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!