The Law of Guilt Offerings
There are four situations given in this text by which a person is considered guilty:
- Not testifying what he knows when a public request has been made for a witness.
- Touching an unclean thing.
- Touching some sort of human uncleanness.
- Saying that he is going to do something that he really will not do.
The son of Israel who committed one of these offenses was to confess his sin and bring a guilt offering to the Lord; a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat as a sin offering. But if he cannot afford a female from the flock, he was to bring two turtle doves or two pigeons, one was for a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering. The priest makes atonement for his sin in accordance with the law. But if he cannot offered the birds then he is to bring a bushel of fine flower without oil or incense on it. The priest is to take a handful and offer it up in smoke on the altar but the remainder is for the priest.
There is a fifth situation, which is considered worse offense than the four. The offense is unintentionally acting unfaithfully against the Lord’s holy things. The guilt offering in this case is a ram (male) of the flock. There is no less costly replacement given for this offense. Also, the holy thing is to be valued and the person is to make restitution for the holy thing and add a fifth part to the cost and give it to the priest.
These five offenses are given in this text but if a person does any of the things that the Lord has forbidden, though he was unaware at the time, he his guilty. Being unaware is not an excuse. When he realizes his offense, he is to bring a ram (male) of the flock without defect to the Lord as a guilt offering. The priest was to make atonement for him and he will be forgiven.
Regardless of what he brings, it should be noted that sinning (transgression of the law) is not without cost. The first and the fourth offense in this text we would all understand as moral obligations because the first is withholding the truth and the second is speaking a lie. God is truth; (Isa.65:16) therefore, he expects the people called by his name to be truthful. But what about this touching of unclean things or some sort of human uncleanness? The people of God are to be holy. Holy in this context means to be dedicated or consecrated to God. When coming into physical contact with what the Lord has designated unclean, a person is guilty of breaking that commandment. We are not to question the word of the Lord but to observe all that he commands.
Being that I am a Registered Nurse who has to touch human uncleanness regularly. I am thankful for the new covenant which is in Christ Jesus. Under the law of Christ, I am not only not guilty but I am encouraged to care for these persons who in the old covenant would have been considered unclean. Text like this show us that there was a change in covenantal law from the same God because in both covenants, withholding information and saying that you are going to do something that you have no intention to do is wrong.