Today we begin Leviticus Chapter 5.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James version, click here.
“If a person who is a witness, sworn to testify, sins by refusing to tell what he has seen or heard about the matter, he must bear the consequences.”-Leviticus 5:1
Even though we’ve now entered Chapter 5 of Leviticus, understand that this chapter is just a continuation of chapter 4.
Up until verse 13 of Leviticus chapter 5 we are still dealing with the HATTA-AT sacrifice or Purification Offering.
I don’t care what the English says in whatever translation you’re reading, verses 1 to 13 are still dealing with the HATTA-AT.
For example, look at verses 5-6 from the Complete Jewish Bible.
“A person guilty of any of these things is to confess in what manner he sinned and bring his guilt offering to Adonai for the sin he committed; it is to be a female from the flock, either a lamb or a goat, as a sin offering; and the cohen will make atonement for him in regard to his sin.”
See where it says “guilt offering”?
That’s really referring to the HATTA-AT or Purification Offering.
We’ll actually be introduced to the real “Guilt Offering” from verse 14.
And although I’m getting ahead of myself I don’t really like that translation “Guilt Offering”, but this is something I’ll explain later.
For now, just understand that VERSES 1-13 ARE STILL DEALING WITH THE HATTA-AT that we’ve been studying from Leviticus chapter 4.
So let’s start getting into the content of verses 1-13.
Verses 1-13 are all dealing with a specific category of wrongdoing known as “Sins of Omission”.
In other words, we are dealing with things THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE but were not.
I remind you that if we’re going to properly understand the rest of the Old Testament, it is well to keep in mind that there are different categories, levels, and classes of trespasses and sin.
In previous teachings I introduced the concept of intentional versus unintentional sin and made it pretty clear that the Levitical sacrificial system only provided atonement for unintentional sins.
On the other hand, if one committed an “intentional” or “high-handed” sin, there was no remedy and the trespasser was executed.
Well, actually Leviticus Chapter 4 introduced us to a new subdivision of intentional sins called “inadvertent” sins.
This meant that the sin committed was done unawares, it was an error or accident.
So here in verses 1-13 of Leviticus, we are introduced to yet another subdivision of unintentional sins:
SINS OF UNINTENTIONAL OMISSION
This is specifically referring to actions that should have been taken but were maybe honestly forgotten or the person in question wasn’t paying attention.
Or maybe some uncontrollable circumstance arose, such as an illness or accident, that prevented the person from doing what he was supposed to do.
From verse 1, were are presented with a variety of examples as to just what the nature of sins of unintentional omission are.
The first situation we are presented with is about someone who hears a public proclamation and apparently knows something about the incident that could shed some light on the matter but he withholds the information.
The person in question was NOT involved in the incident directly but has knowledge that should be shared.
What’s interesting is that the Bible usage of the words “inadvertent” and “omission” don’t quite match our modern use of these words.
If a person has some information that could shed light on a matter but refuses to come forward, is he not doing so intentionally and actively?
Well, from the Lord’s perspective, this doesn’t seem to matter.
The Lord says that the person who should have come forward but didn’t is guilty and thus should be punished.
Or he can perform a Purification Offering and be forgiven.
The ancient Hebrew sages commenting on this point concluded that since the person who refused to come forward only withheld information and technically did not participate in a criminal act, the Lord sees him as only being “negligent” in his duty.
Thus, this type of sin can fall under the class of a SIN OF OMISSION.
The Lord says that for a person to notice wrongdoing and turn a blind eye to it is wrong.
This can sometimes be difficult to put into actual practice because we don’t to be seen as a tattletale or for the sake of being “merciful” we don’t want to see the wrongdoer get in trouble because maybe he or she is a good friend.
As difficult and as uncomfortable as it may be, the Lord maintains that it is your OBLIGATION to report whatever information you have about the wrongdoing to the proper authority.
If you don’t, the Lord says you are guilty of a sin of omission.