LEVITICUS 4:1 – 6:30 and MATTHEW 25:1–46
We come now to the sin offering. This offering is distinct from the first 3 offerings due to it being burned outside the camp. We know that Christ became the sin offering on our behalf. What did this entail? He had to live a blameless and sin free life as a lamb in order to be the sacrifice. He was tested, he experienced temptation but never once yielded to sin. He fulfilled this offering as the Son of Man but never ever ceased being the Son of God. He laid aside his divine prerogatives throughout His earthly ministry. He never ceased being the Son of God. The most vivid picture we have of this is in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus battled in the area of His will “…nevertheless, not my will but thine be done” (Luk 22:42).
It was in the area of the will where Lucifer fell. (The 5 I will’s of Isa 14:13-14) God gives each of us the freedom to make choices. Jesus, who had a loving intimate fellowship with the Father was now about to become SIN; the object of everything God disdained and hated. Can we grasp just a portion of this dynamic? God loved the Son and now was about to execute His fury upon Sin through His beloved Son upon the Cross. This is the reality of what we are about to see in type form in chapter 4. Jesus did not deserve to die but He willingly gave His life while at the same time allowing His Father to place the sin of mankind upon Him. The Father and Son paid a tremendous price in this act. It was through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that Jesus was able to offer His life (Heb 9:14). This offering was for sin and we see that Jesus would one day be the one who would fulfil it. There are applicable lessons for us in examining this offering. In addition we can see the harmony and flow of the Trinity.
Once again we need to understand that this offering had varying degrees of consecration. Some of the offerings were held at the brazen altar which was in the Outer Court while others were done before the veil, at the altar of incense which is at the entrance of the Holy of Holies. It would be difficult to try and break down every instance of an offering in this chapter but let’s try and do a summary.
We often have the impression that when Jesus died on the cross the sacrifice and shed blood was a once for all offering. Indeed, it was! Christ accomplished and totally fulfilled the will of His Father. Here is where we see some differences in doctrine. Though Christ finished the work, the blood of Christ would still have an efficacious element to it. There is an appropriation of the finished work of Christ as it pertains to the power of the blood. When we are born again we are covered by His blood and deemed to be righteous because of His righteousness. As we will see in the Journey of Israel there is still a working out of His righteousness that God does within His people.
The sin offering is primarily for the purpose of dealing with man’s sin nature. At salvation we have a conscious awareness of sin and various struggles in our lives. As we progress in our walk we begin to have a deeper awareness of internal sin. Remember Jeremiah, the mighty prophet of God saw his heart as being deceitfully wicked (Jer 17:9-10). As we draw closer to God the heart comes more alive; that which is resident within (sin) begins to be fleshed out. This is the spirit that is now being touched by God for cleansing. Let’s consider the following verse:
1Jn 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Can you see the power of the blood at work as we choose to walk in light? This is when we allow God to shine the spotlight of his candle within our hearts (Zeph 1:12, Rev. 3:20). This is the fruit of experiencing Romans chapters 6-8 where we come face to face with the Cross. It is a choice one needs to make. It is here where our thoughts, emotions and spirit need cleansing. We can opt for an easier way but in doing so we forfeit a greater application of the blood that could be applied to our life. Once a year the children of Israel had to gather for the Feast of Atonement (Lev 23:27-30). It was a time when God would deal with the sins of the nation. The high priest would go into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle the blood around the Mercy Seat. There was the blood that was applied to the door posts of Israel at the time of Passover but we see another application of the blood during the Feast of Atonement.
Lev 16:14 And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.
The various degrees of the Sin Offering that are seen in chapter 4 helps to convey the need for a progressive work of righteousness that needs to be worked out in the life of a Christian. There are some who would say that all sins past, present and future is covered due to the finish work achieved at Calvary. Indeed, the sacrifice was complete and sufficient but there is an appropriation required on our part; in a progressive fashion as one chooses to walk in the light.
In summary, the Sin offering was for the purpose of dealing with the nature of sin that man was born with. When Adam fell, we were in him and therefore subject to the consequence and judgment of sin. It is a nature we still do battle with after our salvation. There is a measure of the Spirit of God we receive at salvation but there is still the nature of man and sin. The nature of man and sin begins to be addressed to the extent we allow God to lead us in light. It is a choice on our part. As we yield to God while in the light the nature of man begins to die and the cleansing of the blood, appropriated by faith begins that inner work of transformation. The Baptism of the Holy Ghost certainly aids in this process. A person today who presents a sin offering to the Lord is one who loves the message of the Cross, a person who seeks to attain unto holiness and one who chooses the narrow way (Math 7:13-14). The following verse speaks to the purpose of the Sin Offering.
Psa 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
The Trespass Offering is addressed in these two chapters. This offering deals with sins of omission, or in failing to follow through on oaths, not coming forward when witnessing a crime and many other related civil matters. Primarily though it was for those who committed trespasses made against God in the realm of His holiness and Commandments. Once again we see degrees and levels of offerings that are expressed. In verses 15-19 we see trespasses that are committed against God. A trespass among the holy things of God through ignorance would require the offering of a ram without blemish. In addition, due to the harm that was done, the one who offered had to add 1/5th to the priest. This was obligatory in order for forgiveness for this trespass to be released.
The offering of a ram was also required if the sin against the commandments of God were to be committed by the one making an offering. The Trespass offering was also made when one sinned against his fellow man. These chapters lay out the requirements of such offerings and its accompanying restitution, if needed. If I stole from the church or a brother it would be a trespass offering that would need to be given. If I broke one of God’s commandments it too would come under the purview of the Trespass offering.
Can you see the distinction between the Sin and Trespass Offering? The Sin Offering was for the purpose of dealing with the sin nature.
Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (This speaks of the sin nature).
There are many different kinds of offerings that could be given which were dependent upon the scale of an offense. All sin is offensive to God but we need to be clear that some sins are of a much higher magnitude. This is clearly seen in the different levels of offerings that would be given.
The first three offerings were offerings that could be presented to God. They were free will offerings and were pleasing to God, due to the willingness and consecration of the one making an offering. The last two offerings deal with the nature of sin and the acts of sin committed against God and man. Jesus fulfilled these offerings thereby showing the way for us. These offerings will be seen in more clarity as we progress through Leviticus.
The Lord continues to speak as to what it will be like in the last days. In verses 1-13 He gives the familiar parable of the 10 virgins. It is another story that he likens to the “Kingdom of God”. This parable also helps to establish the fact that there are degrees in the kingdom, groups or people that are closer to God than others. In this account you have 10 virgins, all having the same objective of awaiting the bridegroom, which speaks of Christ. The distinction comes in seeing that there were 5 who were prepared and 5 who were foolish having no oil for their lamps (vs 3). The Lord has alluded to being alert, vigilant and prepared on many other occasions and we see it again here. We also see that there is a period of “tarrying” as noted in verse 5. It is this period of tarrying where the heart is revealed. We saw it with Israel at the time of the Exodus when Moses went up the Mount for 40 days. We see this quality in Gideon’s army of 300 and it is something that Peter warns us about as well as seen in his first epistle.
1Pe 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Christ tarries oftentimes for the purpose of trying the faith and patience of His people. It says of the virgins that they “all slumbered and slept” denoting a delay that affected everyone, yet there was a difference between these two groups. There are many lessons that can be applied from this parable but I feel to zero in on the quality of vigilance. The ability to hold steady on a consistent basis no matter how long the duration or magnitude of adversity. The period of delay’s that believers experience in God’s kingdom provides the Lord a clear lens into the hearts of people. It allows God to see what is really resident within one’s heart.
At Christmas time we like to share some of the stories surrounding the birth of Christ. The night at Bethlehem was like any other night, people going about their business without any hint of an extraordinary event about to take place. Have you ever thought about the shepherd’s in the field that night? They were not among the recognized class of people yet it was they who had that glorious encounter with the heavenly realm. Out of nowhere the skies lit up and they became privy to the glorious announcement of the Saviour’s birth. They were witness to the heavenly choir and they were directed to where this glorious event took place. (Luk 2:8-20)
Why were they given this privilege? Is it possible that it was due to their faithfulness to duty in the midst of obscurity? They were keeping “watch” over their flocks that night while the world carried on with its ways.
Luk 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Why was David chosen when all the others sons of Jesse seemed to be more qualified in being the next king? Where did they find him? He was keeping watch over his father’s sheep in obscurity.
1Sa 16:11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.
Everyone’s attention was focused upon the house of Jesse but it was David, in the field, who was called upon at that opportune moment to be anointed king. One of the ways we can maintain oil in our lamps is to be vigilant and prepared. The bridegroom in this parable came at an unexpected time. It is interesting to note the conversation between the wise and foolish virgins here. The foolish said to the wise; give us some of your oil.
Mat 25:8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
Mat 25:9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
There was recognition at this moment that they were lacking something that the wise virgins had. It was the oil, but what does the oil represent and why was it required to meet the bridegroom? In this account the wise said to the foolish “go and buy for yourselves”. We see in this statement that the wise had paid a price, unlike that of the foolish virgins. This familiar verse comes to mind.
Pro 23:23 Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.
There is a connotation in the above verse of the 7 spirit of God anointing that is found in the Holy Place of Moses Tabernacle. We can also call to mind the man who was at the wedding feast but did not have upon him a wedding garment (Math 25:11-12). Again, it is accounts like these that make clear the distinction seen amongst believers in the kingdom. In “buying the truth” one is purchasing an experience, something that has been gained at a great price. The oil of joy is poured into those who mourn.
Isa 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
Jesus reiterates the point about being watchful which is a follow-up from the last chapter. (Math 24:42) This event points towards the marriage of the bridegroom and bride. There is a process involved whereby the bride prepares and makes herself ready.
Rev 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
Jesus once again exhorts the quality of vigilance as this account closes.
Mat 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
In verses 14-30 there is the account of the Talents. In many ways this is a follow-up to the story of the virgins that the Lord had just told. The quality of being watchful is now being coupled with the quality of stewardship. We cited David and the shepherd’s earlier as those who were good stewards in unknown and non-celebrated environments. We should never discount the place of our work or service. God looks for these attributes and they can be found anywhere. These qualities however are rare, especially in a period of delay and seeming non-activity.
Honestly, how would one evaluate someone like a shepherd today? Even in the church we tend to elevate celebrity at the expense of true kingdom values. The similarities between these two parables among other things are that of a period of tarrying. It is in the period of delay where our heart speaks; perhaps more than any other time. It is here where Truth is developed in the inward parts, and where we can lay hold of the anointing oils of wisdom, knowledge, understanding etc. This is what Daniel and his three friends had which in the end distinguished them from all the others. We are being qualified in this hour whether we know it or not. There is a door of separation between the Outer Court and Holy Place of Moses Tabernacle. One had to be a priest, and had to have a change of garment in order to enter the Holy Place. In seeing the qualifications of access to the Holy Place we may well catch a glimpse in how to qualify in being among the wise virgins along with those who steward their unique gifting at the time when the Lord calls out. The qualification process is already underway. How do we measure up?
The theme of separation continues right through to the end of the chapter (vs 32-46). The separation is highlighted in two specific ways. In verses 31-34 it is in the context of sheep and goat nations. In the parable of the wheat and tares we see how both can grow together for a season for a time but there comes a time of harvest (Math 13:25-30). The Lord here is speaking of an end time event and it’s clear that there will be no middle ground. This applies both for individuals and for nations. How will this separation take place?
Let’s go back to the time when God thundered at Mt. Sinai through Moses with the following question: “Who is on the Lord’s side” (Exo 32:26)? Up till this time the whole of Israel, which consisted of Aaron and the people were walking together as one. That question resulted in a separation. Aaron and the Levites sided with the Lord; they separated from among the others who were serving God on a casual basis thus distinguishing themselves as priests. If they knew this question was coming on that day they would have prepared for it. Once again, we see the purpose of delays from God’s perspective. It reveals what is truly in the heart and to see how rooted people really are. I feel we can link these 3 verses (31-34) with the first horse of the apocalypse in Rev 6:2. The white horse going forth to conquer is aligning nations to take one side or the other. The primary criteria for distinguishing the sheep from the goats could well be in how nations align with regard to Israel. It is becoming increasingly difficult to straddle both sides of an issue or to remain neutral. This will be a significant challenge for Singapore in the days ahead. We will not have the luxury of seeking to maintain a neutral position; we will have to choose. This will be true for a nation and it certainly applies to us as individuals as well. This divide will be further accentuated with the arrival of the antichrist. The antichrist will have peaceable qualities about him in the early stages. It will be the breaking of the covenant in the midst of the “week” that will open the floodgates (Dan 9:27). It will also be at this time when the abomination of desolation takes place. Jesus referred to this in Math 24. (Math 24:15)
The last verses of Math 25 (vs 35-46) seem to have a more personal application. How we treat people says much about who we are as a person. This is the gospel in action, not just words but in works and service. It also carries the message of separation. It needs to be noted that this message is to the churched. In these last few chapters of study we have seen the Lord reinforce certain truths. That there will be a separation, that we need to be watchful and that there will be evident signs that will point to the end. These messages are for us and much of what Jesus spoke of in these chapters may well come to pass in our day. Will we choose to be on the Lord’s side? Will we be faithful, even in the midst of delays being ever vigilant? Will we have oil in our lamps, loving and possessing truth while not taking the things of God for granted? Will we be practical in our walk with God in seeking to meet the needs of people? The answer to these questions will help us see where we stand in these Biblical narratives.