03(Lev 04) When I See the Blood, Too
We come to the fourth of these offerings this morning, the sin offering.
The question is: Why does man fear and avoid God?
I do not think that I need to produce much evidence to convince you that it is a fact that everywhere man avoids the person -- and even the thought -- of God. Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to interject into a conversation any reference to God?
Many scientists will do almost anything to avoid having to say that God did something in the natural world. Isn't that strange?
Why is this? Well, the answer is that men suffer from a terrible sense of guilt.
You remember that, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve at first were walking in full fellowship with God. There was no fear in their hearts toward God. The first sign of the effect of that disobedience was that they hid from God when he came to walk in the garden. And man has been hiding from God ever since because he has a deep sense of guilt in his life. Guilt always alienates.
In the sin offering we are coming to the way God deals with that problem.
I. It provided for both public and private sin. (4:1-3; 13-14; 22-23; 27-28)
The first distinctive of the sin offering is that it provided for both public and private sin. There were offerings available for those who had sinned as a group, and those who had sinned as individuals. You find this clearly delineated in this chapter. When it was offered for the sin of a group, or a public individual representing a group, then the offering always had to be a male. When it was an individual sin, the animal was a female.
So once again the distinction is made between the male, as the symbol of the ruler or the dominant one, or the whole group together -- and the female, as the symbol of the the individual acting on his own, who is therefore in a relationship of support.
There were also provisions made in the sin offering for people who could not afford large animals like the bull or a goat or lamb. (Leviticus 5:7, 11).
So even the very poorest had a way out of the guilt of their lives.
II. It for sin committed without knowing it.
This is the paramount distinction of this sin offering. It is dealing not with acts of deliberate evil, which all of us commit from time to time, but with the nature which prompts those acts, and which always takes us by surprise.
Most of us, if we were asked our private opinion, would have to say that we are pretty nice people. Most of us have a fairly good opinion of ourselves.
But every now and then something happens which surprises us, and we act in a way we didn't expect. We come to realize that there is evil in us deeper than we had realized.
Now that is what this offering is talking about -- that kind of evil, embedded in us, part of our nature, which takes us by surprise because we may fancy that we had gotten rid of it, or did not even possess it. Many people are troubled by the doctrine of original sin. They laugh at it, ridicule it, because they don't understand that this is what it is talking about -- the terrible capacity within us to act suddenly in a way which we never realized was possible, the fact that given the right circumstances some evil in us will come welling up and take us all by surprise. It is there. No matter how much we might wish to talk ourselves out of it, it is there!
III. It took special notice of the blood. (4:4-7; 15-18; 25; 30)
The third element of distinction about the sin offering is most remarkable. It concerns what was done with the blood.
Remember that, in the previous offerings, just as in the sin offering, blood had to be shed, a death had to occur, but all the blood of the animal was poured out at the foot of the altar. But something unusual was always done with the blood of the sin offering.
What a strange requirement! The blood of the sin offering had to be sprinkled seven times before the LORD and, in the case of the offering for the anointed priest, had to be put on the horns of the altar of incense which stood in the holy place right in front of the veil which guarded the holy of holies, i.e., right before the presence of the LORD. Now the same thing was required if the whole congregation sinned, as specified in Verses 15-18. But in the cases of the offerings for a ruler or for an individual the blood was put on the horns of an altar, but in these instances on the altar of the burnt offering, which was in the outer court. (Read verse 25).
The same in Verse 4:30:
So there was a difference in the requirement, depending upon whoever had sinned. If it was an anointed priest, or if it was the whole congregation, the blood actually had to be put on the altar right in the very presence of God. But if it was a ruler or an individual it was put on the altar a bit further removed -- in the outer court where the offerings were usually burned.
What is the significance of this? Well, it is obvious that a special emphasis is being placed upon the blood. It is to be put in a visible place that is obviously connected with God. It is to be recognized openly as being on the horns of the altar before the LORD.
And the individual for whom the offering is being made is to be able to see the blood. That is the point. In other words, there is to be an understanding on the part of the one who sinned that this blood has now covered his sin, and before God it is forgiven. And when he understands that, then his own conscience can be at rest.
This is very important! As a pastor I find many people coming to me who have never seen that God accepts the death of Jesus fully on their behalf. They are always troubling themselves about some terrible degree of sin they have committed, and which they think God, for some reason, is not able to forgive.
They do not see the blood on the horns of the altar. They have not seen clearly that it has been put there. As a result, they torture themselves with guilt. But God is trying to make very clear that there is a way to be free of guilt. And once the blood is there on the altar, it provides an absolute way out. There is no guilt left! "He shall be forgiven," the Scripture says -- not only of the sinful acts (that is what the trespass offering is for) but of the guilt of his very nature.
(Read Rom 7:20). That is what this offering is teaching. It teaches us that this is the only way that man ever has of being free from his nagging, hidden, inward sense of guilt which alienates him from God.
Men are always trying to find their own ways to be free of guilt. Most are trying simply to avoid the whole subject. They don't want to think of their guilt. But you remember how David said he felt when he tried that. These are his words from Psalm 32:3-4.
This is what unacknowledged guilt will do. It will dry up your life, will reduce it to a shallow level of living in which you have to be caught up in some diversion in order not to think about your relationship with God. And forgetting will never work either.
There is one final distinctive about the sin offering. It is in the way the fat and the meat of the offering were handled. Verses 8-10:
All the inward organs and their fat were to be offered to God, just as in the peace offerings. But now listen to the rest: (11-12)
The entire rest of the bull was to be taken clear outside the camp, not to the altar of the burnt offering but clear outside the camp, where it was to be burned. You find this again in Verses 20-21:
So here is another strange requirement. No one was to eat of this offering. In fact when the blood was offered in the holy place then the bull or other offering had to be taken and burned outside the camp. What is the meaning of that?
Here again we have one of those remarkable symbols that capture life exactly the way it is. For what this requirement is saying to us is that all our inner life as believers in Jesus Christ, is acceptable to God.
But there is still something wrong with the outer life -- the body. It is still unredeemed. It is still subject to sin. It is still to be rejected. That is why in the New Testament we are told that the body is still the seat of the flesh, and therefore it must die.
Experience confirms this. Christians die just as do non-Christians. Our bodies are yet unredeemed. They are not resurrected. If this were not true, then the moment a person became a Christian not only would his spirit be made alive and his soul saved, but his body would also be transformed, glorified. But, you see, our bodies are still in that unrestored state along with the rest of the world. That is why we have to go outside the camp.
Read Hebrews 13:10-14.
In other words, though our inner life, our thought life, our inner nature, is now changed and acceptable to God, nevertheless we are still in the world. We still have to live under its reproach, under its rejection, just as Jesus did. We are to bear that reproach with him, recognizing that there is still a part of our life which has not been changed yet. But that is why we look forward to the resurrection as the completion of God's work for us.
How beautifully all this is described in the sin offering. And there outside the camp we are to take the place which Jesus took, that of humility and rejection before the world. This is a blow to our pride. We don't like it there. But our Lord is there. So the exhortation comes to us that we are to go outside the camp.
The great truth of the sin offering is that God has dealt with our nature of evil. We are no longer linked to it. We are no longer what we once were. Therefore, as persons in Jesus Christ, we stand basically and fundamentally accepted before God, absolutely favored in his sight.