Rites Essential to an Atonement
Leviticus 4:3-12
If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he has sinned…

Who could stand in the tabernacle court without having imprinted on his mind the view God takes of the guilt of sin, and the necessity for the sinner's deliverance from its results? The victims brought for sacrifice, the priests devoted to the sacrificial work, the altars of burnt offering and incense, the vail that separated the holy from the holiest place - all these were eminently calculated to deepen the Israelites' conviction of the holiness of the Almighty, and the awfulness of violating his injunctions. Neglecting the distinctions enumerated in this chapter according to the rank occupied by the transgressor, let us take a general survey of the conditions enforced in a proper offering for sin.

I. THE DEATH OF AN APPOINTED VICTIM. The hand of the offerer is placed on the animal's head, and the animal's life is surrendered to the will of God. "Without shedding of blood is no remission." This tragic spectacle attests forcibly the rigour of God's requirements. Christ died as our representative, so that in him we all died (2 Corinthians 5), and those who rejoice in the thought of his salvation place their hands by faith upon him, believing that he was "made a curse" for them. Holiness demands an unblemished victim in each case. Hence the impossibility of man becoming his own atonement. Sin cannot expiate sin.

II. THE SPRINKLING OF THE BLOOD BY THE HIGH PRIEST UPON THE HORNS OF the ALTAR. "The blood is the life," and is in this manner brought into the immediate presence of God, symbolized by the altar of burnt offering in the court or incense in the sanctuary. The horns represent the might of the altar, so that to smear them with blood was to carry the offering to the place where the acceptance by God of offerings or praise culminated. Sin dishonours God, and therefore the significance of the offering for sin depends chiefly upon its presentation where God was pleased to vouchsafe his favour to man. Where sin was most dishonouring, as in the event of transgression by the anointed priest, the blood had to be sprinkled before the vail that covered the Shechinah. By his death Christ entered into heaven, presenting his own precious blood to the Father, and now makes intercession as the appointed Mediator.

III. THE POURING OUT OF THE BLOOD AT THE FOOT OF THE ALTAR OF BURNT OFFERING. It is said that, at the building of the temple, conduits were constructed to drain the blood into the valley of Kedron; in the wilderness it sufficed to lot it flow into the earth. The life of the animal was thus completely surrendered to God. Jesus gave himself up to do the will of God. His self-sacrifice is the basis of ours. We must live, not to ourselves, but to him. He considered not his time, words, works, as his own, and we must regard ourselves as devoted to the Father.

IV. THE BURNING OF THE FAT. Thus God would be glorified by the choicest portions, analogous to the ceremony enacted in connection with peace offerings. This resemblance seems designed to teach:

1. That by this sin offering agreement was re-established between God and man.

2. And that God's portion of the victim might be treated in the usual way, the transgression not being on God's side, but on that of man, who therefore is not permitted, as in the peace offering, to eat his part in the enjoyment of a feast. There is thus:

3. A reminder that but for sin man too might have shared in the sacrificial meal with God, but transgression had interrupted the communion, and deprived him of his former privilege. By the obedience unto death of Jesus Christ, God was glorified, and Christ became the "propitiation for our sins."

V. THE CONSUMPTION OF THE CARCASE BY FIRE OUTSIDE THE CAMP. No part of the animal was food for man, but the remainder was to be carried to a clean place, and there burnt. Every detail of the ceremony speaks of God's hatred of sin, and the blessings which man thereby loses, and the need for entire devotion of the victim that is to atone for sin. Nothing must be left, lest it should defile. The Epistle to the Hebrews alludes to the fact that Christ suffered without the gates of the holy city; to such a death of shame was he exposed in order to bear our sins.

CONCLUSION. Beware of transgression! Behold the sternness of God in dealing with it. Admire his grace in furnishing an expiation, and with grateful love avail yourselves of the sacrifice of the Saviour. - S.R.A.

Parallel Verses
KJV: If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin offering.

WEB: if the anointed priest sins so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer for his sin, which he has sinned, a young bull without blemish to Yahweh for a sin offering.

Gradations in Guilt
Top of Page
Top of Page