“Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the Lord’s commandments about things not to be done, and does any one of them, if it is the anointed priest who sins, thus bringing guilt on the people, then he shall offer for the sin that he has committed a bull from the herd without blemish to the Lord for a sin offering. (verses 2-3)
“If the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally …when the sin which they have committed becomes known, the assembly shall offer a bull from the herd for a sin offering and bring it in front of the tent of meeting. (verses 13-14)
“When a leader sins, doing unintentionally any one of all the things that by the commandments of the Lord his God ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish, and shall lay his hand on the head of the goat and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before the Lord; it is a sin offering. (verses 22-25)
“If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally…and realizes his guilt, or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. (verses 27-28)
As I am reading these Old Testament chapters on sin, I am reminded that God gave Moses the law for a reason. God wanted Israel to be set apart for Him; they are His chosen people, a small nation who would be used throughout time to demonstrate God’s goodness. The law is important to help this nation of people strive for righteousness. The law offers the knowledge of sin and helps give understanding of the work required to keep the path between man and God clean and uncluttered.
However, I think that Mosaic law serves an even greater purpose. The law of works demonstrates the futility of attempting to overcome sin without grace and mercy from God. It shows the value of the gift given by Christ when He took the place of the bull, the goat, the ram, etc. as the blood sacrifice for sin forever.
As a human, I have the tendency to look at the weights of sin, to compare big sin versus small sin. But, the Bible reminds me that sin is sin; simply being angry with someone is the same as murder, and lust of the eye is equal to adultery. Even unintentional sin, mistakes made unwittingly, is sin and requires atonement and restitution.
“If anyone commits a breach of faith and sins unintentionally in any of the holy things of the Lord, he shall bring to the Lord as his compensation, a ram without blemish out of the flock, valued in silver shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering. He shall also make restitution for what he has done amiss in the holy thing and shall add a fifth to it and give it to the priest. And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and he shall be forgiven. Leviticus 5:15-16
I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I sin every day. I struggle with discontentedness and with anger. I often catch myself being snarky, bad attitude and bad words oozing from my mouth. I get offended by my husband and seeds of bitterness start to sprout. I grow impatient with my kids, lose control and yell at them out of frustration. I could go on…
…And he shall bring to the priest as his compensation to the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent for a guilt offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he shall be forgiven for any of the things that one may do and thereby become guilty.” Leviticus 6:6-7
In Old Testament times, when I realized my sin, I would need to perform guilt rituals to be cleansed of my sin. If I had been born a Jew, I may have gone to the temple, bringing an offering to the priests to receive forgiveness. If I had been born a Muslim, I may have repented by fasting, giving charity, sacrificing an animal, or freeing a slave, my good deeds, hopefully, outweighing my evil deeds. If I had been born a Hindu, I may have sought redemption by carrying a tenderly cared for potted plant on my head, by running through hot coals with bare feet, or by carrying my god through the village on a chariot attached to my back with metal hooks.
Today, as a believer in Christ, I only need ask for forgiveness and my transgressions are washed away. My repentance is sufficient to restore righteousness because I am covered by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross at Calvary. Though I aspire to be Christ-like, I am unable to accomplish it without His help, without His sacrifice and payment, without His everlasting love.
Yessappa, Thank You for loving me, for extending me Your grace and Your mercy. Thank You for becoming the sacrificial Lamb, the blood offering for my sins yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Thank You for doing the work so that I can ‘rest’ in You. Thank You for being pierced so that I don’t have to be. Thank You for dying and being raised up, so that I can live forever in You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)
Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.