THE HEBREW OFFERINGS AND FEASTS 7

THE RELIGIOUS LIFE OF THE ANCIENT JEW AS PRESENTED IN THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS

THE OFFERINGS AND THE FEASTS

Part 7 – The Trespass Offering

Leviticus 5:14 – 6:7

We come now to examine the second of the particular offerings that were presented not on a daily basis but on special occasions. The first of these was the sin offering, which was demanded when the sin of ignorance was committed. The second, the trespass offering, was demanded when property was violated. The word trespass means to step over a boundary and go into a forbidden place. In the Old Testament it includes sins such as theft as well as the breaking of God’s sacred law. What makes the trespass offering unique, however, was that restitution was demanded in addition to the sacrifice in order for the offering to be acceptable. In the sin offering we were brought to the realisation that we sin more than we realise. With the trespass offering God is teaching us that sin has a price, which must be paid.

1: The Trespass Against The Holy Things Of The Lord 5:14-19

  • This involved the withholding from the Lord what was rightfully his. It may have been a first-born creature (Exodus 34:19) or the tithe (Leviticus 27:30). I would suggest that it may also involve anything which brings the name of the Lord into disrepute.

  • It was not an intentional and premeditated act. It is a much more serious thing to rob God deliberately as Achan did (Joshua 7:1).

  • The person was not found guilty by a court but rather voluntarily confessed his wrong because his conscience was troubling him.

  • In such a case he offered a ram without blemish, which was valued according to the “shekel of the sanctuary”. There was not the option to offer a dove, a goat or a bullock here, which underscores the gravity of the offence.

  • Whatever he withheld from the Lord had to be returned with the addition of a fifth part. This was to ensure that the offender did not profit from his foolishness.

  • At times it is not enough to confess our sins to the Lord and expect the covering of the precious blood. When the testimony of the church has been violated publicly we may have to pay by accepting the discipline of the Kirk Session (Matthew 18:15-20, 1Cor. 5:1-5, 2Thessalonians 3:6-7). This discipline may involve admonishment, suspension from the Lord’s Table or in the most severe of cases excommunication. Where the offender has a tender conscience there will be an acceptance of the discipline but where there is impenitence there will be rebellion. Where the violation of the Lord does not involve public scandal there must be private confession before the Lord and an effort made to correct that which was wrong; e.g., tithing or a lack of surrender to God.

2: The Trespass Against Fellow Man 6:1-7

  • Stealing the property or possessions of another whether by simple theft or by extortion (deception).

  • Compounding the sin by lying in order to cover tracks.

  • Under the terms of the trespass offering, however, the offender was required to come forward and restore what he had stolen with the addition of the fifth part. If the case went before the courts however the restitution instead of being 20% extra could be as much as 500% (Exodus 22:1). Therefore the trespass offering teaches that it is better to acknowledge our sins because of our consciences rather than wait until we are found out. The proof of our salvation is not that we do not sin but rather it is seen in a tenderness of heart when we do fail. When the conscience convicts we must act. To fail is to numb it as with a hot iron (1Timothy 4:2). We may have wronged another in such a way that neither the law will prosecute nor will the church discipline but still in such cases the court of the conscience demands that we make restitution (1 Timothy 1:18-19).

  • This trespass teaches us that property rights are sacred and to violate them dishonours God. Therefore as Christians we must ensure that we are fair and honest in business.

  • When we wrong our fellow man we should confess our sin and make restitution (Matthew 5:21-26). For some there will be no blessing until debts of this nature are paid. It is not enough to confess our sins to Christ. Where we have wronged others Calvary will not cover what we will not uncover.

  • Again we view the mercy of God in providing a way of forgiveness for this deliberate act of abusing other people’s possessions. Restitution itself while necessary is not enough. There must also be the sacrifice. When we put right what is wrong there is power and cleansing in the blood of Christ.

  • When one does confess his or her sin we as a church are duty bound to accept them and welcome them back to the fellowship. What the Lord forgives we must likewise forgive (Galatians 6:1).

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