Leviticus 5 – The Sin Offering and the Guilt Offering
A. Specific occasions requiring the sin offering.
1. (1) Failing to be a truthful witness, or in being a false witness.
If a person sins in hearing the utterance of an oath, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of the matter; if he does not tell it, he bears guilt.
a. If a person sins in hearing the utterance of an oath, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of the matter: It wasn’t enough to merely not tell lies. God also required His people to make the truth known, so even if one merely knew about a lie, they were responsible to make the truth known.
b. If he does not tell it, he bears guilt: Therefore it was the duty of someone who was a witness to come forward and tell the truth about the matter. “In Israel all the people were to be involved in seeing that justice was done. Not to witness was a sin.” (Harris)
i. We can say that the same principle applies to our witness of Jesus Christ. It isn’t enough that we refrain from actively denying Jesus or lying about our relationship with Him. We must also take every opportunity to tell the truth about Jesus.
2. (2-3) Ceremonial uncleanness.
Or if a person touches any unclean thing, whether it is the carcass of an unclean beast, or the carcass of unclean livestock, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and he is unaware of it, he also shall be unclean and guilty. Or if he touches human uncleanness; whatever uncleanness with which a man may be defiled, and he is unaware of it; when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty.
a. If a person touches any unclean thing: The cleansing of the sin offering was also necessary when a person became ceremonially unclean through touching any unclean thing.
b. Whether it is the carcass of an unclean beast . . . Or if he touches human uncleanness: There were several things that might make a person ceremonially unclean. These included touching the carcass of an unclean animal or a person who was already ceremonially unclean. The sin offering was a remedy for this uncleanness.
3. (4) Swearing a false oath.
Or if a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it; when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters.
a. If a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly: A careless promise was still a promise before the Lord and had to be observed. If the promise was not kept it had to be atoned for by a sin offering.
b. When he realizes it, then he shall be guilty: When we are aware of our broken vows we must repent of them. It is common to make vows and promises in the Christian that are not kept, and when we see this we must repent and trust in the atoning, covering blood of Jesus to bring forgiveness.
i. Think of these common examples of broken vows:
· More time in prayer
· More intercession for others
· More devotional reading
· More intense Bible study
· More personal witness
· More faithful tithing
· Better example to others
· More patience with the children
· A vow to personal purity in sexual matters
ii. It may not be wrong to make such vows. They may be the legitimate expression of a move of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. Yet if the vow is not kept, it must be confessed as sin and repented of.
4. (5-13) How to make the sin offering.
And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing; and he shall bring his trespass offering to the Lord for his sin which he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin. If he is not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring to the Lord, for his trespass which he has committed, two turtledoves or two young pigeons: one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering. And he shall bring them to the priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin offering first, and wring off its head from its neck, but shall not divide it completely. Then he shall sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering on the side of the altar, and the rest of the blood shall be drained out at the base of the altar. It is a sin offering. And he shall offer the second as a burnt offering according to the prescribed manner. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him. But if he is not able to bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons, then he who sinned shall bring for his offering one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a sin offering. He shall put no oil on it, nor shall he put frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering. Then he shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it as a memorial portion, and burn it on the altar according to the offerings made by fire to the Lord. It is a sin offering. The priest shall make atonement for him, for his sin that he has committed in any of these matters; and it shall be forgiven him. The rest shall be the priest’s as a grain offering.
a. When he is guilty: This really has the idea of “when he realizes his guilt.” Though a person is guilty of sin the moment he commits it, he has no idea he needs to get it right until he realizes his sin.
b. He shall confess: This was an important part of the sin offering; to confess meant one would agree with God that the sin was wrong. Confession of sin is still an important principle for clearing away sin that hinders our fellowship with God.
c. He who sinned shall bring for his offering one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a sin offering: Cleansing from sin was available to everyone, even if they couldn’t offer a sheep or a goat. If a man was too poor to offer two birds, even fine flour could be offered as a sin offering.
i. When we see how strongly the principle of atonement by sacrifice is emphasized in the Old Testament, many people wonder why the Jewish people today no longer make sacrifice. The answer is that they believe their good works will substitute for animal sacrifice.
ii. “Indeed, when the second temple fell, the rabbis, denied an altar in Jerusalem, came to the conclusion that gifts and prayers were as acceptable as animal sacrifice.” (Harris)
B. The Guilt Offering.
1. (14-16) The procedure for the Guilt Offering.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “If a person commits a trespass, and sins unintentionally in regard to the holy things of the Lord, then he shall bring to the Lord as his trespass offering a ram without blemish from the flocks, with your valuation in shekels of silver according to the shekel of the sanctuary, as a trespass offering. And he shall make restitution for the harm that he has done in regard to the holy thing, and shall add one-fifth to it and give it to the priest. So the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him.”
a. If a person commits a trespass: The guilt offering was essentially the same procedure used in the sin offering, except that the guilt offering was used when someone had sinned in regard to the holy things. This spoke of some type of desecration of the tabernacle or its associated items.
b. He shall make restitution for the harm that he has done in regard to the holy thing: When holy things had been descrated in some way, a mere sin offering was not enough. Restitution was also required, paying back what was lost plus twenty percent (he shall add one-fifth to it).
i. “If one has been unfaithful in the holy things of Jehovah it is not enough that one should confess and bring a sin-offering. Restitution must be made for the wrong done; it must be put right. There was something due to God that was not rendered in it season, and things will not be right until it is rendered.” (Coates)
ii. With the guilt offering, the priest was allowed to keep the hide of a bull that was sacrificed (Leviticus 7:8).
2. (17-19) The necessity of the guilt offering even when a person did not know they had sinned in regard to the holy things.
If a person sins, and commits any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord, though he does not know it, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity. And he shall bring to the priest a ram without blemish from the flock, with your valuation, as a trespass offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him regarding his ignorance in which he erred and did not know it, and it shall be forgiven him. It is a trespass offering; he has certainly trespassed against the Lord.
a. Though he does not know it, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity: If someone desecrated the holy things of the tabernacle, “I didn’t know” was not an acceptable excuse. They had to still make sacrifice to atone for their sin.
b. So the priest shall make atonement for him regarding his ignorance in which he erred and did not know it: Ignorance can be sin. It is no excuse; often it is sin and must be atoned for.
© 2004 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission