Thursday, February 08, 2018

What Should Happen When Your Whole Church Sins?

An Offering for Congregational Sins
Leviticus 4:13-21:
13 ‘Now if the whole congregation of Israel commits error and the matter escapes the notice of the assembly, and they commit any of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done, and they become guilty;
14 when the sin which they have committed becomes known, then the assembly shall offer a bull of the herd for a sin offering and bring it before the tent of meeting.
15 Then the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the Lord, and the bull shall be slain before the Lord. 
16 Then the anointed priest is to bring some of the blood of the bull to the tent of meeting; 
17 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, in front of the veil. . ..
[The rest of the process is very similar to that described in the earlier passage.]

Thoughts on the Passage

The first part of the chapter dealt with the sins of priests. This second part deals with the congregational sins of a whole assembly.  (Later parts discuss the sin of leaders and then the common people.)

It is possible for a whole congregation to sin out of ignorance and everyone caught up in the cause misses the fact that the process or means of their good work was flawed in the eyes of God. When that happened to the Israelites, they were required to make this sin offering. This was an offering that followed the same procedure as the offering for the sin of the priests, but it is important to note that it is mentioned here to remind us that sometimes our collective sins need forgiveness. I can think of many times when the majority of a nation sins (Germany comes to mind), or a whole state (California comes to mind), or city (Hollywood comes to mind), or council, parliament, political party, congress, etc. There comes a time when these sins need to be admitted and confessed.

David Guzik points out one main difference in this offering compared to others.  Here, the elders of the congregation (not the offerers, nor the priests) laid their hands on the head of the bull, representing the whole collective body of those who sinned.

The offering was also to take place as soon as the error or sin was discovered – and that discovery could be by others or by those that committed the sin.

Matthew Henry applies this passage to us today by saying that while God intended to have a church on earth, nowhere does He state that it would be perfect.

Oftentimes today, when one of us sense that our local church leaders as a whole, or the congregation as a whole has sinned, we simply move on, as hard as that is, to a new church or worse still, we give up on church. Woe is us and the church. Blessed, I believe, is the man that can calmly and humbly state his case before the elders. And more blessed, I believe, are the elders or the congregation, that can admit error and ask God for forgiveness. I hope you go to, and more importantly if you are a pastor or an elder, I hope you lead a church like that.

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