“When the sin that the entire community of Israel has committed becomes known, then the assembly is to offer a young bull as a purification offering and bring it before the tent of meeting. The leaders of the community are to lay their hands on the bull’s head and slaughter the bull in the presence of Adonai.“-Leviticus 4:14-15
We are in the process of studying the Purification Offering or the HATTA-AT in Hebrew.
Most Bibles will call this sacrifice the “Sin Offering”.
I think this is misleading because this sacrifice wasn’t offered up to pay for the sin committed but to purify one from the polluting effects caused by the sin.
So I have taken the liberty of rendering the HATTA-AT the “Purification Offering”.
This may seem like a subtle distinction but I think it’s important to understand.
The nature of sin is far more complex than the Gentile church has made it out to be.
With this Purification Offering, the procedures differ depending on, in order of importance, whether the High Priest, ALL Israel, a Tribal Leader, or a Common Person is offering up this sacrifice.
We are now currently in the midst of studying the HATTA-AT procedures when “all of Israel inadvertently sins against the Lord”.
When the High Priest committed an unintentional sin, the most expensive and biggest animal, a 3-year old bull had to be offered up.
However, when the whole congregation unintentionally sinned, the same type of animal, a bull was used, but it was a younger bull called a “yearling”.
This illustrates the close proximity in seriousness the sins of the High Priest and the whole congregation of Israel were from each other.
Because the same type of animal was used to purify for both the High Priest and the whole congregation of Israel.
This also informs us that it is the age difference which determines the value of the animal.
Notice we’re told that the “leaders of the community“ are to lay their hands on the animal.
These representatives are called ZEKENIM in Hebrew.
We’re not told how these folks assumed their positions of authority but one thing we know is that they were NOT the tribal leaders who had inherited their positions.
Instead, these were common people who had risen through the ranks and distinguished themselves as ones having great wisdom, leadership skills, and a heart to serve the people.
There would have been hundreds of these leaders who served the approximately 3 million Israelites.
From among these hundreds, it was the chief elders who stepped forward to lay hands on the sacrificial animal.
Again, recall that the laying on of hands symbolizes that the guilt of the people is now being transferred to the innocent animals.
That animal was going to lose its life to remove the guilt of the people and restore them back to right standing with the Lord.
Understand the situation here is not like the congregation of Israel knew they were sinning against the Lord and up until now were hiding it.
What happened was that they were initially unaware of the wrongdoing they committed but then later something occurred that made them aware.
However, here’s the thing.
Even if they had remained in a state of unawareness, the Lord still pronounces them as guilty.
As far as the Lord is concerned, they would still be living in a state of guilt even if they remained ignorant of their wrongdoing.
This is kind of like being arrested in a foreign country for doing something you didn’t know was wrong.
The “I didn’t know that was wrong!” excuse doesn’t work.
I know this might not seem fair, but if the group properly follows the HATTA-AT procedures, they will be forgiven and have their fellowship with the Lord restored.
And come to think about it, from the sacrificial animal’s perspective this system isn’t fair, is it?
I mean an innocent animal has to lose its life due to the people’s careless trespasses.
The whole takeaway for today is that God’s justice system is NOT man’s justice system.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not my ways,” says Adonai.
“As high as the sky is above the earth
are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
We will be declared guilty according to God’s standard of justice, not ours.
And, we will be DECLARED FORGIVEN according to God’s standard of justice, not ours.
The is the BIGGEST STUMBLING BLOCK for that portion of mankind who chooses to defy the Lord and opt to play god by attempting to judge for themselves what is right and wrong, and what price needs to be paid to set things straight.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“The very stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone”;
also he is
a stone that will make people stumble,
a rock over which they will trip.
-1 Peter 2:7-8