Scriptures

Leviticus 4

Introduction

‘The LORD said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites: ‘When anyone sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands—’ Leviticus 4:1-2

One again we’re reminded that it’s God who’s speaking to Moses, the offerings and sacrifices and the regulations which go with them originate from God, not Moses. An offering is something God has given to man, Leviticus 17:11.

The Sin Offering

The first three offerings were offered as acts of worship but this offering is made for atonement for sin. The first three offerings were burnt upon the altar in the compound of the tabernacle but this offering is burnt on the bare earth outside the camp.

This is a picture of Jesus who was crucified outside of Jerusalem, therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people though His own blood, suffered outside the gate, Hebrews 13:12.

Unintentional sins means missing the mark and there are two categories of motive mentioned here, first, there is missing the mark deliberately or willingly and missing the mark through weakness of the flesh. In the Old Testament, no provision was made for a deliberate sin, the offender was put to death, Exodus 31:12 / Exodus 35:2 / Numbers 15:32-36 / Leviticus 24:10-23.

The lack of knowledge was not then and is not now, an excuse for the sin that they committed. Orally God had given commands, Moses had instilled in them time and time again the commands of God.

In the Book of Deuteronomy, he gathers them all together in the plains of Moab and goes through the entire law with them. God through Moses through the priests to the people were familiar with the law and what it taught and their proper response to it, Deuteronomy 12-26.

‘If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, he must bring to the LORD a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed. He is to present the bull at the entrance to the tent of meeting before the LORD. He is to lay his hand on its head and slaughter it there before the LORD. Then the anointed priest shall take some of the bull’s blood and carry it into the tent of meeting. He is to dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle some of it seven times before the LORD, in front of the curtain of the sanctuary. The priest shall then put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense that is before the LORD in the tent of meeting. The rest of the bull’s blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He shall remove all the fat from the bull of the sin offering—all the fat that is connected to the internal organs, both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which he will remove with the kidneys—just as the fat is removed from the ox sacrificed as a fellowship offering. Then the priest shall burn them on the altar of burnt offering. But the hide of the bull and all its flesh, as well as the head and legs, the internal organs and the intestines—that is, all the rest of the bull—he must take outside the camp to a place ceremonially clean, where the ashes are thrown, and burn it there in a wood fire on the ash heap.’ Leviticus 4:3-12

The Priest’s Offering

These offerings have to happen when the people sinned and the priests themselves. For unintentional sins the priest offered a bull and for sins against holy things, the sacrifice was to God, Leviticus 5:14-16. For sins against a neighbour, the sacrifice was made to God and a full restoration of property plus 1/5 was made to the neighbour, Leviticus 6:1-7.

A young bull was sacrificed for the purpose of consecration of priests and Levites to their office. For the high priest on the day of Atonement, Leviticus 16:3, for the sin of the high priest, Leviticus 4:3, for the sin of the entire congregation, Leviticus 4:13.

A male goat was sacrificed for feasts and festivals, Numbers 28:15, for the dedication of the tabernacle and temple, Numbers 7:16, for the sin of a ruler, Leviticus 4:23. A female lamb was sacrificed, for the sin of the common people, Leviticus 4:28, for a Nazarite to be released from his vow, Numbers 6:14, and for the cleansing of a leper, Leviticus 14:10.

Turtledoves or pigeons were commonly used for a substitute for the lamb in cases of poverty. In extreme poverty, a tenth of an Ephah of flour was used, this was equal to the daily supply of Manna. Virtually everyone would have been able to take part in this sacrifice to God, Leviticus 5:7-13. After the animal had been brought forward and the hand laid upon it, it was slaughtered.

If the blood was then sprinkled in the Holy Place or around the altar or near the veil seven times, then all the animal was burned, Leviticus 6:30. The remains were poured at the foot of the altar for a burnt offering, Leviticus 4:5, the fat and kidneys were separated from the animal and burned upon the alter, Leviticus 4:8-10.

The flesh along with the skin, head and bones and remains of the animal were taken outside the camp to a clean place and burned and then buried. Clothes which had blood on them had to be washed or destroyed. Pots which were used to cook the portion given to the priests were either broken or scoured and cleaned. If the blood was sprinkled outside the bronze altar, all the fat was to be burned but the officiating priest received the flesh, Leviticus 6:24-29. This was not something done every day, Hosea 6:6 / Micah 6:7-8.

When the priest committed a sin of omission, not a deliberate sin by unconsciously contracting sins from the people in his office. Maybe it only applies to the anointed high priest, his sin affects the people. This sacrifice is closely linked with the guilt offering and continues in the style of the peace offering.

‘If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, when they realise their guilt and the sin they committed becomes known, the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the tent of meeting. The elders of the community are to lay their hands on the bull’s head before the LORD, and the bull shall be slaughtered before the LORD. Then the anointed priest is to take some of the bull’s blood into the tent of meeting. He shall dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle it before the LORD seven times in front of the curtain. He is to put some of the blood on the horns of the altar that is before the LORD in the tent of meeting. The rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He shall remove all the fat from it and burn it on the altar and do with this bull just as he did with the bull for the sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for the community, and they will be forgiven. Then he shall take the bull outside the camp and burn it as he burned the first bull. This is the sin offering for the community.’ Leviticus 4:13-21

The Nation’s Offering

This offering of a young bull was made by the whole congregation, incurring the displeasure of God, for a reason not discovered. It was the same as the priest’s offering, but all of the elders placed their hands upon the head of the sacrifice before killing it. The idea was to humble the leaders of the people to keep them pure and to keep them in their place.

‘When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the commands of the LORD his God, when he realises his guilt and the sin, he has committed becomes known, he must bring as his offering a male goat without defect. He is to lay his hand on the goat’s head and slaughter it at the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered before the LORD. It is a sin offering. Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. He shall burn all the fat on the altar as he burned the fat of the fellowship offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for the leader’s sin, and he will be forgiven.’ Leviticus 4:22-26

The Ruler’s Offering

The ruler who sinned had to offer a male goat, this was offered when he ignorantly transgressed against any of God’s laws. The blood of the goat was to be sprinkled around the horns of the burnt offering altar on the four corners and the rest was poured at its base. All the fat and intestines were to be burnt on the burnt offering altar.

‘If any member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, when they realise their guilt and the sin, they have committed becomes known, they must bring as their offering for the sin they committed a female goat without defect. They are to lay their hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter it at the place of the burnt offering. Then the priest is to take some of the blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. They shall remove all the fat, just as the fat is removed from the fellowship offering, and the priest shall burn it on the altar as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. In this way the priest will make atonement for them, and they will be forgiven. ‘If someone brings a lamb as their sin offering, they are to bring a female without defect. They are to lay their hand on its head and slaughter it for a sin offering at the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered. Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. They shall remove all the fat, just as the fat is removed from the lamb of the fellowship offering, and the priest shall burn it on the altar on top of the food offerings presented to the LORD. In this way the priest will make atonement for them for the sin they have committed, and they will be forgiven.’ Leviticus 4:27-35

Individual Member Offering

A female goat was sacrificed by any individual who found they had unintentionally sinned. The female goat or female lamb was offered in the same way as the previous sacrifice. The blood was to be sprinkled on the horns and base of the burnt altar, and the intestines burnt. The sacrifice was aimed at securing forgiveness and obtaining renewed fellowship.

The sin of the priests, or the religious leaders, appears to be more serious than the sin of the individual members, and even the rulers. The blood of the offering for the religious leaders was to be placed on the horns of the altar with sweet incense, Leviticus 4:7, whereas the blood of the sacrifice of the ruler or the individual member was to be placed on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, Leviticus 4:25 / Leviticus 4:30.

The shedding of the blood was pointing towards a greater sacrifice in the future, that is the blood of Christ, Hebrews 9:10-13 / Hebrews 10:19-22. With these sacrifices we can see that the blood moves from the outer circle into the centre as the guilt moves from the heart of an individual towards the heart of a nation.

The offence caused to God by an individual member is presented on the horns, the strongest part of the altar. The offence caused by the priest or priestly nation, viewed as God’s representatives, is taken into the Holy place. On the great day of Atonement, the offering sums up the sins of the people, known and unknown.

Sins not dealt with by the everyday offerings, sins of priests, high priest, nation and individuals alike and takes them into the very throne room itself.

Sin separates people from God and the relationship can only be restored by the death of a sacrifice an innocent victim. It stresses the quality of sin, its nature, and thus man’s state because of it. In the sin offering, the attitude of the person is stressed in the trespass, the act of sin is stressed.

A Picture Of Christ

Spiritually minded people should see that all this pointed to Christ, the Messiah. Abraham saw the day of Christ and rejoiced, John 8:56, Moses suffered for Christ, Hebrews 11:26, Isaiah saw the glory of the Messiah, John 12:41.

Christ was the sin and trespass offering, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 9:14 / Hebrews 13:12 / Hebrews 10:14 / Ephesians 5:2.

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DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11

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