22 November 2012

A Survey of the Old Testament Law--The Trespass Offering (Leviticus chapter 5; 7:1-10) Part 2


Now, back to the Trespass Offering (אָשָׁם (asham)) itself. God was very gracious in this. You brought what you could. If you could bring a female lamb or goat, it was bled out on the north side of the altar of Burnt Offering. We read the specifics in Leviticus 7:1-8“‘1 Likewise this is the law of the trespass offering (it is most holy): 2 In the place where they kill the burnt offering they shall kill the trespass offering. And its blood he shall sprinkle all around on the altar. 3 And he shall offer from it all its fat. The fat tail and the fat that covers the entrails, 4 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 5 and the priest shall burn them on the altar as an offering made by fire to the LORD. It is a trespass offering. 6 Every male among the priests may eat it. It shall be eaten in a holy place. It is most holy. 7 The trespass offering is like the sin offering; there is one law for them both: the priest who makes atonement with it shall have it. 8 And the priest who offers anyone's burnt offering, that priest shall have for himself the skin of the burnt offering which he has offered.’” Whereas the blood for the Sin Offering was smeared on the four horns of the altar, the blood for the Trespass Offering (אָשָׁם (asham)) was sprinkled on the sides of the altar. Each offering we have seen from chapter 1 until now, there are subtle differences in how they were carried out. Why was one offering performed one way and another offering another way? Because that’s how God wanted it. The fat was removed as it was from the Sin Offering (חַטָּאָת (chatta’ath)), which was identical to the Peace Offering (שָׁלַם (shalam)). But with the Trespass Offering (אָשָׁם (asham)), not only does the priest who offers it get to wave the breast as a wave offering and heave the right thigh as a heave offering, and eat them both within the courtyard of the tabernacle. But he also gets to keep the skin—the hide. Isn’t that interesting? “How is that interesting?” you ask. Well, OK, you didn’t ask—but you should have.

This is another one of those places where, I believe, the details of the offerings point to Christ. “How so?” Think about this: during His arrest, trial, and crucifixion, nearly every thing that was to be done to either the offering itself, or to the priest, was done to Christ by pagans. He was bathed and anointed by the spittle from the servants of the high priest and by the Roman soldiers. He was bled out by the Romans. He, being our Sin Offering, was paraded through the city—the camp—and was taken outside the camp by the Romans. His blood was smeared on the four corners of the altar that was the cross by the Romans. But one detail about His whole ordeal—one that seems, in a way, out of place, juxtaposed into the story for curious reasons—is this: what was it that the Roman soldiers gambled each other for? What was the thing which they drew lots to determine who would take it home? John 19:23-2423 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. 24 They said therefore among themselves, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be," that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots." Therefore the soldiers did these things. Did you ever wonder why that was in there? What was so important about the Roman soldiers casting lots for Jesus’ tunic that God would give us a prophecy about such a thing, and then cause it to come to pass, and include it in His written word?

Think about this tunic. Made from one piece of material. No seams. Is the hide of an animal stitched together from different parts? Or is it all one continuous piece? See where it says the tunic was woven from the top in one piece? The Greek words translated from the top are ἐκ ἄνωθεν (ek anothen)—literally, “from above.” Isn’t that interesting! The tunic was woven, in one piece, “from above.” How do we translate John 3:3 literally? “Unless a man is born from above…” What word is translated “above”? The same Greek word, ἄνωθεν (anothen). Who is it that knits together, from above, the hides of all the animals? Is it not our God and Savior Jesus Christ (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17)? Now, is not Christ our Trespass Offering (אָשָׁם (asham))? Did He not take upon Himself every idle word we would ever speak, every idle thought that would come into our mind? Every thing we would ever do that, even those things that we are not sure whether or not they are sin? And after we realize they are sins, we ask for His forgiveness? As John said in 1st John 1:9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Is it sinking in now just how much of the Law pointed to Christ?

Leviticus 5:7-10“‘7 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. 8 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. 9 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. 10 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.’” God is very gracious in this offering. If you could not afford a lamb or a goat, you could bring two birds. The priest kills the first one, but does not completely divide it. He does not wring off the head from the neck as in the Burnt Offering. From what I can gather, he would probably just cut into the neck deep enough to sever the blood vessels in the neck without exposing the esophagus. He then sprinkles its blood on the sides of the altar—that is the Sin Offering (חַטָּאָת (chatta’ath)). Then he takes the second one, kills it and flays it in the manner of the Burnt Offerings described in Leviticus 1, and lays it on the altar as a Burnt Offering (עֹלָה (olah)). The priests don’t get to eat either one of the birds, however.

Leviticus 5:10-13“‘11 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. 12 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. 13 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.’” If a person was so poor they could not even afford a couple of pigeons, they could bring some flour. One-tenth of en ephah was about one-tenth of a bushel, the ephah and bushel being roughly equivalent. But all you bring is flour. This is a Trespass Offering, a Sin Offering, and to add oil or frankincense to it would be to take away from the ugliness of sin. John Gill says it much better than I ever could—

“Some think that these were prohibited, to show that atonement and forgiveness, and even the salvation of men, are not owing to grace in them, comparable to oil, or to their prayers, signified by frankincense, and so to any or all of their duties, but to Christ alone, and his atoning sacrifice: or these were forbidden, because emblems of joy and gladness, and therefore not so proper at a confession of sin, and humiliation for it: or rather to show how disagreeable and offensive sin was to the Lord, being contrary to grace, of which oil was an emblem, and far from being acceptable to him, which frankincense might signify; and therefore being prohibited, might denote how unacceptable, yea nauseous, sin is to him; which agrees with the reason given: for it is a sin offering, and therefore must not be honoured, as Jarchi, or must have everything removed from it that is beautiful and amiable, as Ben Gersom, such as oil and frankincense.”

Does God hate sin? God hates sin so much that he would rather crush His own Son under the weight of His wrath than to have it exist in those that He calls His people. Isaiah 53:8-108 He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9 And they made His grave with the wicked—but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. God hates sin so much that when a person brings even a measure of meal to make atonement for their sin, He says, “Don’t make it pretty. Don’t make it smell good or taste good. Don’t cover it over with your own works. Just bring it to Me, and let Me burn it.” After all, it is God who burned the offerings laid on the altar. The priest may have laid it on the grid covering it, but who started the fire in the first place? God did. Leviticus 9:24And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. That fire was kept going for 1500 years, but God started it. Every offering for sin was burned on the fire God started. Sound familiar? Almost sounds like what Paul said in Galatians 2:20For I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live. Or, Galatians 6:14…the cross, by which I was crucified to the world, and the world was crucified to me. All those offerings were burned with the first offering God consumed. We are all crucified with the Son that God consumed on Golgotha.

Now, there are some rules about what to do with the grain that is left after the priest takes the handful to burn it on the altar as the “memorial portion.”  Leviticus 7:9-10“‘9 Also every grain offering that is baked in the oven and all that is prepared in the covered pan, or in a pan, shall be the priest's who offers it. 10 Every grain offering, whether mixed with oil or dry, shall belong to all the sons of Aaron, to one as much as the other.’” Does God know the human heart? Does He know that it is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9)? Is He able to anticipate the depths of human depravity and the feebleness of human “reason” and “logic”? So, no doubt, God is anticipating the questions that would come up surrounding the Grain Offering (Leviticus 2) and the Trespass Offering of grain (Leviticus 5). So he tells Moses that the Grain Offering baked in the oven, etc.—the Grain Offering covered in chapter 2—was to go to the priest who offered it. But the Trespass Offering of grain in chapter 5 was to be split among all the sons of Aaron—“‘to one as much as the other.’” Kinda like what happened in Acts 2:44-4544 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. And just for the record, this passage does not promote Communism. This is not a blueprint that every single church is supposed to do.  This is not a command to sell everything you have. Albert Barnes writes—

“If it be asked whether this was done commonly among the early Christians, it may be replied that there is no evidence that it was…It does not appear that it was done even by all who were afterward converted in Judea; and there is no evidence that it was done in Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, Philippi, Rome, etc. That the effect of religion was to make people liberal and willing to provide for the poor there can be no doubt…But there is no proof that it was common to part with their possessions and to lay them at the feet of the apostles. Religion does not contemplate, evidently, that people should break up all the arrangements in society, but it contemplates that those who have property should be ready and willing to part with it for the help of the poor and needy.”

We do not read of Lydia selling her supply of purple and bringing the profits to Paul. The Philippians jailer is not recorded to have sold his house and given the proceeds to the church at Philippi. However, we are to always be ready to help those in need. Where does everything we own come from? James 1:17Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of Lights. So everything we have really belongs to God. And if someone else is in need, do we let them suffer so we can be comfortable? Paul said in 2nd Corinthians 8:12-1512 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, "He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack." Like the sons of Aaron shared in the grain of the Trespass Offering, we all share in the things that God has provided through the Trespass Offering of Christ.

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