Leviticus 5:14

I. To WITHHOLD FROM GOD HIS DUES IS SINFUL. The rigour of Leviticus may well sharpen that perception of sin which is so apt to become dim. God is wealthy, and yet will not submit tamely to robbery. Minute instructions were given concerning the offering of tithes, etc., for the use of his servants at the tabernacle, and for his glory; and to omit such offerings and to employ them in profane uses is here counted as acting covertly, as faithless dealing. For it was a condition of the covenant that the people should purchase their exemption from entire devotedness, by recognizing that it was incumbent on them to support those engaged wholly in God's service; and to neglect this condition was, in truth, a breach of trust. It is not less needful today that Christians should contribute of their substance to the carrying on of the work of the Church. Nor is it less important to call attention to the trespass committed by failing to present to God the emotion he claims. Many imagine that they are comparatively faultless if they abstain from open notorious wickedness, and they overlook their fatal omissions in the matter of religious service, affection, and faith. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart," etc. "Trust ye in the Lord for ever." Not to confess Christ is considered as denying him. Besides, it is in the passage before us assumed that the property which ought to have been devoted to the Lord has been consumed for personal enjoyment. And similarly, we may argue that the love and time and strength not used as required for God, are lavished upon other objects, and a wrong is done to our Father in heaven.

II. TO COMMIT A TRESPASS UNINTENTIONALLY DOES NOT PREVENT THE NECESSITY OF AN ATONEMENT. This is a lesson frequently enforced in the Law. "Though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity" (verse 17). Evidences of the same Divine Law are visible in the consequences that follow mistakes in life, where accidental errors, wrong judgments, hasty steps, are productive of as injurious effects as if the word or action had been planned with utmost deliberation, and its result foreseen. Any other arrangement might augment men's carelessness, and prove in the end more harmful than the apparently inequitable law. We are taught the infinite importance that attaches to our actions, linked on as they are with a chain of invariable results. To sin is to run counter to widespreading principles; it is not a little matter that may be contemned; it makes a breach in the fortress of right and justice, and this breach must be repaired ere the offender can be regarded as on the side of the eternal verities. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." If not the transgressor, then an unblemished ram must be slaughtered as his substitute, that blood may cleanse the stain, and cover the transgressor from wrath. How easy is the way made under the gospel, whereby, after the sin offering of Christ, all our sins are forgiven us for his name's sake!

III. ACQUAINTANCE WITH THE WRONG DONE MUST BE FOLLOWED BY AN ENDEAVOUR To AMEND IT. The high priest is to value the "harm," and a fifth being added to the amount, the priest receives it as compensation. The offender has gained nothing by his sin. Sin never profits in the end. The restitution is thorough. We may reasonably distrust the sincerity of a repentance that is unaccompanied by reformation. When conscience money is brought, then the confession and desire of the offender to undo the evil wrought, as far as possible, are patent. The atonement and the restitution together procure the forgiveness of the supplicant. What avails it that men have learnt their "trespass," unless it lead to amendment? Knowledge is designed to be the forerunner of action. Like electricity, it furnishes light and moving power. - S.R.A.

If a soul commit a trespass.

1. It was not a "sweet savour" offering. Christ is here seen suffering for sins; the view of His work is expiatory.

2. It was a trespass as distinct from a sin-offering. Not the person, but the act of wrong-doing, is the point noticed and dwelt upon. And how solemn is the truth here taught us, that neither our conscience, nor our measure of light, nor our ability, but the truth of God, is the standard by which both sin and trespass are to be measured. "Though he wist it not, yet is he guilty; he hath certainly trespassed against the Lord." If man's conscience or man's light were the standard, each man might have a different rule. And, at this rate, right or wrong, good or evil, would depend, not upon God's truth, but on the creature's apprehension of it. At this rate, the filthiest of unclean beasts could not be convicted of uncleanness, while it could plead that it had no apprehension of that which was pure and seemly. But we do not judge thus in the things of this world; neither does God judge so in the things of heaven. Who argues that because swine are filthy, therefore the standard of cleanliness is to be set by their perceptions or ability; or that because they seem unconscious of their state, therefore the distinction between what is clean and unclean must be relinquished. No: we judge not by their perceptions, but our own; with our light and knowledge, not their ignorance, as our standard.

3. In the trespass-offering we get restitution, furl restitution for the original wrong. The amount of the injury, according to the priest's valuation of it, is paid in shekels of the sanctuary to the injured person. The thought here is not that trespass is punished, but that the injured party is repaid the wrong. The payment was in shekels: these "shekels of the sanctuary" were the appointed standard by which God's rights were measured; as it is said, "And all thy estimation shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary." Thus they represent the truest measure, God's standard by which He weighs all things. By this standard the trespass is weighed, and then the value paid to the injured person. And God and man, though wronged by trespass, each receive as much again from man in Christ through the trespass-offering. Whether honour, service, worship, or obedience, whatever God could claim, whatever man could rob Him of, all this has He received again from man in Christ, "according to the priest's estimation in shekels of the sanctuary." But man also was injured by trespass; and he, too, receives as much again. Christ for man as offerer of the trespass-offering, must offer to injured man the value of the original injury. And such as accept His offering find their loss through man's trespass more than paid. Has trespass wronged man of life, peace, or gladness, he may claim and receive through Christ repayment. For man to man, as for man to God, Christ stands the One in whom man's wrongs are remedied.

4. But this is not all. Not only is the original wrong paid, but a fifth part more is paid with it in the trespass-offering. Who would have thought that from the entrance of trespass, both God and man should in the end be gainers? But so it is. From man in Christ both God and man have received back more than they were robbed of. In this sense, "where sin abounded," yea, and because sin abounded, "grace did more abound."

II. THE VARIETIES OR GRADES IN THIS OFFERING. These are fewer than in any other offering, teaching us that those who apprehended this aspect of Christ's work, will apprehend it all very much alike. It will be remembered that in the sin-offering the varieties were most numerous and that because sin in us may be, and is, so differently apprehended; but trespass, the act of wrong committed, if seen at all, can scarce be seen differently. Accordingly, we find but one small variety in the trespass-offering, for I can scarce regard the two different aspects of trespass as varieties. These aspects are, first, trespasses against God, and then trespasses against our neighbour; but this distinction is more like the difference between the offerings than the varieties in different grades of the same. It simply points out distinct bearings of trespass, for which in each case the atonement seen is precisely similar. There is, however, one small yet remarkable difference between the two grades of the offering for wrongs in holy things. In the first grade, which gives us the fullest view of the offering, we read of the life laid down, the restitution made, and the fifth part added. But in the lower class, the last of these is unnoticed: "the fifth part" is quite unseen. And how true this is in the experience of Christians. Where the measure of apprehension is full, there not only the life laid down, and the restitution made in the trespass-offering, but all the truth also which is caught in the "fifth part," will be seen as a consequence of trespass and a part of the trespass-offering. Not so, however, where the apprehension is limited: here there is no addition seen beyond the amount of the original trespass.

(A. Jukes.)

I. THE TRESPASS-OFFERING (or guilt-offering, R.V.) refers more especially to the evil actions which are the outcome of our corrupt nature: while the sin that is inherent in that nature, as descendants of fallen Adam, is fully met in the sin-offering — last considered. The evil deeds, or sins, met by the trespass-offering may be thus divided — as against God and against man.

II. "A TRESPASS... THROUGH IGNORANCE, in the HOLY THINGS OF THE LORD," is the first mentioned. Here there is a similarity to the sin spoken of in chap. Leviticus 4., for it is "through ignorance." Who can measure the holiness of God, or know the extent of sin against such a Being? Perfect purity and holiness demand the same; but we are born in sin, "shapen in iniquity" (Psalm 51:5); and "who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one" (Job 14:4). Hence, till the heart is changed by "the grace of God" (Romans 5:15; 1 Corinthians 15:10), the sin within is ever showing itself in evil actions; and even after we know the Lord we are apt to trespass in His "holy things." In men's very religion, too, there may be sin. How often do they invent a worship of their own, not in accordance with God's Word; a way of salvation which dishonours Him; a way of approach to Him other than He has given! If living for self, the world, or other purpose than God's glory, we are robbing God. It may be through ignorance, but "though he wist it not, yet he is guilty, and shall bear his iniquity" (vers. 17-19), saith the Lord. There is thus no hope for us in ourselves, but He has met this (as all) our need in His "Beloved Son," as shown in type before us, for the sinning one is bidden to bring —

1. "A ram without blemish... for a trespass-offering" (guilt-offering, R.V.), "and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his ignorance...;" for "he hath certainly trespassed against the Lord." Mark well the words "certainly trespassed," though in ignorance. The same truth is here again shown, that no sin could be atoned for without the shedding of Jesu's blood; but His was a full, perfect, and complete atonement, when He made "His soul a guilt-offering" (Isaiah 53:10, marg., R.V.; same word as vers. 5:19, R.V.). He "was delivered up for our trespasses" (Romans 4:25; Romans 5:16, R.V.)

2. "Shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary," were also to be brought with the ram, to "make amends for the harm... done in the holy thing." No lower standard than God's could be accepted. Have we a just perception of God's holiness?

3. A fifth part added. Who could do this in its full meaning? None but Jesus. And He brought more glory to God by redemption than could have accrued from creation. Christ was perfect in His obedience to God's holy law, and gave rich surplus. He — the Antitype of trespass-offering (both of ram and silver, 1 Peter 1:18, 19) — was also Priest who made atonement or reconciliation (Romans 5:10, 11; 1 John 2:2); and the blessed result is —

4. Forgiveness (vers. 16, 18) to "all that believe" (Acts 13:38, 39).

III. WRONG DONE TO A NEIGHBOUR is equally described as "trespass against the Lord" (Leviticus 6:1-7). This the unregenerate heart fails to see, but God pronounces it to be "sin"; and the truth of Hebrews 9:22 is once more brought before us; but, in contrast to the trespass against the holy things, in the case of wrong done to a neighbour — restitution with addition of fifth part must be made, before bringing the trespass-offering of "a ram without blemish," with the "estimation." The former teaches that only on the ground of blood shed could God accept the offerer, or "the amends" He would have him make; whereas, in the case of wrong done to a neighbour, "amends" must first be made to that neighbour before pardon can be sought of God. This is the lesson enforced by our Lord (Matthew 5:23, 24; Matthew 6:14, 15). See, too, Zaccheus ready to "restore fourfold" (Luke 19:8). To approach God with a wrong against a neighbour unredressed will not bring acceptance; while in the case of trespass against the Lord in holy things, pardon through Jesus must first be sought before "amends for the harm" done, can be accepted. Each must be according to God's ordering, and then there is the same gracious promise of forgiveness (vers. 16, 18, 6:7; Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13).

IV. THE LAW OF THE TRESPASS-OFFERING opens out some further details (Leviticus 7:1-7). It was to be —

1. Killed in the same place as the burnt-offering (Leviticus 1:5, 11), that is, "on the side of the altar northward before the Lord." It was the "same Jesus" in all, though different aspects and results of His death are presented in each.

2. The blood was to be sprinkled "round about upon the altar." Only in the sin-offering was it to be poured out, as that offering presented a more comprehensive view of the fulness of the atonement.

3. The costliest parts were to be burned on the altar, as in the sin-offering, telling of the rich and intrinsic excellency of the Lord Jesus which could stand the searching fire of God's holiness.

4. "Most holy" (Leviticus 6:25, 29; Leviticus 7:1, 6). The use of such an expression, in connection with sin-offering and trespass-offering is most striking. The more we meditate thereon the more we learn how the heart's affection, mind, inward parts, were all perfect in Jesus — hence He is a perfect Saviour. Lastly, the trespass-offering was —

5. To be eaten in the Holy Place, by "every male among the priests," typifying the Church, as partakers of Him who bare their "sins" (1 Peter 2:24), while "the priest that maketh atonement" was type of Jesus, thus seen to identify Himself with His people.

(Lady Beaujolois Dent.)

The trespass here indicated is sacrilege — mistake and misappropriation in the use of sacred things: a culpable trespass, whether done wittingly or unwittingly. From this rite we are taught —



1. Sensitiveness of feeling.

2. Tenderness of conscience.

3. Scrupulousness of conduct.

(F. W. Brown).


II. SIN IS A WRONG DONE TO MAN. Amends must be made by —

1. Appropriate contrition.

2. Personal sacrifice.

3. Unreserved consecration: evincing itself in a holy, useful, Christly life.

(F. W. Brown)

I. A SOPHISTRY NEEDING CORRECTION. This: that intention constitutes the quality of an action, whether conduct is criminal or not. But this declaration of "guilt," though in the action he "wist it not," testifies against a sweeping and all-inclusive application of that principle, viz., that intention qualifies action.

1. Ignorance may and does extenuate the guilt of an action. Knowledge deepens guilt (John 9:41; John 15:22). Ignorance alleviates it (Luke 23. 34; Acts 3:17; 1 Timothy 1:13).

2. Yet ignorance cannot excuse guilt. A man is not excused for breaking the laws of the land because he was ignorant of them. Nor is he innocent who trespasses, through error, against any ordinance of the Lord. And, if so in respect of ceremonial observances, much more so in relation to moral duties. Hence the curse stands against "every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them" (Galatians 3:10).

3. God Himself refuses to condone such ignorance. His Word declares that men "perish for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6); and that though "a people be of no understanding, He will not have mercy on them, and will show them no favour."


1. Reckon up our remembered sins. "They are more in number than the hairs of our head."

2. Add the sins realised at the time but now forgotten. Memory lets slip multitudinous trespasses.

3. Yet what can represent the number of our unrecognised sins, done in ignorance, done in error?

4. Deviations and defects also, which God's eye alone detected, and which we too self-indulgently condoned.


1. Under the ceremonial arrangements for expiation, how manifold and minute and numerous were the regulations and provisions necessary to make atonement for sin!

2. When all sin had to be expiated by Christ's one offering, what value it must needs possess! Yet "by one offering" the Saviour "purged our sins."(1) It summons us to faith. "Look unto Me and be ye saved." "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."(2) It incites us to grateful adoration. "Unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood," &c. (Revelation 1:5, 6).(3) It assures us of perfect redemption. "There remaineth no more offering for sin," for "the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth us from all sin."

(W. H. Jellie.)

In the addition of "the fifth part," as here set forth, we have a feature of the true trespass-offering, which, it is to be feared, is but little appreciated. When we think of all the wrong and all the trespass which we have done against the Lord; and, further, when we remember how God has been wronged of His rights in this wicked world, with what interest can we contemplate the work of the Cross as that wherein God has not merely received back what was lost, but whereby He is an actual gainer. He has gained more by redemption than ever He lost by the fall. "The sons of God" could raise a loftier song of praise around the empty tomb of Jesus than ever they raised in view of the Creator's accomplished work. The wrong has not only been perfectly atoned for, but an eternal advantage has been gained by the work of the Cross. This is a stupendous truth. God is a gainer by the work of Calvary. Who could have conceived this? When we behold man, and the creation of which he was lord, laid in ruins at the feet of the enemy, how could we conceive that, from amid those ruins, God should gather richer and nobler spoils than any which our unfallen world could have yielded? Blessed be the name of Jesus for all this! It is to Him we owe it all. It is by His precious Cross that ever a truth so amazing, so divine, could be enunciated.

(C. H. Mackintosh.)

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