We now come to the Trespass-offering. Closely allied in its broad principle to the Sin-offering, in certain particulars it as decidedly differs from it. These particulars, though few in number, are broadly marked, and full of teaching. The apprehension of them will bring out very definitely that distinct aspect of Christ which the Trespass-offering is designed to present to us.
I proceed at once, as before, to consider this Offering, first, in its distinctive character, and then in its varieties: the first will give us the distinct aspect of Christ which is intended by this particular offering: the second shew the various apprehensions which may be formed of this one aspect.
I. First then, as to the distinctive character of this Offering: four particulars may at once be noted; the first having reference to the broad distinction between the Trespass-offerings and the whole class of sweet-savour offerings; the next bearing on the general distinction between the offerings not of a sweet savour, namely, the Sin and Trespass-offerings: the other two are more definite, and have to do with certain details connected with and flowing from the distinction between the nature of sin and trespass, and their atonement.
(1.) On the first particular I need not here enter, for the distinction between what was and what was not of a sweet savour has so often been dwelt upon. I therefore merely notice the fact that the Trespass-offering was not a sweet savour. Christ is seen here suffering for sins: the view of His work in the Trespass-offering is expiatory.
(2.) The next particular, too, we have already considered, namely, that this offering was a Trespass-offering, as distinct from a Sin-offering. We may, however, again advert to this, as the particulars given here very definitely mark what constitutes trespass. If a man wronged God, that was trespass: if he wronged or robbed his neighbour, that was trespass. We read,—“If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the Lord; ... then he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done” (Lev. 5:15, 16). Again,—“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; 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: 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” (Lev. 6:2-4). Here trespass is defined as wrong done to God, or wrong done to a neighbour: we read of “violently taking,” “deceitfully getting,” and “swearing falsely about that which is found.” In every case of trespass, wrong was done; there was an act of evil by which another was injured. And the offering for this act, the Trespass-offering, (in this a contrast to the Sin-offering,) was offered by the offerer, not because he was, but because he had done, evil. Accordingly, in the Trespass-offering we never get sight of any particular person as a sinner: the act of wrong is the point noticed and dwelt upon.
Such was trespass, actual wrong and robbery, and yet there might be trespass, as well as sin, of which the trespasser was ignorant (Lev. 5:15, 17, 19). This is remarkable. It shews how little man’s judgment, not only respecting what he is, but respecting what he does, can be trusted. I observe that this unwitting trespass is specially seen in cases of “wrong in holy things;” we do not find an instance of it in cases of “wrong done to a neighbour.” The reason is manifest: our natural conscience takes cognizance of man and his claims far more readily than it is brought to understand God’s standard for all approaches to Him in holy things. Thus when little is known of this standard, when little is seen of the holy things, when trespass is thought of merely as affecting man, then unwitting trespass will not be recognized. But let a man be led much into the sanctuary, and learn something there of God’s holiness, and he will find that the holy things themselves, the very opportunities of worship, may, through our weakness, open a door for trespass. Those who are most with God will most confess, what to some seems quite incredible, that often there has been unwitting trespass in the holiest acts of work and worship. I believe there is not an act of any kind, whether of praise, or prayer, or worship, or ministry, which may not, through Satan’s cunning, prove an occasion to the flesh to bring forth some fruit of trespass. I need not particularize instances; I doubt not each instructed Christian will recognize some, where that which has been done either to the Lord or for the Lord, has afterwards been discovered to have been mixed with trespass. At the time, perhaps, the trespass has been unrecognized: but other circumstances or fuller light have made us conscious of it. Still the trespass is the same, recognized or unrecognized: and our ignorance, though it leaves us unconscious of evil, does not alter it.
And how solemn is the truth here taught us, that neither our conscience, nor our measure of light, nor our ability, but the truth of God, is the standard by which both sin and trespass are to be measured. “Though he wist it not, yet is he guilty; he hath certainly trespassed against the Lord” (Lev. 5:17, 19). If man’s conscience or man’s light were the standard, each man might have a different rule. And, at this rate, right or wrong, good or evil, would depend, not upon God’s truth, but on the creature’s apprehension of it. At this rate, the filthiest of unclean beasts could not be convicted of uncleanness, while it could plead that it had no apprehension of that which was pure and seemly. But we do not judge thus in the things of this world; neither does God judge so in the things of heaven. Who argues that because swine are filthy, therefore the standard of cleanliness is to be set by their perceptions or ability; or that because they seem unconscious of their state, therefore the distinction between what is clean and unclean must be relinquished. No: we judge not by their perceptions, but our own; with our light and knowledge, not their ignorance, as our standard. God, in like manner, though in grace He finds means for pardoning it, still judges evil as evil wherever He meets it. Our blindness does not alter His judgment; for it is our sin and that alone which has caused the blindness.
Such is trespass, and such the measure of it, a measure ever apparently widening according to our knowledge; for He who calls us, leads us to see as He sees, not only His grace, but our own deep and constant need of it. But, blessed be God, He that convinces of sin, testifies of Him also by whose Offering sins are pardoned. He that sees Jesus in the Trespass-offering, sees trespass met; for Christ has confessed it, borne its judgment, paid its penalty. Not only was “His soul an offering for sin,”—in this we get the Sin-offering,—but “He was wounded for our transgressions” (Compare Isa. 53:5, 10), the judgment for trespass was also laid upon Him. Here, as in the Sin-offering, He stood “the just for the unjust” (1 Pet. 3:18), confessing the wrongs of His people as His wrongs; and for those wrongs He made full restitution; and we in Him have satisfied God. All this, however, is so nearly allied to the Sin-offering, that I pass it as briefly as may be, to go on to those particulars which are more definite, and specially characteristic of the Trespass-offering.
These are two. In the Trespass-offering, besides the life laid down, the value of the trespass, according to the priest’s valuation of it, was paid in shekels of the sanctuary, to the injured party. Then, in addition to this, a fifth part more, in shekels also, was added to the sum just spoken of, which, together with the amount of the original wrong or trespass, was paid by the trespasser to the person trespassed against (Lev. 5:15, 16; 6:5, 6). These particulars, respecting the payment of money in connexion with the offering, are not only very definite, but very remarkable. It may be well, therefore, before we consider them separately, to note how distinctly all this differed from the Sin-offering.
In the Sin-offering we see nothing of money: there was no estimation by the priest, nor any fifth part added. Indeed, from the nature of the case, there could be neither of these, for they depend entirely on the nature of trespass. In the Sin-offering the offerer was a sinner: and his sin was met and judged in the victim. A perfect victim bore the penalty; a sinless one was judged for sin. In all this the one thought presented to us is sin receiving its rightful wages. We see due judgment inflicted on the sinner’s substitute; and this having been inflicted, justice is satisfied. In the Trespass-offering, with the exception of “trespass” instead of “sin,” we have all this precisely the same as in the Sin-offering. The victim’s life is given for trespass: judgment is inflicted, and so far justice is satisfied. But in the Trespass-offering, there is more than this,—arising, as we shall see, out of the nature of trespass,—the original wrong or evil is remedied; and further, a fifth part is added to it. Observe, in the Trespass-offering the wrong inflicted is made up and restored by the offerer. According to the priest’s valuation, the injured party receives his own, or the value of it, back again. Nor is this all; more than the original loss is repaid: the loss is more than remedied. These two most interesting particulars, specially characterizing, as they do, the atonement of the Trespass-offering, result directly and immediately from the distinction between sin and trespass. The apprehension of this distinction is absolutely necessary, if we would understand what remains of the Trespass-offering.
Sin then, I repeat, is the evil of our nature; and the offering for this, the Sin-offering, is for what we are. In the case of trespass, the offering is for what we have done, for actual wrong committed against some one. Now, it follows from the distinct nature of these things, that the atonement or satisfaction for each must differ, in measure at least; for that which would fully satisfy justice in reference to sin, would by no means do so in reference to trespass. In the case of sin—that is, our sinful nature, where no actual robbery or wrong had been committed against any one—justice would be fully satisfied by the death and suffering of the sinner. But the mere suffering and death of the sinner would not make satisfaction for the wrong of trespass. For the victim merely to die for trespass, would leave the injured party a loser still. The trespasser indeed might be punished, but the wrong and injury would still remain. The trespasser’s death would not repair the trespass, nor restore those rights which another had been robbed of. Yet, till this was done, atonement or satisfaction could scarcely be considered perfect. Accordingly, to make satisfaction in the Trespass-offering, there is not only judgment on the victim, but restitution also: the right of which another had been defrauded is satisfied; the wrong fully repaid.
To illustrate this. Suppose some noxious creature. It is evil: for this it merits death: the infliction of death would be judgment of the evil, and justice here could claim no more. But suppose this creature had also done evil and robbed us; its mere death will not repair the injury. Satisfaction for this will not be complete unless the injury done is made good in all points. In a word, atonement for trespass implies restitution; without this, though the trespasser is judged, the claim of trespass remains still unsatisfied. But in Christ man has made full satisfaction. God is not a loser even from the wrong of trespass. Nor this only. He receives even more. But let us look at the distinct particulars.
(3.) In the Trespass-offering we get restitution, full restitution for the original wrong. The amount of the injury, according to the priest’s valuation of it, is paid in shekels of the sanctuary to the injured person (Lev. 5:15). The thought here is not that trespass is punished, but that the injured party is repaid the wrong. The payment was in shekels: these “shekels of the sanctuary” were the appointed standard by which God’s rights were measured (See Exod. 30:13, 24; 38:24, 25; Lev. 27:3, 25; Numb. 3:47, 50; 18:16); as it is said, “And all thy estimation shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary” (Lev. 27:25). Thus they represent the truest measure, God’s standard by which He weighs all things. By this standard the trespass is weighed, and then the value paid to the injured person.
And God and man, though wronged by trespass, each receive as much again from man in Christ through the Trespass-offering. God was injured by trespass in His holy things, His rights unpaid, His claim slighted: for man was ofttimes a robber, taking for himself the fat or life, God’s claim in the offerings. Thus, if I may so say, God through man was a loser: but at the hands of Christ the loss has been repaid: and whatever was lost through man in the First Adam, has been made up to the full in the Second Adam. Whether honour, service, worship, or obedience, whatever God could claim, whatever man could rob Him of, all this has He received again from man in Christ, “according to the priest’s estimation in shekels of the sanctuary.”
But man also was injured by trespass; and he, too, receives as much again. Christ for man as offerer of the Trespass-offering, must offer to injured man the value of the original injury. And such as accept His offering, find their loss through man’s trespass more than paid. Has trespass wronged man of life, peace, or gladness, he may claim and receive through Christ repayment. For man to man, as for man to God, Christ stands the One in whom man’s wrongs are remedied. The wrong done to God has been met. God clearly is no loser now by trespass. And the wrong done to man is no less paid for. Man need not, more than God, be a loser.
(4.) But this is not all. Not only is the original wrong paid, but a fifth part more is paid with it in the Trespass-offering (Lev. 5:16; 6:5). Not only is the original claim, of which God and man had been wronged, satisfied: but something more, “a fifth,” is added with it.
And first, what of the amount? It is “a fifth part.” To find the import of this, we must again go back to Genesis. If I mistake not, the first place in Scripture where “the fifth” is mentioned, will lead us to apprehend its import. The particulars will be found in the history of Joseph. Briefly, the facts are these. Before the great seven years’ famine, though Egypt was Pharaoh’s land, and the Egyptians his people, yet both were independent of him in some way which evidently was not the case afterwards. This we gather from the fact that after the famine “a fifth,” never paid before, was paid to Pharaoh, in token that both land and people were Pharaoh’s by another claim. We read that “when that year was ended, the Egyptians came to Joseph the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle: there is not ought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies and our lands: wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh; and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate. And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh’s. Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day, and your land, for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass, in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part to Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own. And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants. And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part; except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh’s” (Gen.47:18-26).
We see here that “the fifth part” paid to Pharaoh, was the acknowledgment that all had been forfeited to him through misery. We learn, too, that in whatever way the Egyptians had been his people heretofore, they were now, through their need, made his by another claim. Accordingly, the payment of “a fifth” henceforward, wherever we meet with it in Scripture, (Note: It is only found in the law of the Trespass-offerings, Leviticus 5, 6; and in the law concerning vows or dedicated things, Leviticus 27. In both cases evidently the purport is the same.) is the acknowledgment that the person paying it has lost and forfeited that whereof “the fifth” was offered. It is a witness not only that the sum or thing yielded up, has been yielded of necessity, as a debt, not as a free gift, but that the whole of that whereof the fifth was paid, was the right and property of him to whom its “fifth” was rendered. Thus its import in the Trespass-offering seals the character of the offering, testifying that what was given was indeed a debt, and not a free gift. (Note: If I mistake not, this “fifth” is also connected with the tenth or tithe; the fifth being two tenths, or a double tithe. One tenth was paid by God’s people before anything was forfeited in any way, as the acknowledgment that he to whom it was paid had a claim on all that of which a tenth was offered. But after a thing was forfeited by vow or trespass, (Lev. 27, and 5, 6,) we find that a fifth or double tithe was rendered. By the law in Exodus 22:4, 7, 9, any act of trespass gave him who had been trespassed against a double claim, or rather a claim to double the amount of the original wrong or injury inflicted on him. Thus when trespass had been committed and confessed, “the fifth” was paid as the acknowledgment of the double claim. But this only by the way, as marking, if I mistake not, the connexion between the “tithe” and the “fifth part.”)
But while this was the import of giving “the fifth part,” yet by the addition of this fifth the injured party became in truth a gainer. So far from losing by trespass, he received more back again: and this is what we have now to consider. Wonderful indeed are the ways of God: how unsearchable are His counsels and wisdom! Who would have thought that from the entrance of trespass, both God and man should in the end be gainers. But so it is. From man in Christ both God and man have received back more than they were robbed of. All things are indeed of God; yet it is from man in Christ, and this in consequence of trespass, that God, according to His wondrous purpose, receives back more than that of which sin had robbed Him. In this sense, “where sin abounded,” yea, and because sin abounded, “grace did more abound.” Just as in the case above alluded to, which I doubt not is typical, and typical, if I mistake not, of very kindred truth, the effect of the famine and misery on the Egyptians was to give Pharaoh a claim not possessed before; so the effect of the entrance of trespass has been to give the injured person, whether God or man, a claim on the person and property of the trespasser, which before trespass entered was all unknown.
I would to God this were more fully seen. We should then oftener hear of grace, of rights more seldom: nor should we so often see Christians shrinking from that which we call grace, but to the exercise of which we are nevertheless most surely debtors. But to explain this:— Before trespass entered, God only claimed His part or right. He had a right to holy things as His portion, and these He looked for from man. But since trespass has entered, His claim is more: the original right and the fifth part added. “The fifth” was, as we have seen, the token how much had been forfeited by the trespasser. Its payment testified that he to whom it was given had now not only his original right, but a still further claim upon him who wronged him. Thus God’s claim through trespass is greater: and the same is true with regard to man’s claim. Before trespass entered, man too had his claim: that claim was his right, that claim was justice. But since trespass has entered, his claim is more: more than his right is now his claim from the trespasser. The fact that God has been wronged by man, and that Christ stands for man confessing trespasses, gives God a claim upon Him, not only for the original right, but for more than the first claimed holy things. So, too, because man has been injured by man, and because Christ stands for man as his substitute, therefore man, injured by trespass, has a claim on Christ, not for the original right only, but for greater blessings.
And this claim Christ never refuses: nor are those in Christ free to shrink from it. They, too, as “in Him,” are called, yea, and they are debtors, to deal in grace far beyond the claim of justice. The world may think that to mete out justice is the highest path of which man is capable. But Christ has shewn a higher still; and “he that abideth in Him is called to walk as He walked” (1 John 2:6). Such a path, of course, as every other step after Christ, if followed, will surely cost us something. But costly things become king’s children: we are rich enough to lose this world. May the Lord make His people know their calling, and conform them to Him in grace even as in glory! But I will not pursue this here, as further on I must again touch it in its bearing on the believer’s walk. I merely add therefore,—“Christ set us an example” (1 Pet. 2:21): and He yielded, not merely rights, but grace, to every man.
Thus much then, for what is specially characteristic of the Trespass-offering, and as marking where it differs from the other offerings. It only remains to notice,
II. The varieties or grades in this Offering. These are fewer than in any other offering, teaching us that those who apprehend this aspect of Christ’s work, will apprehend it all very much alike. Doubtless, the cause of this lies in the nature of trespass, as it stands distinct from sin. It will be remembered, that in the Sin-offering the varieties were most numerous, and that because sin in us may be, and is, so differently apprehended; but trespass, the act of wrong committed, if seen at all, can scarce be seen differently.
Accordingly, we find but one small variety in the Trespass-offering, for I can scarce regard the two different aspects of trespass as varieties. These aspects are, first, trespasses against God (Lev. 5:15-19), and then trespasses against our neighbour (Lev. 6:1-7); but this distinction is more like the difference between the offerings, than the varieties in the different grades of the same. It simply points out distinct bearings of trespass, for which in each case the atonement seen is precisely similar.
There is, however, one small yet remarkable difference between the two grades of the offering for wrongs in holy things. In the first grade, which gives us the fullest view of the offering, we read of the life laid down, the restitution made, and the fifth part added. But in the lower class, the last of these is unnoticed: “the fifth part” is quite unseen (Compare Lev. 5:15, 16, which contain the higher grade, with Lev. 5:17, 18, which give the lower). And how true this is in the experience of Christians. Where the measure of apprehension is full, there not only the life laid down, and the restitution made in the Trespass-offering, but all the truth also which is taught in the “fifth part,” will be seen as a consequence of trespass and a part of the Trespass-offering. Not so, however, where the apprehension is limited: here there is no addition seen beyond the amount of the original trespass.
But I hasten to conclude these Notes on the distinctive character of the Offerings. We have considered them separately; but we must never forget that though there are different aspects, there is but One Offering. Jesus, our blessed Lord, by His one oblation of Himself once offered for ever, has perfectly met, and perfectly satisfied, and that for us who believe, all that these emblems typify. I know that saints do not, and cannot see all the aspects of His Offering equally; but God sees all, and sees it “for us.” In this surely we may rest. Blessed indeed is it so to grow in grace that we can “apprehend that for which we are apprehended:” but after all the joy is this, that we are indeed apprehended. And though our knowledge of what is Christ’s and ours is still small, the day that is coming shall reveal it. Then when that which is perfect is come, our present knowledge, which is but in part, shall be done away. Blessed Lord, hasten Thy coming, to gladden with Thine own presence those whom Thou hast saved with Thy blood!
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