Moshe told Aharon, “Approach the altar, offer your sin offering and burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and the people. Then present the offering of the people and make atonement for them, as Adonai ordered.”-Leviticus 9:7
In verse 7, Moses tells Aaron to “Approach the altar”.
Via the pronouncement of that one little phrase, Moses has officially turned over the administration of the priestly rituals to Aaron.
A new era in Israel’s history has just begun.
Israel now has a priesthood.
We’re told that first Aaron is to make atonement on behalf of himself.
This is nothing less than a humble and public admission that even the priests have a corrupt nature that must be atoned for before they can approach and begin serving a most holy God.
For this sacrifice, the HATTA-AT (Purification Offering) and the OLAH (Burnt Offering) is presented.
Next, in verse 15, Aaron offers up the same set of sacrifices on behalf of the people of Israel.
Did you notice that for the priests a young bull was offered up, but for the people of Israel, a goat, which is an animal of lesser value, was offered up?
Why is the the sacrificial animal for the priests a bull and for the common people a goat?
The answer is because the sins that the priests commit carry much greater consequences than the sins of the people.
If there is any one point contrary to gentile Christian teaching that I want you to take away from our study of Leviticus is that the Lord does indeed classify sins.
Some sins are indeed more serious and more dangerous than others.
This is reflected in the fact that different types of animals were offered up depending on which offense was committed.
A mature Bull carried the highest value and was used to atone for the most serious sins.
On the other hand, birds carried the lowest value and were used to atone for the most minor trespasses.
Again, why is it important to know this?
It’s not so we can go around beating each up over the head over who committed the more serious sin.
It’s important because it teaches us the multi-faceted nature of sin.
It shows us the insidious nature of sin and how it can affect and infect others with whom we come into contact.
Sin is not as simple and straightforward a matter as is taught in the Christian churches.
I never really did buy that notion many preachers promote when they say all sins are the same before God.
Are you kidding me?!
Is ripping off a CD from Tower Records the same as committing adultery with my neighbor’s wife.
Of course not.
The absurdity of such a suggestion is pretty obvious I would think.
In order to support their fallacious reasoning, the following NT Pauline verse is often quoted:
“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
What needs to be understood is that Paul here is talking about the corrupted nature of man that separates him from God.
He’s saying all men are in the same boat because they are driven to sin by a corrupt nature.
This reality is reflected in the Levitical sacrificial system via the OLAH and MINCHAH sacrifices which had to be performed daily for all Israel.
No one was exempted and that included the priesthood.
Here’s the thing.
Man’s nature is a separate issue from man’s behavior.
And the Levitical sacrificial system demonstrates this via its various classifications of sins and the sacrificial rituals required to atone for each class.
It was the OLAH and MINCHAH that atoned for man’s corrupt nature and the HATTA-AT and ASHAM that atoned for man’s specific trespasses.
To put it simply, when Paul said “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”, he was talking more about WHO WE ARE as opposed to WHAT WE DO.
And from God’s perspective, when it comes to WHO WE ARE, we are all the same.
We are all born with corrupt natures that need to be atoned for before we can come into fellowship with a most holy God.
WHAT WE DO is quite a different matter altogether.
Swiping a CD is NOT the same as committing adultery.
Telling a lie is NOT the same thing as pulling out a gun and blowing somebody away in cold blood.
The Lord does categorize sins into more or less offensive trespasses.
However, we don’t know to worry about which is which, because the Torah lays it all out for us in super detail.
But we’ve got to study it.