Day 48 (Feb. 17): Sin offering procedures, sins that require an offering, guilt offering procedures, sins that require a guilt offering, more burnt offering instructions, more grain offering instructions, procedures for ordination offering

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Leviticus 4-6

Questions & Observations

Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily reading.  Read on, some answers may surprise you.  Most of all, they can help you understand the Bible, which helps us lead a life that fulfills God and us.  Let us know if you have any comments to add.

Q. Do the OT priests have any duties like the duties of the priests today?  All we know that they do is prepare and offer sacrifices.

A. As you can see from the shear number of instructions, the role of priest was a full time job for Aaron’s family.  They had an incredibly important job: to keep the people in good standing with God through the use of sacrifices.

The priesthood here is focused on a very different task from “our” priesthood (the Christian office of priest/pastor), and we will see other duties mentioned: Leviticus notes that it is the priest’s responsibly to declare people unclean so that they could seek purification, and to deliver the blessing of the priest, which comes from Numbers 6.  So while Christian priests do give blessings, I think that’s pretty much the end of the similiarity.

Q. (Leviticus 4:3-12) Here it says the High Priest prepares the young bull.  We can assume he has some help from the other priests or the Levites?  He couldn’t possibly handle one bull by himself.  These preparations sound arduous

A. I think we can assume he has help, but I would take the instruction to mean that the High Priest was in charge of the effort, and could not delegate it, since it was his sin involved.

Q. It’s interesting how all of these sin sacrifices say that if you don’t know you have sinned, you are still guilty.  When whomever sins becomes aware of it, they must make an offering.  It sounds like a lot of their sinning refers to touching things that are ceremonially unclean or others mentioned in Leviticus 5:1-4, so can we can apply this rule to today?  I know there are a lot of times when I don’t realize I have sinned until I have one of those quiet moments without little noisemakers around, that I realize I have done wrong.

A. There’s a principle of our modern law that is at work here: what is in Latin called Ignorantia juris non excusat (Ignorance of the law is no excuse).

I think that this reading points to a huge flaw in the system of the Law for these people.  The “solution” of the sacrificial system is that it is very legalistic: you have to be sure you are dotting every “I” and crossing every “t”, or the system doesn’t work, and your guilt and sin can affect the entire community – we will see instances of this at work in later books such as Joshua.  As Christians, we have moved beyond the elaborate demands of the Law into a better system of being declared right with God through our faith in Christ.  So even if we are not aware of our sins, we can still be “covered.”

One of the things that the NT describes as a crucial role of the Holy Spirit is to convict the believer of sin that they may not be aware of.  This is not so that our place in heaven can be assured (we’re not under that system), but rather so that we can remove the cancer of sin from our lives.  Sin, even unintentional sin, always has consequences, so it is in our interest in our walk with God if we seek His guidance about any sin that we might be missing or conveniently ignoring!  I knew a minister in my seminary who had a daily habit of praying Psalm 139:23-24, which asks God to search our heart in order to lead us in the right path.  I would say it’s a very good habit.

Q. (5:17) I notice that God differentiates violating one of God’s commands from other sins.  Are sins all equal or are some worse than others?

A. Actually, it appears to me that all of the sins and categories described in today’s reading had one thing in common: unintentional action.  The intentional violations of God’s Law — we will see some — had the same effect on the person: they were guilty of sin whether big or small, but in terms of “worse” consequences, there were some.  Intentional offenses carried the death penalty in some cases — though we don’t have much record of this actually being carried out — so I will leave it up to you to determine if that is “worse”.  In the grand scheme of things as it relates to God, it does not matter if we sin little — like gossip or lying — or big —murder or adultery.  The only two categories in the eyes of God are sinner or non-sinner.  This doesn’t mean that bigger sins don’t have larger consequences in the current life, but we should be aware that the “little” sins we have a habit of doing can be just as deadly to our soul if we don’t have faith in Christ.

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