“If any member of the community sins unintentionally… when they realize their guilt and the sin they have committed becomes known…” (Leviticus 4:27-28, NIV).
Sometimes we sin without even realizing it. Maybe as a new believer, we didn’t understand that a certain decision or lifestyle is sinful. Or maybe as a mature Christian, we sin without even thinking about it. Or sometimes, our sin isn’t unintentional. Sometimes even those of us who follow Jesus choose to disobey.
In the sacrificial system laid out in the Book of Leviticus, there is a distinction made between intentional and unintentional sin. What many of us don’t realize, however, is that Leviticus has no sacrifice available for willful, intentional sin. All of the “sin offerings” in Leviticus are for unintentional sin. Thankfully, Christ’s sacrifice is superior to that of bulls and goats, and His blood can even cleanse us from our rebellious hearts!
This phrasing in Leviticus 4, however, is interesting. If someone sins unintentionally, when they realize their guilt, they should come to offer the sin offering. How much unintentional, unrealized sin is in my life? Sin can hinder our relationship with God and our effectiveness in ministry–even sin we’re not aware of!
My prayer for the week is that of David in Psalm 19:
Who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep Your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
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“[T]he priest is to burn all of it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.” (Leviticus 1:9, NIV)
Leviticus is both an interesting and a tedious book! Many times in my life I have started off January with a goal to read the whole Bible in a year. I generally have no trouble with Genesis–it’s filled with fascinating stories! Exodus is a mix of stories, laws, and instructions. It’s not quite as sensational as Genesis, but I still get through it. But I have been bogged down in Leviticus and gotten off-track from my read-the-Bible-in-a-year-plan on multiple years. While I’ve slogged all the way through Leviticus a few times, I’ve never read it devotionally, so I’ve decided to slow down and listen to God speaking to me in this overlooked book of the Bible!
Leviticus has a lot of historical-cultural context that is important for understanding the book. So, as I read it devotionally, I’ve also decided to read Leviticus: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture by Mark Rooker, part of The New American Commentary series.
Leviticus begins with describing the procedures for the whole burnt offering. This is when a bull, sheep, or dove would be slaughtered and burned whole on the altar as an act of worship to God. These offerings were made in the Tabernacle every morning and evening! Additionally, anyone in Israel could bring a burnt offering at any time simply to honor God and show their devotion to Him. This whole burnt offering was a little different than other offerings because the whole animal would be burned on the altar. With most other offerings and sacrifices, only part of the animal was burned on the altar. The rest would be eaten by the priests and/or the people making the offering.
The burnt offering was an offering of worship and devotion. Burning it whole symbolized that a person’s whole heart was devoted to God. As I read the first chapter of Leviticus, I felt challenged by the Lord: is my heart fully devoted to Him? How often do I come to worship on Sunday and sing half-heartedly? While I’m thankful that I don’t have to slaughter and burn a bull just so I can come and worship God, I sometimes take for granted how easy Jesus has made it for us to approach the throne of God. May we never come before Him flippantly or carelessly!
My prayer for this week is that we will remember the sacrifice of Christ, be thankful He has opened the door for us to come to the Father, and worship God with hearts that are fully devoted to Him.
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