February 8 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands…the assembly must bring a young bull as a sin offering and present it before the tent of meeting.” ~Leviticus 4:13-14

In today’s reading covering the final two types of offering, the Sin Offering and the Guilt Offering, I want to draw your attention to a few interesting details.[1] First, a sacrifice was offered while confessing sins. It was not the act of sacrifice that made a person right with God, but the condition of the heart revealed in confession and accompanied by bloodshed. The prophets often condemned as meaningless sacrifices offered without a broken heart (Ps. 51:17). Second, everyone needed forgiveness, including the priests! No one was without sin before God, no matter how holy their lives appeared relative to the rest of the community. The fact that priests were selected by God from among the people and also were sinners enabled them to deal with the failures of the congregation with compassion and gentleness (see Heb. 5:1-3). Third, there exists such a thing as community sin. This unusual concept is foreign to our modern Western mindset of individualism, but sometimes an entire nation, or an entire church, or entire group of people can fail en masse. When God is displeased with an entire group, community repentance is called for!

These early chapters of Leviticus are so full of procedures that it’s easy to lose sight of why these details are important. God reached down to His people, knowing that they were sinful, and provided a way for them to be forgiven! Worship begins with forgiveness! He provided a way for our brokenness to be healed, but we must come to Him confessing our sin. We ALL must come, pastor and people alike, for no one is without sin. And sometimes we must come before Him as a community and seek forgiveness for a corporate failure.

Christ is coming. We will face our judge soon, and we must be ready (Matt. 25:1-30). There is no better way to ready ourselves than by daily confessing our sins and seeking His forgiveness. If we do, we will be forgiven (1 John 1:8-10). Just as God was pleased with the offer of sacrifices, He is pleased when we confess our sins. He delights in showing mercy.

[1] Scholars have long debated the difference between the Guilt and Sin offering, as they are very similar. The difference appears to lie in the fact that the Guilt Offering is specifically linked to the worship rituals. Failure to offer sacrifices or attend feasts/assemblies would prompt a Guilt Offering. Neglecting to give a portion of one’s income would too. In essence, this was the offering of the “backslider.”

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.