The Sin Offering

Leviticus 4  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 8
(Read Lev. 4)
The Sin and Trespass Offerings were in reality both Sin Offerings, but each has its distinctive character, as we shall see.
In those we have been considering, Sweet Savor Offerings we have before us offerings presented by one in communion approaching God. The Sin and Trespass Offerings set forth the approach to God of the sinner, or in the case of the Trespass Offering of one, who has sinned against his neighbor. The
Sweet Savor Offerings were burned upon the Brazen Altar.
The Sin Offerings were burned " outside the camp."
It was the blood of the Sin Offering on the Great Day of Atonement that was carried by the High Priest into the Holiest of All, and sprinkled on and before the Mercy Seat. This alone is sufficient to show how solemn and important was this Offering.
The Sin Offering was required for sins committed in ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord. The offerer was held guilty, whether he knew of the sin or not. Indeed " a sin of ignorance " supposed no knowledge of the offense. An offering presented supposed subsequent enlightenment.
How true it is that none of us really grasps the full seriousness of sin, that much, very much, God holds us guilty of, we are ignorant of. Does it not show how sin has beclouded our vision, and stultified our moral sensibilities?
And is it not happy to know, that if we pass over much in ourselves as right when it is wrong, God does not? In the light of His knowledge of what sin is, sin has been dealt with in full completeness at the cross of Calvary. With what relief of conscience we read such a statement as " The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from ALL sin " (1 John 1:77But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)).
The Sin Offerings of Lev. 4 are enumerated as follows:
The sin of the anointed priest.
The sin of the whole congregation.
The sin of a ruler.
The sin of one of the common people.
An examination of the differences in the way these sins are met, will show that the greater the privilege, the greater the responsibility, the greater the sin. In the case of " the priest that is anointed," or of " the whole congregation of Israel " that is guilty, a young bullock in either case had to be offered, and it had to be burned outside the camp. In either case the whole congregation was affected, for the anointed priest stood in relation to the whole camp.
If a ruler sinned it sufficed that he brought a kid of the goats, but it had to be a male, showing that the sin of a ruler was more serious than the sin of a common person.
If one of the common people sinned, he must bring a kid of the goats, in this case a female sufficed.
Thus we see that privilege, position, and nearness to God, made any ignorance, or sin arising therefrom, serious in proportion to the greatness of the privilege and position.
For instance if an ordinary person broke some law of the land, it would be serious, but if a judge did so, the offense would be still more serious, for a judge ought to know what the laws of the land are. It is known in earthly courts for men to be fined for offenses, when they were unaware that they had trespassed in any way. The law presupposes that men should be acquainted with its enactments. It is well for believers to study the Scriptures, so that they may not sin through ignorance.
If an anointed priest sinned " according to the sin of the people," he was instructed to bring a young bullock to the Door of the Tabernacle, lay his hand on the head of the sacrifice, and slay it before the LORD. The priest was then to take the blood, and dipping his finger therein sprinkle it seven times before the LORD before the vail of the Sanctuary, and put some of the blood on the horns of the Altar of Sweet Incense.
As the sinning priest did all this would he not feel how very serious it was for him to disobey the commandments of the LORD? He would realize how in his position as an anointed priest he had brought great dishonor on the name of the LORD.
The blood was poured out at the bottom of the Altar of Burnt Offering. The blood signified the life. Nothing less than the shedding of blood, the life surrendered under the judgment of God, would suffice to meet God's claims. Sin is a very serious matter, and all this ritual would bring it vividly home to the anointed, sinning priest.
The fat parts were then removed, and burned on the Altar of Burnt Offering, showing that even in this most solemn presentation of the death of Christ, there was that in the Offering that was supremely the delight of God, the surrender of our Lord's will, the deep hidden devotedness of Christ that led Him to such a death, all this was acceptable to God in fullest measure.
But now came the most solemn part of the ceremony. The skin of the bullock, its flesh, its head, its legs and inwards, its dung, the priest had to carry outside the camp to a clean place, where the ashes were poured out, and there burn the whole on the wood with fire. Surely the mind of the priest would feel deeply the seriousness of all this. The camp was a large place. Six hundred thousand men able to bear arms, besides old men and youths, women and children, were encamped round the Tabernacle. It must have been a solemn testimony as to what God thought about sin. A distance of six or seven miles lay between the Tabernacle and " outside the camp " where the ashes were poured out.
Scripture itself tells us the typical meaning of this. We read, " For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the Sanctuary by the High Priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate" (Heb. 13:11, 1211For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. (Hebrews 13:11‑12)). Dying under the wrath of God because of our sins, uttering the bitterest of cries, " My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? " our Lord fulfilled the type of the Sin Offering in all its terrible meaning. Surely our souls may well bow before Him in deepest worship and thanksgiving, that He has met all the claims of Divine justice against us, and saved us from an eternal hell.
The different parts of the Sin Offering are enumerated, and call for our reverent meditation.
" The skin of the bullock," that which constituted its beauty, comes first under notice. Being burned typified that the glory of man in the flesh, that which between man and man is admired and gloried in, is obnoxious to God. " An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked is sin " (Prov. 21:44An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin. (Proverbs 21:4)).
" All his flesh," typified sin in general.
" With his head " signified plainly that every thought of sinful man is only evil in God's holy sight. " Every imagination of the thoughts of his [man's] heart was only evil continually (Gen. 6:55And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5)).
" With his legs " signified that every activity of the natural man is sin. Where does sin come from? From a nature, and nature can only express itself. " They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one " (Rom. 3:1212They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Romans 3:12)).
" And his inwards," set forth that which was hidden and secret. Every movement of the natural heart and will is against God. The outside may look fair, but what of the inside? We " make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess " (Matt. 23:2525Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. (Matthew 23:25)).
And his dung" typified that which is outwardly vile and evil. Even sinful men condemn these grossly vile things that men are guilty of.
This description carries us irresistibly to the sweeping condemnation of man in the flesh as summed up in Rom. 3, where throat and tongue, and lips and mouth and feet are all members of wickedness. Isaiah adds his testimony, " From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds and bruises and putrifying sores " (Isa. 1: 6). Again, " We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags " (Isa. 64:66But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)).
In these details we get the most solemn sense of what sin is, and of the unutterable woe that the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, had to face to meet our terrible need.
" He passed through death's dark raging flood To make our peace secure."