THE GOSPEL IN LEVITICUS: The Sin Offering
THE SIN OFFERING"He must bring to the Lord a young bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed." Leviticus 4:3
Sin! The sound is brief. But it presents a dark abyss of thought. No mind can trace its birth. No eye can see its death. Before the worlds it scaled the heavens, and dragged angels down. In life's first dawn it entered Eden and slew innocence. It ends not with the end of time. It ever rolls an ever-deepening course.
Reader, think much of sin.
It is earth's death-blow. It marred the beauty of a beauteous world. It stripped it of its lovely robe. It caused the soil to harden; the leaves to wither and decay. It turned fertility to weeds, and armed the brier with its bristling thorns. It made the clouds to blacken, and the storm to rage. It raised the tempest's roar, and plumed the lightning with its forked wings. It placed its foot upon a perfect workmanship—and left it a disordered wreck.
Reader, think much of sin.
It is man's ruin. Its most tremendous blight fell on our inner life. It drove the soul from peaceful fellowship with God. It changed the loving child into a hardened rebel. It robbed the mind of light. It rendered reason a bewildered maze. It made the heart a nest of unclean birds; a spring of impure streams; a whirlpool of tumultuous passions; a hot-bed of ungodly lusts; a den of God-defying schemes. It is the malady—the misery—the shame of our whole race. It is the spring of every tear. Each sigh, which rends the breast—each frown, which ploughs the brow—each pain, which racks the limbs, are cradled in its arms. It is the mother of that mighty monster—death. It digs each grave in every grave-yard. Each widow and each orphan tastes its gall. It fills each hospital with sick. It strews the battlefield with slain. It is the core in every grief. It is the worm which gnaws the root of peace.
Reader, think much of sin.
Its terrible destructions die not in the grave. There is a region, where its full-blown torments reign. It built the prison-house of hell. It kindled quenchless flames. It forged the chains, which bind lost sinners to their burning beds. It sharpened the undying sting of an upbraiding conscience. It arms the jailer—Satan, with his scourge. It bars the hopeless in that outer darkness, where weeping ever weeps—and wailing ever wails—and teeth forever gnash—and all is woe, which knows no respite and no end.
Reader, think much of sin.
It works this bitter and eternal anguish, because God's curse attends it. It raised a rebel-hand against His will. It dared to violate His holy law. It strove to lay His honor in the dust. It trampled on the statute-book of heaven. Therefore God's anger fiercely burns against it. Hence every misery follows in its succession. He must be wretched who has God against him.
Reader, here is a picture, in which all horrors meet. Regard it with an earnest eye. No fiction colors it. No power can over paint the terrible reality. No artist's skill can represent a flame. The dreadful truth exceeds report. The lost writhe out eternity in fully learning the deserts of sin.
These terrors are the best prelude to the tidings of the sin offering. Tears magnify the cross. The trembling heart is the best soil for seeds of peace. Hell seen beforehand, is hell escaped forever. Satan disclosed, is Satan baffled.
As the bright sun behind a threatening cloud, the sin offering waits to change the frightful aspect of sin. At Sinai's base this rite steps forth to show the reconciling work of grace. Reader, receive the soul-reviving voice— Though sin is death, the sinner need not die. There is a fortress of escape. There is a remedy to heal these wounds. What though your sins be countless as the sands? They all may disappear. What though the dye of each be double crimson? Each may be washed away. The filth may all be cleansed. The debts may be wiped out. The soul may meet Jehovah's eye without one stain. There is a way, by which the vilest may stand pure. This is the blessed and the wondrous truth, which the Sin offering proclaims.—God's love decreed a plan. He willed a ransom, and His Son achieved it. Let us draw nearer to the amazing sight.
When God would save, justice, and truth, and holiness proposed tremendous terms. Each sin must bear its merited load of woe. Each curse must be endured. Each violation of the holy law must drink the dregs of condemnation. Jesus comes forth to help. The guiltless One, takes the guilty place. The God-man represents His flock. He stands their ready and complete sin offering. He pays in anguish and in blood their every due. Wrath is endured. Penalties are paid. Sufferings are suffered. Agonies are agonized. The work requires infinity of woe. Infinity of woe is borne by Him. His Deity enables. His manhood qualifies. Thus sin is fully punished. Thus the redeemed are fully saved.
Such are the tidings of the Sin offering. Say, is not this the truth of truths? All minds should ponder it. All hearts should welcome it. All eyes should gaze upon it. All hands should grasp it. All lips should praise it. Parents should teach it. Children should learn it. Pulpits should echo it. The cottage—the sick chamber—the dying bed, should brighten with this light. It should be the stable center of the soul—the joy of social converse—the bond of Christian fellowship. Men should walk up and down in the full freedom of redemption's plains.
Until by the Spirit's aid, the eye of faith discerns a substituted sufferer, the conscience has no peace; the Bible is a locked-up page; life has no steady compass; death has no pillow of assured repose.
Reader, is this truth, the light—the feast—the joy—the strength—the rapture of your soul? Does morning wake you to bring this offering to the Mercy-seat? Do you go forth with your hands resting on its head? Do you lie down with the blood sprinkled on the day's misdeeds? It should be so. In every way God sets this sacrifice before you. Christ knocks for entrance at the sinner's heart. The Spirit joys to show the God-appointed victim.
And now in these poor lines another message craves attention. Come mark, then, how the Sin offering in every part proves sin to be a vanquished foe.
There are indeed some grades of difference in this type, as rank or as offence might differ. The first example will illustrate all. The offender is the anointed Priest. Lev. 4:3. Sin has allured—ensnared—defiled him. But now he sees his guilt. He cannot rest until pardon be obtained. God's voice directs his course. He must bring a young unblemished bull to the tabernacle-door. Behold the proof, that God has found a ransom. This is an idle and an empty rite, unless it shows the victim of God's choice. This is but mockery, except it witnesses, that help is laid on the redeeming Jesus.
The type is clear. It ushers in the Gospel antitype. Atonement is indeed provided. We are not left to hopelessness, or human schemes. Sins are our own. The remedy is His.
A SOLEMN ACT is next enjoined. The offender's hands must be laid on the victim's head. This sign too, has no meaning, unless it bids the sin-lost to transmit their guilt. Without such a meaning, it is a puzzling and deceiving shadow. But God gives not an ordinance in vain. He thus consents, that sin should pass to the Sin offering. He thus instructs the heavy-laden to roll all on Christ.
Reader, if sin be found adhering to yourself—if it should weigh you into nether-hell—it is not, because the chain cannot be broken—it is not, because Christ refuses to receive—it is not, because you never heard of transfer. It is, because you care not for relief. It is, because self-will retains the mass of sin.
The substitute is then slain. Lev. 4:4. Sin must have death. The curse must fall. God pardons not by bidding anger to hold back. His hatred must be shown—His majesty must be maintained—His truth must be preserved. Pardons indeed abound. They freely and they gladly fly. But all proceed along a blood-stained path.
Believer, your sins slew Christ. They cannot now slay you. His death is yours. Therefore you live. God's smile is on you, not because your sins are none, but because each has died in Christ.
The precious rite continues to unfold the Savior's worth. It shows THREE USES OF THE OUTPOURED BLOOD.
1. The veil is sprinkled seven times. Lev. 4:6. This veil hung in front of the Mercy-seat. It was the entrance to the holiest place. The truth is manifest. They, who would enter into heaven, must plead blood shed.
Reader, the blood, which flowed at Calvary, still flows within your reach. Take it by faith, and mount the holy heights. You may have heaven, as your eternal home. Your sins are no insuperable bar. Without one doubt, present the price. The gates will lift their heads. The everlasting portals will fly back.
2. Part dyed the golden-altar's horns. Lev. 4:7. This was the place where incense rose, as emblem of ascending prayer. Christ's intercession is Salvation's crown. But it prevails, because its plea is blood. The wounded hands cannot be stretched in vain. Who, also, are they, who thrive most in the growth of grace, and work most boldly in the Savior's cause? They, whose incessant prayers most sweetly savor of the dying Lamb. The bleeding cross is supplication's strength.
3. The brazen-altar drank the rest. Lev. 4:7. Thus all is used to bring assurance to the anxious heart. Each drop subserves its part. Atonement needs the whole. The whole is given.
Reader, behold each altar reeking with this stream of blood, and doubt not, that God's claims are satisfied.
This is not all. No effort is untried to deepen peace. Hence we see more than the sin offering's death. Other rites follow. Let them be marked. The costliest parts are piled upon the burning altar. Lev. 4:10. The angry fire receives them, as its prey. It burns—it blazes, until all disappears. Thus wrathful fury seized the soul of Jesus. All torments dealt most fiercely with Him. He suffered, until eternal vengeance asked no more.
Reader, if you are one with Christ, hell-pains are past for you. If you are not, they still remain. Alas! how shall you bear them!
Again, this is not all. The curse is linked to sin. A perfect sin offering, then, must be abhorred, as an accursed thing. Abomination must pursue it. Turn now to the type. The remnant of the victim, vile and contemned, is borne outside the camp. Lev. 4:12. It is spurned, as hateful to the sight and touch. A pile of wood is raised. Again the fire is brought, and burning work does its part. Here is clear emblem of Christ made curse for us. The garden misery showed anger wrestling with His soul. But further anguish presses in the rear. He is led out beyond the gate. The city loathes Him, as earth's refuse.
He hangs conspicuously a curse for sin. Here the last vengeance falls. Blessed are they, whose curse descends on the Savior's cross.
Reader, in pity to your soul, flee to the Sin offering. Make Christ by faith your own. When fears affright—when Satan claims—when death draws near—when the great judgement throne is set—place Him—your shield—before God's wrath. They cannot fail, who thus make Him their All.
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