Posted by Craig Borlase on 1 April 2015

The Sin Offering
The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘When anyone sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, “If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, he must bring to the Lord a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed...

“If any member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, when they realize their guilt and the sin they have committed becomes known, they must bring as their offering for the sin they committed a female goat without defect. They are to lay their hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter it at the place of the burnt offering. Then the priest is to take some of the blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. They shall remove all the fat, just as the fat is removed from the fellowship offering, and the priest shall burn it on the altar as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. In this way the priest will make atonement for them, and they will be forgiven.

“If someone brings a lamb as their sin offering, they are to bring a female without defect. They are to lay their hand on its head and slaughter it for a sin offering at the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered. Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. They shall remove all the fat, just as the fat is removed from the lamb of the fellowship offering, and the priest shall burn it on the altar on top of the food offerings presented to the Lord. In this way the priest will make atonement for them for the sin they have committed, and they will be forgiven.
[Leviticus 4:1-3 & 27-35, NIV]

Here's Moses establishing a few ground rules to help everyone get along. This is not some divinely-inspired ego trip, nor is it Moses' coming out as a pure control freak. This is God's way of caring for his people. He has given them guidelines about how to behave well, but now he details how they should act when their behaviour is less than ideal.

Sin - whether deliberate or not - needs to be dealt with. It cannot simply evaporate into the ether. It has to be paid for. Back in those days the currency was sacrificial offerings, and there were a whole load of them to choose from. The burnt, grain and fellowship offerings were optional, but the sin and guilt offerings had to be done and there was simply no getting away from it.

But why? God was after the hearts of his people, and this complex set of rituals was designed with one purpose in mind: to remind them of all that he had done for them. In making sacrifices expensive he was yet again sending a clear message: sin does not go without consequences and it demands payment.
At the heart of the matter, all of this is a matter of the heart. The rules are really about the relationship.

With Sunday now a few days away, how’s your heart?

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