|BIBLE STUDY SERIES #233, 234 and 235|
5 May, 1996
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
God's Great Plan, carried forward since the foundation of the world, and indeed of the whole of Creation, has been the subject of our ongoing series of Bible Studies for the past several years. We began with God's call to Abram, who must take his place in the long concourse of the history of mankind as the progenitor of a new people, ultimately in particular a nation and a company of nations as Jacob was informed in Genesis 35:11. We, of the British-Israel-World Federation, submit that the vast majority of the present day descendants of those Israelites thus prophetically described are now found in the Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples. No other candidates for the fullness of those many nations of that prophetic picture of latter-day Israel are apparent. But what of the larger design? Israel would be the entity through whom, and within which, God would send the incarnate expression of Himself. This was done in order to accomplish two objectives by means of Jesus Christ, Who was that incarnate expression of His Own Spirit.
One objective was to act as a substitute victim, and thus, Saviour, to accept the punishment which Sin would otherwise impose upon repentant sinners. The other is to be His return in Great Glory to rule and reign as King over those who will become citizens in His Kingdom. As the angel Gabriel stated to Mary in The Annunciation, (Luke 1:31-33) "...thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end."
In preparation for Christ's First Advent, the people of Israel must form a national wife committed to Yahweh (Jehovah) their God, and be instructed prophetically regarding what was to follow. Thus, at Mount Sinai, God's words of instruction are being placed before the nation through Moses and we have already seen the pattern of sacrifices in the first four chapters of the Book of Leviticus.
Today, I shall be reading the verses of the first portion of Leviticus 5. Many of the comments which applied to earlier forms of the sacrificial scene may be repeated here. We may see some varied purposes in what appears to be a repetitive description of a sacrificial ritual.
In Western culture, especially among those children or older juveniles who are assembled in social groups by neighbourhood proximity or school, a sort of "gang mentality" somewhat akin to a "herd instinct" in the animal kingdom frequently forms as a mutual protection response to the vulnerable position which each member senses or experiences under the confines of some outside authority or a perceived alien threat. Older people who are employees of an organization may view the management as such an authority, and likewise units of the armed forces may carry into their more mature years these same traits learned and sealed within their characters during those formative experiences.
It has become a mark of identification with the group to provide mutual protection to each member by refraining from disclosures which would jeopardise the positions and relationships thus established, and indeed there is a certain logic of self-interest in the process. It is therefore usually heavily frowned-upon or even considered "reprehensible" to be a "tattle tale", or to "rat" on one's classmate or fellow. However, if an individual inherits the status of ownership or if one is recruited into the ranks of management upon which the mantle of authority falls, that person must, for the maintenance of good order, accept the responsibility of that authority both in personal conduct and dedication and application towards perfection. One's loyalty must, in consequence be settled upon a higher priority than that which might otherwise obtain. As one expression puts it, "It is lonely among the tree-tops"!
Such is the delegated authority which God's people receive from The Almighty, upon assuming the mantle of a family member in His select company. The position thus entered embodies all the total love and loyalty of an intimate family relationship which such a marriage or adoption involves. It requires a total commitment and it must take precedence over all other calls upon one's inclinations. There exists an exalted obligation to shun any display or expression of disloyalty, even though the pull of the old camaraderie might suggest otherwise, for ultimately the well-being of everyone in the group depends upon it. Even other members of the former group or gang will expect that such a commitment will intervene in the priorities of one's relationships, just as former friends must recognize the new situation when an unattached friend becomes the spouse of another person.
Indeed the whole of the marriage ceremony has as one of its chief objects before society the public recognition of just that very situation. The new unity thus established is enhanced by the acceptance of one surname by the couple just as IsraEL as a nation received the name of their God, "EL" . The united family relationship will thereafter suffer if any inclinations towards disloyalty are not revealed and appropriate action taken . This is also true of God's relationship with His People, and is reflected in the first verse of Leviticus 5 which makes the following statement.
1. And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.
Here someone attached to The Almighty as a loyal member of His family learns of an expression of disloyalty by another person. To hide the matter by silence is to voluntarily switch one's own highest priority of loyalty from The Almighty and to that disloyal person, in order to protect that other person, whose "voice of swearing" has already demonstrated that they have no aversion to expressions which scorn God.
Likewise, in another context which is addressed in the next verses, a danger to such a dedicated family or society will follow the unchecked spread of some disease or uncleanness by a contaminated individual. Upon realising the fact that one has become thus soiled or contaminated, the love which God expects of each member of His family for one another demands that the individual voluntarily withdraw to isolation and tell others of the potential for their contamination. For that reason also, the leper was to warn others, crying the word "unclean" as he passed through their midst in the street.. Let us read the words of the next verses.
2. Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase of an unclean beast, or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty.
3. Or if he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty.
Here, I might suggest the modern application within the context wherein AIDS or some other similar condition is present. Love for one's neighbour demands that the condition not be spread through a silence which facilitates selfish gratification of one's own lusts.
4. Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these.
That last verse may, at first sight, be difficult to comprehend, but here we might think of some occasion wherein an obligation is undertaken with legal ramifications which were not foreseen at the time of undertaking.
5. And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing:
6. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.
7. And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the LORD; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering.
8. And he shall bring them unto the priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin offering first, and wring off his head from his neck, but shall not divide it asunder:
9. And he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering upon the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be wrung out at the bottom of the altar: it is a sin offering.
10. And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering, according to the manner: and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him.
11. But if he be not able to bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, then he that sinned shall bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put any frankincense thereon: for it is a sin offering.
12. Then shall he bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it, even a memorial thereof, and burn it on the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the LORD: it is a sin offering.
13. And the priest shall make an atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him: and the remnant shall be the priest's, as a meat offering.
We note here the understanding provision of allowances for inability to meet the rigidities of a uniform regulation. However we also note that even the poorest must submit something in order to establish contrition and a commitment to the substitutionary principle of sacrifice for transgression which looks towards Christ for protection from the penalty demanded for breaking the Law.
As with all such sacrificial offerings, we must see that the attitude of the heart is towards a seeking after forgiveness, but further, that through an offering, the seriousness of the matter is acknowledged by the guilty party. It is not something which can be treated as of no ultimate consequence. Let us consider such in relation to our own position and circumstance as we meditate upon today's Scripture reading, remembering that all must eventually stand before the Judge of all the world.
12 May, 1996
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
This ongoing series of Bible Studies which began several years ago with the Call of Abram in Genesis 12 has taken us in successive Scripture passages to the scene at the foot of Mount Sinai where there are gathered before The LORD all the Tribes of Israel in their encampments. They are receiving by the hand of Moses the words of The LORD, of which Leviticus is a part. We have now arrived at Leviticus 5, where we shall pick up today's reading. In Leviticus 4, one aspect of the situations raised was the fact that the whole congregation might be involved in a sacrificial act of contrition for a sin through ignorance for which, as for the priest, a young bullock must be sacrificed, the elders of the congregation being the authorities required to represent the whole congregation by laying their hands upon the head of the bullock.
We learned that when a ruler had sinned, (the Hebrew word is used of a king, or the head of a tribe), a kid of the goats, a male without blemish must stand for that ruler and be sacrificed. If any one of the common people sinned through ignorance, likewise a kid of the goats, but this time a female without blemish, was to serve as the sacrifice. If the person presenting the offering brought a lamb for a sin offering, it states that "he shall bring it a female without blemish." Confirming this general distinction, we saw, The Companion Bible noted of verse 28: "female for one of the People, male for 'ruler'."
Last week we looked at an aspect of transgression which was possible in the matter of one's loyalty towards The Almighty God. Such loyalty must affect one's attitude towards those who are heard to swear. Such persons would thus have demonstrated their own lack of reverence for the name of God. Verse 1 conveys the command of God thus:
1. And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.
Here someone attached to The Almighty as a loyal member of His family hears or learns of an expression of disloyalty by another person. To hide the matter by silence is to voluntarily switch one's own highest priority of loyalty from The Almighty in order to protect that other person whose "voice of swearing" demonstrates that they have no aversion to expressions which scorn God. Our own disloyalty towards The Almighty God will likewise be demonstrated if we do not express condemnation of the attitude and of the person who has thus verbalized their disloyal attitude and disrespect towards Our God.
We further examined the matter of the need to demonstrate love for one's neighbour which required that one who was contaminated by contact with an unclean source and who, by neglecting this duty might then require a sacrifice for transgression. This would involve hygienic practices to prevent contamination from spreading to innocent parties. Such an offence requires active repentance and the offering of sacrificial proof thereof to cover the transgression.
Keil and Delitzsch comment on this passage as follows: "The Trespass-offerings - These were presented for special sins, by which a person had contracted guilt, and therefore they are not included in the general festal sacrifices. Three kinds of offences are mentioned in this section as requiring trespass-offerings... ." (Here they are including the first section of Chapter 6 with our present Scripture.) "...The first is, 'if a soul commit a breach of trust, and sin in going wrong in the holy gifts of Jehovah.'" They explain this to consist essentially of covered or secret unfaithfulness by reason of idolatry which would withhold fitting honour to Jehovah, or by infringing upon Jehovah's rights, abstracting something that rightfully belonged to Him. This might be fraud in what was dedicated, as the holy things of Jehovah were the holy gifts, sacrifices, first-fruits, tithes, etc., which were to be offered to Jehovah, and were assigned by Him to the priests for their revenue. The words "in error" might refer to something done in a forgetful or negligent way. Possibly it might arise from a mistake in valuation of a required offering which, when later understood, must still be paid up as a debt owing. From the plural wording of shekels, it is apparent that the ram must be worth more than one shekel. The expression is left indefinite to allow for a certain proportion between the value of the ram and the magnitude of the sin. The value of the fraud was to be paid, and one fifth more added thereto.
The New Bible Commentary, writing on the second half of Leviticus 5, to which we are now moving, and also the first part of the chapter which follows, has this comment: "The distinctive feature of the trespass offering is, as we have seen, that it is made in the case of a sin which requires restitution, and restitution must precede the performing of the sacrifice. Two cases are specified. The first is the withholding of the holy things of the Lord (15), i.e. of such tithes, offerings, firstlings, etc., as belonged to God and must either be presented to the priest or redeemed. The second case has to do with acts which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord (17). Since the same phrase is used here as in iv. 2, 13, 22, 27, the difference must consist in the fact that the trespass requires restitution... ."
14. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
15. If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the LORD; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering:
16. And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him.
We may recall one example of transgression by King David who ordered the men of Israel and Judah to be numbered over the objections of Joab and the administration who realised that it would be a transgression to do so. The story is described in II Samuel 24, and it is also found in I Chronicles 21:1-28. The transgression actually consisted in the fact that David's order to number the people failed to include the required order for the collection of the designated "half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary" from each person who was numbered. Each man was to give this exact ransom, neither less nor more, and designated as "a ransom for his soul unto the LORD", as required in such cases when the men were numbered by the law given in Exodus 30:12-16 17. We may note the mention in verse 15 of that "shekel of the sanctuary" in connection with the estimation of the trespass offering.
Harm certainly followed that failure on the part of King David, for of three suggested penalties, the angel of the LORD was selected to be the conveyor of a punishment, which was inflicted by the removal in death of seventy thousand men of Israel! Joab had not numbered the tribes of Benjamin or Levi, and the angel ceased the slaughter accordingly at the threshing floor of Araunah (Ornan) the Jebusite, later to become the site of Temple Mount in Jerusalem and which lay on the southern border of the tribal allotment which belonged to Benjamin. Let us continue our reading from Leviticus 5.
17. And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity.
18. And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him.
19. It is a trespass offering: he hath certainly trespassed against the LORD.
With all these sacrificial ordinances, we must continue to keep ever in mind that, at least in part, they were all designed in the context of the Old Testament scene, to present an understanding through symbolic, sacrificially costly, acts of the act of contrition. They were designed to point onward to the ultimate necessity of transferring all such observances, in their new form, to the relationship which is provided to us in Jesus Christ. Christ on our behalf, and in a display of the greatest act of love, presented Himself as the living sacrifice to satisfy the requirement of His own holy nature and the Justice which such would require. Through His Resurrection life we are to find a means of access to the same type of life, which is to occur within His corporate body, in a sense like the legal union of a man and his wife. It is available for those who thus establish that repentant desire for union under His Kingship. May you find cause for meditation in this area of your own existence during the coming week.
19 May, 1996
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
When the Universe was being planned by The Almighty God, He loved that which He was designing and creating. Indeed, that much loved verse, John 3:16 confirms this, when it starts with the words "For God so loved the world ...". God desired that His mighty love be reflected in the love which His creatures would manifest towards Himself and towards one another. The reply of Christ to the lawyer who asked the question "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" is found in Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31, and Luke 10:27 and it embodied a summary of this objective. The Matthew account states: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
That Great Plan therefore involved the necessity of a physical structure, the operation of which would be, in general, predictable, through cause-and-effect Laws of Nature, for only in the context of such predictability can the rational decision-making called "choice", (of which love is the positive aspect), take place. Thus certain physical characteristics called "cause and effect" had to be incorporated into the Creation in order to permit the love which God had for His Creation to be reflected by His creatures, both towards Himself and to one another. It is this Natural Law which lies at the centre of all scientific enquiry, for the essence of science is the acquisition of detailed knowledge of those characteristics of Nature which are demonstrable as repetitious effects from known causes. Only the fool, however, would make the general existence of such natural law the basis of a denial of the existence of God, the Creator! David the Psalmist put it this way in Psalm 14:1: "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God... ."
However, the absolute uniform rigidity of such Natural Law exacts a merciless penalty of pain and ultimately, death for those activities we might class as savage, unwise, immature or impatient transgression, and hence a loving God must, on His part, also provide two further courses of activity. He must first forewarn His creatures by a rule-book of God's Laws containing His Commandments concerning forbidden conduct. These rules would guide the wise in avoidance of that death which Nature would exact. Second, knowing from the foundation of the world the inevitable failure which immature mankind would encounter through unwise, rebellious choices, He must, in love, also provide a door of escape from the unavoidable process of death and likewise from the broken relationship with Himself which follows the breaking of the laws which, in love, He presents to them.
In order to preserve His Laws through generations of mankind, and to insure the prophetic stamp of authority upon the arrival of His incarnate aspect among men and women at a time appointed, and the subsequent continuance of that understanding, the provision of a dedicated tribal people and nation would be essential, and to that end, a line of Patriarchs was preserved from Adam to Abram, to whom, as Genesis 12 records, there came a Call to go forth out from among his kindred and city to be the founder of that new line of descent.
The nation of Israel was to form for this purpose, and to become a blessing to the nations. The story of this Great Plan forms the subject of the Holy Scriptures and of our present series of studies. We, of the British-Israel-World Federation, hold that the present-day descendants of the vast majority of those ancient Israelites are now found in the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples and nations, and hence these laws are still important to our people. Thus we now find ourselves in imagination, at the foot of Mount Sinai as Moses relays to the assembled tribes of Israel the various commandments and instructions of Yahweh (Jehovah), The Mighty God of all Creation.
We have arrived at Leviticus 6 in this sequence of scriptural accounts, and we are presently looking at those laws which pertain to the correction of relationships between the members of mankind, and also between mankind and the Almighty. Looking forward to Christ, that door of escape, certain laws are being enjoined regarding substitutional sacrifices.
In order to grasp the essence of the Adamic Fall, we might consider the example of a wise parent who informs a child that a certain plant is poisonous. Upon being left alone near the plant, the child disregards the guidance of the parent, and chews some of the plant, which then causes sickness. Natural Law has taken its penalty. But, in addition, the child now faces a second penalty. The parent is displeased because the child has disobeyed an order. As a result the parent may perhaps be forced to give up a pleasant evening to take the child to the hospital in order to alleviate the result, hence the child may now, in addition, face the punishment which follows such disobedience apart from the actual result of the poison itself.
To take the independent decision to decide one's own conduct against that Law contained in God's Commandments is then a twofold transgression. First, the Natural Law will inexorably exact its penalty. In Genesis 2:12, God had instructed Adam concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil "in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The day thus described is explained by Peter in II Peter 3:8 as a representative term which is as a thousand years, and Adam died within that span of years. However, the inexorable processes of death started at the moment of the rebel experiment, in that first single hour and day also. Second, by moving in the self-chosen direction which will eventually place a person in that natural jeopardy, we now have the added transgression of having dismissed God's wisdom and love, so we, descendants of Adam's loins, were and are physically affected by the same death process, and, like Adam, we also share the guilt of Sin which is the transgression of the Law, which was supposed to guide us from the peril. We are of ourselves incapable of perfection.
Our ongoing series of Bible Studies has taken us from the Call of Abram in Genesis 12 down the generations to the Children of Israel camped before Mount Sinai where Moses is relaying to them the terms of their relationships with God and with one another. Sin is breaking of laws and sacrifice is the means by which the relationship which sin broke is to be restored. The Old Testament sacrifices all pointed forward to the Great Sacrifice which Jesus Christ made for His people on Golgotha, so that a renewal of a close relationship might be re-established between them.
The commandments concerning the trespass offering which began with Leviticus 5:14, a portion which was examined on our last programme, carry through to the end of Leviticus 5 and into today's reading as far as Leviticus 6:7. As we have previously explained, a trespass offering was one which required restitution and that restitution must precede the performing of the sacrifice.
As we are drawing towards the end of today's lesson, we may not have time to do more than to make a few comments and to read the first seven verses of Leviticus 6. Reviewing briefly what was stated concerning the last of the previous chapter, we recall that the statement will serve to explain the first seven verses of today's scripture portion also. Explaining what was involved in a trespass offering, The New Bible Commentary says "Two cases are specified. The first is the withholding of the holy things of the Lord..." (tithes, offerings, firstlings, etc.). "...The second case has to do with acts which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord" ( and which require restitution). The Commentary then continues "The next section (vi. 1-7) deals with acts which involve injustice of injury to one's fellowmen. In all of these cases the property unjustly withheld is to be restored with the addition of one-fifth of its value, a fine which both served to reimburse the rightful owner and to punish the guilty party."
Let us read the first seven verses of Leviticus 6 before commenting further.
1. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2. If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour;
3. Or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein:
4. Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found,
5. Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering.
6. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest:
7. And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein.
We shall leave our comments for the next lesson, but I shall leave with you the thought that every law God has given is for our benefit, and we do well to ponder each in turn, though they were imparted so long ago.
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