Sin and Restoration: Leviticus 4:3-7

Leviticus 4:3‑7  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The first sin offering mentioned is for the sin of a priest. We then find in the remainder of the chapter that there was a difference made according to the position of the one who had sinned. It is always a principle with God that “to whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:4848But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48)). If the reader of these lines has been brought up in a Christian home, he is much more responsible than others who have not had that privilege.
A Priest’s Responsibility
When one of the priests sinned he was to bring a young bullock without blemish for a sin offering. It was to be a large animal because his sin was the more serious on account of his position among the people of God. He needed to realize in a greater way the awfulness of what sin is before God, if he was to act as a priest on behalf of the people of God. Needless to say, however, each and all of the sacrifices must be without blemish, for they typified the Lord Jesus — the sinless One. The bullock was to be brought to the door of the tabernacle, and there the priest who had sinned must put his hand upon its head. In the other offerings mentioned previously, the putting on of the hands was that the offerer might be identified with the value of the sacrifice, but here it is rather that the guilt might be, as it were, transferred to the animal which was to die in his stead.
Communion Restored
When the bullock had been killed, some of its blood was taken and sprinkled seven times in front of the veil in the holy place. This was only done when one of the priests or the whole congregation sinned. This would show us that when someone who takes a particular place of service among the Lord’s people sins, or when evil becomes a known thing in the assembly, then collective communion is interrupted and needs to be restored. However, once there is a realization of the sin and it is dealt with according to God, then, through the value of the sacrifice, communion is restored. The blood sprinkled seven times before the veil would tell us of this perfect restoration. Of course we must remember that in Christianity the believer’s standing is perfect through Christ’s finished work. Nevertheless our enjoyment of this in a practical way, even collectively, is only realized as sin is confessed and dealt with (1 Corinthians 5:22And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. (1 Corinthians 5:2)).
Collective Worship
Some of the blood was also put upon the horns of the altar of incense. The altar tells us of collective worship. The worship of the assembly is interrupted in a special way if there is some unjudged sin among one who is a leader, or if there is some collectively known sin which is unjudged. Of course any individual sin hinders worship in the assembly, but here it is particularly the sin of a priest or of the assembly as a whole. May we ever remember that holiness becomes God’s house. No doubt much of the lack of communion and happy assembly worship in this day is the result of a lack of watchfulness in these things.
Personal Restoration
After this, the rest of the blood was poured out at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering. This speaks more particularly of meeting the personal guilt of the one who had sinned. Even though the one who had sinned was a priest, he needed personal restoration. How definitely God would emphasize the enormity of sin in His presence. Let us be careful that we do not treat it lightly.
For Further Meditation
1. Why did a priest’s sin require a large animal in sacrifice?
2. We can very easily lose sight of how serious sin is to God. Our will sometimes seems far more important than His. How does God teach us the seriousness of sin and its consequences?
3. We all have a need for Christ’s restoring grace. A good way to dig deeper into the vital topic would be to read the extensive and easy to read pamphlet Backsliding and Restoration: In Relation to the Priesthood and Advocacy of Christ by B. Anstey.