The Trespass Offering
...why should there be a trespass offering in addition to a sin offering, seeing that trespass is sin? The light gradually dawns.
We find they represent gradations of the same subject. All were for atonement, but atonement for different degrees of sin, as we might express it. There was a form of sin for which there was no atonement.
"The soul that doeth aught presumptuously . . . reproacheth the Lord: that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off: his iniquity shall be upon him" (that is, shall not be purged by sacrifice) (Num. 15:30-31).
But this was not a common case. The common case was sin not of presumption:
sin of natural state,
sin of ignorance,
and sin of weakness:
the first, the constitutional uncleanness that has come into the world by sin, which is "no more I, but sin that dwelleth in me" (Rom. 7:20): the second, where men do wrong without knowing it, as in" sin of ignorance": and third, acts of known disobedience, but not deliberate or intentional but the result of infirmity deplored. For these three phases of sin, the burnt offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering appear to have been provided, differing in methods and accessories according to the respective cases.
1 And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.
'If anyone sins after he hears a [a]public adjuration (solemn command to testify) when he is a witness, whether he has seen or [otherwise] known [something]-if he fails to report it, then he will bear his guilt and be held responsible' - AMP.
This refers to a failure of disclose equivalenent to concealment - tantamount to harbouring or condoning the iniquity.
The Uncleanness Laws
2 Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase of an unclean beast, or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty.
3 Or if he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty.
The true nature of flesh (unclean) revealed to the Hebrews
'...if he touch the uncleanness of man. Lesson: moral defilement IS spread by unclean thoughts and errors, the evil fruit of the thinking of the flesh.
'Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners'. (1 Cor 15:33)
Apart from leprosy, all the diseases of which they (the uncleanness laws) took account were diseases of the reproductive organs.
Even the normal menstrual flow in healthy women bore close enough an affinity to the idea of the defilement caused by ancestral sin to be classed as a cause of seven days' uncleanness.
This in itself was pointed enough an indication of the hereditary effects of Eve's and Adam's sin (Lev 15: 19-24; Gen. 3:16).
Hidden away out of sight though the source of the defilement might have been, yet its existence could not be denied. In man and in woman alike the same fatal symptom bore witness to it.
Law and Grace
4 Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these.
Or if anyone swears [an oath] thoughtlessly or impulsively aloud that he will do either evil or good, in whatever manner a person may speak thoughtlessly or impulsively with an oath, but he is unaware of it, when he recognizes it, he will be guilty in one of these. AMP
(Failure to perform a forgotten oath/ commitment - when it comes again to mind - seek forgiveness)
5 And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing
6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto Yahweh for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.
Why, then, should there be a trespass offering as distinct from a sin offering? Because, while all trespass is sin, all sin is not trespass. There is what Paul calls "sin that dwelleth in me" (Rom. 7:17).
There is sin of forgetfulness; sin of "unadvised" but unintentional words, in "the multitude of which", in an ordinary way, as Solomon says, "there wanteth not sin"; sin of omission; sin of thought--all of which cause a righteous man to exclaim with Paul, "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me?" - but which do not constitute trespass. Trespass is an open and hurtful act, in disobedience of express statute, as when a man lies or steals.
The enumeration of the offences for which trespass offerings were to be provided shows this: the concealing of known and unrepented sin in others [v1]; the contraction of uncleanness [v2-3]; the utterance of an unlawful oath [v4]; the embezzlement of things committed in trust; treachery, violence, misrepresentation, false swearing, etc. (Lev. 6:1, 5). The fact that provision was made for such offences, when truly repented of, is an illustration of what Christ teaches:
"All manner of sin shall be forgiven unto men, except the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit".
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is rebellion against the authority of God, and is naturally in a different category from sins of weakness that are not conceived in the spirit of presumptuous disobedience. Even human law distinguishes between treason and breaches of recognized law: and "Shall mortal man be more just than God?" Treason is a capital offence, while breaches of common law' may be condoned by restitution or apology.
Law of Moses Ch 25.
7 And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass [Messiah an asham for his people - Isa 53: 10], which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto Yahweh; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering.
8 And he shall bring them unto the priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin offering first, and wring off his head from his neck, but shall not divide it asunder:
The Lord's death was violent but his body was not divided 'asunder'.
9 And he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering upon the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be wrung out at the bottom of the altar: it is a sin offering.
Side of the altar: Not the horns!
11 But if he be not able to bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, then he that sinned shall bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put any frankincense thereon: for it is a sin offering.
A complication arose in a case of this sort since the turtledove or pigeon was too small a creature to have adequate abdominal fat to allow of its being separated and burnt upon the Altar.
This deficiency was made good by the use of the second bird as a Burnt Offering. By this device the notion of burning a portion of the Sin Offering on the Altar was preserved.
Law and Grace
12 Then shall he bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it, even a memorial thereof, and burn it on the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto Yahweh: it is a sin offering.
13 And the priest shall make an atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him: and the remnant shall be the priest's, as a meat offering.
14 And Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying,
15 If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of Yahweh; then he shall bring for his trespass unto Yahweh a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering:
16 And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him.
This touches a subject high, deep and wide. It calls attention to the origin of death in relation to man and to the nature of life in relation to God. Both these subjects are liable to be skimmed over in this merely naturalistic age. Men find death a universal law of the animal world, so far as they have experience of that world upon earth: and they are apt to regard it as the inseparable corollary life - the necessary and other half of the phenomenon of vitality.
They see animals, great and small, born, grow, decay, and die: and they see man do the same. Therefore they write it down as a "law of nature', for which they do not require to seek a special origin, and to which, therefore, it is impossible they can attach the odious character suggested by these provisions of the Mosaic law regarding it. But it is evident there is a fallacy in this way of looking at the subject . . .
So far as man is concerned, death is the result of sin. and not the necessary quality of the nature with which he was endowed in the first instance. This truth enables us to understand the peculiar detestation of death expressed by the ordinances we are considering.
The presence of death - the touch of death - means presence of sin, and sin is the awful thing that fools make a mock at. The crime of insubordination against the wish, will, or law of the Eternal Author and Proprietor of Creation."
19 It is a trespass offering: he hath certainly trespassed against Yahweh.
The combined effect of all these sacrificial provisions of the law is to give ground of hope to all men who fear God and submit to His appointments.
They may be erring and shortcoming, and a trouble to themselves because of their many imperfections: but if they are "humble and contrite of heart", and make confession of their sins in the name of Jesus, in whom all these sacrifices concentre as the end and substance foreshadowed, they may trust to be forgiven.
"If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared" (Psa. 130:3-4). May it not, then, be said to many a fearful one, "Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way"? (Heb. 12:12-13).
Law of Moses Ch 25.