Our Sin Offering - Our Sins Are His
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. He is to present the bull at the entrance to the tent of meeting before the Lord. He is to lay his hand on its head and slaughter it there before the Lord. Then the anointed priest shall take some of the bull's blood and carry it into the tent of meeting. He is to dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle some of it seven times before the Lord, in front of the curtain of the sanctuary. The priest shall then put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense that is before the Lord in the tent of meeting. The rest of the bull's blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He shall remove all the fat from the bull of the sin offering – all the fat that is connected to the internal organs, both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which he will remove with the kidneys – just as the fat is removed from the ox sacrificed as a fellowship offering. Then the priest shall burn them on the altar of burnt offering. But the hide of the bull and all its flesh, as well as the head and legs, the internal organs and the intestines – that is, all the rest of the bull – he must take outside the camp to a place ceremonially clean, where the ashes are thrown, and burn it there in a wood fire on the ash heap. (Leviticus 4:1-12 NIV)
The sin offering is unlike the first three sweet offerings – burnt, grain and peace – which please God with their aroma. Also, the sin offering is compulsory while the sweet offerings are not. The one who sinned must make the sin offering. The instructions for the sin offerings are comprehensively given for four categories: for the sins committed by the anointed priest, the whole Israelite community, the leader and any member of the community.
The anointed priest is interestingly and intentionally the first in this list of instructions. Aaron was the first anointed priest. But the Jews also looked forward to the coming of another Anointed One, the Messiah. The Hebrew word for ‘Anointed’ is masah, which is also the root word for mashiyach, the Messiah whom the Jews eagerly awaited for, as prophesied by Isaiah.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. (Isaiah 61:1 NIV)
Why did God put the anointed priest in a separate category and not among the community? God had already planned for Jesus to come as the High Priest.
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4 NIV)
The writer of Hebrews was a learned scholar and what he wrote could well represent the sentiments of the Jews then. The rituals didn’t make sense, as even the high priest would succumb to sin. So as the writer of Hebrews explained, Jesus is the Messiah, God’s ultimate anointed high priest.
Jesus is the “anointed priest” and also the sacrifice (“bull without defects”). Now imagine Jesus (as the anointed priest) laying his own hands on himself (as the sacrifice) and all the sins were transferred to the sacrifice. How did Jesus, who is perfect, have sins to transfer over?
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV)
God made Jesus to be sin for us. His sin came from us. God is saying to us, “You are mine, your sins are mine. I will take on all your sins. Your debt is mine. I will pay for them because I AM, because I am your Abba, your daddy. Because I LOVE YOU.
David wrote this prophetic psalm about Jesus:
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire – but my ears you have opened – burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come – it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:6-8 NIV)
David understood that sacrifices and offerings didn’t make sense at all. He knew God did not require these offerings, and yet God expected them to be made. But why?
Because God is not only thinking about our sacrifices in Leviticus 4, He was already planning for His own sacrifice of His son, Jesus. My sins are His sins. Your sins are His sins. Our sins are His sins. Do we see God’s love for us? Do we get the sense that our God is a God who walks the talk? That is how much God loves us, He will not ask for something we cannot do, and those things we cannot do, He did it for us – Jesus died on the cross for us.
The writer of Hebrews describes how Jesus set aside the offering, which David had rightfully said God doesn’t need, “He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:5-10)
Can we pray to God to open our ears like David’s? What is the difference between the expectation of God and the requirement of God? God expected the offering and sacrifices but God did not require them. I expect my children to love me but I don’t require them to love me, they have free choice. God expects us to be obedient to his Words, love and worship Him, love one another and the poor, but He does not require them. God desires our hearts as we do them, not our obligation.
This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Hebrews 8:10 NIV)
Then the anointed priest shall take some of the bull's blood and carry it into the tent of meeting. He is to dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle some of it seven times before the Lord, in front of the curtain of the sanctuary. (Leviticus 4:5-6 NIV)
Do we remember what happened when Jesus died on the cross?
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Mark 15:37-38 NIV)
When Jesus gave up his spirit, the curtain of the temple tore. At that time, what Jesus the High Priest did was similar to Leviticus 4:5-6 – “dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle some of it seven times before the Lord, in front of the curtain of the sanctuary.” Imagine our blood sprinkled before the Lord seven times. That’s how much of our blood has been spared. As a father of three, whatever mistakes and debts my children incur, I will help them and ‘suck’ them up. God, our Father loves us much more than we love our own children. And because of the love of Jesus, we get to enter the Holy of the Holies in Heaven.
God loves us. My sins are His. Your sins are His. Our Sins are His.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit.