The Offerings of Leviticus: 13. Law of the Trespass Offering

Leviticus 7:1‑5  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
There need be no surprise that the same word of Jehovah should include the law of the Trespass offering and that of the Sin offering, as they are closely allied. But it embraces other regulations more widely as we shall see.
“And this [is] the law of the trespass offering: it [is] most holy. In the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered shall the trespass offering be slaughtered; and the blood shall be sprinkled on the altar round about. And he shall offer of it all the fat thereof: the fat tail, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat that [is] on them, which [is] by the flanks, and the net above the liver which he shall take as far as the kidneys. And the priest shall burn them on the altar, a fire offering to Jehovah: it [is] a trespass offering. Every male among the priests shall eat thereof: in a holy place shall it be eaten; it [is] most holy. As the sin offering, so is the trespass offering; one law [is] for them: it shall be the priest's that maketh atonement therewith” (vers. 1-7).
The notion was advocated by one who was once well-known to many, and his thoughts still more widely read, that the Sin offering was for sin in the flesh, and the Trespass offering for acts of evil. But this is wholly untenable. No such distinction was meant, nor could it be in O. T. times: it was Christ Who made that difference manifest. Moral evil generally as we have seen was contemplated in the one case; in the other, wrongs done to Jehovah in holy things or to a neighbor, yet against Him by violation of confidence; and reparation was due accordingly.
Here, in its law, the Trespass offering is pronounced “most holy.” Granted that the offering was to meet special delinquency whether against God or against man, not moral wrong simply, but failure in their relationship before Jehovah. The more imperative that the Trespass offering should be most holy: even if in human things, it was “against Jehovah,” and it demanded adequate satisfaction in both respects. It is found perfectly and alone in Jesus Christ and Him crucified; and it produces results even now manwards as well as Godwards. See Saul the persecutor become Paul the sufferer; see the proud abusive man a lowly servant of God and of man for Jesus’ sake. And never did the holiness of God so stand out and receive so immeasurable an evidence as when God made sin for us Him Who knew no sin, yea, a curse for those accursed; that those who believe on Him should be cleared forever.
Here therefore are given the details of the slaughter and the sprinkling, or dashing, of the blood on the altar round about. In the institution the ram was specified for the reason stated there, with the mediator's estimation by shekels of silver after the shekel of the sanctuary, and the amends made by adding the fifth part given to the priest, none of which things is now represented. The law dwells on what directly, minutely, and sacrificially concerned Jehovah: whether for sin or for trespass, “most holy” is the offering. If Jesus was the Holy One of God, nowhere was it so proved as when forsaken of God on the cross; nowhere was His glorifying God so manifestly and profoundly absolute. And therefore did God glorify Him in Himself, and this straightway. The Burnt offering testified the perfect acceptance of His death; but where it was slain, were slain also the offerings for sin and trespass. And here again not in the original directions for the Trespass offerings, we have care taken to claim the offering of all the fat thereof, the fat tail, and the fat that covers the inwards, and the two kidneys, and the fat on them, being expressive not of the life given up, but of the inward energy that perfectly pleased God, and yielding only sweet savor when searched by His full judgment. For the priest, we are here told, was to burn this on the altar, a Fire offering to Jehovah, instead of carrying forth and burning the animal as a whole without the camp as we may see in the great cases or in priestly eating as ordinarily.
Another word is carefully laid down here, “Every male among the priests shall eat thereof: in a holy place shall it be eaten.” Nothing was said on this head in Lev. 5:14-1914And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 15If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the Lord; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering: 16And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him. 17And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity. 18And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him. 19It is a trespass offering: he hath certainly trespassed against the Lord. (Leviticus 5:14‑19), or 6:1-7. So little do these added regulations lie open to any fair charge of useless repetition. Aaron's family alone could eat of these offerings for sin or for trespass. But every male was called to eat of them, but this in a holy place only. Here again it is designated “most holy;” yet was it apt to be forgotten as a rite and command of the Lord then, and still more its application spiritually now. For are not “holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling,” the antitype of Aaron's sons? Are we not then privileged and responsible to eat not only the Meal offering, and our given portion of the Peace offering, but also of those for sin and trespass?
But just as Eleazar and Ithamar burnt the goat (Lev. 10), instead of eating it in a holy place, so may we fail to make the sins of a brother our own, bearing the sin and shame before God as if we ourselves had been guilty. To condemn him is easy and natural; to identify ourselves with him in confessing and mourning the failure is the clear privilege of the priestly family, at least of “every male” i.e. of every one strong in faith whether of one sex or another, for distinction of this fleshly kind cannot be in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3).