LEVITICUS 3 & 4
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God is not the author of confusion but of peace: orderliness is the hallmark of all His handiwork, alike in Nature and in Scripture. Orderliness and method must therefore, on that ground alone, characterize every valid interpretation of the Law.
Law and Grace
The Peace offering.
Peace offering <8002 - shelem> (requital) - a voluntary sacrifice in thanks from <7999 - shalam> safe, complete - suggesting fellowship.
1 And if his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offer it of the herd; whether it be a male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before Yahweh.
The meat offering was the communion of friendship with God --as when friend gives a gift to friend out of pure love. But the peace offering by its very name imported the idea of making peace, and, therefore, of removing cause of dispeace. The cause would be on the offerer's side wholly, for there is never cause of dispeace from God when men walk in harmony with His requirements.
A man might feel cause of dispeace without being guilty of any open act of trespass. He might not feel bad enough, as we might say, to bring a sin offering or a trespass offering, which would be for some particular act of nonconformity with the law; yet he might feel a sense of general shortcoming sufficient to make him fear the divine disapproval: or he might feel special cause for thanksgiving which he had not fully met. He might in such case bring a peace offering. *
THE PEACE OFFERING. This was voluntary. It was never commanded specifically, except on the occasion of Pentecost.
And this exception is fitting, for the Pentecost symbolizes the Firstfruits of Christ's coming: the marriage supper of the Lamb -- the great consummation of the communion of God with His people taken out of all the previous ages of the world.
In the Peace Offering the offerer himself partook. The Peace Offering was the culminating offering, the joyous offering, the partaking of holy food belonging to God, in His house, as His guest and companion. In this offering, God and the priest and the worshipper all shared. There was a portion for each. Here is the perfect union and fellowship of the believer with God through Christ: the covenant meal of friendship and loving intimacy, foreshadowing the great fruition and fulfilment of the eternal divine plan. **
2 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron's sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.
Bringing the offering, he [the peace offerer] was to lay his hand on the animal's head, thus identifying himself with it, in self-condemning humility, and then he was to kill it.
His offering in such a case must be more than a mere present. It is only man that can be propitiated with a gift. We cannot give anything to God in this sense--in the sense of enriching Him. We must give Him that which pleases Him; and in the case of fault, it is not giving Him something that can conciliate Him: it is abasement even unto death. Hence, a peace offering had to be a living creature for sacrifice: the recognition of God's greatness and prerogative: the acknowledgment that the continued life of the owner was by favour and not of right. *
But though this was a voluntary offering of the offerer's spontaneous freewill and thanksgiving, still there were many specific details of procedure that had to be followed exactly for the offering to be a blessing and not an abomination. Here is vividly emphasized the lesson that we must be taught of God in everything. Of ourselves we know nothing of eternal truth, and we can do nothing right, even our thanksgiving, without divine instruction. **
**Bro Growcott - Living Sacrifice
Male or Female Offering
6 And if his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering unto Yahweh be of the flock; male or female, he shall offer it without blemish.
The peace offering might be of the cattle, sheep, or goats, and, as regards the two first, it might be male or female (Lev. 3:1, 6, 12), in which latter point, there is a distinction between the peace offering and the sin offering, and all the leading offerings instituted; in these, "a male without blemish" was the requirement: but here "male or female", We have already considered the meaning of the male element in sacrifice: how are we to understand the admissibility of the female element in the peace offerings?
It certainly shows that woman is not excluded from the work of salvation, though she was not to figure in the first degree. It was a man that was to be the saviour, yet the man was to be by the woman. She was to contribute her part.
If woman was the means of man's downfall in Eden, she was the means of his redemption in Bethlehem. See her bending over the manger. This was evidently the relation of ideas before the mind of Paul when he said: "Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding, she shall be saved in child-bearing (or 'by the child-bearing ', as it is in the original) if they continue", etc.
If she was not to be the Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world, she was to provide him. "The seed" was to be "her seed". In this way, she was admitted to a close fellowship in the work of redemption. Therefore, the female animal was allowed a place in the subordinate sacrifices, though not eligible for those sacrifices that directly typified the sin-bearing Man of Sorrow. *
8 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron's sons shall sprinkle the blood thereof round about upon the altar.
Whether a bullock, sheep, or goat, the peace offering was to be brought by the offerer himself, and not sent by deputy: "His own hands shall bring the offering" (Lev. 7:30). What can this typify but the hearty humble energy of personal service as contrasted with the modem effeminacies of sentimental pride that can send a cheque from the lordly seclusion of a country seat, but cannot stoop to a personal condescension.
"You know how it is", says Jesus, "with the great ones of the Gentiles: it shall not be so among you: he that is great among you, let him be as the servant, even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto but to minister." *
11 And the priest shall burn it upon the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire unto Yahweh.
The priest was to sprinkle the blood upon the altar, and cut up the creature for use as a peace offering: that is the fatty linings of the interior were to be laid upon the altar-fire and consumed, and the leading joints (the breast and the right shoulder) were to be taken possession of by the officiating priest:
"He among the sons of Aaron, that offereth the blood of the peace offerings, and the fat, shall have the right shoulder for his part. For the wave breast and the heave shoulder have I taken of the children of Israel from off the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and have given them unto Aaron the priest and unto his sons by a statute for ever from among the children of Israel" (Lev. 7:33-34). *
12 And if his offering be a goat, then he shall offer it before Yahweh.
13 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of it, and kill it before the tabernacle of the congregation: and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle the blood thereof upon the altar round about.
The poured-out blood was the ceremonial of confession to be observed even in thanksgiving approaches--of which we enjoy the antitype when we draw nigh to God with confession on our lips and the crucified Christ in our hearts--on whom God laid the iniquities of us all, that with his stripes we might be healed. *
14 And he shall offer thereof his offering, even an offering made by fire unto Yahweh; the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards,
The fat is described as 'a sweet savour' v16 - that part upon which the altar-fire feeds.
If blood means life, it is evident that fat means the strength and goodness of life. When used figuratively, it is always with the sense of prosperity and good condition, e.g., "All that are fat upon earth shall worship", "Thou art waxen fat: thou art grown thick: thou art covered with fatness." Consequently, a man giving his time, his love, his service, his substance, gives the fat of his life. This is "the food of the peace offering", and ascends as a sweet savour to God.
This is almost the exact language that Paul uses concerning the munificence of the brethren in the supply of his wants: "I have received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God:" (Phil. 4:18).
Christ not only gave his life for us, but for our sakes "impoverished himself"--(a more correct translation than "became poor ")--that is, voluntarily submitted to circumstance of poverty and humility when he might not only have had "twelve legions of angels", but "all the kingdoms of the world" He offered the fat as well as the blood. As his followers, we are invited to do the same, though we necessarily follow at a long distance. The young man looked, but did not follow. He was "grieved, for he had great possessions". *
*Law of Moses Ch 24
17 It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.
Blessed will be those of 'This generation' who live to see the reinstitution of animal offerings in memorial of Yahweh's redemptive plan through the blood of Messiah shed for the remission of sins.
' And when these days are expired, it shall be, that upon the eighth day, and so forward, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar, and your peace offerings; and I will accept you, saith the Lord Yahweh. Ezk 43:27 *
The Sin Offering
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of Yahweh concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them:
The law of the Sin Offering can be summarized thus:
The anointed priest .... a bullock
The whole congregation a bullock
A ruler a goat kid (male)
A commoner a goat kid (female), or a lamb (female).
And we can be quite sure, though we cannot see it now, that if we continue to study and meditate upon the Word of God, in another five or ten years (if we are still in this present probation) we shall be able to look back and discern many of our present limitations and shortcomings that we are blind to today. And so it continues throughout our life. We live under the constant shadow of sins of ignorance, and we must constantly pray for God's mercy on them.
There must be a constant growth of knowledge and understanding in the ways of God and the spirit of Christ. For each added day of life and opportunity that is given us, more will be expected of us in character and labor and understanding. Woe betide that slothful servant who has not been using all his time in labour and preparation for his Lord!
We must overcome -- not to absolute perfection, because that for us is impossible -- but to perfection within the framework of the definition of Scripture, and the merciful appointments of God. Perfection is required by God. In His holiness He can tolerate no less. And in His love He has provided for it -- by our constant effort toward perfection, and by the constant washing and repurifying in the blood of Christ. Every sin must be washed away in that blood. Every sin must be repented of and repudiated. We must stand pure before God to be accepted.
We are so constituted in weakness that we do not and cannot even know all our sins. Every thought out of harmony with the perfection of God and with absolute truth is sin. In the imperfection of our mind and knowledge and weakness of the flesh, we cannot help but constantly sin -- constantly fall short of perfection. But He has graciously provided for this too:
"The Spirit also helpeth our infIrmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought. . ."
-- we do not know, we cannot know, to perfection what we should pray for -- what sins of weakness and ignorance and incompleteness and partial comprehension we should pray to be forgiven for and cleansed from. We are slowly learning, slowly advancing toward the goal of perfect understanding--
". . . we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered, and He that searcheth the heart knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit."
For deliberate sin, there was and is no forgiveness. But some sins which we would consider deliberate were forgiven -- so we cannot judge others. The sabbath day gatherer of sticks was put to death; David's murder and adultery were forgiven.
Only God knows where to draw the line as to what is deliberate rebellion, and what is weakness for this poor erring flesh. For ourselves, we must always bear in mind the danger, remembering with trembling that God will not be mocked. He will not for a moment tolerate rebellion. Whenever we do anything we know is wrong, however small it may be, we are treading on the loose gravel of the edge of the precipice of no return--
"God is not mocked" ."God hath no pleasure in fools."
For others, we must always be prepared to forgive and receive, and leave the final judgment to God Who knows each heart. **
3 If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto Yahweh for a sin offering.
SiN OFFERINGS. --
A sin offering differed from the burnt offering in several particulars. It was called for when "a soul sinned through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things that ought not to be done" (Lev. 4:2). If a priest sinned in the same way: or if it was the case of the whole congregation sinning ignorantly, then when the sin was discovered, they were to "bring a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering".
The question has been asked, Why should a sin of ignorance require atonement? I have indeed known of a stout revolt against the whole doctrine of sins of ignorance, and a disposition to reject Moses on the ground of them. This is not reasonable. If it had been a case of punishing a man for unconscious transgression, there might be some difficulty experienced. But it is not a case of that sort, but of the reverse sort, namely, of providing a way of escape from a false position.
A false position is a false position, whether known or not. Reason must recognize this: if the will of God be that certain things be not done, then the man who does them does things that are displeasing, whether he know it or not. His ignorance does not make a displeasing thing pleasing, though it will modify the light in which he may be regarded as an unintentional offender.
A presumptuous doing of it -- a doing of it in the full knowledge of what he is doing, and with the full intention that his act shall be an act of enmity as hurtful as he can make it, ensures condign punishment, as we have seen. But a doing of it in ignorance that he is doing wrong is mercifully treated: provision is made for rectification or justification. A sin offering is required. The sin is not ignored, for sin there has been, though ignorant sin, for sin is the breaking of the law of God in any matter. ***
'...though the anointed priest was but one person yet he received mention first and his offering was exactly the same as that specified for the whole of the nation put together [v13,14]. As far as this schedule was concerned he (the individual) and they (the multitude) were" on a par, being to all intents and purposes interchangeable.
We now ask: Did this assignment of values hold good throughout the Law?
The answer is, Yes. .. the High Priest was always (ideally) the epitome of the entire nation, except on those occasions when, for some special purpose, the Law wished to draw a distinction between him and the people.
Law and Grace Ch 2.
12 Even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall he be burnt.
The offerings not to be eaten but burnt, and whose blood was to be presented in the tabernacle, were those offered for sins of ignorance; while those to be eaten, were for sin in general. The bringing of the blood into the tabernacle and the burning of the bodies, would seem to express intenser repudiation than the eating of the flesh. And yet the intenser repudiation was for the class of sin that men are liable to consider the most venial -- sins of ignorance.
What is the explanation of this? Is it so that unconscious sin is more hateful to God than that which is known and confessed? It would not be difficult to think so. When a man knows his faults, disowns them and struggles against them, his friends bear with him more easily than if he offends regularly in a line of things of which he is not aware.
In his ignorance, he supposes himself perfectly acceptable, while all the time it may be he is making it the hardest work in the world to endure him. We are probably not far wrong in supposing that this is how it is with our imperfect selves towards God, and that there is a special meaning in the declaration that He "hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities",
How often may we grieve Him by our want of perfect loyalty: by our forgetfulness of Him: by our failure in meekness and gentleness and mercy; by the weakness of our love, the poverty of our worship, the feebleness of our service--while all the time, perhaps, we think the Laodicean thought that we, are spiritually" rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing", and highly acceptable in His sight.
...This may enable us to understand why, in the Mosaic type, sins of ignorance should be the subject of a more energetic purgation than those in which the humbled confessor voluntarily recognized his offence.
The practical application has much in it, both of fear and comfort. Sins of ignorance were not forgiven till known and repudiated in sacrifice. Here arises the necessity for what Paul recommends when he says, "Examine yourselves", and "prove your own selves"; and John, "purify yourselves"; and James, "cleanse your hearts". If we go on in ignorance of what is acceptable to God in our character, how can we expect to obtain the forgiveness that comes only on confession?
On the other hand, how comforting to know that when we have discovered and confessed our shortcomings, and come to God with Christ, the crucified, in our hands and hearts, "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all iniquity", even sins of ignorance also -- so trying to divine holiness. There is ground for even a higher degree of comfort than this.
If the Lord prayed for his murderers, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do", what may not those hope for from the divine clemency who love and fear him when they read the beautiful words of Psa. 103?
"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust .... As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our iniquities from us."
We are taken one step higher in the words of Rom. 8:26: "The Spirit itself helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what to pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God" (that is, by Christ, verse 34).
Here is a mixture of human helplessness and distress, and divine provision and recognition, that appeals to every enlightened man's experience of what he needs in the imperfect state through which he is passing in this age of faith and weakness. It is all in harmony with the compassionate foreshadowing, yet holy requirements, of the Mosaic service. ***
23 Or if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge; he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a male without blemish:
'while a goat could be offered by both a ruler and a commoner alike, yet for the ruler the goat had to be a male, and for the commoner a female.
We now ask: Was this distinction deliberate, or capricious?
It was clearly deliberate. The concession made to the commoner (that he could offer a sheep instead of a goat) still stipulated that he was to offer a female, thus laying stress on the fact that for a commoner a female, and a female only, was permissible (cf. Lev. 5: 6).
We now ask: Why was this distinction so carefully made?
A simple answer suggests itself The Law was thereby intimating that, in keeping with his inferior rank, a commoner had to offer an inferior sacrifice.
This begs a third question: Did the Law in fact consider a female inferior to a male?
On that matter there can be no doubt. With that consistency which is the hall-mark of a rational system, the Law elsewhere treated the female as decidedly inferior. The law of the firstborn took no cognizance of females at all (Exod. 13: 12-13, etc.); in the law of redemption the female was rated as inferior in cash-value (Lev. 27); in the law of vows she was treated as inferior in status (Num. 30).
The conclusion is inescapable. The persons specified as offerers under the law of the Sin Offering were arranged in descending order of theocratic rank, and correspondingly the offerings prescribed for them were arranged in descending order of value. So rational indeed was the basis of this particular schedule that the fixed rule can be abstracted from it that in standard cases the rank of the offerer determined the value of the Sin Offering prescribed for him.
Law and Grace Ch 2
A superficial view would say there is nothing to forgive in such a case. But the fact is the offence exists though the man did not intend it, and is therefore righteously the subject of disapprobation.
Even a man dealing with men, feels and recognizes this in matters of trespass. A neighbour may infringe your rights unintentionally. If on knowing it, he makes reparation, all is well: justice is not felt on either side to be violated in the requirement of the reparation. But if reparation is refused, then a sin of ignorance becomes one of contumacy, and the subject of penalty.
It will be found on reflection to be a fitting and a beautiful thing that God should hold sin to be sin, even though done in ignorance: for otherwise His law would be at the mercy of human whim, and human ignorance would become the standard of action. Yet were He to deal with ignorant sin as He deals with knowing sin, the moral discernments with which He has endowed us would be violated. That He should hold the sin to be sin, yet that He should hold the sinner responsible only when his sin comes to his knowledge, and then offer forgiveness by atonement, is all in harmony with the perfect justice and wisdom and goodness that belong to the divine character.
It is an illustration of the doctrine proclaimed and illustrated on many another page of the Bible outside the Law of Moses: that "times of ignorance, God winks at" (Acts 17:30); that where there is blindness, there is no accountability (John 9:41); that only where there is knowledge does the ground of condemnation exist (Jas. 4:17; John 3:19; Luke 12:47); that where there is great privilege, there is great responsibility (John 15:22-25); that, in a word, to whom much is given, of them is much required (Luke 12:48). ***
***Law of Moses Ch 25