guilty boy February 17 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Leviticus 5, 6, 7

Guilt and Responsibility

Who broke the lamp? Not me! Who put the scratch on my car? Not me! Who wrote on the wall? Not Me! “Not Me” gets blamed for everything, but we know someone is guilty. If you are the parent of young children or are a caregiver or teacher of them, you can usually identify the one who is guilty. You can see it by the look on his face or his bowed head and refusal to look at you in the eyes. Children learn how to lie as they grow up so that they are quite good at it by the time they are teenagers and adults. But, is that what God wants? No. He wants his people to be ashamed, admit their guilt and take responsibilities for their actions.

In the months following Israel's deliverance from Egypt and meeting with God at Mt. Sinai, he has very specific instructions for his people on how to deal with their guilt. Although the instructions for us are not the same as they are for the Israelites, this lesson will also show us how to get rid of guilt.

In our last Bible study we shared the individual responsibilities of the Israelites regarding their offerings. In today's Bible reading are the priests' responsibilities in regard to the burnt, sin, grain, fellowship, and guilt offerings. The instructions given help the priests know what do with the offerings they receive. After the priests offer the fat and kidney portions of approved animals or a portion of the grain offerings to God, the priests share the best of what is left. From this we might learn that if we are responsible and faithful to our tasks, we will share God’s best. We can live in communion and fellowship with God. We do not have to live a life of guilt.

Closely akin to the sin offering is the guilt offering. A perfect ram is brought for a sacrifice. A poor person brings a perfect (unblemished) lamb, or two doves or pigeons. The poorest of Israelites may bring two liters of fine flour to be offered on top of a sacrifice being burned on the altar. After the animal or bird is slain, blood is sprinkled on all sides of the altar, and the rest is poured out at the base. Only the blood and fat are offered on the bronze altar—the good parts of the animal or bird are portions for the priests to eat (unless the offering is for them). The remaining parts of the body of the animal or bird are taken outside of the camp and burned.

There are three elements to the guilt offering, two of which are not present in the sin offering. First, there is a confession of the sin committed toward God or man, whether intentional or not. Sins include guilt for witnessing or having knowledge of a crime and keeping silent, unintentional breaking of one of God's commands, unintentionally touching dead carcase of an animal or human or touching something else which makes him unclean, making a rash vow, not offering his sacrifice as prescribed by God, defrauding someone, robbing someone, or swearing falsely, This is followed by the penalty, the sin offering discussed earlier. Last, a complete restitution is required with twenty percent added on to it, whenever possible and appropriate.

Most of us are not Israelites, and none of us offer burnt sacrifices (unless it is our own meal). What should we do when we are guilty of sin against God, a family member, neighbor, co-worker, or even a stranger?

First, like the Israelites, we need to take responsibility for it. We need to confess our sin to the one(s) we have offended, whether our sin was intentional or not. As soon as we are aware of it, we need to confess our wrong if at all possible. This is difficult, especially if we are used to excusing our behavior or shifting our blame onto others. It is time to man up (or woman up) to our responsibilities. It is time to humble ourselves and admit we are wrong.

Second, we need to seek the Lord’s forgiveness. Unlike the animal sacrifices which the Israelites offer, Jesus Christ is the perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin—he is our sin and guilt offering.

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean [we will look at this ceremony in later chapters of Leviticus]. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Hebrews 9:13-14, NIV; emphasis mine)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9, NIV).

Third, like the Israelites, if at all possible we need to make complete restitution for the wrong(s) we have done. Do we need to add twenty percent? There is no commandment in the New Testament regarding this directive. In some cases, however, if we do follow this principle it will discourage law suits; we are presenting ourselves as honest and willing to make things right. The penalty we pay might also discourage further misbehaviors.

The priests also bear additional responsibilities regarding the offerings.

For the burnt offering, the priest is to make sure the bronze altar is always kept burning. Why? Perhaps this symbolizes God’s readiness to receive offerings. Whenever we come to the LORD, he is always ready to forgive us or to accept our sacrifices of praise and dedication.

Whenever the ashes are to be removed from the bronze altar, the priest is to wear clean linen garments before he does the task (assumedly because the altar is holy, set apart to God) and then change into regular clothes to take them to a ceremonial clean place outside of the camp.

When the priests bring grain offerings before the LORD, they offer a handful of it as a memorial portion, and then the priest and his family share the rest. The only exception to eating the remainder of the offering is if the grain offering is offered by a priest, or at the time of his anointing for service. It is then the grain offering is considered a dedication offering for God alone.

The sin offering, as with the other offerings, is most holy and anything touching it becomes holy. Jesus is our sin offering.

…we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all… because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (Hebrews 10:10,14, NIV).

It is interesting that in New Testament times when Jesus heals people, some express the faith that if they can only touch him they will be healed. Those who do are made whole (Matthew 9:20-21; Matthew 14:35-36; Mark 3:10; Mark 6:56; Mark 8:22; Luke 5:12-13; Luke 6:19). When Jesus touches us spiritually, he heals our sinful soul and makes us holy.

The fellowship offering is a communal offering of thanksgiving, an offering given upon the fulfillment of a vow, or simply an offering freely given (a free will offering). First the animal sacrifice is presented to the priests, along with a grain offering. Then, after the blood and fat are offered, the priests, the worshipper, and his family share in eating the cooked meal. The priests are given the breast, thighs, and the unleavened cakes of bread to eat. The worshipper and his family may eat the rest of the good part of the animal and bread made with yeast, but they are not to eat any bloody meat or fat. They, too, must be ceremonially clean to participate in the fellowship offering. God’s concern, as always, is that the people be holy because he is holy. He requires the same of us (1Peter 1:15-16; Leviticus 11:44,45; 19:2; 20:7).

Lessons to Live By

  • What should we do when we are guilty of sin?
    • First take responsibility for it. Confess our sins.
    • Second, seek the Lord’s forgiveness.
    • Third, make complete restitution whenever possible and appropriate.
  • We can live in communion and fellowship with God. We do not have to live a life of guilt. We can have his forgiveness and peace (more...)
  • Those who take responsibility and are faithful to the task receive God’s best.
  • Be holy for God is holy

Focus Verse

1John 1:9 (NIV) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

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A Look Ahead: Like the priests, God has chosen us to minister to others. However, we need to serve with Honor not Dishonor. Find out what that means in our Next Lesson.

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