Hebrews Lesson 129 June 26, 2008
NKJ Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
Open your Bibles to Leviticus 5 - Leviticus 5. We're going to continue our study on the Tabernacle. Now we're in a study on Hebrews - just in case somebody happens to tune in and go, "Well, wait a minute. I think we're studying Hebrews on Thursday night. We're not studying Leviticus." But, we are studying Hebrews.
In Hebrews 9 the focus is on the Tabernacle. So we've been studying the Tabernacle and the furniture in the Tabernacle. We started off looking at the outer courtyard and the curtains around the outer courtyard, looking at the spiritual principles that are exemplified in the construction of the Tabernacle, the materials that are used. Everything (just about) within the Tabernacle is designed to teach something about the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ through various visual aids.
It's interesting to just stop and think about - why in the world did God do this? Why didn't God come along and just spell things out for people? Why didn't He send the Lord Jesus Christ sometime back in the Old Testament period? Why did He wait at least 4000 years from the fall of Adam until the time when Christ finally came? What are the implications of Galatians 4:4 that it was in the fullness of time that God sent His Son?
So there's a plan. God is doing something in that process of time in order to prepare the human race and in order to teach certain things about who He is, about the basic problem that man has (which is sin) and about how that affects man's relationship with God. We see exemplified throughout the Levitical offerings (sacrifices and offerings), this whole principle of the creator-creature distinction. As we're looking at Leviticus and we're looking at Leviticus because Leviticus describes all of the procedures and protocols for entering into ceremonial fellowship with God. I stress that because there's a difference and we'll see a little bit of that in one passage that we're looking at tonight. There's a difference between the experiential fellowship of the everyday believer in the Old Testament on the one hand and his ceremonial approach to God on the other hand.
I think most Christians when we read through the Old Testament get the impression that you can't have fellowship with God unless you bring a sacrifice to the Tabernacle or to the Temple. Of course that would create something of a logistical problem because the land is quite large. You have Dan which is all the way in the north. That would take several days by foot (probably a couple of weeks by foot). Or, by horseback or donkey it would still take three or four days to make the journey from Dan down to Jerusalem. Or if you're all the way in the south (in the Negev or Beersheba or Arad - somewhere like that), it would still take several days to get up to Jerusalem. If every time you sinned you had to go to the Tabernacle or the Temple and sacrifice, then you might spend most of your time going from the central part of Jerusalem to the outer border and then back without ever getting outside Jerusalem itself. A lot of Christians experience that as you're in and out of fellowship frequently.
So it helps us to understand the difference between what we might call real fellowship or experiential fellowship and ceremonial fellowship. In the ceremony or the ritual of the Old Testament and the Mosaic Law, we see depicted in the sacrifices and offerings the reason for having to confess sin in the spiritual life and how sin is dealt with because God is of such a nature that He is completely distinct from man. He is holy.
So the key word in the book of Leviticus is the word holiness or holy based on the Hebrew word qadash which means – it's usually translated holy, but that's such a jargoned religious word that's used by so many people and they don't know what it means that it loses its real impact. The word holy really means something that is set apart to God. When it is applied to God it has this idea that God is Himself set apart. He is distinct or unique. He is totally apart from the creation. So this is one of the reasons we emphasize the doctrine of the creator-creature distinction – that God as the creator is totally distinct, totally apart from everything in creation. He is the God who made the heavens and earth and all that is in them.
So this is exemplified in the very structure of the tabernacle that there is a distance and a separateness between God and man. In order to come into the presence of God, in order to have fellowship with God, there must be a cleansing from sin. The sacrifices depict not only the work of Christ on the cross as it provides a positional cleansing, but also the ongoing cleansing that must take place in the life of the believer.
Often when we've studied this and maybe in the past when you've studied the sacrifices and offerings in Leviticus, you think that certain sacrifices or certain offerings were salvation related or depicted specifically what Christ did on the cross and then there were other sacrifices that had to do with the post salvation spiritual life – confession and growth. But in reality all of the sacrifices depict both. What we see when we look at it that way is that the foundation for all cleansing, the foundation for dealing with sin, is the work of Christ on the cross and that actual judgment that takes place. This is why in I John 1:7 John says:
NKJ 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
That term means the death of Christ.
Present tense so it is a continuous action there.
That's the positional. So we can call that positional cleansing that takes place at the instant we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. This is why Paul can talk about – we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin. This is a positional forgiveness because of our place in Christ. We are positionally sanctified, set apart to God. That whole word group (sanctified, saint, sanctification), all of those words come out of that same word group for holy. So they all have to do with being set apart for the service of God. As you approach the Tabernacle, we see that there's only one way into the presence of God. What this tells us is God as the one who's at the center is the one who defines who He is and how the creature can come into His presence and what the problem is.
The problem is not defined by the worshipper. The worshipper doesn't come in and say, "Well, I feel good today so I can come in and worship God." Or "Isn't it a wonderful day and I'm just so filled with enthusiasm for God that isn't He blessed for me to be able to come in and sing praises for Him today!"
I'm being facetious because that's a dominant attitude that we find today among many Christians - is as though God is somehow privileged to have us come and worship Him. Isn't it wonderful! There's no understanding of the underlying dynamics related to sin and cleansing and the basic doctrines of justification, reconciliation, atonement - all of these things get lost in terms of being able to experience a wonderful warm relationship with Jesus based on how we feel about things on Sunday mornings.
So the Tabernacle is a great illustration of the fact that God has to be approached on the basis of set rules that He establishes.
And that's not legalism. Some people would say, "Well, that's legalism."
No legalism is saying that God blesses me on the basis of what I do. This is the grace of God saying that God has provided a way whereby despite sin, we can come into His presence and we can have fellowship with Him and we can worship Him and He's the one who does all of the work. We simply follow His directions so that we can avail ourselves of the work that He has done.
So we started looking at the Tabernacle because this becomes the foundation – the Tabernacle, the furniture in the Tabernacle, the things that go on in the Tabernacle in terms of the sacrifices and offerings, the priesthood – become the foundation for what the writer of Hebrews is going to develop in this section that we're in in Hebrews 9 and 10. So without a familiarity with the ritual and with the function of the Levitical priesthood in the Old Testament, we're going to get lost when we go through Hebrews 9 and 10. So we're taking time to go back and look at these things.
The first piece of furniture that we see when we go into the Tabernacle is the brazen altar. So right now we're looking at what takes place at the brazen altar. The altar itself is the place of judgment. That's what an altar represented - something is being sacrificed there. Something is being judged there. In the burnt offering which is the first offering that's mentioned in Leviticus 1, the entire sacrifice is being consumed by fire. So the altar has to be of bronze so that it can withstand the heat of the judgment. I pointed out that that is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ that He is able to withstand the judgment of sin because of who He is in His person – that He is the God Man. So the brazen altar represents the fact that as God in His deity He is able - in His perfection He is able to handle the judgment that is placed upon Him.
The second offering that we looked at is the meal offering sometimes called the gift or tribute offering that's described in Leviticus 2. This is a bloodless offering where raw grain was offered - that had been mixed with oil was one form of that. Another form was that they would mix it with oil. They would grill it or pan-fry it. No leaven or honey was to be used. It was to be from the first fruits of the harvest. It was to be seasoned with salt as a reminder of the permanence of God's covenant with Israel. I pointed out also that towards the end of Leviticus 2 there is the emphasis on the roasted grain offering.
I commented that if you look carefully at you text, it indicates that God at least has southern tastes.
Somebody from up in New York emailed me and said, "Hey, I live north of the Mason-Dixon Line, but I like grits."
God likes grits. So that's in the New American Standard. I'm not sure how some of the other translations translate that, but it must have been a southerner who translated that on terms of the roast.
So the meal offering is a memorial to God's grace. It is a fellowship offering because the meal itself is then shared between the offerer and the priest. Sometimes there would even be a number of people who would eat together. So it is a fellowship offering.
Then you have the peace offering which is described in chapter 3 that's also known as the fellowship offering where – excuse me I was getting ahead of myself. This is the offering where the believer shares a meal with others in the Tabernacle to celebrate the peace with God that was made possible by the death of a sacrifice. The previous offering which I mentioned was in the meal offering. A portion was given to the priests which indicated the sufficiency of God's grace for all. The peace or fellowship offering - then there is a meal that is shared with others emphasizing the celebration of God's peace that is the believers because the sin problem has been solved.
The key word that is used in the peace offering is the word salemwhich is where we get the word shalom. It's all etymologically related which emphasizes peace.
Then the fourth offering which we looked at during the last lesson is the sin offering. The emphasis here is on the word hatahwhich is the Hebrew word for sin which means to miss a mark. It is used in a literal sense in the book of Judges to describe the accuracy of the archers or the slingers among Benjamin, that they would not miss their target. They were extremely accurate.
Now these last two offerings both focus on the whole doctrine of cleansing from sin after salvation. So they depict in the Old Testament the same principle that is taught in the New Testament in I John 1:9. At the offering, when the offering is made, there is a confession of sin. There's also in the description of the text that when someone sins, they confess their sin and then they bring the offering.
So the confession of sin can take place with the sin offering at the time of the offering; but with the guilt offering there's a separation in time which indicates what I was pointing out in the introduction - is that the individual believer… For example if David was out with his sheep in the fields of Bethlehem and he commits some sin; then he can confess that sin and be restored to fellowship in terms of his personal spiritual life. But then the next time he goes to the temple in Jerusalem, he needs to bring an offering. That would be the sin offering or the trespass offering.
Now we looked at the sin offering that's described in chapter 4. This goes from 4:1 down through 5:13. We covered most of this last time so I'm not going to go into all the details; but the text will describe this in terms of the different people, the different individuals that are involved and it depends on where you fit within society in terms of leadership responsibility for one thing as to what sacrifice needs to be brought.
The sin that is in focus in the sin offering is the sin of unintentionality where someone commits a sin according to verse 2....
NKJ Leviticus 4:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'If a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments of the LORD in anything which ought not to be done, and does any of them,
NKJ Leviticus 4:3 'if the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer to the LORD for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering.
This is from verses 3 through 12 talks about what happens if you are a priest; verses 13 through 21 if your congregation as a whole; verses 22 to 26 the sin offering in relationship to the ruler; and verses 27-35 if you're just an everyday believer in the nation Israel. So, different offerings are prescribed for each of those particular sins.
In the process of those sacrifices, with the exception of the one with the pigeons or turtledoves where the priests would be the one to break the neck of the bird, then what you see is the individual. Or, in the case of the congregational sin, the elders laying hands on the head of the animal indicating an identification with that animal. With that animal, the sin is transferred from the person to the animal and the animal becomes the substitute payment for the sin of the individual so that they are forgiven on the basis of that sacrifice. Now that forgiveness is ultimately based on what that sacrifice represents and that's the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
So we covered that last time in chapter 4 and now we're in chapter 5. Chapter 5 is sometimes - if you look for example in my New King James translation, the heading above the first verse is the trespass offering. Actually, the trespass offering is not defined until verse 14. Verses 1-13 continue to talk about the sin offering. If you look at verse 1 we read:
NKJ Leviticus 5:1 'If a person sins in hearing the utterance of an oath, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of the matter -- if he does not tell it, he bears guilt.
This is the sin of someone who maintains their silence rather than speaking up. So it's a sin of omission rather than a sin of commission. The person then bears guilt. So you look at that word guilt.
See the trespass offering actually should be called the guilt offering or the sin offering or the guilt offering. The word that's translated trespass offering is really the Greek or the Hebrew word asham. That has the idea of someone who is guilty, someone who has violated the law. That is a different word than the word that is translated guilt in verse 1 in probably the King James as well as the New King James.
The word that is translated guilt at the end of verse 1 is the Hebrew word avon which means iniquity or transgression. So, that should be translated:
If a person sins (that's the Hebrew word hatah) in hearing the utterance of an oath and is a witness
So this is dealing with the commandment not to bear false witness. This person could witness of something that he knew, but he keeps silence rather than speaking up.
of something he has seen or knows about and he doesn't speak up he is a transgressor.
He has committed iniquity. He has transgressed the Law.
So just because he hasn't overtly committed false witness, by not speaking up he has. So he is therefore guilty of violating the law.
What we see in these first 13 verses here of Leviticus 5 is other forms of sin, of inadvertent sins, sins of omission that all fall under the category of the sin offering. So under the first point (trying to summarize this in a couple of points), the guilt here is described by the Hebrew word avon meaning iniquity, punishment of sin or transgressions. So the focal point is on the fact that the law has been violated - once again the standard of God.
Then you have various examples given beginning in verse 2 going down through verse 13 of different ways in which this may take place. You have a description in the first verse of someone who commits a false witness by maintaining silence. They don't speak up.
Then in verse 2 the act of a person who touches any unclean thing. Now there's a difference between a sin, which is violation of God's character in the first verse where you don't speak up and you're committing an infraction of the law or committing a sin, and someone who's committing an infraction of the law by touching an unclean thing. Touching an unclean animal, the carcass of a dead body, any of these things are not in and of themselves sins. There is nothing moral or immoral about touching a dead body or touching a carcass or touching an unclean animal. But, usually the animal is related to something dead. You have a dead carcass. Where does death come from? Physical death is a consequence of sin. You have…unclean animals are usually animals that eat carrion. So you have shrimp, lobster, or you have swine that who knows what they eat, different things of this nature. So because the animal is associated with death (eats things that have already died), that renders them unclean. So the purpose of this is to demonstrate once again that God can't have anything to do with sin. It's a reinforcement for the Jew that anything that is touched by sin causes him to be separated from God.
Now I know sometimes I've heard people say over the years, "Why do I need to confess all of my sins? I spend all of my time focusing on all the sin in my life. I just get totally absorbed with that."
Well, some people can carry it too far. Now we've all known people who've done that. They sit around all day trying to figure out all the sins they've committed. The principle in I John 1:9 "if we confess our sins" - whatever we're aware of at the time; then God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins -that is those 5 or 6 or 3 or 4 or that we remembered; then He cleanses us from all other unrighteousness. So you don't have to sit around and keep a grocery list running and become obsessive about trying to name every single sin that you can possibly think of that you have committed over the last 15 minutes since the last time you confessed your sin.
But the point here is it's a constant reminder to people that sin is pervasive. That's why you have these images like leaven. Leaven is a picture of sin because it just takes a little bit of leaven and then it permeates. When it's spread into the flour, it permeates everything. So it's a reminder to the people of the sinfulness of sin and the distinctiveness of God and that if there's even the least little bit of sin on the part of the worshipper; then they are prohibited from coming into the presence of God. This gets reinforced in some pretty strong ways in the Old Testament in the early stages.
I think it's interesting that when you have a dispensational shift that takes place there are some extreme ways in which God reinforces the principles in the new dispensation. For example when Ananias and Sapphira lie about the money that they're going to give to the church...Barnabas has sold a bunch of property and Barnabas gave money to the church. Everybody was probably talking about how wonderful and gracious Barnabas was because he gave so much money to the church.
So Ananias and Sapphira thought, "Wouldn't that be nice to have all of that adulation and praise? So we'll sell our property, and then we'll tell everybody that we gave it all to the church."
But they didn't give it all. They held some back. So God the Holy Spirit killed them instantly for lying to the Holy Spirit. Now why doesn't that happen all the time? That's not normative. If that were normative, we would probably have very empty churches around the world.
So God was reinforcing a principle of not lying – reinforcing the principle of sanctity at the beginning of the dispensation. You have a similar example that I'll go to, to illustrate this in the Old Testament - that God makes it clear that sin has an effect not just on us, but it permeates everything around us.
So in verse 2 one of the examples of the need for a sin offering is the touching of anything thing unclean, touching an unclean thing whether it's the carcass of an unclean beast, the carcass of unclean livestock, the carcass of unclean creeping things and he is unaware of it.
NKJ Leviticus 5:2 'Or if a person touches any unclean thing, whether it is the carcass of an unclean beast, or the carcass of unclean livestock, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and he is unaware of it, he also shall be unclean and guilty.
So this deals with a sin that you may not even be aware of yet nevertheless it still renders you unclean and guilty. The same word in the Greek is found there. That's the word avon meaning transgressed the law.
Under verse 3:
NKJ Leviticus 5:3 'Or if he touches human uncleanness -- whatever uncleanness with which a man may be defiled, and he is unaware of it -- when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty.
This is later spelled out in other portions of the Mosaic Law, different ways in which a human is rendered ritually unclean - a woman when she gives birth to a child, other things that take place render people ceremonially unclean.
NKJ Leviticus 5:4 'Or if a person swears,
This is not using profanity. This is the swearing of an oath in any kind of judicial setting whether it's the signing of a contract, entering into a legal relationship.
speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good,
It's whether you're going to take a certain course of action – whether it's going to buy a house, buy a car, buy a camel, whatever it might be.
Then if you enter into this contract and you say, "Yes, I will do something." and then you didn't think it through and you realize…You go home and you think about it. "Oh, I really can't do that." So now you're not going to keep your word, keep your contract. That would be a violation of this particular situation.
whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it -- when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters.
So the idea here is that we need to be people of our word. Our word is our bond. That used to be true in this country 40 or 50 years ago. Now it's not true anymore. Even if it is true of you, it's not true of anybody else so you can get into a lot of trouble if you think that you're word is your bond and that's good enough to go by. So the emphasis here is that each person should not make a commitment, say they're going to do something, promise something, indicate a course of action unless they're going to go through with it.
In the New Testament in James, James says:
NKJ James 5:12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your "Yes," be "Yes," and your "No," "No," lest you fall into judgment.
The point is to make sure that when you say you will do something that you will carry it out.
NKJ Leviticus 5:5 'And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing;
So here's the point of confession. When there's a realization of this sin, then you confess it and verse 6 follows after that.
NKJ Leviticus 5:6 '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
This offering could be a female lamb or a kid of the goats.
as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin.
So it primarily focuses on that, but there's always a grace provision for those who are poor and those who can't afford to bring the lamb or the kid. They are to bring either two turtle doves or two young pigeons. This is described in verses 7 and 8.
NKJ Leviticus 5:7 ' 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.
NKJ Leviticus 5:8 '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.
So one goes as a sin offering; the other goes as a burnt offering. Then when you get down to verse 11, if you're still so poor that you can't bring two turtle doves or two young pigeons which means you are extremely impoverished then:
NKJ Leviticus 5:11 ' But if he is not able to bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons, then he who sinned shall bring for his offering one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a sin offering.
An ephah is generally described as a bushel and a half. Other sources say it's approximately 5 gallons. There's a certain amount of uncertainty that we have as to exactly how some of these dry measurements equate to our English measurements. But if he couldn't afford that, then he is to bring fine flour as a sin offering. The fine flour emphasizes the value of the flour. It is more valuable than your everyday flour.
He shall put no oil on it, nor shall he put frankincense on it, for it is a sin offering.
NKJ Leviticus 5:12 'Then he shall bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it as a memorial portion, and burn it on the altar according to the offerings made by fire to the LORD. It is a sin offering.
NKJ Leviticus 5:13 'The priest shall make atonement for him, for his sin that he has committed in any of these matters; and it shall be forgiven him. The rest shall be the priest's as a grain offering.' "
Now this word "atonement" is one that we have almost been trained to think of in terms of a soteriological term. We often refer to the death of Christ on the cross as atonement. There's a big debate theologically in history over limited or unlimited atonement. But, there is no comparable word for atonement in the New Testament in any of Paul's literature, in any New Testament literature describing the cross.
Atonement was an Old Testament concept and the Hebrew word is kaphar. The English word atonement is an invented word that was coined in the 9th or 10th century AD indicating the concept of bringing two things together so that they are at-one-ment. That is where the word atonement comes from – this English concept. So for a lot of the time that you have heard atonement taught, you'll hear it compared to covering – that kaphar means covering. Look it up in some of the older Hebrew dictionaries. It will list the term kaphar as covering. There is a use of the word kph (It's a p actually, but it's usually a soft p) that is used in Genesis 6 and 7 when it describes Noah putting pitch to cover the ark to waterproof it.
So we got that idea of covering. But it appears now that there were two homonyms, two different words in Hebrew - kaphar meaning to cover which is what we have in Genesis; then a second word spelled the same way which has the idea of cleansing. In fact when you go to the Septuagint which is the Jewish translation of the Old Testament that was translated in the 2nd century BC by the Jews in Alexandria, the rabbis there who knew Hebrew who were doing the translation, translated this word kaphar with the Greek word katharizo in numerous cases, not every case. But in numerous cases they translated katharizo which is the Greek word for cleanse. That's the same word we have in I John 1:9 that we are cleansed from all unrighteousness.
So the emphasis on atonement has to do with cleansing whether it's positional cleansing when a person first becomes a believer or whether it's post salvation cleansing dealing with sins that are committed after salvation.
Now at verse 13 is where we have the end of the discussion on the sin offering. Verse 14 – we go into the next section on the trespass offering. This is covered in Leviticus 5 verses 15 down through 19. Then in Leviticus 7:1-7 we have the procedure given for the priest as to how he is to carry out this particular sacrifice.
The trespass offering is also called a guilt offering or a reparation offering - a guilt offering or a reparation offering. Sometimes people get confused. Well if the fourth offering is a sin offering, how does that differ from a trespass offering? Aren't sin and trespass synonyms? They are. So the word here in the Hebrew is asham. It has to do with guilt, restitution, or expiation. So it is sometimes translated as a reparation or a restitution offering. The main idea of asham centers on the reality of guilt. But it is more than just the act of doing something wrong, it emphasizes the condition of guilt that exists from violation of law. So it indicates a status of being under guilt. This is a condition of every human being because of Adam's original sin. Because of Adam's sin, because that is imputed to every human being we are all legally guilty and violators of God's character. So we're all under sin and under the guilt of sin. So that guilt not guilt feelings, not emotion but the reality of being legally guilty has to be dealt with. So this is dealt with of course permanently on the cross.
The sin offering itself focuses on two things - sins against God and sins against …well the sin offering as we dealt with it before deals with sins against God whereas the guilt offering deals with sins against God and mankind.
In 5:15 we read:
NKJ Leviticus 5:15 "If a person commits a trespass, and sins unintentionally
So it also deals with unintentional sins.
in regard to the holy things of the LORD, then he shall bring to the LORD as his trespass offering a ram without blemish from the flocks, with your valuation in shekels of silver according to the shekel of the sanctuary, as a trespass offering.
So this could involve any aspect of the Mosaic Law dealing with an unintentional sin. So there is the presence of guilt.
Other examples that are given also relate to sins against other individuals. In chapter 6:1-7 we have further development of the guilt offering. In 6:2:
NKJ Leviticus 6:2 "If a person sins and commits a trespass against the LORD by lying to his neighbor about what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or about a pledge, or about a robbery, or if he has extorted from his neighbor,
So again this is a principle related to the commandment about false witness. You have given your word about something and you violate that - a pledge in relation to something financial. It also relates to the sanctity of private property, which is at the foundation of all freedom.
Recently I was talking with a pastor friend of mine and he was relating to me a conversation he had with someone we both knew.
This person said, "Well, who should I vote for in the election? I'm not sure who I should vote for."
His response was, "Well, I'm not going to tell you who to vote for, but always remember that the key to freedom is private ownership of property. Whoever is going to allow you to keep the most of your property, what you have worked for, is the person you should vote for."
You have got to keep your eye on the ball – private ownership of property.
So the Bible reinforces that. I don't think you can say that the Bible is a handbook on capitalism; but, the Bible teaches the principles of private ownership of property and that is the foundation of the system that we have that is known - the modern system is known as capitalism or free enterprise.
The Bible also emphasizes the fact that people have a right to have what they should have and unfortunately when government comes along—God in two great passages I Samuel 7 and a couple of other passages in Judges emphasize the fact that when you have a large government, then government takes away from people and increases taxes and raises taxes and people have less property and therefore they have less freedom. This is what our founding fathers understood. As we are approaching the season of the 4th of July and Independence Day, our founding fathers understood this principle. That's why they made such an issue out of taxation without representation.
Yet the level of taxation that they were subject to by the British Empire was miniscule compared to the level of taxation that the average citizen of the United States is faced with on a day-to-day basis. We need to go back and apologize to George III for our little tax revolt because today we really don't care. We want to give up all of our freedoms and let the government decide how to spend everything.
Somebody was telling me today that they had heard on the news that the latest legislative agenda is to pass legislation against drive through windows. You can't have drive through windows at Starbucks or Burger King or Whataburger or any place like that because all these people who are just sitting there and idling their cars and waiting in line are putting all of this exhaust into the atmosphere. That's causing global warming. So you see it's all you people who are getting your morning coffee at Starbucks and going through the drive through. That's your fault!
See we are manufacturing problems and once again we expect the government to dictate everything. We laugh because we have knowledge of truth and so we realize how absolutely ridiculous it is. But the sad thing is the huge number of people who listen to this and go, "Oh yeah. Well, that must be right."
So let's just all give up our freedoms and let the government take care of everything. I'm getting off the subject.
Private ownership of property though is clearly recognized in the Scripture as something that needs to be protected and when it's not and an individual lies about or breaks the pledge or extorts money; there is to be a trespass offering.
NKJ Leviticus 6:4 "then it shall be, because he has sinned and is guilty, that he shall restore what he has stolen, or the thing which he has extorted, or what was delivered to him for safekeeping, or the lost thing which he found,
I want you to notice that in the penalties in the Mosaic Law you don't have imprisonment as a penalty. I think imprisonment is probably a pretty inhumane type of punishment. What you have in the Mosaic Law is restitution. So if somebody steals or defrauds or destroys property, then they have to restore what they have stolen plus 20%. If they have committed murder or rape or some other kinds of violent crime, then they forfeit their life. So you have capital punishment, restitution; but you don't have imprisonment. That is not part of the Mosaic Law. They had other forms of punishment. The punishment was swift and certain or was intended to be.
So as you go through the guilt offering you emphasize the fact that these are perhaps unintentional sins. In other cases they are sins of culpability and the solution is restitution plus 20% along with the payment of a guilt offering, a ram without defect. They don't get the alternative here. It's a more expensive form of payment. The offering is a ram without defect or the financial equivalent plus one-fifth, another 20%, for the priest.
So these offerings, especially the last two, the sin offering and the guilt offering, emphasize the fact that there is restitution with our fellowship with God even when there is sin. Sin has an affect on that relationship with God.
Now let's stop a minute and think about Israel as a whole. As a nation they are analogous to the individual believer of the Church Age so that as a nation they are viewed in the Old Testament after the Exodus as redeemed people. We would say they are saved. So all of these offerings and sacrifices are designed to allow a redeemed people (a saved people) to continue, maintain fellowship with God after salvation. So it's a picture of the fact that even in the Old Testament God is emphasizing the fact that sin experientially breaks fellowship with God and those who are experientially unrighteous cannot have fellowship with God who is righteous. And God gets pretty serious about demonstrating this point.
I want you to turn with me to the book of Joshua - three or four books over – to Joshua 7. Now this is after the victory at Jericho. Now in the instructions that God gave to Israel when they attacked Jericho, he put under the ban…. the word there is the word harem in the Hebrew. It's the same word you have in Arabic for the harem where you would set apart in a protected or isolated status all of the wives of the sultan. That's the harem – same word. It means to set something aside and make it enviable. So this is the instruction that God gave to Israel.
NKJ Joshua 6:17 "Now the city shall be doomed by the LORD to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 "And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.
19 "But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the LORD; they shall come into the treasury of the LORD."
So all that which is valuable (the valuable plunder that you take that) gets set apart for the Lord for the treasury of the Lord. And everything else was under the ban.
KJV Joshua 6:21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
Everything was supposed to be slaughtered because God wasn't going to have them survive and live off that which was produced by the pagan culture. So this is the command. They are to destroy everything. But, they don't do that.
NKJ Joshua 7:1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah
Notice, the children of Israel (the nation) is impacted by the sin of one man, Achan, because he disobeys God. What he does is when he sees his plunder he decides that he's going to dig a whole under his tent and bury it. He's going to make off with some of the plunder and nobody else knows about that. But yet the whole nation is held accountable for that sin.
took of the accursed things; so the anger of the LORD burned against the children of Israel.
The result was when they go out to the next battle at Ai, they go into battle and they completely fail. They sent up 2 or 3 thousand men to go up and attack and because of sin in the camp they fail and they are completely defeated.
NKJ Joshua 7:5 And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water.
So now they've had this great victory in Jericho and now they're completely discouraged in their whining. It's not just some of them; it's all the way up the chain of command to Joshua. Joshua turns around to God in verse 7 and says:
NKJ Joshua 7:7 And Joshua said, "Alas, Lord GOD, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all -- to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan!
Joshua tears his clothes. He falls to the ground before the ark and he is completely at a loss. So God responds to him in verse 10.
NKJ Joshua 7:10 So the LORD said to Joshua: "Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face?
Joshua ought to know better so God is reprimanding him.
NKJ Joshua 7:11 "Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff.
Now the only one who has done this is Achan. But it shows that the sin of one affects and permeates everyone so that we often try to convince ourselves at times that "my sin is my sin and it really doesn't have any impact on anybody else". The principle that this is showing is that the sin of the individual does have impact on others. Adam's sin had an impact on the entire human race. So there's a solution.
NKJ Joshua 7:13 "Get up, sanctify the people, and say,
That means they have to go through a process of cleansing because of this sin. Otherwise they can't go forward in the conquest of the land.
This is the command that Joshua was to give them.
'Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the LORD God of Israel: "There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you."
So there has to be – the sin has to be dealt with. There has to be an admission of the guilt and cleansing that takes place. So the next morning they come out and they go through this whole process of elimination. They gather all of the tribes before Joshua and in some way God communicates which tribe it's going to be. The tribe of Judah is indicated. Then when Judah is brought before him then the family Zarhites, then the family of Zabdi indicated. Then it finally comes down to Achan and Achan is indicated. So Joshua confronts him with a sin in verse 19 and says:
NKJ Joshua 7:19 Now Joshua said to Achan, "My son, I beg you, give glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me."
So Achan answers Joshua and says:
NKJ Joshua 7:20 And Achan answered Joshua and said, "Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel,
That's his confession of sin.
and this is what I have done:
Then he explains in verse 21 what he has done. But the divine discipline (the judgment) is not going to be removed. There is forgiveness. Sometimes when we confess our sin God forgives us and removes the punishment. Sometimes God just lightens the punishment. Other times we can commit a sin and we can receive divine forgiveness, but because of the nature of the sin there still must be the carrying out of the penalty.
This happens in cases where you have a criminal who has committed murder, mass murder, or any number of horrendous crimes and they receive the death penalty. I remember there was a case about 10 years ago Carla Faye Tucker and she became a believer after she was in prison. So you had all of these pastors who came out and said, "Oh! We need to let her live. Don't give her the death penalty." But the Scripture says she committed a crime. Just because she changed her spiritual status doesn't mean that the legal penalty goes away.
There's a difference between personal forgiveness, divine forgiveness and legal or criminal forgiveness. In this case there could be personal forgiveness. There could be divine forgiveness, but a legal penalty still had to be paid. That's the case of Achan. The legal penalty still had to be paid. So the penalty as defined by God was that (back in verse 15):
NKJ Joshua 7:15 'Then it shall be that he who is taken with the accursed thing shall be burned with fire,
See that's the picture of cleansing and purification.
he and all that he has, because he has transgressed the covenant of the LORD, and because he has done a disgraceful thing in Israel.' "
So in verse 24:
NKJ Joshua 7:24 Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had,
This includes his family.
and they brought them to the Valley of Achor.
NKJ Joshua 7:25 And Joshua said, "Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day." So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.
Now that's a good double punishment. First they stone him, and then they burn him with fire. The burning with fire though is the depiction of purification from the sin.
NKJ Joshua 7:26 Then they raised over him a great heap of stones, still there to this day.
So the writer adds that point that those – that rock cairn is still there that set over his grave so if you doubt the story you can go down there and you can find that pile of rocks marking his grave.
So the LORD turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Achor to this day.
So the point is that God takes sin a lot more seriously than we do. When we have sin in the life, it hinders our forward advance spiritually. This why the Israelites couldn't go forward with their military campaign and their sin has to be dealt with. Cleansing has to be dealt with. Once that's done, then we can move forward.
So even though this is an Old Testament illustration in the sin offering and the trespass offering and it's an illustration from Achor, the same principle continues into the New Testament. You have various commands such as I Corinthians 11 where the Corinthians are coming to the Lord's Table. They're out of fellowship. They are abusing the Lord's Table – getting drunk and they're over eating at the Lord's Table. Paul says:
NKJ 1 Corinthians 11:30 For this reason many are weak
…indicating spiritual weakness.
and sick among you,
…indicating a physical weakness.
and many sleep.
…indicating sin unto death.
Then Paul said:
NKJ 1 Corinthians 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
So that is another synonym for confession of sin. Of course there is I John 1:9 and other passages in the New Testament that emphasize the importance of this cleansing so that the believer is experientially sanctified before he comes into the presence of God.
So next time we'll come back and see the illustration and the next piece of furniture which is the laver. C We'll get into that next week.