New European Commentary

 

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Deeper Commentary

 

Lev 4:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,

Lev 4:2 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘If anyone sins unintentionally, in any of the things which Yahweh has commanded not to be done, and does any one of them:
Lev 4:3 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-

Sins of ignorance still needed to be atoned for. Sin is a felt offence against God, whether or not we were aware of it at the time. If we accidentally step on someone’s foot and they don’t tell us about it until tomorrow, it doesn’t mean that we didn’t hurt them at the time. The sins we committed before baptism, in ignorance, were still felt by God and need atonement- which is available freely through being “in Christ”. David asked to be forgiven for the sins he committed which he didn’t know about (Ps. 19:12 cp. Ps. 90:8). We should pray the same. But this means we are asking for forgiveness for sin which we haven’t specifically repented of. We should likewise forgive others for their sins which although we so clearly feel them, they themselves don’t realize they have committed them. We can, if we wish, insist that we shall only forgive those who repent to us of their sins. But the problem with that approach is that as we forgive others, the basis we choose upon which to relate to them, so we will be forgiven (Mt. 6:12). If we trust we are forgiven for sins we aren’t conscious of, even though they are very clear to God and felt by Him, then we ought to forgive others for their sins even when they don’t perceive (at this point in their spiritual journey) that they have sinned.


Lev 4:4 He shall bring the bull to the door of the Tent of Meeting before Yahweh; and he shall lay his hand on the head of the bull, and kill the bull before Yahweh.
Lev 4:5 The anointed priest shall take some of the blood of the bull, and bring it to the Tent of Meeting-

‘Christ’ means ‘the anointed one’, and so Jewish minds would have associated ‘Jesus Christ’ with the priest who saves [‘Jesus’ means ‘Yahweh’s salvation’].


Lev 4:6 The priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle some of the blood seven times before Yahweh, before the veil of the sanctuary.
Lev 4:7 The priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of sweet incense before Yahweh, which is in the Tent of Meeting; and he shall pour out all of rest of the blood of the bull at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the Tent of Meeting-

We think of the blood of Christ trickling down the stake to the ground.


Lev 4:8 He shall take all the fat of the bull of the sin offering off of it: the fat that covers the inward parts, and all the fat that is on the inward parts-

There is huge emphasis upon the “inward parts” in the regulations about sacrifices. Our inward parts and thoughts of the heart are laid open before God and should be offered to Him, not just the externalities which men see (Heb. 4:12). The same word is used of Sarah's laughing "within herself" (Gen. 18:12). The sacrifice of Christ was so perfect because His innermost thoughts were offered to God. And it is our thoughts when nobody else is watching which are of the essence to God; "to be spiritually minded", as the New Testament expresses it. This is why Yahweh could not go up in "the midst" of Israel (Ex. 33:3; Num. 14:42; Dt. 1:42), because they didn't have Him in their midst. Thus to marry unbelievers would be a snare "in the midst of you" (Ex. 34:12), right in the inner mind which is what God seeks above all. David in the Psalms speaks of the "inward parts" of the human mind, which are critical in God's judgment of a person as wicked or righteous (e.g. Ps. 5:9; 36:1; 49:11 and Ps. 64:6, where "inward thought" is s.w. "inward parts"). It is those inward parts which were to be washed (Lev. 1:13), just as our innermost heart can be washed by the Spirit which is given at baptism. For this is the gift of the Spirit in the new covenant, whereby God's law is placed within our inward parts (s.w. Jer. 31:33; Ez. 36:26,27) by the God who can form the spirit of man in man's inward parts, the God who can work directly upon the human heart (Zech. 12:1).  

 

 


Lev 4:9 and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the loins, and the cover on the liver, with the kidneys, he shall take away,
Lev 4:10 as it is taken off of the bull of the sacrifice of peace offerings. The priest shall burn them on the altar of burnt offering.
Lev 4:11 The bull’s skin, all its flesh, with its head, and with its legs, its inward parts, and its dung,
Lev 4:12 even the whole bull shall he carry forth outside the camp to a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire. Where the ashes are poured out it shall be burned.
Lev 4:13 If the whole congregation of Israel sins, and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done any of the things which Yahweh has commanded not to be done, and are guilty;
Lev 4:14 when the sin in which they have sinned is known, then the assembly shall offer a young bull for a sin offering, and bring it before the Tent of Meeting.
Lev 4:15 The elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before Yahweh; and the bull shall be killed before Yahweh-

Before the priests who represented God. God Himself is in Heaven, but His representatives on earth are functionally Him to other people. We must therefore watch our behaviour and who we are, because we who have been baptized into His Name are His representatives on earth.

 


Lev 4:16 The anointed priest shall bring of the blood of the bull to the Tent of Meeting:
Lev 4:17 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before Yahweh, before the veil-
 
describes the priest as sprinkling the blood "before the LORD, even before the veil". This implies that the veil and the "LORD" were associated, as if the Angel, the 'LORD', was just behind the veil, i. e. in the Most Holy. See on Ps. 78:60


Lev 4:18 He shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar which is before Yahweh, that is in the Tent of Meeting; and the rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the Tent of Meeting.
Lev 4:19 All its fat he shall take from it, and burn it on the altar.
Lev 4:20 Thus shall he do with the bull; as he did with the bull of the sin offering, so shall he do with this; and the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven.
Lev 4:21 He shall carry forth the bull outside the camp, and burn it as he burned the first bull. It is the sin offering for the assembly.
Lev 4:22 When a ruler sins, and unwittingly does any one of all the things which Yahweh his God has commanded not to be done, and is guilty;
Lev 4:23 if his sin, in which he has sinned, is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish-

No animal actually is without blemish. God recognizes that we will not attain perfection in this life, but we are to do our best towards it; and His love imputes righteousness to us, counting us as unblemished because of our status in Christ. For only Christ was the sacrifice totally without moral blemish (1 Pet. 1:19).


Lev 4:24 He shall lay his hand on the head of the goat, and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before Yahweh. It is a sin offering.
Lev 4:25 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. He shall pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering.
Lev 4:26 All its fat he shall burn on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin, and he will be forgiven.
Lev 4:27 If anyone of the common people sins unwittingly, in doing any of the things which Yahweh has commanded not to be done, and is guilty;
Lev 4:28 if his sin, which he has sinned, is made known to him, then he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has sinned.
Lev 4:29 He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering in the place of burnt offering-

The person had to personally kill the animal, not delegate it to a priest or someone else. It would’ve been an unpleasant experience, but designed to teach the seriousness of sin. ‘This animal has done nothing wrong; it’s me who ought to be dying for my sin’ would’ve been the thought of all sensitive, spiritually minded people who did this. And this is our thought as we survey the cross with the son of God dying upon it for our sins.


Lev 4:30 The priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering; and the rest of its blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar.
Lev 4:31 All its fat he shall take away, like the fat is taken away from off of the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a pleasant aroma to Yahweh; and the priest shall make atonement for him, and he will be forgiven-

“A pleasant aroma” is a very common phrase. This concept is important to God. It first occurs in Gen. 8:21 where it means that God accepted Noah's sacrifice and vowed that the pole of saving mercy in His character was going to triumph over that of necessary judgment. Under the new covenant, it is persons and not sacrifices or incense which are accepted as a "pleasant aroma" (Ez. 20:41). The word for "pleasant" means strong delight; this is how God's heart can be touched by genuine sacrifice. Those pleasing offerings represented us, the living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1). And so it is applied to us in 2 Cor. 2:15- if we are in Christ, we are counted as a pleasant aroma to God. The offering of ourselves to Him is nothing of itself, but because we are in Christ and counted as Him, we are a delight to God. Hence the colossal importance of being “in Christ”. "Aroma" or "smell" is a form of the Hebrew word ruach, the word for spirit or breath. God discerns the spirit of sacrifices, that was what pleased Him rather than the burning flesh of animals. Our attitude of mind in sacrifice can touch Him. Sacrifice is therefore accepted, Paul says, according to what a person has to give, but the essence is the attitude of mind behind it. We think of the two coins sacrificed by the widow.
Lev 4:32 If he brings a lamb as his offering for a sin offering, he shall bring a female without blemish-

This looked ahead to the unblemished character of the Lord Jesus. The offering of sacrifices "without blemish" uses a word which is used about Abraham and Noah being "without blemish" (AV "perfect") before God (Gen. 6:9; 17:1). Although the word is used about the sacrifices, it is really more appropriate to persons- "you shall be perfect with Yahweh your God" (Dt. 18:13), "serve Him in sincerity (s.w. "without blemish")" (Josh. 24:14). The idea, therefore, was that the offerer was invited to see the animal as representative of himself. Our lives too are to be as "living sacrifices" (Rom. 12:1). And yet in practical terms, no animal is without blemish. They were to give the best they could, and God would count it as without blemish; as He does with us. David frequently uses the term in the Psalms about himself and the "upright", even though he was far from unblemished in moral terms.


Lev 4:33 He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering.
Lev 4:34 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 all the rest of its blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar.
Lev 4:35 All its fat he shall take away, like the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them on the altar, on the offerings of Yahweh made by fire; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin that he has sinned, and he will be forgiven’.