Saturday, February 17, 2018

No Defence Cuts It When It Comes to Desecrating What God Has Called Holy

Leviticus 5:14-19:
14 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 
15 “If a person acts unfaithfully and sins unintentionally against the Lord’s holy things, then he shall bring his guilt offering to the Lord: a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation in silver by shekels, in terms of the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering. 
16 He shall make restitution for that which he has sinned against the holy thing, and shall add to it a fifth part of it and give it to the priest. The priest shall then make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and it will be forgiven him.
17 “Now if a person sins and does any of the things [a]which the Lord has commanded not to be done, though he was unaware, still he is guilty and shall bear his punishment. 
18 He is then to bring to the priest a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his error in which he sinned unintentionally and did not know it, and it will be forgiven him. 
19 It is a guilt offering; he was certainly guilty before the Lord.”
Thoughts on the Passage

Before we jump into this current passage, I wanted to add a note on the issue of why the Jews do not sacrifice animals today.  We also need to remember that the temple in Jerusalem was (once the Tabernacle, that was the precursor of the Temple, had served them in the desert) the only place that God dwelt.   And when it was destroyed by the Romans in the first century, there could be no more sacrifices.  Synagogues were the place for sacrifices.  And that’s another reason the Jews want the Temple rebuilt in Jerusalem – so that they can offer their sacrifices to God.

Now, let’s study The Guilt Offering as described in our current passage.

David Guzik offers that the guilt offering was used when someone had sinned in regard to the holy things. Perhaps with respect to some type of desecration of the tabernacle or its associated items. In this case a mere sin offering was not enough.  Guzik says restitution was also required, paying back what was lost plus twenty percent (see verse 16).  Interesting that in these cases, not only was the wrong to be put right, but an additional one-fifth had to be added. That’s twice the amount suggested for tithing elsewhere in scripture. That’s how seriously God’s perspective on this kind of sin was.
What comes to mind for me is all the desecration that is going on around the world these days – of churches and synagogues. Surely God does not look lightly upon these things.

Here also we have the situation that even when a person does not know he has sinned in regard to the holy things, a guilt offering is still required for otherwise the person is still guilty and will bear his punishment (verse 17). “I didn’t know” did not cut it.  Just like “I didn’t know the speed limit was only 50 m.p.h. here” does not cut when one is stopped for speeding by an officer today. Or put another way, ignorance is no excuse of the law.

Matthew Henry reminds us that sin-offerings and trespass-offerings were one and the same. The first part of Chapter 5 deals with trespasses against others. Our current passage deals with, as we mentioned above, trespasses against holy things.

One way this would happen was if a man took anything dedicated to God or set aside for the priests and used it for himself or for his own purposes. This was a trespass. But again, it was to be that the offender did not do it intentionally. Henry reminds us that where the offender did do it presumptuously and in contempt of the law, he was put to death without mercy in accordance with Hebrews 10:28 and its associated references.

Robert Jamieson suggests the kind of other sins covered here would include not paying the full due of tithes, or offering sufficient first-fruits, etc.

The bottom is that the desecration of things that are holy is an abominable sin in God’s eyes. We can’t just say that was the Old Testament Law and we need not worry about it.  As I have said elsewhere, the principles on which those Old Testament laws were based often do apply to us today.  I again believe this is one case in point.

Now I understand that today’s “Church” is not the building or the furniture of the place wherein we worship. No argument there. But still it is often a place where we do worship – were believers gather together and expect the Holy Spirit to speak to them there. In fact, we invite Him to such a place as a congregation. If that’s true, then we owe it to ourselves to stop and assess our actions in such environments. If we are making something holy unholy, we are guilty of what God was talking to the Hebrews about in this chapter.

If we are involved in that, then we need to admit, confess, repent, and change our ways. If others are, we are to speak up. If they listen, all fine and good.  If they don’t, perhaps it is time for us to move on – but not give up.

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