Scriptures

Leviticus 5

Introduction

‘If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible.’ Leviticus 5:1

As we enter Leviticus 5, we find there are three different offences in which a person would have to submit a guilt offering. The first is directed to anyone who does not publicly speak up to testify to the truth in the courts, Leviticus 6:5 / Judges 17:1 / Matthew 26:63 / John 9:24. This would be like holding back evidence from the courts which could affect the final outcome of the accused person.

‘If anyone becomes aware that they are guilty—if they unwittingly touch anything ceremonially unclean (whether the carcass of an unclean animal, wild or domestic, or of any unclean creature that moves along the ground) and they are unaware that they have become unclean, but then they come to realise their guilt; or if they touch human uncleanness (anything that would make them unclean) even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realise their guilt.’ Leviticus 5:2-3

The second one is directed at those who touch anything which is ceremonially unclean, Leviticus 12-15. We can imagine someone walking down the street and without knowing it, they have touched something which was unclean, but later they become aware of it.

These people needed to offer a sin offering because they didn’t observe the rules for purification, Leviticus 11:24-31. After the purification process they would be restored back into fellowship with God and His people.

‘Or if anyone thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil (in any matter one might carelessly swear about) even though they are unaware of it, but then they learn of it and realise their guilt—when anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned.’ Leviticus 5:4-5

The third offence is directed at those who make oaths. We can imagine someone with all good intentions makes an oath but fails to fulfil that oath for some reason, they would be guilty of not fulling that oath.

We can also imagine someone making a careless oath, an oath that they knew they couldn’t fulfil, they too would be guilty of making such an oath in the first place, Judges 11:30 / Numbers 11:1-3 / Joshua 6. If anyone made an oath they didn’t fulfil or made a careless oath, they couldn’t fulfil, they had to confess their sins before they made a sin offering.

These oaths were given on the condition of expectation, it’s the hoping to receive and so the offering was in the form of a vow. The meat had to be eaten and the carcass had to be burnt within two days of the offering.

There was also voluntary oaths, vows or promises to consecrate someone or something to God, Leviticus 27:1 / Deuteronomy 23:21-4. There was also the Nazarite vow where a person vowed to abstain from wine or all drink that would which could affect them, it included avoiding contamination from dead bodies, bones, graves, it also included refraining from mourning the dead and not cutting their hair, Judges 8 / Luke 1:13-15.

‘As a penalty for the sin they have committed, they must bring to the LORD a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for them for their sin.’ Leviticus 5:6

The sin offering for anyone guilty of breaking an oath or carelessly giving one is in mind here. The person who broke his oath or carelessly made an oath had to bear the guilt of his sin against another, for the oath was made in reference to another.

‘Anyone who cannot afford a lamb is to bring two doves or two young pigeons to the LORD as a penalty for their sin—one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. They are to bring them to the priest, who shall first offer the one for the sin offering. He is to wring its head from its neck, not dividing it completely, and is to splash some of the blood of the sin offering against the side of the altar; the rest of the blood must be drained out at the base of the altar. It is a sin offering. The priest shall then offer the other as a burnt offering in the prescribed way and make atonement for them for the sin they have committed, and they will be forgiven. ‘If, however, they cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, they are to bring as an offering for their sin a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour for a sin offering. They must not put olive oil or incense on it, because it is a sin offering. They are to bring it to the priest, who shall take a handful of it as a memorial portion and burn it on the altar on top of the food offerings presented to the LORD. It is a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for them for any of these sins they have committed, and they will be forgiven. The rest of the offering will belong to the priest, as in the case of the grain offering.’ Leviticus 5:7-13

Here we can see God’s provision for those who aren’t well off, in other words, people have no excuse to follow and obey God’s requirements for personal sacrifice. We can see that the sin offering was an offering that related to relationships between people.

We all know that relationships, especially bad relationships can affect not only our relationship with God but also with those around us. The point here is simple enough, if your relationship with each other isn’t right, then our relationship with God isn’t right either.

‘The LORD said to Moses: ‘When anyone is unfaithful to the LORD by sinning unintentionally in regard to any of the LORD’s holy things, they are to bring to the LORD as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value in silver, according to the sanctuary shekel. It is a guilt offering. They must make restitution for what they have failed to do in regard to the holy things, pay an additional penalty of a fifth of its value and give it all to the priest. The priest will make atonement for them with the ram as a guilt offering, and they will be forgiven. ‘If anyone sins and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, even though they do not know it, they are guilty and will be held responsible. They are to bring to the priest as a guilt offering a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value. In this way the priest will make atonement for them for the wrong they have committed unintentionally, and they will be forgiven. It is a guilt offering; they have been guilty of wrongdoing against the LORD.’ Leviticus 5:14-19

Unintentional sin of anything was definitely prohibited by the law, Leviticus 5:17, this would include things like fraud, suppression of the truth, perjury against a neighbour and slander. If someone sins against another, they couldn’t just apologise and be done with it, there had to be some kind of restitution, this had to be done before atonement could be given.

In other words, the guilty party needed to demonstrate repentance, this was done by paying some kind of compensation for the damage they had caused.

The guilty person offered their sacrifice to appease their conscience, this was the guilt offering. Then they went to the person they had cheated and made up the difference plus 1/5th of the value price, Luke 19:8.

The Guilt Offering

The guilt offering is the only one which is not described as a soothing aroma, even the sin offering is so described in Leviticus 4:31. The guilt offering is closely aligned to the sin offering and yet there are a few subtle differences.

While the sins which call for the sin offering are only mentioned in a general sense, there are a number of specific offences which mandate a guilt offering. A part of the guilt offering includes a financial recompense to the party that was wronged, Leviticus 6:5, thus, the guilt offering included the principle of restitution.

The guilt offering differed from the sin offering because later it made atonement for the person of the offended, while the guilty offering only atoned for one special offence.

A breach of faith in anything against the Lord, to make good of any damage that was done. The sin offering speaks of sin against God’s nature, the guilt offering speaks of sin against God’s government. This shows sin and its practical effects on God and man, it causes damage, here sin is viewed as a debt, something to be repaid.

A Picture Of Christ

The guilt offering prefigures Christ’s atoning for the damage of sin, Matthew 26:28. An innocent animal for guilty man and a variety of offerings for all people. The sin offering represents Christ as a non-sweet aroma atoning for the guilt of sin, Hebrews 13:11-12.

It portrays Jesus as actually burdened with the believer’s sin and standing in his place, it’s in contrast with the sweet aroma offering which presents Christ’s own perfection. It tells us of our Lord’s death as presented in Isaiah 53, and it carefully guards the infinite holiness of Jesus, 1 Corinthians 5:11.

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