God’s Gift of ‘FORGIVENESS’ is AVAILABLE for EVERYONE
February 1 Bible Reading: Leviticus Chapters 4-6
"And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing; and he shall bring his trespass offering to the Lord for his sin which he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin. 'If he is not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring to the Lord, for his trespass which he has committed, two turtledoves or two young pigeons: one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering'. And he shall bring them to the priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin offering first, and wring off its head from its neck, but shall not divide it completely." (Lev. 5:5-8)
As the book of Leviticus lays down set rules from God with regards to God’s gift of forgiveness, we see that these rules are flexible enough to accommodate people of all ages, social status and financial ability. The first thirteen verses of the fifth chapter are closely linked to both the sin and trespass offerings. Instead of dealing with various classes of people, these offerings have to do with differing types of sins that include having knowledge of a crime but refusing to testify (v. 1), getting defiled through touching a dead body (v. 2), being unclean by touching a person with leprosy (v. 3), and making rash promises that are not fulfilled later (v. 4). These four types of sins basically reflect sins of omission or forgetfulness.
There were three types of offerings for these sins, depending upon the financial ability of the person to pay: a female lamb or goat—as a sin offering (v. 6); two turtledoves or two young pigeons—one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering (v. 7); and the tenth part of an ephah (about two quarts) of fine flour with no oil or frankincense (v. 11). This actually put the sin offering within reach of the poorest person, and in the economy of God, even the poorest of the poor is not left out. In the similar manner, no one is excluded from forgiveness through Christ. The question arises in verses 11–13, “How can a meal offering serve as a sin offering to make atonement for sin when we know that without the shedding of blood is no remission?” For there appears to be a universal mandate from God that is reflected in Heb. 9:22: “Almost all things are purified with blood.”
The answer is that the meal offering was offered on top of a fire offering on the altar (which did have blood), and this gave the meal offering the value of a blood sacrifice. The universal requirement for every person who came with an offering of any kind was that first of all he needed to confessed his guilt (v. 5), and then bring his offering to the priest (v. 8). O. T. Allis in The New Bible Commentary has suggested that the mingling of the meal on the altar (part was burned, vs. 12) with the other bloody offerings could be seen as meeting this principle, and that the main aspect taught in all these sacrifices (vicarious substitution) is perfectly illustrated even in this offering of meal.
Thus, the poor man’s sin offering is like the humblest burnt offering (1:14–17), except for the sprinkling of the blood (5:9; 1:15). It is understood that the rule for purification of sin as a result of ritual uncleanness or in swearing an oath should not be linked to the economic status of the individual. God’s law therefore makes provision for the poor. In fact, God made sure that no Israelites would be kept back from worshiping Him or making a trespass offering because they could not afford a sacrifice. If the family could not spare a lamb, they could instead bring turtledoves or pigeons (5:7–8). If a person was completely destitute, he or she could bring some grain (5:11).
The Law also required a woman to bring a lamb as a sacrifice on the occasion of a birth. But the poor were allowed to offer two inexpensive turtledoves or pigeons instead (12:6–8). In the New Testament, Luke’s Gospel reveals that Jesus was born into poverty (Luke 2:24). The family of Joseph and Mary (earthly parents of Jesus) was poor enough to afford only some birds. But it was enough; it was exactly what God required!
Let us understand that God’s forgiveness is available for everyone today! Even though the price of God’s forgiveness was costly – as it required the sufferings and death of His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary – it is offered to us freely by grace alone. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Eph. 2:8-9) However, our sins require confession to God, which alone will grant us the forgiveness from God that we are looking for.