Leviticus 4

* The sin-offering of ignorance for the priest. (1-12) For the

whole congregation. (13-21) For a ruler. (22-26) For any of the

people. (27-35)

1-12 Burnt-offerings, meat-offerings, and peace-offerings, had

been offered before the giving of the law upon mount Sinai; and

in these the patriarchs had respect to sin, to make atonement

for it. But the Jews were now put into a way of making atonement

for sin, more particularly by sacrifice, as a shadow of good

things to come; yet the substance is Christ, and that one

offering of himself, by which he put away sin. The sins for

which the sin-offerings were appointed are supposed to be open

acts. They are supposed to be sins of commission, things which

ought not to have been done. Omissions are sins, and must come

into judgment: yet what had been omitted at one time, might be

done at another; but a sin committed was past recall. They are

supposed to be sins committed through ignorance. The law begins

with the case of the anointed priest. It is evident that God

never had any infallible priest in his church upon earth, when

even the high priest was liable to fall into sins of ignorance.

All pretensions to act without error are sure marks of

Antichrist. The beast was to be carried without the camp, and

there burned to ashes. This was a sign of the duty of

repentance, which is the putting away sin as a detestable thing,

which our soul hates. The sin-offering is called sin. What they

did to that, we must do to our sins; the body of sin must be

destroyed, #Ro 6:6|. The apostle applies the carrying this

sacrifice without the camp to Christ, #Heb 13:11-13|.
13-21 If the leaders of the people, through mistake, caused

them to err, an offering must be brought, that wrath might not

come upon the whole congregation. When sacrifices were offered,

the persons, on whose behalf they were devoted, were to lay

their hands on the heads of the victims, and to confess their

sins. The elders were to do so, when the sacrifices were offered

for the whole congregation. The load of sin was supposed then to

be borne by the guiltless animal. When the offering is

completed, it is said, atonement is made, and the sin shall be

forgiven. The saving of churches and kingdoms from ruin, is

owing to the satisfaction and mediation of Christ.
22-26 Those who have power to call others to account, are

themselves accountable to the Ruler of rulers. The sin of the

ruler, committed through ignorance, must come to his knowledge,

either by the check of his own conscience, or by the reproof of

his friends; both which even the best and greatest, not only

should submit to, but be thankful for. That which I see not,

teach thou me, and, Show me wherein I have erred, are prayers we

should put up to God every day; that if, through ignorance, we

fall into sin, we may not through ignorance abide in it.
27-35 Here is the law of the sin-offering for a common person.

To be able to plead, when charged with sin, that we did it

ignorantly, and through the surprise of temptation, will not

bring us off, if we have no interest in that great plea, Christ

hath died. The sins of ignorance committed by a common person,

needed a sacrifice; the greatest are not above, the meanest are

not below Divine justice. None, if offenders, were overlooked.

Here rich and poor meet together; they are alike sinners, and

welcome to Christ. From all these laws concerning the

sin-offerings, we may learn to hate sin, and to watch against

it; and to value Christ, the great and true Sin-offering, whose

blood cleanses from all sin, which it was not possible that the

blood of bulls and of goats should take away. For us to err,

with the Bible in our hands, is the effect of pride, sloth, and

carelessness. We need to use frequent self-examination, with

serious study of the Scriptures, and earnest prayer for the

convincing influences of God the Holy Spirit; that we may detect

our sins of ignorance, repent, and obtain forgiveness through

the blood of Christ.
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