Priesthood: 13. Not Eating the Sin Offering

Leviticus 10:16‑20  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
In the opening of the chapter we have seen God's great dishonor and man's great transgression, in presence of signal grace and not merely of creature responsibility. To this the priests were exposed, and therein the elder sons of Aaron fell. It was despising the Burnt-offering, and God's fire in its acceptance. Then came instruction to guard them against the expression of grief or the allowance of excitement. In these others might indulge, but not those who had the privilege of drawing near to His sanctuary. Their communion too with the holy oblation to Jehovah, and with the more freely enjoyed sacrifices of Peace offerings was duly explained. There remained the solemn injunction that the priests should eat the Sin-offering. Their failure in this respect closes the chapter, deeply appealing to us who, though of a heavenly calling, are no less apt to forget what it speaks to our souls and means before God.
“And Moses diligently sought the goat of the sin-offering, and, behold, it was burnt up; then he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons [that were] left, saying, Why have ye not eaten the sin-offering in the place of the sanctuary? For it [is] most holy; and he hath given it to you, that ye might bear the iniquity of the assembly, to make atonement for them before Jehovah. Behold, its blood was not brought in within the sanctuary: ye should certainly have eaten it in the sanctuary, as I commanded. And Aaron said to Moses, Behold, to-day have they presented their sin-offering and their burnt-offering before Jehovah; and such things as these have befallen me! And had I to-day eaten the sin-offering, would it have been good in the sight of Jehovah? And Moses heard, and it was good in his sight” (vers. 16-20).
Thus the rest of the priestly house, though not guilty of the error fatal to Nadab and Abihu, broke down in a weighty part of their obligations; and all this was, sad to say, at the very start. So humiliating is God's history of man everywhere and at all times, as we may trace from the first Adam to the Second man Who never failed. How blessed for God is His coming and work, and for us who so deeply need it!
Perhaps it would not be possible to find a more wholesome warning for our souls in relation to our brethren, alike set free by the work of Christ to draw near to God, and exhorted as having boldness to enter into the holies by virtue of His blood through the rent veil. It is no presumption, but the “boast of hope” which we are called to hold firm unto the end, that we are in very deed His house, as truly as, and far more blessedly than, the priests were Aaron's. It is a real and rich part of the harvest of blessing we enjoy through redemption; and the Aaronic was comparatively imperfect.
But if we are entitled even now to far greater boldness and access in confidence through the faith of Him, we are bound to identify ourselves in grace with the failures of our brethren, as they with ours. None but the Savior could atone for us. His sufferings on the cross could alone avail to bring us to God. Whatever we had been, He now did reconcile us in the body of His flesh through death; and in Christ Jesus those who were far off are become nigh by His blood, Who is our peace and made the most opposed one, having broken down the middle wall of partition and annulled the enmity in His flesh, that He might form the two in Himself into one new man. Thus it is through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Yet as a fact we all and often offend; and we are exhorted to confess our sins or offenses to one another. Is this all? Far from it, we have to fulfill the type before us, to eat the Sin-offering in the sanctuary, to make the offense of a saint our own seriously in grace before God.
This goes far beyond the kindest feeling. It is so both in the deep sense of what is due to God, and as if we ourselves had offended. This is to bear the iniquity of the assembly, savoring the things that are Christ's, not those of men who would palliate and excuse. Hence it was to be eaten, not in a clean place only like the Peace-offering, but in the holy place. Propitiation had its unique moment; but priestly grace has also its due place and season in nearness to God.
So the Lord, when indicating by His symbolical action in John 13 the gracious but indispensable work He was about to carry on for us on departing to the Father, lets them know that they too were to wash one another's feet. In this it is communion practically with Himself. But here we are as apt to fail through ignorance or carelessness, as Peter did doubly on that occasion.
The apostle Paul too at a later day, who could not but censure the insensibility of the Corinthian saints in 1 Cor. 5, had the joy of learning that they were made sorry according to God, as he expresses it in 2 Cor. 7:99Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. (2 Corinthians 7:9). “What earnest care it wrought in you, yea what clearing of yourselves, yea what indignation, yea what fear, yea what longing, yea what zeal, yea what avenging! In everything ye approved yourselves to be pure in the matter.” Again, to the Galatian saints he writes, “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” instead of meddling with the law of Moses to the hurt of themselves and of each other. Individual responsibility remains true: each shall bear his own burden; but grace would bear one another's burdens.
Intercession with our God and Father is a precious privilege which it is our shame to neglect. It keeps God's rights undiminished, and exercises the heart in saintly love. Let us never forget that grace condemns evil far more profoundly than law did or could; but it holds fast Christ in life and death and thereby the erring believer's title, as it is in unison here below with what He is doing on high as Advocate with the Father.