Chapter 9 The Sin Offering

Let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin offering (Leviticus 4:3).

Sin is a word with an ominous sound. The word is one of the briefest, but the thing itself dragged angels down from Heaven and ruined our God-created humanity. Our Lord’s cross flung a new and divine light upon sin as the abominable thing which God hates. There was sin upon the earth before the Christ of God died, but it was imperfectly known.

Sin is no trifle with God—it is something He could not overlook. It is something at which God pointed His finger and said in effect, “I hate that, and that, and that.” It marred the beauty of His creation. It brought forth weeds and thorns, and spawned natural calamity. It wrecked a beauteous world.

Sin was man’s ruin. It drove man out of peaceful fellowship with God. It made him a hardened rebel. It brought his mind into total spiritual darkness, his affections into a nest of unclean birds, his will into a den of God-defying schemes. Worst of all, it was the mother of death. It has dug every grave since the world began, and filled the homes of earth’s inhabitants with grief and sorrow. But it reaches beyond death, and has built the prison house of hell, where all is eternal woe. God’s curse is upon it.

The sin offering of Israel is designed to teach us the horrors of sin, and the terrible cost of expiation, but to display, also, the wonders of redeeming grace. The ancient rite in Israel’s law shows the way of escape. The dire consequences of sin need not fall upon the sinner’s head. There is a way of escape from the dread penalty. Its stain can be cleansed away. The debt may be forgiven.

The Good Tidings

Justice and holiness in God demand that each sin bear a merited punishment. Each violation of law must drink the condemnation. With such strong demands from law, the Son of God comes forth from Heaven to save us by meeting the stern terms. He takes the place of the guilty. He stands forth as the representative of His people. He assumes responsibility for all their sins. He suffers for each and all of their sins. Only because He is God can He absorb so much punishment.

But He is the complete sin offering. He pays with His own precious blood. He endures the full and awful wrath of God against the sin of man. His manhood qualifies Him to do this, and His deity upholds Him. It is thus that sin is fully punished, and the redeemed are fully saved. All who believe live and walk in freedom from sin.

The Offender and His Sacrifice

There are differences in men. The first offender here is the priest himself—to teach us that the very holiest of men are sinners, and that none can approach God without an adequate sin offering. Sin has allured, and snared, and defiled the best of men. Even the priest in Israel’s ancient ceremonials must see his own guilt and his need for pardon. Thus he must bring an unblemished young bullock to the tabernacle door. This is a God-given direction, and the offering is a God-chosen one. God Himself has decreed the plan of redemption. He willed the ransom, and His Son achieved it through the Spirit’s aid. The sin offering of Israel speaks of the Saviour to come and clearly shows how atonement is provided by Him.

The offender’s hands must be placed on the victim’s head. This is the transmission of his guilt. The sin of the offender thus passes to the sin offering. Here we are instructed how to roll our sins upon Christ as our Sin-Bearer. And the wages of sin is death. The soul that sinneth must die. Sin and its fruits and penalties are absolute certainties. Whoever bears sin must hear judicial doom before the righteous Judge. If God’s beloved Son bear our sins, then there can be for Him no mitigation of the punishment. God cannot lower His demands, nor abate any of His wrath against sin, even in the case of His beloved Son acting as Substitute.

The Uses of the Blood

The first use of blood is that the veil is sprinkled seven times (Leviticus 4:6). The veil hung before the mercy seat and was the entrance into the holiest of all. This sprinkling means that those who would pass into God’s immediate presence—into His holy Heaven—must be blood-sprinkled. There can be no coming to God without sin-removing blood.

Secondly, the blood was put on the horns of the golden altar (4:7). This was the place from which sweet incense rose, emblem of ascending prayer. Our Lord’s intercession for us prevails because of His shed blood. The blood of Jesus is our strength in its supplication. Nothing can ascend to God, most holy, until it is washed clean from all pollutants. What we are and have must be washed by His blood.

Thirdly, the remainder of the blood was poured out at the bottom of the brazen altar (4:7). Thus all is used to bring assurance to the heart. Each drop of blood has its value. Our atonement needs the whole of our Lord’s sacrifice—all His blood—and the whole is freely given.

The Shame Heaped on the Offering

When the costliest parts were burnt on the altar, we see more than substitutionary death. The sin offering had to be an accursed thing. So then, the remnant of the victim was borne outside the camp and was consumed with fire. This is a picture of Christ made a curse for us (Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 13:11). He is cast out as earth’s refuse. The curse falls upon the Saviour’s cross—“made a curse”—how awful! What a price for Him to pay!

Alas! and did my Saviour bleed?
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Was it for crimes that I have done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Thus might I hide my blushing face,
While His dear cross appears;
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.