This whole chapter deals with "trespasses". What exactly is a trespass? The dictionary describes it as: "To commit an offense or a sin; To commit an unlawful injury to the person, property, or rights of another; An intrusion or infringement on another; Transgression of a moral or social law, code, or duty." So a trespass is simply a sin against someone else! We have all seen "No Trespassing" signs posted on property lines. It means we are not to invade the property or rights of someone. Even failing to give a tithe was considered a trespass in Israel. It was taking what rightfully belonged to God. A trespass is the invasion of the rights of either God or man. Many people talk about rights and then burn down a clinic or blow up a government building. They violate the very rights they claim to be defending!
Leviticus 5:1 "And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity."
The four specific sins listed in this chapter are only examples of trespass sins. There are many, many more and too numerous to mention every one. This first sin has to do with hearing an oath or, more specifically, being a witness to something. If you hear something or know something that would hurt someone else and you withhold that information, then it is a sin. Not a sin of commission but a sin of omission. The sin of omission is not taken lightly by God. Notice it is the first trespass sin mentioned here. James 4:17 says that, "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." If you know something to be true and someone else is telling it a different way, you need to speak up. Or, conversely, if someone is telling lies on an individual and you know the truth but don't speak up, it is a sin. Listen to what Solomon had to say about this sin in I Kings 8:31-32: "If any man trespass against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house: Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness." I once had a man call me and start to tell me something bad about my pastor. He said some of the congregation had seen him with a teenage girl. Well, upon discerning where the conversation was going, I cut him off and told him that I knew the man he was talking about personally and did not believe one word of what he was saying. I then (none too politely) excused myself from the phone conversation. Listening to idle gossip, even when the other person is swearing what they are saying is true, is a sin.
Leviticus 5:2 "Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase of an unclean beast, or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty. 3 Or if he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty."
If an Israelite became unclean from touching a dead animal or person, even if they were unaware of it, they were unclean. A dead carcase caused uncleanness by contact, probably for health reasons. We do not observe these laws today but we could liken this to being out in the world where we see, hear and think things that contaminate us. We may not even realize that we have been contaminated at the time. We need to do some soul searching before we come boldly into God's presence and ask His forgiveness for unknown sin. Psalms 19:12 says: "Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults."
Leviticus 5:4 "Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these. 5 And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing: 6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin."
Ecclesiastes 5:5 says: "Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay." Be careful what you promise. So many people promise to serve God but drop out of church at the first sign of adversity. We stand in church and sing promises to God every Sunday without even thinking about the words we are saying. God does not take promises lightly. Broken promises to others (including our children) as well as broken promises to God are transgressions! When we know we have broken a promise or committed one of the other transgressions mentioned here (as well as all other transgressions not included in this chapter), then we are guilty! First, we must confess our transgressions. Then, when our sin is no longer secret, we are allowed to offer sacrifice, or ask forgiveness. God will not accept a soul that has secret sin. Notice what Jesus said in Matt. 5:23-24: "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." Two offerings were to be made for this sin. If a person could not afford a lamb, then they were to bring two turtledoves or pigeons. The blood was to be sprinkled on the side of the altar and the rest was to be wrung out at the bottom of the altar. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. The second offering was to be a burnt offering which made atonement for the sin. The poorest of the poor was not left out. If someone could not bring a bird, he could bring what amounted to a piece of bread. This sacrifice was still a substitute for him!
Leviticus 5:14 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 15 If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the LORD; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the LORD a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering: 16 And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him. 17 And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity. 18 And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him. 19 It is a trespass offering: he hath certainly trespassed against the LORD."
The trespass offerings emphasized the fact that there had been an invasion of the rights of both God and man. Harm to others is the feature which requires that reparation had to be perfomed. The principal had to be restored plus a fifth part. Trespassing through ignorance, in the holy things of the Lord seems to be refering to tithes and offerings. In this case, a man is actually robbing God of His property. Mal. 3:8 asks: "Will a man rob God?" And here God promises that if you have robbed Him, and have not repented, "Ye are cursed with a curse." On the other hand, if you bring your tithes to God you will be blessed so that there will not be room to receive it. This trespass is more grave than other trespasses because only a ram can be used as a sacrifice. Even if a trespass or sin is committed in ignorance, it is still a sin and it must be confessed and forgiven!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
I can't help but find it amusing that so many people today say there is no God and nothing to
the bible yet they do not even realize we take our very laws from the book of God. When a person
is injured by another in any way today, what do they do? They hire a lawyer and go to court and sue.
This is exactly what Leviticus five sets forth for the nation of Israel. Harm to others requires
that reparation had to be made.
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