"And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the LORD; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering. And he shall bring them unto the priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin offering first, and wring off his head from his neck, but shall not divide it asunder: And he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering upon the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be wrung out at the bottom of the altar: it is a sin offering. And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering, according to the manner: and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him. But if he be not able to bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, then he that sinned shall bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put any frankincense thereon: for it is a sin offering. Then shall he bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it, even a memorial thereof, and burn it on the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: it is a sin offering. And the priest shall make an atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him: and the remnant shall be the priest’s, as a meat offering. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the LORD; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering: And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him. And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity. And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him. It is a trespass offering: he hath certainly trespassed against the LORD." — Leviticus 5:7-19 KJV.
7. Not able to bring a lamb — For the adjustment of the Divine requirements to human ability, see Leviticus 1:14, note. One for a sin offering — This brings the sinner into reconciliation with God. The other for a burnt offering — This typifies the complete consecration of the reconciled sinner, soul, body, and spirit, unto Him who hath redeemed him with his precious blood. The sin sacrifice symbolically brings the penitent offerer into the state of justification, and the whole burnt sacrifice, in like manner, initiates him into entire sanctification.
8. The sin offering first — This direction is important, as it determines the order of the sacrifices. See The Order of the Levitical Sacrifices.
10. According to the manner — See Leviticus 1. 13-17.
The tenth… ephah… flour — The most impoverished person was supposed to be able to present three quarts of sifted wheat or barley flour for the disburdening of his conscience. No oil… neither… frankincense — The addition of these would make a מִנְחָה (mincha), or bread offering, Leviticus 2:2, a eucharistic sacrifice, which could be offered only by one in a state of acceptance with God. The sinner must secure pardon before he offers praise. Says Kurtz: “Oil and incense symbolized the Spirit of God and the prayers of the faithful; the meat offering, always good works; but these are then only good works and acceptable to God when they proceed from the soil of a heart truly sanctified. The sin offering, however, was pre-eminently the atonement offering; the idea of atonement came out so prominently that no room was left for others. The consecration of the person, and the presentation of his good works, to the Lord, had to be reserved for another stage in the sacrificial institute.” How strikingly this corroborates the Wesleyan doctrine of entire sanctification as a work distinct from justification. Jesus, the great Sin Offering, so fills the vision of the penitent sinner that there is no room for the consideration of his other office, by which he is made unto the believer “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification.”
DEFECTS IN HOLY THINGS, 14-19.
15. Commit a trespass — This is the first time that the word מַ֔עַל, to act treacherously, or to be faithless, is found in the Bible. By the use of a new term the sacred writer speaks of a peculiar kind of moral delinquency which flows from human infirmity, neglect, or cowardice. Holy things of the Lord — This relates to deficiencies in the tithes, firstfruits, sacrifices, vows, redemption of the firstborn, and other sources of revenue to the priests, which have occurred through forgetfulness or negligence. Those who had erroneous judgments or short memories in respect to their dues to the house of God — a numerous class, which, unfortunately, did not become extinct with Judaism — were to be enlightened and convicted of their delinquencies, and excited to make amends and seek forgiveness. With thy estimation — The person addressed is Moses, who here represents the priest. The “estimation” is the assessed amount of the deficiency, which, with a fifth added, and a perfect ram besides for a sin offering, was deemed a sufficient indemnity for the past and safeguard for the future. When we see the sin “in the holy things of the Lord” committed by careless or covetous Christians, we are inclined to wish that the Gospel were a system of precepts instead of principles — precepts prescribing the exact payment of a certain proportion of income to the Lord’s treasury, instead of broad principles easily forgotten or misapplied. Yet the Gospel, the law of liberty, has its compensations in the many noble characters which this system of spiritual freedom develops, while the preceptory religion of the Hebrews sadly failed to eradicate that “covetousness which is idolatry.” Malachi 3:8-10.
17. If a soul sin… though he wist it not — The case described in verses 17-19 differs from the preceding in the fact that this sin of ignorance never comes to knowledge, while there is ground for suspecting that the sin may have been committed. In this case the person is not to give himself the benefit of the doubt, but he should make amends for the hypothetical delinquency. The example cited by the rabbins is that of a person who has grounds for suspecting that he has eaten suet, or fat of the inwards, intermingled with other food. His conscience can be relieved of the doubt only by bringing a ram as a trespass offering. Thus that principle is divinely established which is cogently argued by Bishop Butler, namely, that doubt in religious matters involves proof enough to incite to the performance of religious duties, and to criminate the doubter if he refuses. See Romans 14:23.
Opponents of that central doctrine of both the Levitical and Christian dispensations, the vicarious atonement, endeavour to invalidate it by an objection drawn from this chapter, namely, the prominence given to defilements not moral, but merely bodily and external, as contact with the carcass of an unclean beast. But an attentive examination will show that this prominence is seeming rather than real. These ceremonial impurities appear to be of the greatest importance, because they are minutely defined and broadly spread out before the reader. But it will be found that the mention of them is only supplementary, lest the people should suppose that such comparatively trifling offences against the law of purity were not included. This must be evident to him who reads the preceding chapter, where it is said in regard to the priest, the prince, the congregation, and the private individual, if they sin “against any of the commandments of God,” let the prescribed sin offering be made. Here it requires no minute definition of sin, since the decalogue had been written on the tables of stone, a visible expression of the older decalogue written on the tablets of the heart. It was impossible for the Hebrews to understand “the commandments of God” in any other sense than the moral precepts and prohibitions given on Mount Sinai. These were prominently before their minds, and for infractions of these chiefly was the blood of the victims to be shed. Again, when the symbolical nature of ceremonial institutions shall be correctly unfolded, there will be found a moral element deeply embodied in them, for the sake of which alone these shadowy rites were instituted, the uncleanness of a man prefiguring the filthiness of “the flesh and spirit,” and the dead body fore-showing the natural corruption of the unregenerate heart, styled by St. Paul, “the body of this death.”