SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- In chapter four of Leviticus we move on to the sin offering. What's the difference between this sin offering and the burnt offering we read about in chapter one? The burnt offering was a voluntary act of worship and devotion, and made atonement for unintentional sin in general. The sin offering was a mandatory offering for specific unintentional sins, seeking God's forgiveness and cleansing.
- Sacrifices were required even if the person sinned "unintentionally" (verse 2). Ignorance did not take away guilt.
- The animal being sacrificed had to be "without defect" (verse 3). The idea is that a defective sacrifice could not substitute for defective people. Only a perfect sacrifice could take way the sins of imperfect people.
- The person offering the sacrifice was to put his hand on its head first (verses 4 and 29). The idea is that the person is identifying with the animal being sacrificed on his or her behalf.
- Just as the animal had to be without defect, for Jesus' sacrifice to take away our sins, he had to have lived a sinless life. And that is exactly what he did. The Bible repeatedly teaches Jesus' sinlessness, and that it was critical for us. For instance, 2 Corinthians 5:21, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." And Hebrews 9:14, "How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!"
- So Jesus had to be sinless for his sacrifice to take our sins away. And, as with the person in Leviticus putting his hand on the head of the animal, we have to identify with Jesus for his sacrifice to count on our behalf. Jesus' sacrifice does not take away the sins of everyone, but only those who admit their sin and choose to identify with what Jesus did on the cross through their faith.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- We need to identify with Jesus. Initially, we identify with Jesus' sacrifice on the cross through putting our faith in it to remove our sins. Then we continue to identify with Jesus through letting others know that we are Christians and follow Jesus. Jesus said that it is critical that we don't hide or deny knowing him, but instead freely admit that we are with him (see Matthew 10:32-33). How are you doing at letting people know that you follow Jesus? Do your friends and co-workers and neighbors know about your faith? Do you look for opportunities to mention that you believe? If not, what are some (non-obnoxious) ways that you could do that this week?