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The Offerings (15)

J Paton


Now I would like to deal with these offerings in a little more detail to increase the interest of those exercised to glean more for themselves from these most interesting types. It is valuable to see that the Scriptures, though diversified in matter and in writers, become one amazing whole, although recording things separated by generations. It is this that makes the Bible a book apart and above even all the books that have been written about it. The Bible is truly God breathed, every word as it left the Spirit controlled penmen is perfect and accurate so there is no need for any adjustments or additions. The difficulty of translating it into English, however, makes a good concordance necessary in order to get the original sense of the words in their amazing accuracy.

Why the differences in the offerings?

The first question that arises in our minds is, "Why such a vast difference in the offerings that various persons brought to the Lord?". With regard to the sin offering there are instructions for the priest, who had to bring a young bullock, a male without blemish (4.3); for the whole congregation, a young bullock, a male (4.14); for the ruler, a kid of the goats, a male, without blemish (4.23);for one of the common people; a kid of the goats, or a lamb, a female without blemish (4.28,32).

In the case of a poor soul that sinned in trespass the instruction was: "And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the Lord; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering" (5.7). Furthermore, "But if he be not able to bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, then he that sinned shall bring for this offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering" (5.11). Thus, for the common people there was an allowance to bring two turtle doves or two young pigeons, but if there was not the ability to bring even these there could be brought the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour.

Two lessons

Consider two lessons from these facts. First, it is a serious thing for anyone to sin, but it is more serious for some than for others. The priest had greater knowledge of the Law than others and was therefore more responsible. As regards the whole congregation there should have been more safety in numbers: "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety" (Prov 11.14). We should always remember that the sin of a mature Christian is more serious than the same sin committed by a babe in Christ.

Second, the priest and the whole congregation would have a deeper consciousness of sin than the common people would have. We cannot make the different things brought to be different values of the offerings, it must speak of varied apprehensions on the part of the offerer.

The male and female offering

The male offering usually speaks of having a fuller apprehension of the sufficiency of the sacrifice, the objective side of truth. The female offering is more to do with the subjective side of truth. The male represents the fullness of the sacrifice. The female represents more of what was their portion in the sacrifice.

Another reason for the variety of the sacrifices could be that the priest and the whole congregation, with their deeper knowledge of the Law, would have a clearer knowledge and a deeper understanding, of the repentance required for the wrong committed.

Before turning from this, note that those not able to bring a goat or even two young pigeons, could bring a tenth of an ephah of fine flour. How merciful and gracious is our God. He does not take us by the throat and demand that which we cannot bring, but if there be genuine repentance, though it be but slight, He will run to meet the penitent prodigal and frankly forgive, and freely love, and fully restore to communion with Himself.

Why the difference in the application of the blood in some cases?

Another question that arises is, "How was the blood of the priests’ offering, either for themselves or as representing the whole congregation, applied to more places than that of the ruler or the common people?". The simple answer is that the priests’ activities covered a much wider sphere, and all that had been defiled had to be purged by the blood of the sacrifice. This was necessary so that all could be restored again, before the Veil, the result being that access into the Holy Place might be regained on the altar which is before the Lord, that an appreciation of the sweet fragrance of Christ might be recovered, so that full acceptance and communion be enjoyed and the priest be able to carry out unhindered his service before the Lord.

In the case of the ruler or one of the common people, the blood had only to do with the altar of burnt offering. It was there that their activities stopped. Two things are said to be done with the blood. It had to be put on the horns of the altar (4.25) and it had to be poured out at the bottom of the altar.

It was to the horns of the altar that Joab (1 Kings 2.28) and Adonijah (1 Kings 1.50) flew for protection. It seems to be the place where judgment was stayed and mercy was shown. It is interesting, however, to note that the persons who were spared in David’s reign of grace, are put to death in Solomon’s reign of glory. Grace can tolerate wrong but glory must have everything in harmony with itself and therefore execute judgment. Blood poured out at the bottom of the altar in all cases tells us that the precious blood is the foundation, the basis for all recovery and blessing. Without the blood there can be no remission of sins, no acceptance enjoyed, no fellowship restored.

Distinctions between the sin and trespass offerings

The trespass offering and the sin offering have already been noted but there is a little more. In the trespass offering I see an end made of my sin. In the sin offering I see an end made of myself.

God could not improve or refine the man after the flesh. He had to make an end of me and give me a new beginning, make me a new creature in Christ Jesus. In my baptism I profess the same truth, that I am dead, buried, and raised to walk in newness of life. Henceforth it is "No" to self, with a determination not to yield our members to be instruments of unrighteousness, but rather to yield our members to be instruments of righteousness, and to glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits which are His.

Already alluded to are the various sacrifices allowed. Let me add another amazing lesson. I never cease to marvel that the God of inflexible holiness can be so gracious and kind in making provision for our weakness and poverty so that we can find relief from the burden of our guilt (5.11). He will not take less than we can afford, but He will not demand more than we are able to give in the fruit of genuine repentance. God will graciously accept our offering and see in it not only our feebleness, but also Christ’s fullness to meet our need to His satisfaction.

Every sin and trespass is against God, although others may also be affected. If Joseph had submitted to the evil suggestion of Potiphar’s wife, he would have done a grievous injustice to Potiphar, but Joseph knew that sin was more serious than that, so he said, "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Gen 39.9). David had not a more faithful servant than Uriah, and yet David did the meanest and most contemptible thing one man could have done to another man (2 Sam 11). He could have said, truthfully, "Against Uriah have I sinned", but no; in deep contrition of heart in the presence of the Lord in Psalm 32, he said, "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah" (Ps 32.5). Again he cried, "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight" (Ps 51.4). In Luke 15 the prodigal son had doubtless disgraced his father’s name, and broken his father’s heart, but when he returns he said first, "I have sinned against heaven…" and only then does he say, "…and in thy sight" (Lk 15.21).

To be continued.


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