Category Archives: Book of the Bible

Practical Lessons from the Book of Job

The following extract comes from Joseph Caryl, a Westminster Assembly divine. I took the text from the 1959 reprint edition with very few minor changes. Our church read this out loud in our Sunday School class and discussed its content. You will find the reading very practical, insightful, and moving. Caryl lists all the major lessons the book of Job teaches us and I’ve not found anything as succinct and helpful as his. John Calvin’s sermons on Job come close but Caryl’s introductory essay to the book of Job remains unparalleled in my judgment.

Practical Lessons from the Book of Job

Joseph Caryl, An Exposition with Practical Observations upon the Book of Job[1]

Now, for the third thing which I proposed, which was the use, or scope, or intention of this book, it aims at our instruction in divers [various] things, first, (which much concerns every Christian to learn), it instructs us how to handle a cross; how to behave ourselves in a conflict, whether outward or inward; what the postures of the spiritual war are; and with what patience we ought to bear the hand of God and his dealings with us. This the apostle James speaks of, —you have heard of the patience of Job, as if he should say, “Do you know why the book of Job was written? Why God in his providence did bring such a thing to pass concerning Job?” It was that all men should take notice of his patience, and might learn the wisdom of suffering, that noble art of enduring.

Job was full of many other excellent graces, and, indeed, had all the graces of the Spirit of God in him; but patience was his principal grace. As it is with natural men, they have every sin in them; but there are some sins which are the master sins, or some one sin, it may be, does denominate a wicked man; sometimes he is a proud man, sometimes he is covetous, sometimes he is a deceiver, sometimes he is an oppressor, sometimes he is unclean, and sometimes he has a profane spirit. He has all sins in him, and they are all reigning in him, but one as it were reigns above the rest and sits uppermost in his heart. So it is with the saints of God, every saint and servant of God has all grace in him; every grace, in some degree or other, for all the limbs and lineaments of the new man are formed together in the soul of those that are in Christ.[2] But there is some special grace which gives the denomination to a servant of God as that which gave the denomination to Abraham was faith, to Moses meekness and to Job patience.

2nd, Another instruction which we are to take from the whole book is this God would have us learn, that afflictions come not by chance, that they are all ordered by providence in the matter, in the manner, and in the measure, both for the kinds and the degrees, they are all ordered, even the very least, by the wisdom, by the hand and the providence of God.

3rd, Another thing which we are to learn generally from this book, is this — the Sovereignty of God; that he has power over us, over our estates, and over our bodies, and over our families, and over our spirits; that he may use us as he pleases, and we must be quiet under his hand; when he comes and will take all from us, all our comforts, we must give all glory to him. This book is written for this especially, to teach us the Sovereignty of God, and the submission of the creature.

4th, It teaches us, that God sometimes afflicts his children out of prerogative; that though there be no sin in them which he makes the occasion of afflicting them — such was Job’s case — yet for exercise of his grace in them, for trial of their graces, or to set them up for patterns to the world, God may and does afflict them. Though no man be without sin, yet the afflictions of many are not for their sins.

5th, There is this general instruction which God would have us learn out of this book, namely, the best gotten and the best founded estate in outward things, is uncertain; that there is no trusting to any creature-comforts. God could unbottom us quite from the creature by holding forth this history of Job to us.

6th, God would also show forth this for our learning — the strength, the unmoveableness of faith, how unconquerable it is, what a kind of omnipotency there is in grace, — God would have all the world take notice of this in the Book of Job, that a godly man is in vain assaulted by friends or enemies, by men or devils, by wants or wounds, though he even be benighted[3] in his spirit, though God himself take away the light of his countenance from him, yet He would have us learn and know, that over all those, a true believer, is more, than a conqueror, for here is one of the greatest battles fought between man and man, between man and hell, yea, between man and God; yet Job went away with a victory; true grace is often assaulted; it never was or shall be overthrown.

7th, This also we may learn, that God never leaves or forsakes his people totally or finally.

Lastly, The book teaches this general lesson, — That the judgments of God are often times very secret, but they are never unjust. That though the creature be not able to give a reason for them, yet there is infinite reason for them.

Such are some of the general lessons which may be deduced from this book. But how unsearchable are God’s judgments, and who can find them out to perfection? This book serves also to confute the slander of worldly men, and Satan, who sometimes affirm that the people of God serve him for their own ends. God did, on purpose, cause these things to be acted, and the history to be written, to stop the mouth of Satan and all iniquity, and to show that his people follow him for love; for the excellency they find in him, and in his service. Though he strip them naked of all they have, yet they will cleave to him.

This history serves to reprove those who judge of men’s spiritual estate by their outward condition, or by some unbecoming and rash speeches uttered when under the hand of God in sore affliction, and refutes the opinion, that a man may fall totally and finally away from grace, and from the favor of God. God has shown by this history, that such an opinion is a lie. If ever any man were in danger of falling quite away from grace received, or might seem to have lost the favor of God formerly shown, surely it was Job; and if he were upheld in the grace of holiness, and continued in the grace of God’s love, notwithstanding all that came upon him; certainly God would have all the world know that free grace will uphold his people forever.

This book also reproves the pride and extreme presumption of those who think to find out the secrets of God’s counsel, the secrets of God’s eternal decrees, the secrets of all his works of providence; whereas, God shows them in this book, that they are not able to find out, or comprehend his ordinary works, those which we call the works of nature, the things of creation, the things that are before them, which they converse with every day, which they see and feel, and have in their ordinary use. They are not able to find out the secrets of the air, of the meteors, of the waters, of the earth, of beasts or birds, everyone of these puts the understanding of man to a stand. How are they able then to find out the counsels of God in his decrees, and purposes, and

judgments? and for that end it is, that God sets forth here so much of the works of nature, that all men may be stopped in that presumptuous way of searching too far into his counsels.

In conclusion, from this book may be deduced the two following exhortations. 1st, We are exhorted to the meditation and admiration of the power and wisdom of God manifested in the creatures. The invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, may be clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.

2nd, To glorify God in every condition, to have good thoughts of God, to speak good words for God in every condition. We are drawn to this, by considering how Job, though sometimes in the midst of his conflict he overshot himself, yet he recovers again, and breathes sweetly concerning God, showing that his spirit was full of sweetness towards God, even when God was writing bitter things against him; even when he says, though he slay me yet will I trust in him; than which, nothing could express a more holy and submissive frame of spirit, in reference to God’s dealings with him. Surely he thought God was very good, who had that thought of God, to trust him even while he slew him.

From the history of this afflicted saint we may also draw the two following consolations.

1st, That all things do work for the good of those that love God.

2nd, That no temptation shall take hold of us, but such as God will either make us able to bear, or make a way for us to escape out of it. We can be in no condition cast so low but the hand of God can reach us, send us deliverance, and raise us up again.

[1] Joseph Caryl, An Exposition With Practical Observations Upon the Three First Chapters of the Book of Job (London, 1651), 10-15; Joseph Caryl, An Exposition of Job (Evansville, IN: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 1959), x-xii. The 1959 edition is a remarkable summary or a condensed rendition (367 pages) of the massive twelve volume work. It was originally published in 1836 by John Berrie and republished in 1959. It has not been republished since (though I believe one could probably get a “print on demand” copy). John Berrie wisely included the entire first lecture because that introduction by itself remains valuable on its own. This extract covers only the last several pages (pages which deal with the practical applications of the book of Job) of the introductory essay and I have slightly updated the format and modernized the sentences.

[2] He says the same on p. 100 (of the 1651 edition).

[3] Overtaken by darkness

Joshua 6: The Judgment of Jericho

Remember, the residents of Jericho were filled with terror (2:9-11) and this odd spectacle the people in Jericho witnessed and heard no doubt both puzzled them and brought a sense of dread into their souls. Who would have thought a whole city would collapse by this procedure? It was a supernatural destruction and not a natural event because God made it happen.

Notice the importance and value of an unquestioning faith and obedience. Rather than using traditional battering rams, Israel was told to follow this procedure of marching around the city – it was hardly a strategic military move. Marching around the city perhaps meant that Israel was marking out the city as the Lord’s (NBC)? It has been calculated to have taken 30 minutes to march around the walls. No one spoke during the march (v. 10) around the city; they only heard the trumpets. This went on for six days. On the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times and then the trumpets along with a battle cry came. We are told that “the wall fell down flat” (v. 20). Let’s be careful about how we interpret this. Was it the vibrations from the volcanic sound from the people and trumpets that caused the wall to fall? No! God said he had given the city to Israel (vv. 2, 16) and upon obeying His Word without questioning it, the walls fell down. God caused the wall to collapse. Joshua and the people obeyed God without questioning and look what the Lord did!

We also learn from this that victory always belong to the Lord. This surprising victory was not something devised by man or the accidental events of nature. God promised them the city and He delivered that city to them. Yes, Israel had to fight the enemies within but their victory came beforehand because God gave it to them. Here is a truth all of should always remember — all spiritual victories come from the Lord so that no man can boast. Let us properly and humbly acknowledge Him and give Him all the glory.

Lastly, notice the terrible judgment awaiting all of mankind! This judgment against Jericho serves as an adumbration of what awaits all of humanity. Some people still think this was cruel. Why would God actually legislate such a slaughter? Again, I’ve mentioned this numerous times before, each and every death around us come as a reminder of our fallen condition and as further evidence of God’s judgment against sin (for the wages of sin is death, Rom. 6:23). Here, in this city of Jericho and the rest of the cities and nations in Canaan, God rendered his judgment quickly and differently. All those in Jericho could have died of old age and gone to hell before this judgment. But God chose to require an accounting earlier than that and that is God’s prerogative (cf. Gen. 15:16; Lev. 18:24-27; Deut. 9:4-5). [A faulty assumption in some minds have misled many people. Many believe these were innocent people undeserving of God’s judgment — that simply is not true; all of us deserve God’s wrath and curse both in this life and that which is to come because of our disobedience to Him as our Creator. In their guilt, God chose to render His judgment before our expected time but not before His own timeline. Their iniquity had reached its limit, cf. Gen. 15:16.]

These enemies were devoted to destruction so that they would not influence Israel into idolatry (Deut. 20:16-18). Only Rahab and her family were permitted to live. This ban meant every living thing was to die and all precious things were to be devoted to the Lord (vv. 17-19, 21). All of humanity have been devoted to destruction because of our sinfulness but God now spares those under destruction by a message of pardon and peace through the gospel. His wrath will come in due time but in the meantime he pleads with sinners to repent and turn to Him for pardon and life. We can all be like Rahab the harlot and be spared if we believe and place our faith in Jesus Christ! We too can live if we would repent and seek the Lord while He may be found and cling to Christ to deliver us from the coming wrath. This is the only way to be spared and to live.

Leviticus 10, Unauthorized Fire

For the first and only time in Leviticus, we are introduced to Aaron’s two oldest sons Nadab and Abihu (cf. Ex. 6:23). From Exodus 28 we learn that they must have participated in the ordination process of chs. 8 & 9. These sons experienced God’s presence in the ratification of the covenant in Ex. 24:1, 9.

They offered “unauthorized fire” — the phrase is used two other times but they all refer back to this incident (Num. 3:4; 26:61). Specific incense ingredients were prescribed and perhaps they offered something different into the fire? Some argue this should have been offered by the high priest so they blatantly usurped this role (cf. TOTC). What is clear is that they did what they wanted and not what God prescribed.

Aaron cannot complain even though his sons were destroyed because God acted justly as Moses said, “Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.” (v. 3) They were not permitted to grieve (vv. 6, 7) because they have been consecrated — other people can grieve for them. They were also not to drink while they performed their duties (vv. 8-11).

In vv. 16-20, Aaron’s two sons did not eat the meat of the sin offering which raised Moses’ ire and concern. Aaron’s plea is that on account of what happened, they felt ashamed to eat or they were simply afraid — it was a dangerous situation. This reason seems to have met with Moses’ approval — at least they were not careless but fearful.

Worshipping God must never be gone in a cavalier manner. Being on this side of the cross does not diminish the seriousness of worship. In the New Testament, Annanias and Saphira were struck dead for lying against God. In Corinth, some died because of the way they treated each other and the Lord’s Supper. The writer of Hebrew says, “let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, or our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:28, 29) Through Christ we offer our spiritual worship with reverence and awe. Worship in the New Covenant must never be goofy, irreverent, or casual.

Leviticus 9, The Lord Appears

Leviticus 9, The Lord Appears

Aaron’s first sin offering as the newly ordained high priest was a “bull calf” — ironically, in Ex. 32, he had previously fashioned an idolatrous golden bull calf and led others astray. That God spared Aaron and destroyed others in that incident is a testament to God’s mercy! But to continue to serve as the high priest displays God’s extravagant mercy!

All these rituals of detailed sacrifices and the manipulation of blood served to bring about one thing— that God would be with them. In this chapter, after all the regulations, the Lord would appear appear to them (vv. 4, 6, 23) — God’s presence would become palpable. God appeared when the tabernacle was constructed (Ex. 40) thus showing His approval and He does the same here after the ordination of the priests – once again, conveying His tacit acceptance.

Sin offerings and burnt offerings were offered first for the priests and then for the people (vv. 8-21) — the order remains significant. The sin offering “are not for specific sins” but “for the general sinfulness” of the priesthood and the people (Currid). First they were cleansed by the sin offering and then they entered into fellowship with God through the burnt offering.

After Aaron’s blessing (v. 22) God’s glory appeared to all the people (v. 23) and while the sacrifices burned on the altar, God’s fire came from his presence in the tent of the meeting and consumed the offerings (v. 24). The people, upon seeing this “shouted and fell on their faces” (v. 24) — probably out of fear and awe though the word implies one of joy! That must have been an awe inspiring experience! This led them to worship!

The priest’s ministry enabled God’s glory to become present to the people. Israel’s presence as a people was to enable God’s glory to be present to the world (Is. 43:7, 21; 49:3): “the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise” (Is. 43:21). As God is with us to the New Covenant people, so God makes Himself known to the world as we proclaim God’s Word. In addition, God conveys His presence to us through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

I make one last observation from v. 24. God is worthy of our worship. That worship must be according to God’s prescribed Word – that we have noted repeatedly. We also note how a sight of God induced worship — O that God would so make Himself known in our services that we might be powerfully moved to worship Him that much more!!

1 Corinthians 1:1-9, Greeting and Thanksgiving

1 Corinthians 1:1-9, Greeting and Thanksgiving

Paul first journeyed to Corinth near the end of his second missionary journey around 51 AD. He had been in Athens where he had addressed the Areopagus, proclaiming to them who was this unknown god that they worshipped. It was after he left Athens that he traveled to Corinth, where he met Aquila and Priscilla – fellow Jewish Christians and fellow tentmakers. It was while Paul was in Corinth that “the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.’”[i] And the book of Acts tells us that he stayed in Corinth more than 18 months “teaching the word of God among them.”[ii]

Corinth was a port city, one of the largest cities in the Roman world and one of the most corrupt.[iii] It was a strategic commercial center, filled with immorality of all kinds.

In 1 Corinthians 16:8, Paul tells us that he is writing this letter while he was staying in Ephesus. This would have been during his third missionary journey when Paul spent about three years ministering in Ephesus. This would put the writing of 1 Corinthians around 55 AD.

It had been a couple years since Paul was last with the church in Corinth. This letter reveals that instead of growing more mature in the faith, as Paul might have expected, the church at Corinth had developed a great number of problems. Word of these various problems had come to Paul, and he spends the first six chapters of 1 Corinthians addressing several of these problems that have come to his attention: problems like divisions within the church, arrogance, questioning of apostolic authority, incest, sexual immorality, and believers cheating each other and taking each other to court.

The rest of the letter is driven by issues raised by the Corinthians themselves, as we read in 7:1, “Now concerning the matters about which you wrote….”

Beginning in chapter 7, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul tackles issues regarding: marriage, divorce, singleness, Christian liberty, headship, the Lord’s Supper, spiritual gifts, serving in the body of Christ, and the Resurrection.

And yet, in this letter that grew out of all these different problems, we find some of the most familiar and beautiful passages of Scripture: the chapter on Love, 1 Corinthians 13, read at weddings throughout the world; the chapter on the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15, which has for centuries brought hope to believers during times of grief, and read at countless funerals and graveside services.

As Paul does in many of his letters, he begins 1 Corinthians with a greeting, followed by thanksgiving in verses 4-9. Contrary to how we write letters today, where you have to go all the way to the end to see who wrote the letter, letters in ancient times would begin with the author’s name – which we see here in verse 1, “Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes.”

There is only one other Sosthenes mentioned in Scripture, and he was a synagogue ruler in Corinth. If you remember, back in Acts 18, we read about an incident when the Jews joined together to make a unified attack on Paul. They hauled him before the tribunal and accused him of “persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” As it turned out, Gallio, who was the proconsul in Corinth, had no interest in getting involved in matters of Jewish law, as he saw it, and he drove the Jews from the tribunal. Then we read in Acts 18:17, “And they all [that is, the Jews] seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal.” If this is the same Sosthenes, it’s not too hard to believe that he left Corinth after all of that, and later ended up in Ephesus with Paul.

In verse 2, Paul addresses the letter to “the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” Even in this simple address, we see an important truth: not only are we called to be saints, not only are we called to be holy (which is what the word “saints” means), but we are already, in Christ, seen as being sanctified.

There is said to be three tenses of sanctification used in the Bible: past, present, and future. In the past, when we came to Christ for salvation, we are said to be justified in Christ, and as we see in this verse, we are described as being “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” This is an accomplished fact. Those who are in Christ are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. So when God looks upon us in Christ, we are seen as being sanctified, as being holy, as being perfect, all for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us and received by faith alone. What a wonderful truth this is! It is our assurance as we come to God in worship and prayer.

The present tense of sanctification is ongoing. We are called to be saints, to be holy. As the catechism teaches us, sanctification is a work of God’s free grace, and as a work, it is continuing. It is the process by which we “are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.”[iv]

The future tense of sanctification refers to that time when we go to be with the Lord, that we will be finally free from sin, both the sin within ourselves, and the sin that surrounds us. Verse 8 refers to this when it says that we will be sustained “to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We will finally be holy. And that is our glorious hope – that when we go to be with the Lord, we will be fit, by his grace, to live with Him forever, for we will be without sin.

Let us also notice the emphasis upon Jesus as Lord. Notice how in verse 2 the saints are described as those who “call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours­. In verse 3: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. In verse 7: “so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In verse 8: “who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And finally, again in verse 9: “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” More references are made to the Lordship of Christ in these nine verses than in any other chapter of Scripture.

How appropriate it is, in this letter that will deal with many different problems in the church, that it begins with all these references to Jesus Christ as Lord, and as verse 2 says, “both their Lord and ours.” As we go through 1 Corinthians in the months ahead, we should keep in mind that Christ is Lord of His Church. And as such, He is rightfully able to give direction as to how His Church should act and live.

One last thing to consider from our passage this morning: Even with all the problems the church in Corinth had, from rivalries and divisions, to incest and sexual immorality; even with all that, Paul gives thanks to God, in verse 4, for the grace of God that was given them in Christ Jesus. Even with all their problems, Paul is able to see the grace of God working out in their lives, and is able to write with confidence that they were “called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Some days we can tend to forget that. We can so easily concentrate our gaze upon our own problems, or worse yet, the problems of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and miss the evidences of God’s work of sanctification in His children, whom he has called to be saints. Let us be reminded to give thanks to God always for each other because of the grace of God that was given us in Christ Jesus.

[i] Acts 18:9-10

[ii] v. 11

[iii] Reformation Study Bible, Introduction to First Corinthians, p. 1642.

[iv] Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q35

Leviticus 8, The Ordination of Priests

Leviticus 8, The Ordination of Priests

Following the commands given in Ex. 28-29 about the ordination of the priests, this chapter records how Moses complied with the commands — it is the historical narrative of that event. Interestingly, the chapter states seven times the phrase “as the Lord commanded” (two additional times record Moses saying it). The altar is anointed seven times (v. 11) and the priests remain in the tent of meeting seven days (vv. 33. 35). Seven is the number for completeness!

All of Israel is assembled at the entrance of the tent of meeting (vv. 1-4). Israel will witness the ordination of the priests —God wanted them to see this happen and that these men were divinely set apart for this office in accordance with His Word.

They are first washed (v. 6) and then clothed with their garments (vv. 5-9). After that, they are anointed along with the tabernacle and its items (vv. 10-13). The sin offering is offered first for the priests and also used to purify the altar (vv. 14-17). Following Lev. 1, the burnt offering is made next (vv. 18-21) — the whole offering perhaps expressed the priests’ total dedication.

After these men had been set apart and purified, they offer up the ram for their ordination (vv. 22-29). Aaron and his sons have the blood put on their right ear, right thumb and their right big toe — which may symbolize their consecrated role to hear, act, and move about as mediators. Finally, they are anointed a second time with the oil and blood. Now the priests and their attire are fully consecrated (v. 30).

In vv. 31-36, both the fellowship covenant meal and the ordination offering are recorded here. For seven days, they could not leave the tent of meeting (v. 33) to fulfill their ordination process.

In the New Covenant, we know that our Lord is the final high priest who was sanctified so that we also could be sanctified: “For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” (Jn. 17:19). From Heb. 7:26, 27, we learn that Jesus our High Priest, did not sacrifice animals for his own sins but instead, offered up himself as a perfect sacrifice for all our sins!

Some of the sacrifices were rejected and all the sacrifices had to be carefully and faithfully offered according to God’s strict and holy requirements. They were performed by fallible priests. But now, we have a faithful high priest who did everything that was required and we can have confidence that through Jesus’ blood, we will be accepted in the beloved! In a sense, this entire chapter looked forward to the perfect faithful high priest, Jesus Christ!

Leviticus 6:8-7:10, Priestly Sacrifices

Leviticus 6:8-7:10, Priestly Sacrifices

This section specifically deals with the priests (“Aaron and his sons”) regarding the burnt offerings (vv. 8-13), grain offerings (vv. 14-18), the grain offering related to their ordination (vv. 19-23), sin offerings (vv. 24-30), and guilt offerings (7:1-10).

These burnt offerings are not the same as the ones mentioned in ch. 1; they are the daily perpetual offerings mentioned in Ex. 29:38, 39 and are to burn continually (repeated several times in vv. 8-13). Many reasons have been offered as to why this was to be done. One commentator, as good as any, said that this reminded them “of their need for continuous worship of the Lord, and assured them of his constant vigilance on their behalf.” (TOTC) Matthew Henry says that though we aren’t always sacrificing like the Israelites, “yet we must keep the fire of holy love always burning; and thus we must pray always.”

The grain offering (vv. 14-18) differs little from Lev. 2:1-16 except it has in view the priests. No one else was permitted to eat the rest of the grain offering. Also, since the priests were set apart and the offering is holy — all who touch this offering (restricted to the priests) became holy (v. 18).

When the priest is ordained, he offers a grain offering and will continue to do so throughout his tenure (vv. 19-23). Unlike the grain offering of the people in which the priests ate the remaining portion, here, the entire grain offering is consumed: “The whole of it shall be burned.” (v. 22)

The sin offering sacrifices were commanded in ch. 4 and this passage (vv. 24-30) focuses on the priests’ duties. Also, from v. 29 we learn that “the officiating priest distributes the sin offering to his fellow priests. He could hardly eat all of it himself; thus, he is permitted to give it to other priests.” (Currid, 86)

The guilt offering of 7:1-10 goes into specific details for the priest’s sake. Like the sin offering, only the priests can eat this — not even their families could eat of it.

These were the special privileges and responsibilities of the priests — not everyone could do this. Yet, they were not exempt from God’s strict holy requirements. With their privilege came holy responsibilities, the kind the ordinary Israelites did not have to follow. At times tedious and very particular, they were always reminded as to how exact and perfect God is. That same holy God requires perfect obedience to His will and none of us can offer that except His Son Jesus Christ who was a perfect sacrifice for all our sins and imperfections. His once for all sacrifice replaced for all times these continuous sacrifices the priests had to offer. Through His once for all sacrifice, God accepts us and we can have fellowship with him.

Lastly, and quickly, constant and frequent sacrifices were offered (of various kinds) — shouldn’t we be constant and vigilant in our holy responsibilities to the Lord with sacrifices of praise and constant prayer? Yes, much more since Christ has fully purchased our salvation for us. It is our reasonable sacrifice.

Leviticus 5:14-6:7, Guilt Offerings

Leviticus 5:14-6:7, Guilt Offerings

This section has three types of sins that require the “guilt offerings” (vv. 15, 19, 6:6) of a ram (vv. 15, 18, 6:6). These offenses seem to be more serious than the sin offerings (5:1-13). How these guilt offerings differed from the previous sin offerings is difficult to understand except these are weightier offenses. The three general types are sins against “the holy things of the Lord” (v. 15), “any of the things that …ought not to be done” (v. 17), and sins against a neighbor’s rights and property (6:2-7).

Of the three, the first sin against holy things and the third type against a neighbor’s property are deemed to be a “breach of faith” (5:14, 6:1). In 6:1-7, the sins are deliberate (one doesn’t rob or lie accidentally) while sins against holy things were “unintentional” (5:14) — yet both are breaches of faith. It probably means that the offenses were very great.

In matters that related to property, a full restoration of the item plus an added 20% compensation fee was required along with the required “guilt offering.” In 5:14-16, the property withheld was probably against the priests (cf. M. Henry).

The three kinds of sin against a neighbor’s property are, deceptive use of a trust or pledge, robbery, and extortion while “swearing falsely” (6:3) about them. These sins against one’s neighbor are deemed to be fundamentally (though not exclusively) “against the Lord” (6:1).

Let me make a few applications from this passage. Let us see the importance of restitution. When it is in our power to restore, we must do all that we can. M. Henry says “we cannot have the comfort of the forgiveness of the sin” if we do not do so. I think some criminal cases would be better served if this principle was applied — have the person pay back the same with an additional amount. The person would learn a valuable lesson. Lastly, we can make no restitution for our sins — our eternal death is required. Praise God, who out of His great mercy, sent His Son to pay the debt we incurred through our sins!

Leviticus 5:1-13, Offerings for Sins of Omission

Leviticus 5:1-13, Offerings for Sins of Omission

The first four verses list four types of offenses or sins of omission. The first verse addresses the man who withholds relevant evidence in a legal matter- called to testify but does not speak (v. 1). The next two verses cover issues of cleanness — touching an unclean animal or carcass (v.2) or touching “human uncleanness” (v. 3) defiled the person — the specifics of these are spelled out in latter chapters (chs. 12-15). Verse 4 deals with the person who made a rash vow.

Verses 5-13 explain the kind of sacrifices required. He must confess it (v. 5) and then make a sin offering for it (v. 6) – the sacrifices either purified the individual (vv. 2, 3) or propitiated God (placating God’s holy wrath). If he could not afford the lamb or goat, he could offer two turtle doves to make atonement for his sins. If he can’t afford these birds, then he can offer a grain offering (“a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering” v. 11). To reduce the cost, oil and frankincense for the grain were not required.

Currid helpfully observes that knowledge of the offense does not make one guilty but only enables him to bear the responsibility for the guilt he had incurred before becoming aware of it.

I will make two observations from this passage. One, sin is sin as God defines it. The “cleanness” laws were divinely prescribed. We may not believe it was a big deal in touching an “unclean” animal! A holy God prescribes how he can be approached — that we can approach him is a mercy and prescribing the way to that access is an undeserved kindness.

Two, too often we think God is unreasonable. How foolish we are. God carefully enabled the rich and the poor to deal with their sins — he considered their condition. That he lowered the requirements is a mercy to undeserving sinners. One single offense should have cut us off forever but he condescended to our conditions. Doesn’t this point to the Gospel of our Lord, who became just like us to redeem us? He offers free pardon to the least as well as to the great. The way was costly for God but the way is freely offered to us to find pardon in our Lord for all our sins! The rich and the poor can receive pardon freely in Christ Jesus! We don’t bring the sacrifice; it is God’s sacrifice for our sins!

Leviticus 4, Unintentional Sins

Leviticus 4, Unintentional Sins

This chapter deals with the required sacrifices for “unintentional” sins. Priests (v. 3), the whole congregation (v. 13), leaders (v. 22), the common ordinary Israelite (v. 27) are all bound to offer the specified sacrifices. Everyone sins and has sinned. As one writer said, “Sin does not distinguish between classes of people…It is clear that God does not abandon his people in their sin.” (Currid)

The unintentional sins were those sins committed on account of ignorance or inadvertently. These are distinguished from sins committed “with a high hand” (Num. 15:30) and such a person is to be cut off because “he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment” (v. 31). Remember, many of these detailed requirements could have been easily overlooked and God recognized their oversight. However, such ignorance, though it mitigated the offense, did not relieve the offender of his guilt.

The priest’s offense affected the whole people (“thus bringing guilt on the people” v. 3) and therefore the largest costly animal was offered, a bull. So serious is the offense, he must take the blood “in the tent of meeting” (a place not permitted for the laypeople) — the blood purified the very border of the Holy of Holies (cf. Currid). The requirements in vv. 8-10 are the same as the peace offerings of chapter 3, except the sacrifice is destroyed and not eaten.

As the priest’s guilt implicated the whole people, so the people’s sins required the elders to act in behalf of the whole people (v. 15) — they acted as the representatives who performed all the required sacrifice for the people who sinned. Like the priest, these elders offered up a bull. This sacrifice made an “atonement” for the people and their sins were “forgiven” (v. 20).

The sins of a “leader” (v. 22) and the common Israelite (v. 27) were less heinous and therefore the sacrifices were not as costly. Because of this, the priest does not enter into the Holy Place to splatter blood because “no defilement has taken place in the sanctuary, and thus there is no need of blood there” (Currid).

Some observations and applications can be made from this passage. Ignorance does not excuse our guilt – it might mitigate it but it still required forgiveness of sins. When it comes to God’s requirements, ignorance is not bliss!

This chapter also shows how seriously God takes our sins, even it was unintentional. Why? Because we did “the things that by the Lord’s commandments ought not to be done” (vv. 13, 27). We might think it is a small thing but it is a true offense because it is against God’s commandments. We sinned against God — our ignorance does not relieve us of our guilt.

Already implied in this exposition is that sin is against God’s command, His Word. However large or small the infraction, it is still defined as a sin because it is against God’s command, His strict requirement. It is called “unintentional sin” but sin nonetheless.

Lastly, let us marvel at the breadth and depth of God’s mercy to us in Christ. His once for all sacrifice for our sins has purchase pardon for all our sins, both intentional and unintentional. So let us freely go to our Heavenly Father and confess them because in the Lord there is forgiveness.