The Erring and the Simple
Ezekiel 45:20
And so you shall do the seventh day of the month for every one that errs, and for him that is simple: so shall you reconcile the house.

The sacrifices under the Law of Moses were not intended for presumptuous, high-handed sins of the worst kind (see Numbers 15:30; Deuteronomy 17:12). They were designed for the less grave offences, more especially for transgressions of the ceremonial law. Here we have an injunction requiring a general, and not individual, offering to be rendered on behalf of those who had been inadvertently led into error, or who, by reason of mental simplicity, had failed to recognize their duty, and had therefore left it undone. It was valuable as recognizing the responsibility of the nation for those of its members who were less well able to take care of themselves, and it suggests to us our Christian duty to seek, for their sake as much as for our own, to guide or to restore them.

I. THE PRESENCE OF THE SIMPLE. We not only come into this world very variously endowed, some having inclinations and faculties of which others are not conscious at all, but our minds are of very different gradations in general capacity. Between that of the man just above imbecility and that of the greatest poet, or statesman, or organizer, how immeasurable the distance! There is quite a considerable company of the imbecile; these have been, in some countries, singularly regarded as in close connection with the supernal powers, and treated with peculiar regard on that account. Otherwise and elsewhere they are usually the objects of a good-natured tolerance. But above these and below the men and women of average intelligence are "the simple" - those who can acquire but very little learning, study how they may; who soon lose their way in reasoning, and are easily worsted in dispute; who cannot look far ahead, and may be readily taken advantage of by the unscrupulous; who cannot discern dangers ahead, and are specially open to the attacks of the enemy.

II. THE PRESENCE OF THE ERRING. It is, no doubt, "the simple" who become "the erring," whose error is due to their simplicity. But it is not all the simple who err, nor are all the erring to be found among the simple. There are those who leave the strait path without that excuse - men and women who are possessed of the ordinary intelligence and have received a very fair measure of instruction and Christian influence, who are found in paths of folly. Some temptation has proved too strong for them. And if they are not among the flagrantly immoral, yet is there, in their case, a deviation from the straight line of truthfulness, or of purity, or of sobriety, or of reverence, or of the becoming and the consistent - a deviation which detracts seriously from the worth and beauty of their character, and which makes their best friends concerned or even alarmed about them.


1. To guide and guard. Those on whom God has conferred greater power, and who can consequently see more clearly where evil lies and where danger begins, should esteem it their most sacred and bounden duty to befriend, to preserve, to save, those who are feebler and more exposed. We have our powers, no doubt, that we may take care of ourselves, that we may secure and enrich ourselves. But this is only one part, and it is quite a small part, of our duty and of our opportunity. We live to love and bless. God has made us what we are and given us what we have, for the express purpose that we may serve those who are around us, and more particularly those who are nearly related to us, by defending them when they are assailed, by timely warning against attack, by arming them for the evil hour, by encouraging them m the midst of the battle when they are distressed, by enabling them to make the most of the resources which they possess. By wise direction and strengthening companionship many a simple soldier has been enabled, on moral as well as material fields, to fight a brave and faithful battle, and to win the victory and the crown.

2. To restore. "Ye who are spiritual restore such a one" (Galatians 6:1). Here is not only a sacred duty, but a very high privilege. To win a fortune, to establish "a house" or a family, to build up a great reputation, to rise to conspicuous eminence, - this is laudable, honorable, attractive enough, or at least it may be so. But there are things which are higher and better than these. And of these nobler things there are few that rank higher in the estimate of Christ or will give our own hearts deeper satisfaction in the calmer and truer moments of our life than the act of restoration. To lead our erring brother or sister back again from the highway or the byway of evil into the road of rectitude, into the path of life, - this is emphatically and pre-eminently the Christian thing to do; it is to reduce to action the Divine instruction, "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you." - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And so thou shalt do the seventh day of the month for every one that erreth, and for him that is simple: so shall ye reconcile the house.

WEB: So you shall do on the seventh [day] of the month for everyone who errs, and for him who is simple: so you shall make atonement for the house.

Provision for the Erring and Simple
Top of Page
Top of Page