the Lord” (5:18-19).
The Law Demands Respect and Decency (6:1-7)
Leviticus 6:1-7 continued the Law’s demand for reparations (which began in Leviticus 5) and addressed offenses that arose with others. Trespass offerings were demanded if a man sinned in lying, committing fraud, perpetrating strong-arm theft, deceived, or violated another’s ownership by claiming: “finders keepers” (6:3). The Law demanded the injured party would be made whole (6:4-5), and a trespass offering be brought to the priest to “make an atonement” (6:6-7).
Guidelines for the “burnt offering” were recorded, as well as the protocol of the priests’ dress when ministering before the LORD and the people (6:8-30). Much more might be discussed in trespass offerings and reparations; however, I will leave this study for another time.
Closing thoughts: What was the LORD teaching His people?
He taught the need to respect, have a sensitive conscience towards fellowmen, and understand one’s accountability before the LORD. After all, as we have been reminded:
There is no such thing as a secret sin!
1) An adage goes, “Silence is golden,” however, that was not true when called upon to serve as a witness. Who was responsible if they witnessed their neighbor’s sin? (Leviticus 5:1)
2) Could ignorance of the law excuse one’s guilt? (Leviticus 5:17-19)
3) What did the Law demand when a person’s actions injured or caused a neighbor to suffer loss? (Leviticus 6:4-7)
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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