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Deeper Commentary


Lev 6:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
We will read now about theft and fraud (:2-7), and then the text goes straight on to speak of burnt offerings (:8,9). Perhaps the connection in thought is that these words have specifically in view the temptation to steal from others and then offer the stolen goods as an offering to Yahweh- which is exactly the problem addressed in Is. 61:8. So it clearly was a problem in Israel. See on :7. The principle is that we are not to offer to Yahweh that which cost us nothing (1 Sam. 24:24) and that is the abiding take away lesson.

Lev 6:2 ’If anyone sins, and commits a trespass against Yahweh, and deals falsely with his neighbour in a matter of deposit, or of bargain, or of robbery, or has oppressed his neighbour-
The oppression in view is things like not paying him his hire every day (Dt. 24:14,15; Lev. 19:13). "Oppress" is the same word translated "deceive"; to not oppress others through deceiving them would elicit the heaviest judgment from God, when the person realized the deception and cried to God because of it (Dt. 24:15). Deceiving / oppressing a neighbour was a sin against Yahweh (Lev. 6:2 s.w.), because He has a special interest in the poor. And His law reflects that. We should likewise have such a special interest, rather than ever seeking to analyze why people are poor. Fraud and oppression were Israel's experience in Egypt. Constantly, the law of Moses urges them to remember their spiritual biography, and this awareness is intended to elicit grace to others, never treating them as Israel were treated in Egypt. Our lives before baptism were lived as it were in Egypt (1 Cor. 10:1,2), and so the principle applies to us too.     

Lev 6:3 or has found that which was lost, and dealt falsely therein, and swearing to a lie; in any of all these things that a man does, sinning therein-
"Found that which was lost" is the phrase quoted by the Lord Jesus in His parables of the lost sheep and coin (Lk. 15:6). He had engaged with these same words which we are reading. Finding the lost was to be a source of open joy, rather than being used secretly for personal advantage and benefit. And so it is with all pastoral work in finding the lost.

Lev 6:4 then it shall be, if he has sinned, and is guilty, he shall restore that which he took by robbery, or the thing which he has gotten by oppression, or the deposit which was committed to him, or the lost thing which he found-
Robbery was effectively what the exaggeration, mind games, manipulation, white lies and deceitful dealing of :2 was reckoned as. These things creep in so easily into any business dealings between people; and God sees them as robbery.

Lev 6:5 or any thing about which he has sworn falsely; he shall restore it even in full, and shall add a fifth part more to it. To him to whom it belongs he shall give it, in the day of his being found guilty-
Broken relationships were to be restored as quickly as possible "in the day", so the restoration was to be made immediately. In all human failure, reconciliation involves some level of restoration, be it verbal or material. Zacchaeus alludes to this when he says that he would restore fourfold that which he had stolen by deceit. This was far more than the "fifth part" required by the law (Lk. 19:8). Again we see how the Mosaic law was not a chain, a wearisome and limiting leash upon man, as if he were a dog ever miserably constrained from what he would like to do; but rather a springboard to using personal initiative to respond to the principles taught- often to a far greater extent than mere obedience to the letter of the law. We see this in the way Boaz interpreted the Levirate law, and also the laws about allowing gleaning. See Lev. 4:14 for another example.

Lev 6:6 He shall bring his trespass offering to Yahweh, a ram without blemish from the flock-
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). 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.

According to your estimation, for a trespass offering, to the priest-
This is a reminder that we are reading commandments addressed to the Levites. Many stolen things were in forms other than money, so they had to estimate what was a fifth amount of the value of the stolen sheep, or whatever.

Lev 6:7 The priest shall make atonement for him before Yahweh, and he will be forgiven concerning whatever he has done to become guilty’-
"To become guilty" could equally be translated "in the presentation of a sin offering". And this would connect with the suggestion on :1, that we may be here dealing specifically with a case of a person stealing from others in order to make the sin offering required for some earlier sin.

Lev 6:8 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
See on :1 for the connection between the following laws of the burnt offering, and the preceding commandments about fraud.

Lev 6:9 Command Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the burnt offering: the burnt offering shall be on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning; and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it-
The idea may be that there was not to be a moment, night or day, when the principle of sacrifice was not being demonstrated. And this should feature in our lives. But the lamb specifically looked ahead to the Lord Jesus. There is a sense in which His sacrifice for us is eternally ongoing.  

Lev 6:10 The priest shall put on his linen garment, and he shall put on his linen breeches upon his body; and he shall remove the ashes from where the fire has consumed the burnt offering on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar-
This was the garment of Ex. 28:4,39,42 (see notes there). The entire body of believers are described as being figuratively clothed in linen at the Lord's return, in that it represents the imputed righteousness of the saints / believers (Rev. 19:8). The allusion to the 'clothing upon' of the nakedness of flesh at the Lord's return is clear; the same figure is found in 2 Cor. 5:4. But the implication is that we shall then be as ordained priests- we shall go forth into eternity to do the work of priesthood, helping others to come to Yahweh. Our experiences now, especially our frustrations in being unable to do or achieve this work, are all in order to prepare us for such an eternity.    

Lev 6:11 He shall take off his garments, and put on other garments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place-
We think of the slain, sacrificed body of the Lord Jesus being removed to a clean place, buried outside the city of Jerusalem, wrapped in a clean linen cloth (cp. the garments of :10) and laid in a new tomb, wherein no man had been laid (Mt. 27:59), and therefore ritually clean.

Lev 6:12 The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it, it shall not go out; and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning: and he shall lay the burnt offering in order upon it, and shall burn on it the fat of the peace offerings-
The fire of the altar was ideally intended to be that kindled at the time of Lev. 9:24 when the tabernacle was consecrated. It was to be kept perpetually burning by the sacrifices being continually placed upon it, a lamb every morning and every evening.

Lev 6:13 Fire shall be kept burning on the altar continually; it shall not go out’-
There was fair emphasis on this, that always a lamb should be smouldering as a burnt offering to God. Our devotion to God, as a community of believers and as individuals, must be 24/7; it’s not a matter of occasional flashes of devotion, weekly attendance at meetings etc. Whatever special devotions we make, our regular daily evening and morning prayers and devotions are to never to be missed. The fire which never went out or was 'quenched' is a double symbol. The phrase is used multiple times with reference to the wrath of God in condemning sinners; it is the basis of the idea of eternal fire which will not be quenched. Rather like the cup of wine from the Lord being a symbol of either condemnation or blessing. So we have a choice- be consumed by the eternal fire now as living sacrifices, or be consumed by it anyway at the last day.

Lev 6:14 ‘This is the law of the grain offering: the sons of Aaron shall offer it before Yahweh, before the altar-
The humblest offering, just some flour, was before Yahweh. He has a special interest in the offering of little things from little people; see on :17.

Lev 6:15 He shall take from there his handful of the fine flour of the grain offering, and of its oil, and all the frankincense which is on the grain offering, and shall burn it on the altar for a pleasant aroma, as its memorial, to Yahweh-
Frankincense was a type of incense which would have given a pleasing smell to the burning flour. This represented how pleased God was with the offering even of a handful of flour. Small sacrifices please Him immensely. And they are what comprise daily life.

The "memorial portion" of the offerings was to serve as a reminder to God, as it were, of the covenants which He "remembered". He of course doesn't forget His covenant but ever remembers it (Ps. 105:8 etc.), yet He is presented in human terms as having His memory rekindled, as it were, by human prayer, faith, situations and sacrifices so that He "remembers the covenant" (Gen. 8:1; 9:15; Ex. 2:24; 6:5; Lev. 26:42,45; Num. 10:9 and often). The regular sacrifices were such a "memorial" or 'reminder'- both to God and to His people. The place of prayer, regular sacrifice of giving, breaking of bread at the "memorial meeting" etc., are all equivalents for us under the new covenant.   

Paul writes often that he "makes mention" or 'remembers' his brethren in regular prayer (Rom. 1:9; Eph. 1:16; 1 Thess. 1:2; Philemon 4). The Greek mneia is the word used in the LXX for the "memorial" of the incense or the meal offering (Lev. 2:2,16; 24:7), or the constant fire on the altar which was for a memorial (Lev. 6:15). That fire, that flour, that incense, had to be carefully and consciously prepared; it had to be the result of man's labour. And likewise, Paul seems to be saying, he first of all thought through the cases which he then presented to the Father.

Lev 6:16 That which is left of it Aaron and his sons shall eat. It shall be eaten without yeast in a holy place. They shall eat it in the court of the Tent of Meeting-
The priests had no inheritance amongst Israel, they survived by eating parts of the offerings. Their eating of them represented God’s ‘eating’ of the sacrifices, the altar being described as His table (Mal. 1:7,12), His acceptance of the offerer and fellowship with them- for eating what had been brought to you was a sign of acceptance and religious fellowship with the donor.

Lev 6:17 It shall not be baked with yeast. I have given it as their portion of my offerings made by fire. It is most holy, as the sin offering, and as the trespass offering-
The language of "most holy" is juxtaposed against the fact that this was referring to a simple grain offering, a 'little something' offered by literally anyone within Israel (see on Lev. 2:1). But such tiny offerings were "most holy" to God; we think of the Lord's attitude to the widow offering her two small coins.

Lev 6:18 Every male among the children of Aaron shall eat of it, as their portion forever throughout your generations, from the offerings of Yahweh made by fire. Whoever touches them shall be holy’-
This doesn't mean that holiness was transferred by touching them, for holiness cannot be spread like that (Hag. 2:11-13). Rather the idea is that the males who touched them must be ritually clean (Lev. 22:6,7). Perhaps we as the new priesthood are to learn from this that we are to partake of the memorial bread and wine in a "clean" way, i.e. having examined ourselves and recognizing our uncleanness. For by a great paradox, that is what it means to be clean before God.

Lev 6:19 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
The following commands were specifically for the day when Aaron was anointed; as discussed on Lev. 1:1,2, it seems all of Leviticus is aimed specifically in this context.

Lev 6:20 ’This is the offering of Aaron and of his sons, which they shall offer to Yahweh in the day when he is anointed: the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering perpetually, half of it in the morning, and half of it in the evening-
An ephah is about 22 liters. "Perpetually" may refer specifically to the days of the consecration rituals for Aaron and his sons; see on Lev. 1:1. Roughly one kilogram of flour baked into a cake (:21) was to be offered every morning and evening. This relatively small, low value offering was perhaps to remind them of the supreme importance to God of small, regular sacrifices.

Lev 6:21 It shall be made with oil in a griddle. When it is soaked, you shall bring it in. You shall offer the grain offering in baked pieces-
The process of splitting the offering into its parts speaks of our self-examination, defining each part of our lives and offering them to God consciously. This was taught in the dividing up of the offerings into pieces (see on Lev. 1:17).

For a pleasant aroma to Yahweh-
“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 6:22 The anointed priest that will be in his place from among his sons shall offer it. By a statute forever, it shall be wholly burnt to Yahweh-
‘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 6:23 Every grain offering of a priest shall be wholly burned. It shall not be eaten’-
Again we see that this refers specifically to the ritual of the dedication of the priests. For Lev. 7:9 is clear that generally, "Every grain offering that is baked in the oven, and all that is dressed in the pan, and on the griddle, shall be the priest’s who offers it". The priests were not to eat parts of their own dedicatory offering, as they usually did with the offerings of others. We as the new priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5) shouldn’t take any personal benefit from what we give to God, otherwise the concept of personal sacrifice to God is somewhat lacking in meaning. We are not to offer that which costs us nothing (1 Sam. 24:24). The priests were so used to dealing with the needs of others for atonement and acceptability with God- but they were not to forget that they too needed this, hence they too had to offer sacrifice. Our dealings with the unsaved world shouldn’t lead us to forget our own personal need for reconciliation with God.

Lev 6:24 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
God spoke to Moses, who then spoke to the Aaronites (:25). He is presented as mediator between God and man, looking ahead to the greater prophet like him, Messiah, the Lord Jesus.

Lev 6:25 Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘This is the law of the sin offering-
I suggest this refers to specific sin offering when Aaron was consecrated. See on :20,26.

In the place where the burnt offering is killed, the sin offering shall be killed before Yahweh. It is most holy-
That is, on the north side of the altar (Lev. 1:11). Golgotha was on the north side of Jerusalem, and all these sacrifices look ahead to the Lord's death there. The laver was on the west side of the altar, the place of ashes on the east (Lev. 1:16), and the approach to the altar from the south would have been up a slope to avoid approaching the altar by steps and uncovering nakedness. The north side would have been the only appropriate place for this. So there is an impressive corroboration of the records here, with this command to kill the animals on the north side of the altar.

Lev 6:26 The priest who offers it for sin shall eat it. It shall be eaten in a holy place, in the court of the Tent of Meeting-
It was not to be taken out of the court and eaten. And yet the priestly share of the offerings could usually be eaten by their families. So we are confirmed in understanding that this refers to a specific sin offering when Aaron was consecrated. See on :20,25.

Lev 6:27 Whatever shall touch its flesh shall be holy-
This doesn't mean that holiness was transferred by touching them, for holiness cannot be spread like that (Hag. 2:11-13). Rather the idea is that the males who touched them must be ritually clean (Lev. 22:6,7).

When there is any of its blood sprinkled on a garment, you shall wash that on which it was sprinkled in a holy place-
This makes us think of the blood sprinkled garments of the Lord Jesus which are prophesied in Gen. 49:11; Is. 63:3). This therefore was a terrible image for those steeped in Mosaic concepts, just as His invitation to drink His blood. To accept His sacrifice meant a radical rethinking of Mosaic images. 

Lev 6:28 But the earthen vessel in which it is boiled shall be broken; and if it is boiled in a bronze vessel, it shall be scoured, and rinsed in water-
Unglazed, porous pottery could have absorbed some of the blood, so it had to be destroyed. The water was presumably from the laver (Ex. 30:28). The Hebrew for "scoured" implies being made bright in the fire. The breaking of earthen vessels is an image used for the breaking of humanity. We hold God's truth, the blood of Christ, in earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7), which must be broken at the last day when our mortality is swallowed up. We are to pass through fire and water so that we will be eternally preserved.  

Lev 6:29 Every male among the priests shall eat of it: it is most holy-
When the Lord Jesus presented Himself as the sin offering and invited His people to eat the symbol of it in the breaking of bread meeting, He was inviting us to see ourselves as a new priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5,9), no longer assuming some group of specialists would look after the spiritual concerns of others, but everyone, male and female, taking responsibility. This was a radical, difficult idea to accept for first century Jewish Christians, and it is hard for us today too, accustomed as we are to assigning responsibility to others rather than taking it ourselves.

Lev 6:30 No sin offering, of which any of the blood is brought into the Tent of Meeting to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be eaten: it shall be burned with fire’-
What was in view were the sin offerings for the high priest and the whole congregation (Lev. 4:3,12-21), and the sin offering of the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:27).