13 December 2012

A Survey of the Old Testament Law--The Trespass Offering (Leviticus chapter 5; 7:1-10) Part 3

OK, let’s finish up with one last Trespass Offering. Again, these are offerings for sins committed in ignorance. If one sinned with a stiff neck and an obstinate heart, what kind of offering could they bring? Sorry, that’s a trick question. Numbers 15:30-31“‘30 But the person who does anything presumptuously, whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on the LORD, and he shall be cut off from among his people. 31 Because he has despised the word of the LORD, and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be upon him.’” A theme which, by the way, the writer of Hebrews picks up on in Hebrews 10:26For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. Does this mean that if we sin intentionally and with forethought that we will be destroyed? No. The phrase “sin willfully” is in the present tense. It means, literally, “If we continue sinning sinfully.” That is, if the pattern of our life is sin, then Christ will profit us nothing. But, again, God knows us humans—in fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves (or, rather, better than we want to know ourselves). And He knows there will be times when we do something wrong, and we don’t realize it until it’s too late.

So, in the Law, He gives the people this measure of grace, Leviticus 5:14-1914 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “15 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. 16 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. 17 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. 18 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. 19 It is a trespass offering; he has certainly trespassed against the LORD.”

So, what is the “shekel of the sanctuary”? It is 20 gerahs. What do you mean you don’t know what a gerah is? A gerah is equivalent in weight to about 16 coffee beans. A shekel of weight was equal to 20 gerahs, so the person would bring a ram without blemish, and a weight in silver equivalent to about 320 coffee beans plus 1/5 of 320 coffee beans (64), for a grand total of weight of 384 coffee beans. Why aren’t they teaching these things in school anymore? There are some times when we can plead “ignorance” with God. There are some areas of life where God gives our conscience leeway. Paul wrote on this many times, most clearly in Romans 14:1-31 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. And also 1st Corinthians 8:5-95 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live. 7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. 9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. So there are some areas where we have liberty, as Christians, to allow our conscience to lead us. However, he also said in Galatians 5:13Do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Just doing something wrong and saying “Well, my conscience and my Christian liberty tell me this is not a sin” is not an excuse to live a sinful lifestyle.

That said, once we know something is wrong, we need to ‘fess up. We need to wash our feet daily, as the priests were to wash their feet before they took the blood into the sanctuary. And once we learn that we have sinned, there must be mourning and confession over that sin. The offering for that sin—it’s already been done in Christ. We’ll finish with an example of the realization of sin, and the heart that realizes and an offering for atonement must be made. Consider the example of Ezra, after the people came back from the Babylonian captivity, after Nehemiah led the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. We read in Ezra about how the temple was rebuilt and all the articles of the temple were restored. And all the people were ready to once again worship God. But there was one problem. Ezra 9:1-21 When these things were done, the leaders came to me, saying, "The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 2 For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass."

Remember, these people had been in captivity, and had probably not had the ability to read or hear the Law in its fullness. So the commands against marrying foreigners was, more than likely, lost on these people. They had sinned in ignorance. Now, the common response today would be, “Well, what’s done is done. Can't do anything about it now; let’s just get on with our lives.” But look at Ezra’s response. Ezra 9:3-53 So when I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished. 4 Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel assembled to me, because of the transgression of those who had been carried away captive, and I sat astonished until the evening sacrifice. 5 At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God. The people had sinned in ignorance, and now the sin which they have committed becomes known, so what are they to do? Do they just put it behind them and try to do better next time? Do they say, “Well, now, we would mess up all these lives if we did anything about it now. We’re sure God would understand!” No.

Let’s skip ahead to Ezra 10:2-3, 16-192 And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, "We have trespassed against our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this. 3 Now therefore, let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and those who have been born to them, according to the advice of my master and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law"…16 And Ezra the priest, with certain heads of the fathers' households, were set apart by the fathers' households, each of them by name; and they sat down on the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter. 17 By the first day of the first month they finished questioning all the men who had taken pagan wives. 18 And among the sons of the priests who had taken pagan wives the following were found of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brothers: Maaseiah, Eliezer, Jarib, and Gedaliah. 19 And they gave their promise that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they presented a ram of the flock as their trespass offering. The people had sinned by taking foreign wives—a sin committed in ignorance of God’s Law. They realized their sin, and as hard as it may have been for them, they had to do that which glorified God the most, and must put away these foreign wives, and separate themselves from their (little-g) gods. That is one cost of being one of God’s people. You must separate yourself from sin. Paul says we are to put to death our body of sin (Colossians 3:5). There are some, however, who say that teaching like that makes one a “closet Catholic®” and that we are teaching “legalism” and “salvation by works.” No we’re not. We’re simply teaching the Bible.

Jesus even said in Matthew 10:37-39“37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” That’s harsh! If you don’t love Christ more than you love even your closest blood relatives—even your mother and father—then you have no part in Christ! He also said, Luke 9:62"No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." And He gave us this simple warning, Luke 17:32“Remember Lot’s wife.” The apostle Paul also gives list after list of those things which God calls sin, and which we are to avoid lest we risk our very soul. 1st Corinthians 6:9-109 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-2119 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Those who do not turn away from doing such things willfully, as a pattern of life, will be shut outside the kingdom of God, and will have no other sacrifice for those sins. They will stand before God, be judged based on those works of the flesh, and be cast into the Lake of Fire.

Now, the following section we have already studied, when we were surveying the Ten Commandments. This section deals with theft, but there is one aspect we did not talk about, so here is the text and a final commentary. Leviticus 6:1-71 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “2 If a person sins and commits a trespass against the LORD by lying to his neighbor about what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or about a pledge, or about a robbery, or if he has extorted from his neighbor, 3 or if he has found what was lost and lies concerning it, and swears falsely—in any one of these things that a man may do in which he sins: 4 then it shall be, because he has sinned and is guilty, that he shall restore what he has stolen, or the thing which he has extorted, or what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or the lost thing which he found, 5 or all that about which he has sworn falsely. He shall restore its full value, add one-fifth more to it, and give it to whomever it belongs, on the day of his trespass offering. 6 And he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD, a ram without blemish from the flock, with your valuation, as a trespass offering, to the priest. 7 So the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD, and he shall be forgiven for any one of these things that he may have done in which he trespasses.” Not only do you have to bring a Trespass Offering (אָשָׁם (asham)), but the priest set a value of what you stole. Once he establishes that valuation, you had to bring that amount, plus another 20%. So let’s say you know who stole one of Yitzhak’s goats. Or you found one of Yitzhak’s goats and kept it for yourself. Or you blackmailed Yitzhak into giving you one of his goats. Once you are found out the priest hears the matter, determines that the goat is worth 10 shekels of silver according to the shekel of the sanctuary. You come to the tabernacle with 12 shekels of silver according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the 10 shekels the goat was worth, plus the 1/5 added to it), along with a Trespass Offering (אָשָׁם (asham)). You confess your sin, and then and only then can the priest make atonement for you. Why these rules? Why these commands? Why these specifications? Because we humans need them. Because we humans are always trying to find loopholes. “Well, it’s not like I snuck into Yitzhak’s goat pen and stole it!” Yes it is.

Jesus Christ is Lord.

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