It’s a long passage this morning that shows us the seriousness of sin and our need of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
Sin is everything that is inconsistent with God’s righteousness. You may have noticed the words “sins unintentionally” prefacing each category of sinner in the chapter. The provisions here are for people who basically love God. People who don’t care about God are not provided for (Numbers 15:30).
Sin defiles us. Sin defiles the sinner, those around the sinner, even places are effected.(Leviticus 18:24-25; Jeremiah 2:7) We need to be cleaned.
Sin is costly. As I write this the Mart is due to arrive – every year King’s Lynn starts the fair season, due to its local history of being the place where the steam powered carousel was invited! The thing about the Mart is the prices are high and the rides are short! Sin’s pleasures are short, these sacrifices were costly.
Sin requires blood atonement. Sin results in guilt and defilement. Sacrifices require blood, but they cleanse and sanctify. Ultimately, all the Old Testament sacrifices point to the last sacrifice. Jesus Christ. The Lamb of God who was the perfect sacrifice once and for all.
As we read through Leviticus 4 we find four categories of sinner, in need of sacrifice. Sin is sin. But the categories of sinner – priest, nation, rulers and common people show us that holds some to a higher account, Just as in the New Testament preachers are worthy of double honour they are also judged more strictly (1 Tim 5:17, James 3:1 – because God hates hypocrisy)
If a priest were to sin, only a bull would do – the most expensive of the sacrificial animals in this passage.
- Sin is an offence to the holiness of God – so the blood is sprinkled on the veil of the sanctuary.
- Sin affects our prayer life – so blood is sprinkled on the altar of incense where sacrifices are made.
- Sin requires atonement so blood is sprinkled on the altar of the burnt offerings.
Only the fat and blood are used. The humanly valuable rest of the bull – the leather and the meat are to be considered worthless and burnt outside the camp. No-one is to benefit from the sacrifice apart from the Lord. That compares with the perfume offered to Jesus in John 12 – what a waste people thought. No!
In the case of national sin – the elders lay hands on the bull rather than the priest.
In the case of leaders sin – a male goat can be offered and the meat is then available for the priest to eat once the blood has been used for the atoning sacrifice.
If the common people sin then a female goat or lamb could be used for the sacrifice.
Sin is serious, because God is holy. Praise God that Jesus has fulfilled the expensive and never ending sacrificial system with his precious blood – nothing but the blood of Jesus. How precious is the flow, that washes me whiter than snow.