“… Can anyone exercise self – control or be temperate, be orderly and disciplined if he continuously lives under the influence of alcohol? ” REAL LIFE Expository Study Devotional 5 : The Making of the Nation of God 3 – The Levitical Code of Worship and Separation.

Day 13: The priestly code of ethics.

‘‘Do not drink wine nor strong drink, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations…’’ Lev. 10:9

Additional reading: Gen. 9:21; Prov.20:1; 31:5; Isa. 28:7; Ezek. 44:21; Hos. 4:1; Lk.1:15; Eph. 5:15; 1Tim.3:3; Tit. 1:7

The death of his sons must have been a bitter pill for Aaron to swallow. To my mind, Aaron contemplated resigning for fear of losing all his sons in service. ’’If my service to the LORD, God of Israel whom I believe is merciful, full of grace and compassion would result in the death of my family and in fact my entire lineage, I need no longer continue,’’ he must have thought to himself. Noticing this, Moses by the Spirit arrested the situation to avert further deaths.

Please follow this carefully: (1.) Moses reminded Aaron the high priest of God’s word; ‘‘Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what God meant when he said, To the one who comes near me, I will show myself holy; Before all the people, I will show my glory.’ Aaron was silent.’’ (V. 3 MSG). (2.) Moses then directed two relatives to carry their dead cousins away from the Sanctuary. ‘‘Moses sent for Mishael and Elzaphan, the two sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel. Then he told them, ‘Take these two dead relatives of yours outside the camp far from the entrance to the sacred tent.’ ’’ (V. 4 CEV).  (3) Here comes another shocker: ‘‘Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, ‘Do not leave your hair uncombed or tear your clothes to show that you are mourning. If you do, you will die, and the LORD will be angry with the whole community. But all the other Israelites are allowed to mourn this death caused by the fire which the LORD sent. Do not leave the entrance of the Tent or you will die, because you have been consecrated by the anointing of the LORD.’ So they did as Moses said.’’ (Vv. 6 – 7 GNB).

Is it possible for a man not to mourn the loss of his children? Well it is clearly stated here that neither Aaron nor Eleazar and Ithamar were to mourn for Nadab and Abihu. I believe that this was to show their total commitment to their calling — that they were not to mingle with other affairs. If you recall, Jesus told a disciple, ‘‘Let the dead bury their dead.’’ (Matt. 8:22).  But in the real sense Jesus said this: ‘‘Let those who are spiritually dead bury their physically dead.’’ The spiritually dead is one who is alive physically but because he is without Christ, his spirit man is dead because of sin. But he who is alive spiritually (believers) is one whose dead spirit man was made alive by accepting Jesus and His word. So, He said that let those who are alive physically but dead spiritually (i.e. the unbeliever) bury their physically dead. In other words, because the unbelievers concern themselves with the issues of life, those who are in Him, should be more concern with the issues of the kingdom of God — issues of life and eternity.  This is not to say believers should be deliberately ignorant of their social responsibilities. While playing our social roles, we must not be encumbered with the things of life at the expense of those things that of God and are of greater importance. So this was the message to Aaron; that he had a higher calling from God, which was eternal and as such of greater importance, thus, his full dedication to duty was required. ‘‘Jesus refused. ‘First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life.’ ’’ (MSG).

Having said all this, God in a show of seriousness personally unveiled His code depicting His standard for moral living amongst the Levitical priests: ‘‘You and your sons are not to enter the Tent of my presence after drinking wine or beer; if you do, you will die. This is a law to be kept by all your descendants. You must distinguish between what belongs to God and what is for general use, between what is ritually clean and what is unclean. You must teach the people of Israel all the laws which I have given to you throw Moses.’’ (Vv. 9 – 11 GNB). If Aaron for any reason had not taken God’s commands given him through Moses seriously, this experience no doubt became the turning point in his life. He soon realised that God was serious about his word and standard for holy living. And as high priest, he had one option, which was total obedience, not by himself alone but the entire community. This he could not afford to risk.

I did say earlier that most scholars believe that Nadab and Abihu were influenced by alcohol when they offered profane fire before God. This view is supported in verse 9: ‘‘You and your sons are not to enter the Tent of my presence after drinking wine or beer; if you do, you will die.’’ Why would God have personally warned Aaron and his sons against drinking wine and beer while in His service if these did not have a role in the disrespectful act of Nadab and Abihu?

It is expedient to take a closer look at this: ‘‘Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations…’’ What is wine, what is strong drink? Why did God warn them against taking them?

‘‘Do not drink wine [yan … from an unused root meaning to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication intoxication: – banqueting, wine, winebibber] nor strong drink [sekar … an intoxicant, i.e. intensely alcohol liquor:- strong drink, drunkard, strong wine], thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations…’’

The priests were simply prohibited from taking wine — an intoxicant — fermented drink. An intoxicant is something that makes you drunk. And when any juice from whatever source is allowed to ferment, the sugar content is changed to alcohol. This was the type of intoxicant that made Nadab and Abihu misbehave when they performed profanity in the presence of the LORD. As priests, they were expected to be holy before the LORD; therefore, they could not afford to be influenced by alcohol while serving the LORD. More so, as teachers of the laws of God, they could not do contrary through their lifestyle what they thought the people. Alcohol has one singular and dangerous characteristic, which is its strength to impair wisdom and right sense of judgement.

Against this backdrop, Paul setting out a biblical standard for would be ministers of God wrote to Timothy saying: ‘‘THE SAYING is true and irrefutable: If any man [eagerly] seeks the office of bishop (superintendent, overseer), he desires an excellent task (work). Now a bishop(superintendent, overseer) must give no grounds for accusation but must be approve reproach, the husband of one wife, circumspect and temperate and self – controlled; [he must be] sensible and well behaved and dignified and lead an orderly (disciplined) life; [he must be] hospitable [showing love for and being a friend to the believers, especially strangers or foreigners, and be] a capable and qualified teacher, Not given to wine, not combat but gentle and considerate, not quarrelsome but forbearing and peaceable, and not a lover of money [insatiable for wealth and ready to obtain it by questionable means]’’. 1Tim. 3:1 – 3 AMP. These are the qualifications for anyone that desires to be a servant of the LORD.

Can anyone exercise self – control or be temperate, be orderly and disciplined if he continuously lives under the influence of alcohol? Can a man avoid being quarrelsome or be a sound teacher of God’s word if he lives by alcohol? Please note that Noah feared and worshipped the LORD, yet alcohol reduced him to nothing.

Meditation: Is there something I do that can impair my sense of judgement and hinder my service unto the LORD?

Prayer: I cannot help myself in my weaknesses and limitations. I, therefore, pray You LORD to strengthen and help me through the power of the Holy Spirit to do Your will as You desire.

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“… they were expected to live by example as we all are…” Real Life Expository Study Devotional 5 – The Making of the Nation of God 3: The Levitical Code of Worship and Separation

Day 12: Nadab and Abihu — a strong lesson.

 

’’And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.’’ Lev. 10:1 – 2

 

Additional reading:  Gen. 19: 24; Exo. 24: 1, 9; 30: 9; Num. 11:1; 3: 2 – 4; Lev. 16:12; Rev. 20: 9

 

What a way to begin a ministry! Just yesterday, I pointed out that the presence of God at the ordination ceremony of Aaron and his sons with the total consummation of the sacrifice as performed by Aaron the high priest and his sons was an indication that God accepted not only the offering, but that it was properly done. So what went wrong here?

 

This is what the bible says of this event: ’’And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange [zur … a primitive root; to turn aside (especially for lodging); hence to be a foreigner, strange, profane; especially (active participle) to commit adultery:- another, another man, come from another place, strange thing…] fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured [akal … a primitive root; to eat (literally or figuratively):- at all, burn up, consume, devour…] them, and they died before the LORD.’’

 

What the bible says is very clear: Nadab and Abuhu,  sons of Aaron the high priest took censer one for the other. In each censer, they put incense and offered it before the LORD. If this statement had ended this way, the actions of these young priests would have been justified. All they did was to offer incense before the LORD. At least this was part of worship. But this was not the case. They did the right thing in the wrong way, i.e. they worshipped God they way He had not detailed them to. So, what exactly did they do?

 

Nadab and Abuhu sons of Aaron the high priest took censer one for the other. In each censer, they put incense and offered strange — profane — fire before the LORD. The word profane means to treat something holy with lack of respect. Strange also means to come from another place — foreign — and by implication, the incense (the coals used) were brought in from an unauthorised place.

 

It is very important to understand that God gave strict instructions to them concerning altar fire and worship, i.e. where exactly to get the coals of fire meant for His worship: ‘‘…he will fill an incense burner with burning coals from the altar that stands before the LORD. Then he will take two handfuls of fragrant powdered incense and will carry the burner and the incense behind the inner curtain.’’ (Lev. 16:12 NLT). ‘‘He shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the [bronze] altar before the Lord, and his two hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil [into the Holy of holies]…’’ (AMP). Therefore, in very simple terms, coals meant for worship of the LORD were to be taken from the bronze altar that was before the LORD. Instead of obeying this, these sons of Aaron chose to bring theirs from another place, which was not approved by God.

 

Apart from this, it was only the high priest in the person of Aaron that was fit to perform this role: ‘‘Every morning when Aaron comes to take care of the lamps, he is to burn sweet – smelling incense on it. He must do the same when he lights the lamps in the evening. This offering of incense is to continue without interruption for all time to come. Do not offer on this altar any forbidden incense, any animal offering, or any grain offering, and do not pour out any wine offering on it.’’ (Exo. 30: 7 – 9 GNB). This was clear enough; only Aaron was authorized to burn incense to the LORD. They were also warned not to offer any ‘forbidden incense.’  These instructions were totally disregarded by two sons of Aaron — they flagrantly abused God and His holy things. This is what is called profanity — disrespect for God and His holy things.

 

Against the backdrop of their actions, the bible says; ‘‘And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.’’ They were devoured [akal … a primitive root; to eat (literally or figuratively):- at all, burn up, consume, devour…] by God instantly. They were completely burnt up (consumed) by fire that came out from God. Read this: ‘‘That same day, Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons, took their censers, put hot coals and incense in them, and offered ‘‘strange’’ fire to God—something God had not commanded. Fire blazed out from GOD and consumed them—they died in GOD’s presence.’’ (MSG).

 

Get this right; this sin was not committed a week or a month after their ordination. It happened the very day they were ordained priests. Aaron as the father must have been shocked to his bones seeing his two sons dying the same day, the very day they were ordained! Was God to blame? Was God too hard on these young priests?

 

The fact is this; as ordained priests called to teach and uphold God’s laws with the highest moral standard and lead God’s congregation in true worship, they were expected to live by example as we all are. Unfortunately,  they did not. So, God had one option, which was to slay them so that it would be an example to others — that God and all that pertains to Him must be regarded with utmost respect and honour. It will interest you to know that many scholars hold the view that Nadab and Abihu were drunk at the time they performed this unlawful act.

 

Therefore, Moses did not fail to tell Aaron: ‘‘Then Moses told Aaron that this was exactly what the LORD had meant when he said: ‘I demand respect from my priests, and I will be praised by everyone!’ Aaron was speechless.’’ (V 3 CEV). ‘‘Then Moses said to Aaron, This is what the Lord meant when He said, I [and My will, not their own] will be acknowledged as hallowed by those who come near Me, and before all the people I will be honoured. And Aaron said nothing.’’ (AMP).

 

We bring shame on God and the entire church when those called to uphold God’s righteousness go their own way, thus, despising God through their acts. God did not spare those sons of Aaron because as priests, they were to lead Israel in true worship and uphold holy living in the camp. Rather than do this, they became bad examples to the congregation and they were judged instantly. This should be a warning and an example to us all that God does not compromise on His words and standard  and that indeed judgement will start from all those in  positions of authority, that judgement will start from within the camp ( 1Pet. 4:17; Matt. 25: 14 – 30).

 

Meditation: Do I serve God according to His will and standard or I serve Him in my will and standard?

 

Prayer: As long as I am, let Your will be my guiding light in all I do.

 

 

“…It points to the fact that it is only in righteousness and holiness that this conferment was to abide with the people…” Real Life Expository Study Devotional 5: The Making of the Nation of God 3 – The Levitical Code of Worship and Separation

Day 11:  Priestly blessings and God’s glory.

And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings.’’ Lev.9:22

Additional reading: Num. 6:22 – 26; Deut. 21:5; Luk. 24:50.

No doubt, this marked Aaron’s first public function as the high priest after a long induction in the hands of Moses. But before this first official function, he needed to be ordained as the high priest (mediator) right before the entire congregation of Israel. In this regard, the LORD spoke to Moses saying:

‘‘Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread; And gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.’’ (Lev. 8:2 – 4).

God had indeed nominated Aaron and his sons to the office of priests but they could not function until the tabernacle and all other vessels, which were necessary for a proper functioning of their role as priests had been put in place. Having done so, it became necessary to publicly ordain them as priests appointed by God Himself. I believe that God instructed His servant Moses to do this public ordination to wipe out all doubts that Moses on his own chose his brother and his sons to impose their will on the entire community of Israel as the sons of Levi had earlier been accused of taking too much upon themselves.

Accordingly, Moses prepared Aaron and his sons for their role as mediators for Israel in these steps: (1.) Moses washed Aaron and his sons in water. This signified purification from sin — that they were to purify themselves from all tendencies to sin and ensure purity in their lives at all times. (2.) They were clothed with holy garments. This signified dignity of their calling as priests. (3.) Aaron and his sons were anointed with holy oil. By this, they were sanctified — officially and publicly pronounced, proclaimed and dedicated into their priestly office in the view of all. (4.) A bull was offered for a sin offering — this was typically the biggest offering — an offering for purification from sin and to terminate their period of uncleanness so that their old ways of sinful life would not bear on their new life (Lev. 12:6), and to purify them from unintentional sins (Lev. 4:2; 5: 1 – 4). (5.) A ram was sacrificed — it was a thing of honour to be ordained as a priest, thus, they returned the glory and honour to God through this act. (6.) A second ram was brought for a peace offering and its blood smeared on different parts of their body — ear, thumb and toe — it meant that all their days they would give attendance to the details of their calling. (7.) Aaron and his sons then presented their special gift to the LORD — wave offering — the unleavened bread. The entire ceremony lasted for seven days.

Then on the eighth day, the instruction, which eventually ushered Aaron into performing his first public assignment, was given. Aaron was to take a young bull and a ram without defect and offer them to the LORD. The bull was for a sin offering while the ram for a burnt offering. The people of Israel were to take a male goat of a year old for a sin offering and a lamb of a year old for a burnt offering. Also, they were to take a bull and a ram for a fellowship offering along with grain offering mixed with oil. This was necessary because the glory of God was to appear to them that day.

Now, read this: ‘‘Moses said, ‘The LORD has commanded you to do all this, so that the dazzling light of his presence can appear to you.’ Then he said to Aaron, ‘Go to the altar and offer the sin offering and the burnt offering to take away your sins and the sins of the people. Present this offering to take away the sins of the people, just as the LORD commanded.’ ’’ (Lev.9: 6 – 7). You must bear in mind the fact that Aaron and his sons had just been openly consecrated — ordained as priest. As priests called from amongst the people for things pertaining to men as their mediators, they needed to get on the job. So, this was his first official assignment as high priest and assisted by his sons who were the priests.

One sacrifice after another, Aaron and his sons did as instructed by the LORD through Moses. After performing the rituals, Aaron raised his hands and blessed the congregation and in company of Moses both of them entered the Tent of the LORD and as they came out, God’s glory appeared over the Tent of meeting and a fire from the LORD came and consumed the offering. ‘‘He and Moses went into the sacred tent, and when they came out, they gave the people their blessing. Then the LORD appeared to the people in all of his glory. The LORD sent fiery flames that burned up everything on the altar, and when everyone saw this, they shouted and fell to their knees to worship the LORD.’’ (Vv. 22 – 23 CEV).

Note the following: (1.) Moses and Aaron gave the people their blessing as they emerged from the tabernacle. (2.) The LORD appeared to the people in all of His glory. (3.) Fire consumed the offering. (4.) Then, the people shouted and fell on their knees to worship the LORD.

To bless simply means to confer or pronounce words of goodness, prosperity or increase on an individual — words that would influence the outcome of someone’s life. And the full text of this priestly blessing as conferred on Israel by Aaron the high priest is contained in Numbers 6: 24 – 26. ‘‘The LORD bless thee, and keep thee…’’ That God should cause prosperity and increase upon His people and keep them from harm. ‘‘The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious upon thee…’’ That God should take pleasure in His people and be favourable to them. ‘‘The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace’’ That Israel should be lacking in nothing, thus, resulting in the peace and well – being of the land.

While the people were being blessed, the LORD appeared in all of His glory. ‘‘…and the glory [kabod … properly weight, honour] of the LORD appeared unto all the people.’’ In other words, God manifested His fullness — what makes Him God — His honour before the people — His Shekinah glory. And as this happened, the fire of the LORD consumed the offering signifying God’s total acceptance. More so, this was a confirmation that He indeed called and ordained Aaron and his sons and that they had followed His instructions as given by the hands of Moses. And in total surrender to the will, power and presence of the Almighty God that had overwhelmed the entire congregation, they bowed in worship. Aaron could now fully play his role as high priest mediating between God and the people of Israel so that they could maintain an unhindered relationship with the LORD.

This is instructive: Aaron blessed the people after their sins had been atoned.  It points to the fact that it is only in righteousness and holiness that this conferment was to abide with the people. Therefore, the born again child of God will be a partaker of God’s blessing only by abstaining from all appearances of evil (sin).

Meditation: Am I living a life of sin yet wander why God’s blessings seem far from me? Do I expect to see God’s glory in my life yet I do not keep to His rules or instructions?

Prayer: I lay my life before You that sin shall have no dominion over me. Let none of Your words of blessings be withheld, but let each one of them be fulfilled in me.

 

 

“…animal sacrifice was the only means through which a sinner could approach God — animal sacrifice drew one closer to God in fellowship, yet it was temporary and imperfect…” REAL LIFE Expository Study Devotional 5 – THe Making of the Nation of God 3: The Levitical Code of Worship and Separation

Day 10:  The offerings in summary

‘‘If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.’’ Lev. 1:3
Additional reading: Lev. 2:1; 3:1; 4:3; 5:14 – 15
It is expedient to have a recap at this point.  This is The Making of the Nation of God 3: The Levitical Code of Worship and Separation. I pointed out from the very beginning of this series – The Making of the Nation of God 1: From Adam to the Entering into Egypt that God made man in His image for man to know Him, love Him and be with Him forever. But for sin, man fell short of God’s glory and was therefore expelled from God’s presence. However, God put in place a divine machinery to redeem fallen man from sin.

God called Abraham as part of His plan to redeem man. He promised to make a great nation through him. God also did not fail to inform Abraham that in time to come his children would end up as slaves in a foreign land. Having pointed this out, God went on to say that in due time He would deliver them from their land of slavery and give to them a land of their own — one flowing with milk and honey. In part fulfilment to these promises, Abraham and Sarah who were all past the age to have children celebrated the birth of Isaac. From Isaac came Esau and Jacob and from Jacob came the twelve tribes that ended up as slaves in Egypt in a bid to survive the famine that ravished their then world.

The Making of the Nation of God 2: The Exodus was an expose of God’s great act of deliverance of Israel, His chosen nation from the strong hands of Pharaoh and his sham gods. One after another all the gods of Egypt fell to the power of the God of Israel. In God’s first encounter with Moses He instructed Moses to tell Pharaoh this: ‘‘Then tell him that I have said, ‘Israel is my first – born son, and I commanded you to release him, so he could worship me. But you refused, and now I will kill your first – born son.’ ’’ ( Exo. 4: 22 – 23 CEV). ‘‘Then you must tell him that I, the LORD, say, ‘Israel is my first – born son. I told you to let my son go, so that he might worship me, but you refused. Now I am going to kill your first – born son.’ ’’ (GNB). This was God’s desire — to have a nation named after Him worship Him in spirit and in truth. But this could not be except a separation from sin took place. So, God enacted the Exodus of His children from Egypt a symbol of sin to another place where they could worship Him.

But even after the Exodus, Israel could still not worship God freely despite God’s personal desire to live in the midst of His children. To enable man access His throne of grace, God put in place the Levitical code, which was a set of rules that instructed the anointed priests of specific sacrifices to be performed in order to atone for the sins of the people so that they could fellowship with Him. These rules also set the standard for a holy living amongst the children of Israel, which marked them out from other nations. As God is holy, holiness was to be the hallmark in the camp of Israel; else no one could enter His presence.

Different sacrifices were instituted by God as a means through which the anointed priests could atone for the people and have their sins forgiven before they could commune with God. These included the law of the burnt offering, the meat or grain offering, peace offering, sin offering and the trespass offering.

And so in order to bridge the gap between a holy God and a sinful people God told Moses: ‘‘If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.’’ The word offering is translated thus: offering [qorban — something brought near the altar, i.e. a sacrificial present: – oblation, that is offered, offering]. Then in Leviticus 2:1 we read: ‘‘And when any will offer a meat offering unto the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil upon it, and put frankincense thereon…’’ This word is also repeated here and translated thus: offering [qorban — something brought near the altar, i.e. a sacrificial present: – oblation, that is offered, offering]]. Then, the word offer [[qarab — a primitive root; to approach (causatively bring near) for whatever purpose:- approach, case to approach, bring, cause to bring, bring forth, bring near, come, cause to come near, come nigh, draw near, be at hand, join, be near, offer, present, produce…].

I said earlier that sin separated God’s people from Him. Therefore, He put in place the different laws as stated above so that the priests could make sacrifices on their behalf to atone for their sins. An offering is something brought near the altar, which is a sacrificial present. To offer on the other hand means to approach — to bring near, draw near, etc. So, whatever the people brought before God as prescribed by the law was the only means through which they could approach God in worship, fellowship or communion. In other words, what they brought, be it a lamb, goat, bull, flour, etc was an atonement that made it possible for them to access God — what they brought before the altar as sacrifice made it possible for them to approach God for by it their sins were forgiven (atoned). What they brought drew them near God. Also, what they brought as sacrifice joined them together with God in fellowship.

Note the following: the burnt offering was atonement for unintentional sin and a voluntary act of worship that expressed ones devotion, complete surrender and commitment to the LORD. The grain or meat offering was also a voluntary act of worship done in recognition of God’s providence, thus, signifying ones commitment and devotion to God. The peace offering was a communal meal and a sacrifice in thanks for what God has done for an individual. It was also a voluntary act of worship. The sin offering was compulsory. It was for unintentional sin and cleansed one from defilement, thoughtlessness, neglect, etc. It restored a sinner back to God and showed the seriousness of sin. The trespass offering, which was also compulsory compensated for injured parties being God and a neighbour. It required restitution.

But whatever the case may be, God instituted these laws so that the sins of His people could be forgiven in order for them to draw near Him in worship. However, these sacrifices were temporary and imperfect as the blood of goats and bulls could not blot away the sins of the people.
But Jesus Christ our High Priest entered the Holy of holies once and for all and by His blood we all can enter boldly into God’s throne without condemnation. Paul writing in this vein said: ‘‘Christ came as the high priest of the good things that are now here. He also went into a much better tent that wasn’t made by humans and that doesn’t belong to this world. Then Christ went once for all into the most holy place and freed us from sin forever. He did this by offering his own blood instead of the blood of goats and bulls. According to the Law of Moses, those who became unclean are not fit to worship God. Yet they will be considered clean, if they are sprinkled with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a sacrificed calf. But Christ was sinless, and he offered himself as an eternal and spiritual sacrifice to God. That’s why his blood is much more powerful and makes our conscience clear. Now we can serve the living God and no longer do things that lead to death. Christ died to rescue those who had sinned and broken the old agreement. Now he brings his chosen ones a new agreement with its guarantee of God’s eternal blessing!’’ (Heb. 9:11 – 15 CEV).
The King James Version renders verse 14 in this manner: ‘‘How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?’’ The word offered is translated thus in Greek: ‘‘How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered [prosphero — to bear towards, i.e. lead to, tender (especially to God) treat: – bring (to, unto) deal with, do, offer (unto, up), present unto, put to] himself…’’
According to the Laws of Moses, animal sacrifice was the only means through which a sinner could approach God — animal sacrifice drew one closer to God in fellowship, yet it was temporary and imperfect. But unlike the days of old when animal sacrifice was a daily affair because of its deficiencies, the blood of Jesus was shed once and for all so that we can enter (approach) God’s presence and worship Him. The blood of Jesus bears us towards God with clear conscience. ‘‘…think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out.’’ (MSG). The blood of Jesus presents us to God as holy, so we can worship the LORD without fear of condemnation — without fear of being judged.
Meditation: If not for the blood of Jesus Christ, how many goats, bulls and rams would I have had to offer to appease God to enter His presence?
Prayer: No more do I have to offer any sacrifice; all because of the blood of Jesus Christ. Thank You LORD.

“…the trespass offering compensated for injured parties. The death of Jesus Christ abolished the consequences of sin…” REAL LIFE Expository Study Devotional 5 – The Making of the Nation of God 3: The Levitical Code of Worship and Separation

 

Day 9: Trespass offering.

‘‘And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the LORD; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekels of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering…’’ Lev. 5:14-15

Additional reading:  Exo. 30: 13; Lev. 4:2; 22:14 – 16; 27: 25; Num. 5:5 – 8; Ezra 10:19

Is it possible for someone to commit trespass against the LORD?  What about my neighbour? How then does one commit trespass, and if one does what are the remedies? But before this, what is trespass?

The bible says as instructed by God: ‘‘…If a soul commit [ma al … a primitive root; properly to cover up; used only figuratively to act covertly, i.e. treacherously: – transgress, trespass, commit trespass, do a trespass, trespassing] a trespass [ma al … treachery, i.e. sin: – falsehood, grievously, sore, transgression, trespass, very], and sin through ignorance [segaga … a mistake or inadvertent  transgression:- error, go, astray, sin ignorantly], in the holy things of the LORD…’’

To commit here means to cover up, but figuratively, it means to act covertly, i.e. treacherously. Interestingly, the word trespass as we have seen also means treachery. Commit and treachery are no doubt from the same root word ma al (Hebrew). To act covertly means to do something in the secret. While treachery itself means a disloyal action or behaviour that shows that one is not loyal to a person who trusts him. To sin in ignorance here simply means to make a mistake through our actions or act inadvertently — to do something without realising what one has done — a mistake you would say.

The second part of the statement says: ‘‘… in the holy things of the LORD…’’ So, in the holy things [qodes … a sacred place or thing; rarely abstract sanctity:- consecrated, consecrated thing, dedicated, dedicated thing, hallowed, hallowed thing, holiness, holy, most holy, holy day, holy portion, holy thing, most holy thing, saint, sanctuary] of the LORD…’’

Therefore, to commit a trespass and sin through ignorance in the holy things of the LORD would mean to do something — act in a disloyal way or express a behaviour that shows that one is disloyal to God but without realising that what one did was wrong. In the holy things of the LORD implies the abuse of Sanctuary (dedicated or holy) items used in the service of the LORD and embezzlement of tithes, offerings, first fruits and other hallowed things brought before the LORD.

Read this: ‘‘If anyone commits a breach of faith and sins unwittingly in the holy things of the Lord, he shall bring his trespass or guilt offerings to the Lord, a ram without blemish out of the flock, valued by you in shekels of silver, that is, the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass or guilt offering.’’ (AMP). ‘‘When a person betrays his trust and unknowingly sins by straying against any of the holy things of GOD, he is to bring as his penalty to GOD a ram without any defect from the flock, the value of the ram assessed in shekels, according to the Sanctuary shekels for a Compensation – Offering.’’ (MSG). ‘‘The LORD told Moses what the people must do to make things right when they find out they have cheated the LORD without meaning to: If this happens, you must either sacrifice a ram that has nothing wrong with it or else pay the price of a ram with the official money used by the priests.’’ (CEV). ‘‘if any of you sin unintentionally by failing to hand over the payments that are sacred to the LORD…’’ (GNB).

In order to atone for his sins, the offender was expected to bring a ram without defect before the priest. This was called the Compensation offering. He was also expected to make a restitution of 20 per cent in addition to the ram he was bringing before the priest. ‘‘Anyone else who accidentally does so, must pay for the food plus a fine of twenty percent. I warn you not to treat lightly the offerings that are brought by the people of Israel. Don’t let them become guilty of eating this sacred food. Remember — I am the LORD, the one who makes these offerings holy.’’ (Lev. 22: 14 – 16 CEV).’’ Again, ‘‘In addition, you must pay what you owe plus a fine of twenty percent. Then the priest will offer the ram as a sacrifice to make things right, and you will be forgiven.’’ (CEV).

Trespass offering was also required whenever a Jew offended a fellow Jew through an unacceptable behaviour. This was instituted to regulate the right kind of relationship built on trust, love and fear of the LORD amongst the Jews in camp. It constantly reminded them of God’s command to love their neighbours as they loved themselves. ‘‘When anyone sins by betraying trust with GOD by deceiving his neighbour regarding something entrusted to him, or by robbing or cheating or threatening him; or if he has found something lost and lies about it and swears falsely regarding any of these sins that people commonly commit… (Lev. 6:2 – 3 MSG). It was to check lies, deceit, stealing, theft and robbery, conversion of neighbours’ property and other fraudulent habits amongst God’s people. No one was to bear false witness against another, no one was to covert a neighbour’s good kept in his care, no one was defraud another in business, no one was to rob, steal or threaten a fellow.

This was considered a great sin not just against the immediate neighbour who was the victim, but against God Himself: ‘‘When anyone sins by betraying trust with GOD by deceiving his neighbour…’’ Also, ‘‘An offering is to be made if any of you sin against the LORD by refusing to return what another Israelite has left as a deposit or by stealing something from him or by cheating him.’’ (GNB). And another: ‘‘The LORD told Moses what the people must do when they commit other sins against the LORD: You have sinned if you robbed or cheat someone, if you keep back money or valuables left in your care, or if you find something and claim not to have it.’’ (CEV).

How did one sin against God by breaking the above law? Very simple; God is the Creator of all; therefore, any sin against anyone created in His image was considered a sin against God Himself. It could only be forgiven through restitution and atonement: ‘‘When this happens, you must return what doesn’t belong to you and pay the owner a fine of twenty percent. In addition, you must either bring to the priest a ram that has nothing wrong with it or else pay him for one. Then the priest will then offer it as a sacrifice to make things right and you will be forgiven for what you did wrong.’’ (Lev. 6: 4 – 6 CEV). So, it was a taboo for a Jew to defraud his brother in whatever form. It was a sin against God, which could only be forgiven through atonement and restitution.

In summary, then, the trespass offering compensated for injured parties. The death of Jesus Christ abolished the consequences of sin.

Meditation: How do I handle the holy things (tithes, offerings, etc) of the LORD? How often do I offend God by depriving my brother or sister of their rights? Can I be trusted with other people’s property?

Prayer: Let me be strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit to love my neighbour as I love myself. And by loving my neighbour, I pray that I may see You.

REAL LIFE expository Study Devotional – The Making of the Nation of God 3 : The Levitical Code of Worship and Separation

Day 8: Sin Offering.

‘‘If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin offering.’’ Lev. 4:3

Additional reading: Exo. 40:15; Lev. 3:1; 4: 14; 8:12; 9:2,7; Ezek. 43:19

Many times we sin, yet we remain unaware of our sins. This is not to say that one did not sin. The fact that you were unaware of you sin is no reason for you to continue sinning. Even though you were unaware, it remained sin before God. In order to stop this evil tide, God put in place the sin offering so that His children would became aware of this kind of sins and stop repeating them. Usually, the offender would offer sacrifice before God and receive forgiveness from God. The classes of people involved were the priests, congregation, rulers, the common people, and the very poor. Every class was expected to present his offering before God according to his status. This explains why there was a disparity in their offerings.

God told Moses: ‘‘If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin offering. And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock’s head, and kill the bullock before the LORD.’’ (Lev. 4:3-4). A mere reading of these verses may not give one a true picture of what they actually contain. We will have to look at some key words:

‘‘If the priest [kohen — literally one officiating, a priest also (by courtesy) an acting priest (although a layman):- chief ruler, own, priest, priest, prince, principal officer] that is anointed [masiah — anointed; usually a consecrated person (as a king, priest, or saint); specifically the Messiah:- anointed, Messiah] do sin according to the sin [asma — guiltiness, a fault, the presentation of a sin – offering:- offend, sin, trespass offering, cause of trespass, trespassing] of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin offering. And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock’s head, and kill the bullock before the LORD.’’

If the priest — the one officiating, the chief ruler or the principal officer that is anointed — a consecrated person — set apart for a specific service — as a king, priest or saint do sin — cause of trespass, trespassing… This is the message: If the priest (the high priest) sins and brings guilt on the people, or if the sin of the high priest causes the people to sin, then he must offer this sacrifice… (Author’s words). In other words, the sin of the priest could be a cause of trespass in the camp, i.e. whenever the priest sins, it is assumed that the entire congregation has sinned, so it must be atoned for. The New Living Translation puts it this way: ‘‘If the high priest sins, bringing guilt upon the entire community, he must give a sin offering for the sin he has committed.’’ Then the New International Version: ‘‘If the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people…’’

Is it not amazing that even the priests were not excluded from offering sacrifices for their sins? This is because they were appointed as priests (with infirmities) from amongst their brothers. And because they were human, they could sin as their people did, though their sin brought guilt upon the people — the entire community. This is instructive; no servant of God should think he is above sin. Those having spiritual authority over others should realise that their actions have a wider effect — the entire congregation of God — now the church could suffer. Therefore, caution must be taken by all who are in the service of the LORD.

Please note the following:

‘‘And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty; When the sins, which they have sinned against it, is known, then the congregation shall offer a bullock for the sin, and bring him before the tabernacle of the congregation.’’ (vv. 13-14)

‘‘When a ruler hath sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD his God concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty; Or if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge; he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a male without blemish…’’ (vv. 22-23)

‘‘And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned.’’ (vv. 27-28)

‘‘And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing…’’ ( Lev. 5:1)

‘‘Or a soul touch any unclean thing…’’ (v.2)

‘‘Or if he touch the uncleanness of man…’’ (v.3)

‘‘Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good… He shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD…a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats….’’ (vv.4-13)

The sin of ignorance [saga — to stray (causatively mislead), usually (figuratively) to mistake, especially (morally) to transgress … go astray, cause to go stray, deceive, err, err, be ravished, sin through ignorance, wander, let wander, make to wander]. The sin of ignorance is that committed out of mistake — unintentional — going astray from the laws of God unintentionally. ‘‘If the whole congregation sins unintentionally by straying from one of the commandments of GOD that must not be broken, they become guilty even though no one is aware of it.’’ (v. 13 MSG). They may not be aware of their sins but before God they have sinned, thus atonement was needed.

The procedures for atonement for all categories of persons were essentially the same: The offender is to present his sacrifice at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting in the presence of GOD, lay his hands on the animal confessing his sins because remission of sin cannot take place without confession of guilt (Psa. 32:5; Prov. 28:13). Then, slaughter it before God. By laying hands on the animal, the animal identifies with the guilt of the offender. The priest is to take some of the animal’s blood to the Tent of Meeting, dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle it seven times before the LORD — in front of the curtains of the Sanctuary.

The priest will then rob some of the blood on the horns of the Altar and pour the rest at the base of the Altar signifying the pouring out of his soul in true repentance before God as Christ poured out His blood as there is no remission of sins without the shedding of blood. The entire fat is to be removed as in the case of peace offering and burnt on the Altar unto the LORD. This act brought honour to God as against the act of sin which dishonoured God. Then, the other parts — skin, meat, head, legs, etc, are to be taken outside the camp and burnt. Sin is detestable in the sight of God, so it must be dealt with outside the camp. Jesus demonstrated this when He dealt with sin outside the camp (Rom.6:6; Heb.13:11-13).

While the high priest and the congregation presented a bullock — a young bull for their sin offering, an elder brought a male goat, a common man presented a female goat or lamb; the poor sacrificed a dove or pigeon and the very poor fine flour. This was in respect to their status or ability.

The sin offering was compulsory for unintentional sins — cleansing from defilement, thoughtlessness, neglect, etc. Though God made provision for unintentional sin, He made no provision for intentional sin as all offenders were sentenced to death (Num.15:30-31; Heb. 10:28).

The sin offering restored a sinner back to fellowship with God. It also showed the seriousness of sin. By the death of Jesus Christ outside the camp, we have been restored to fellowship with God once and for all.

Meditation: Am I still living with the pollutions of sin?

Prayer: I lay myself bare at Your feet and confess all my sins. Cleanse me thoroughly with the blood of Your Son that I can fellowship with You without guilt.