Attaining Holiness

Sin and Guilt Offerings - Part 2

In this lesson we continue examining the type and significance of the guilt offerings as well as the manner in which the priests and Levites were supported.
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We are looking at the various types of sacrifices made by the priests, first at the Tabernacle and later on when settled in the promised land, the same sacrifices/offerings made at the temple. The five were:

  1. Burnt offerings
  2. Grain offerings
  3. Peace offerings
  4. Sin offerings
  5. Guilt offerings – which we will look at in this chapter.

I've mentioned various features that we need to keep in mind that were associated with the different kinds of offerings:

A. Offering physical sacrifices according to instructions was a way of attaining and maintaining a holy status before God. "I am holy; therefore you must be holy before me." (Exodus 19:6; Leviticus 11:44).

  • One way to attain holiness was to offer sacrifice in the proper way.

B. Each type had a specific purpose:

  • Burnt = forgiveness and mercy in general.
  • Peace = request for God to bless the offeror.
  • Grain = to show gratitude.
  • Sin = atonement and forgiveness of a particular sin.
  • Guilt = atonement and forgiveness of a sinful attitude and a type of ongoing sinfulness.

C. The requirements for the various offerings were based on wealth.

  • The priest would offer a male bull without defect for his sin offering whereas a very poor man would offer 6lbs. of fine flour.
  • Bull = $5,000 today / 6lbs of flour = $6.00 - $10.00 today.
  • Note, however, that both sacrifices, properly offered, produced atonement and forgiveness for sin.

I. Guilt Offerings – Leviticus 5:14-6:7

Things get a little confusing here since only a portion of the instructions are given – the reason for the guilt offering and what is supposed to be offered. How this guilt offering is to be made is only provided in chapter 7.

In the meantime, Moses provided more information about various types of guilt offerings and their significance.

A. The source of the Law regarding the guilt offerings

"Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,"
- Leviticus 5:14

This formulaic introduction not only provides the source for what is to follow (God, Himself a Divine source), but also indicates that a new topic is about to be introduced. The new topic will be the Guilt Offering (5:14-6:7).

Various translations have this as "Guilt Offering," "Trespass Offering," "Separation Offering, or "Sacrifice to make things right." The guilt offerings were prescribed for two types of sin:

  1. Sins against the Lord's holy things or breaking His commands.
  2. Sins where someone's property was taken or damaged.

Unlike the other types of sacrifices, the guilt offering included some manner of restitution or compensation to the injured party.

B. Guilt Offerings for sins against God's holy things.

15"If a person acts unfaithfully and sins unintentionally against the Lord's holy things, then he shall bring his guilt offering to the Lord: a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation in silver by shekels, in terms of the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering. 16He shall make restitution for that which he has sinned against the holy thing and shall add to it a fifth part of it and give it to the priest. The priest shall then make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and it will be forgiven him."
- Leviticus 5:15-16

Holy things could be sacred property or tithes, things associated with the building itself (Tabernacle or Temple). The person could have acted unfaithfully (like Nadab and Abihu who offered strange fire, or unintentionally by forgetting to offer something in the proper way.

  • Forget to bring first fruits as a sacrifice for the benefit of the priests.
  • Unintentionally eaten the priest's portion.
  • Made a vow to God and forgot to honor it.

The guilt offering required that the guilty party determine the value of what he forgot to do, or the value of the portion he took or used by mistake and then add 20% value in compensation – in other words, the value of what he took or neglected to give plus 20%. In addition to this, he was obligated to offer a ram to make atonement and receive forgiveness. The manner in which this was to be done is only given, as I said, in following chapters.

C. Guilt Offerings for other sins requiring sacrifice.

17"Now if a person sins and does any of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done, though he was unaware, still he is guilty and shall bear his punishment. 18He is then to bring to the priest a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering. So, the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his error in which he sinned unintentionally and did not know it, and it will be forgiven him. 19It is a guilt offering; he was certainly guilty before the Lord."
- Leviticus 5:17-19

This referred to sins which were forbidden in God's Law but were done in ignorance or unintentionally. Breaking God's law, even if done unintentionally or in ignorance, still made the person guilty and subject to punishment. Ignorance was no excuse. Forgiveness still required an animal sacrifice (a ram without defect) offered in an appropriate way (Leviticus 7:1-7) in order for atonement and forgiveness to be received. No compensation is mentioned for this type of offense since the individual is not aware of what specifically he did wrong, only that his conscience is aware that he has fallen short somehow.

D. Guilt Offerings that involve the property of others (Leviticus 6:1-7)

1Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2a"When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the Lord, and deceives his companion
- Leviticus 6:1-2a

Unlike previous offenses which are said to be against God's holy things and unintentional in nature or due to neglect or forgetfulness, the following sins are against God Himself, and the victim is a companion, neighbor – someone close to the person who has sinned knowingly and deliberately.

2bin regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him, or through robbery, or if he has extorted from his companion, 3or has found what was lost and lied about it and sworn falsely, so that he sins in regard to any one of the things a man may do; 4then it shall be, when he sins and becomes guilty, that he shall restore what he took by robbery or what he got by extortion, or the deposit which was entrusted to him or the lost thing which he found, 5aor anything about which he swore falsely;
- Leviticus 2b- 5a

This passage describes how one can take another's property sinfully and unlawfully:

  1. He held another's goods or property as a deposit or security but failed to give it back.
  2. He may have taken something by robbery.
  3. He may have taken money by extortion (threat).
  4. He found something lost by another and kept it. He did not report that it was found or lied about its recovery (usually by swearing falsely to cover the theft).

So, the sin of stealing broke God's 8th commandment (Exodus 20:15), violated one's neighbor, and also sinned against God in making a false vow to cover the original sin.

5bhe shall make restitution for it in full and add to it one-fifth more. He shall give it to the one to whom it belongs on the day he presents his guilt offering. 6Then he shall bring to the priest his guilt offering to the Lord, a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering, 7and the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he will be forgiven for any one of the things which he may have done to incur guilt."
- Leviticus 5b-7

Note that two actions were necessary in order to receive forgiveness for the stealing and lying to cover it up.

  1. Restitution – the guilty party had to give back to the victim the value of what he stole plus 20% of the value of what was stolen in addition to his restitution.
  2. Sacrifice – he had to bring a ram without defect to the priest for sacrifice for his sin to God to be forgiven.

You'll notice that the sins mentioned here assume that the guilty party is revealed and the sin acknowledged when he realized what he had done in ignorance was wrong, or once having had done wrong confessed his sins because of a guilty conscience or the desire to be right with God or at peace with the neighbor he wronged in some way – in either case, he comes seeking to make things right.

This is why their restitution was only giving back the value of what was stolen plus 20% of its value. In Exodus 22:4-9 we read that if one is accused of stealing and found guilty at trial, he had to pay double the value of the goods or animal stolen.

II. Burnt Offerings: The Priest's Responsibility – Leviticus 6:8-13

When we arrive at this section it seems that the text repeats itself by going back over the burnt, grain, peace, sin, and guilt offerings. However, the difference is the following – chapters 1:1-6:7 contain the Lord's instructions to the average Israelite who brought his offerings to the be sacrificed for various reasons; chapters 6:8-7:36 provide the details and responsibilities of the priests who offered the sacrifices, as well as the privileges associated with their work.

Aside from the task of making the burnt offerings brought to the Tabernacle/Temple from day to day, the priests had other duties related to the altar itself.

  1. The fire had to burn at all times – Leviticus 6:8-9.
  2. The ashes that had built up from burning various sacrifices needed to be removed. The priest would wear his under garments and put on a linen robe to remove the ashes and put them next to the altar, after which he would change out of these garments and wear other clothing to transport the ashes outside the camp to deposit them in a clean place.
  3. He would make sure new wood was added to the altar of burnt offering and begin the day by offering the morning sacrifice.
  4. He made sure that morning and evening sacrifices were offered and the fire of the altar of burnt sacrifice never went out.

III. Grain Offerings: The Priest's Responsibility – Leviticus 6:14-23

In Leviticus 2 we have the instructions for the people and how they are to proceed in making a grain offering, here God provides instructions for how the priests will handle the offering of grain and gives rules for what to do with the balance. The offeror brought about 5-6lbs of white flour, the priest took only a handful mixed with oil, incense and salt, and threw that on the altar, keeping the rest for himself.

The priest made unleavened cakes with the rest of the flour in the courtyard of the Tabernacle. It was a holy offering because the grain not burned was handled by the priest who was holy. In verses 19-23 the Lord adds another offering of grain, this time to be done by the High Priest:

  • It was to be done when a High Priest was consecrated/anointed (Aaron - vs.20).
  • Eventually it was referred to as the "ordination offering" (Leviticus 7:27).
  • A cake was made on a griddle using fine flour.
  • It was broken into two parts – one offered by the High Priest in the morning with the morning sacrifice and one with the evening sacrifice.
  • The cake was completely burned up with no portion left for the priest.
  • This sacrifice was offered up on behalf of all the priests.

IV. Sin Offerings: The Priest's Responsibility – Leviticus 6:24-30

Priests were not allowed to eat the flesh of sin offerings made for a High Priest or for the congregation since the blood of the animal was poured next to the altar on which it was sacrificed and some of the blood was also brought into the Holy Place and sprinkled seven times before the veil that separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place. He also put some blood on the horns of the altar of incense which stood before the veil leading to the Holy of Holies.

Therefore, because of the extreme holiness of these two sacrifices (for High Priest/God's people) and (the blood came into the presence of God) the entire animal was offered up with nothing left but ashes. Other sin offerings involving animals left various edible parts of the animal for the priests (it was how they and their families were supplied with food). Two boundaries were set:

  1. He had to eat his share within the confines of the Tabernacle/Temple complex.
  2. He couldn't eat the meat of any animals whose blood had come in the Holy Place.

These types of sacrifices (blood poured and sprinkled in the Holy Place) also had additional rules:

  1. If a drop of blood had stained the priestly garment it had to be washed off immediately.
  2. Blood carried about in an earthen vessel required the it to be destroyed afterwards, less some blood seep into this kind of porous container.
  3. Silver or bronze vessels had to be thoroughly scoured before re-use.

Why? The sacrifice became extremely holy since it came into the presence of God at some point in the ritual.

V. Guilt Offerings – The Priest's Responsibilities – Leviticus 7:1-10

Chapter seven continues the instructions for priests concerning their responsibilities, this time for the guilt offerings and peace offerings. The main emphasis here is on the food that the priests were to receive from the sacrifices offered. It details what could or could not be eaten by the priests, as well as the rest of God's people. The guilt offering was performed much like the sin offering except parts of the animal could be eaten.

'Now this is the law of the guilt offering; it is most holy.'
- Leviticus 7:1

Since the sacrifice was "most holy" the parts eaten were eaten in a holy place (Tabernacle/Temple courtyard). Unlike the sin offering the blood of this sacrifice was sprinkled around the altar, not on its horns and none was brought into the Holy Place. The meat was shared with every male in the priest's family.

The guilt offering is like the sin offering, there is one law for them; the priest who makes atonement with it shall have it.
- Leviticus 7:7

Both sacrifices were similar and questions about one would be answered by examining the details of both.

8Also the priest who presents any man's burnt offering, that priest shall have for himself the skin of the burnt offering which he has presented. 9Likewise, every grain offering that is baked in the oven and everything prepared in a pan or on a griddle shall belong to the priest who presents it. 10Every grain offering, mixed with oil or dry, shall belong to all the sons of Aaron, to all alike.
- Leviticus 7:8-10

These verses provide information about what portions of the animal and grain sacrifices that the priests could keep for themselves and share with others in the priestly clan. We'll stop here before we discuss Peace Offerings, which can become quite involved, so we will start with that in the next chapter. I'd like to finish this section with a few comments on the food regulations and supportive nature of the sacrificial system.

VI. Food Laws

We note as we study the sacrificial system and review passages about clean and unclean as well as what could and could not be eaten, that one way the Israelites separated themselves from the pagan nations around them was to eat differently than they did. The Jewish food laws, in the type and preparation of food, served that purpose, just as keeping the Sabbath meant that God's people were on a different weekly "rhythm" than their pagan neighbors. The idea of being holy unto God was made evident by these visible differences. This was necessary, in part, because the Jews themselves had been heavily influenced by the pagan, polytheistic religion of Egypt for four centuries.

Therefore, as we study these prohibitions and regulations about Jewish food laws, I want you to keep in mind that as Christians we are completely free from these or any other food regulations anyone would try to impose on us today. We have various teachings on this:

1. Jesus

14After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, "Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear." 17When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18And He said to them, "Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?" (Thus, He declared all foods clean.) 20And He was saying, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.
- Mark 7:14-20

2. Peter

9On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance; 11and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13A voice came to him, "Get up, Peter, kill and eat!" 14But Peter said, "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean." 15Again a voice came to him a second time, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy." 16This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky.
- Acts 10:9-16

God declares food laws now removed in Christ.

3. Paul

1But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
- I Timothy 4:1-5

For Christians, this is how all food is rendered clean – a prayer of thanksgiving. Freedom in Christ is freedom from food laws.

VII. Sacrificial System – Support

As we continue through Leviticus we will read more about the portions of the animal, grain and wine offerings that were kept by the priests, their families, as well as the Levites who assisted the priests in their work. The sacrificial system was a self-supporting system.

  • When the Israelites arrived at the promised land it was divided among the tribes according to their size (population).
  • Every tribe received a portion of land (tribe of Joseph two portions – one for each of his sones – Manasseh and Ephraim) but no land for the tribe of Levi from which came the priests – from the family of Aaron and the Levites.
  • The Lord Himself was to be their portion (Deuteronomy 18:2) and they were given 48 cities among the tribes in which to live (Joshua 21:1-42).

The priests, therefore, were supported by the sacrifices brought by the people, a portion of which they kept. The Levites and maintenance of the Tabernacle/Temple were supported by the 10% tithe the people donated of which the Levites gave 10% to the High Priest. (10% of the 10% received).

When the people were faithful, the sacrificial system supported their place of worship along with those chosen by God to minister to their spiritual needs by the offering of various sacrifices and officiating at the different holy days and festivals throughout their religious calendar. If the people were unfaithful, the system and its minsters fell into disuse and decay, and the people were cut off from God since there was no other way to approach and connect with Him at the time, except through the sacrificial system. It was the spiritual lifeline between God and His people.

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