And if one of the common people sins unintentionally and does what is prohibited by any of the LORD's commandments, he incurs guilt.
Sins of the common people.
I. We are taught to DEAL WITH THEM PITIFULLY, with consideration of circumstances, with remembrance of their comparative lesser guilt. Mere denunciations, unqualified condemnation, injurious. We should teach people the Law that they may see the sinfulness of sin, but in the spirit of love, lest they be blinded and hardened by a bewildering confusion of conscience and despondency. The traditional condemnation attached to those sins to which the masses are especially tempted might mislead, if not modified by the respect to antecedents.
II. We must hold fast to the Scripture representation - ALL SIN IS GUILT. The attempt to uplift the lower classes, without the power of atonement, by means of mere moral or intellectual appliances or social influences, must be a failure in the long run. Those who make it injure themselves, Nothing delivers them from sin but the power of Christ. Nor will it avail to imitate the folly which "makes light of sin." Cf. the Saviour's instructions in Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7). While we avoid censoriousness and uncharitable judgment, we must cultivate a wise caution, lest we cast our pearls before swine. The Spirit of Christ is our only guide and strength.
III. The prescriptions of the Law varied according to the opportunity of the offender. We must SMOOTH THE WAY FOR RETURN TO GOD. By adapting the commandments to the capacity and opportunity of men. By teaching them the spirituality of the gospel method, which lays the chief stress on motive and affection, not on mere external value in the gift. By sympathy and cooperation helping them to find the way, holding them up in it for a time, surrounding them with cheerful companionship and encouraging words.
IV. The common people being thus marked out, reminds us that there is a special urgency upon the Christian Church in THE MISSION OF THE GOSPEL TO THOSE THAT ARE AFAR OFF. We are apt to think it enough to care for those in and about the temple. The common people heard Jesus gladly. To the poor his gospel is especially preached. If all the sacrifices typify the Great Sacrifice of Calvary, and the sin offering more particularly, the adaptation or' the doctrine of Christ to the masses is thus set forth; we must present the sin offering, if we would redeem society from its teeming miseries.
If any one of the common people sin through ignorance.I. THE PERSON: a common person.
1. If a common person sin his sins will ruin him; he may not be able to do so much mischief by his sin as the ruler or a public officer, but his sin has all the essence of evil in it, and God will reckon with him for it. No matter how obscurely you may live, however poor and unlettered you may be, your sin will ruin you if not pardoned and put away. If one of the common people sin through ignorance, his sin is a damning sin, he must have it put away, or it will put him away for ever from the face of God.
2. A common person's sin can only he removed by an atonement of blood. In this case you see the victim was not a bullock, it was a female of the goats or of the sheep, but still it had to be an offering of blood, for without shedding of blood there is no remission. However commonplace your offences may have been, however insignificant you may be yourself, nothing will cleanse you but the blood of Jesus Christ.
3. But here is the point of joy, that for the common people there was an atonement ordained of God. Glory be to God, I may be unknown to men, but I am not unthought of by Him.
4. Observe with thankfulness that the sacrifice appointed for the common people was as much accepted as that appointed for the ruler. Of the ruler it is said, "the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him." The same thing is said of the common person. Christ is as much accepted for the poorest of His people as for the richest of them.
II. THE SACRIFICE: "a kid of the goats, a female without blemish."
1. Observe that there is a discrepancy between the type and the reality, for first the sin-offering under the law was only for sins of ignorance. But we have a far better sacrifice for sin than that, for have we not read, "The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin," not from sins of ignorance only, but from all sin.
2. Note another discrepancy, that the sinner of the common people in this case had to bring his sacrifice — "he shall bring his offering." But our sin-offering has been provided for us.
3. Now let us notice that in the type the victim chosen for a sin-offering was unblemished; whether it was a goat or a sheep, it must be unblemished. How could Christ make an atonement for sins if He had had sins of His own?
4. But, the main point about the sacrifice was, it was slain as a substitute. There is nothing said about its being taken outside the camp — I do not think it was in this case: all that the offerer knew was, it was slain as a substitute. And everything that is essential to know in order to be saved is to know that you are a sinner and that Christ is your Substitute.
III. THE AFTER CEREMONIES.
1. In the case of one of the common people after the victim was slain, the blood was taken to the brazen altar, and the four horns of it were smeared, to show that the power of fellowship with God lies in the blood of substitution. There is no fellowship with God except through the blood, there is no acceptance with God for any one of us except through Him who suffered in our stead.
2. But then the blood was thrown at the feet of this same brazen altar, as if to show that the atonement is the foundation as well as the power of fellowship. We get nearest to God when we feel most the power of the blood, ay, and we could not come to God at all except it were through that encrimsoned way.
3. After this, a part of the offering was put upon the altar, and it is said concerning it, what is not said in any other of the cases, "the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour to the Lord." This common person had, in most respects, a dim view of Christ, compared with the others, but yet there were some points in which he had more light than others, for it does not say of the priest that what he offered was a sweet savour; but, for the comfort of this common person, that he might go his way having sweet consolation in his soul, he is told that the sin-offering he has brought is a sweet savour unto God. And oh, what a joy it is to think not only has Christ put away my sin if I believe in Him; but now for me He is a sweet savour to God, and I am for His sake accepted, for His sake beloved, for His sake delighted in, for His sake precious unto God.
IV. I have purposely omitted AN ESSENTIAL ACT in the sacrifice, in order to enlarge upon it now. Observe that in all four cases there was one thing which was never left out, "He shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin-offering."
1. That act signified confession. "Here I stand as a sinner, and confess that I deserve to die. This goat which is now to be slain represents in its sufferings what I deserve of God." Oh, sinner! confess your sin now unto your great God, acknowledge that He would be just if He condemned you. Confession of sin is a part of the meaning of laying on of the hand.
2. The next thing meant by it was acceptance. "I accept this goat as standing for me. I agree that this victim shall stand instead of me." That is what faith does with Christ, it pats its hand upon the ever blessed Son of God, and says, "He stands for me, I take Him as my Substitute."
3. The next meaning of it was transference. "I transfer, according to God's ordinance, all my sin which I here confess, from myself to this victim." By that act the transference was made. God did lay sin in bulk upon Christ when He-laid upon Him the iniquity of us all, but by an act of faith every individual in another sense lays his sins on Jesus, and it is absolutely needful that each man should do so, if he would participate in the substitution.
4. This was a personal act. Nobody could lay his hand upon the bullock, or upon the goat, for another; each one had to put his own hand there. A godly mother could not say, "My graceless boy will not lay his hand upon the victim, but I will put my hand there for him." It could not be. He who laid his hand there had the blessing, but no one else, and had the godliest saint with holy but mistaken zeal said, "Rebellious man, wilt thou not put thy hand there, I will act as sponsor for thee," it had been of no avail; the offender must personally come. And so must you have a personal faith in Christ for yourself. The word is sometimes interpreted "to lean," and some give it the meaning of leaning hard. What a blessed view of faith that gives us!
V. THE ASSURED BLESSING: ''And it shall be forgiven him" (ver. 31). Was not that plain speaking? There were no "ifs," no "buts," no "peradventures"; but "it shall be forgiven aim." Now, in those days it was only one sin, the sin confessed, that was forgiven, but now "all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men." In those days the forgiveness did not give the conscience abiding peace, for the offerer had to come with another sacrifice by and by; but now the blood of Christ blots out all the sins of believers at once and for ever, so that there is no need to bring a new sacrifice, or to come a second time with the blood of atonement in our hands. The sacrifice of the Jew had no intrinsic value. How could the blood of bulls and goats take away sin? It could only be useful as a type of the true sacrifice, the sin-offering of Christ. But in our Lord Jesus there is real efficacy, there is true atonement, there is real cleansing, and whosoever believeth in Him shall find actual pardon and complete forgiveness at this very moment.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. THE INTENT OF THE SYMBOL.
1. It was a confession of sin: else no need of a sin-offering. To this was added a confession of the desert of punishment, or why should the victim be slain? There was also an abandonment of all other methods of removing sin.
2. It was a consent to the plan of substitution. If God is content with this method of salvation, surely we may be. Substitution exceedingly honours the law, and vindicates justice. No other plan meets the case, or even looks fairly at it
3. It was an acceptance of the victim. Jesus is the most natural substitute, for He is the Second Adam, the second head of the race; the true ideal man. He is the only Person able to offer satisfaction, having a perfect humanity united with His Godhead. He alone is acceptable to God; He may well be acceptable to us.
4. It was a believing transference of sin. By laying on of hands sin was typically laid on the victim. It was laid there so as to be no longer on the offerer.
5. It was a dependence-leaning on the victim. Is there not a most sure stay in Jesus for the leaning heart? Consider the nature of the suffering and death by which the atonement was made, and you will rest in it. Consider the dignity and worth of the sacrifice by whom the death was endured. The glory of Christ's person enhances the value of His atonement (Hebrews 10:5-10).
II. THE SIMPLICITY OF THE SYMBOL.
1. There were no antecedent rites. The victim was there, and hands were laid on it: nothing more. We add neither preface nor appendix to Christ: He is Alpha and Omega.
2. The offerer came in all his sin. "Just as I am." It was to have his sin removed that the offerer brought the sacrifice: not because he had himself removed it
3. There was nothing in his hand of merit or price.
4. There was nothing on his hand. No gold ring to indicate wealth; no signet of power; no jewel of rank. The offerer came as a man, and not as learned, rich, or honourable.
5. He performed no cunning legerdemain with his hand. By leaning upon it he took the victim to be his representative; but he placed no reliance upon ceremonial performances.
6. Nothing was done to his hand. His ground of trust was the sacrifice, not his hands. He desired his hand to be clean, but upon that fact he did not rest for pardon.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.).
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