The “table of contents” continues to outline the different types of offerings a worshipper can make. We’ve already seen the burnt, grain, and peace offering. Now we turn to the sin offering.
De-Sinning the Sinner
But really, the term “sin offering” is not super helpful. That’s because, while the offering is made because of a sin, the offering itself is more accurately called a “de-sin” offering, or a purification offering. The offering is not just made because of sin. It is made to do something to sin.
The offering gets rid of sin’s effects. It does so in two ways. First, the sin offering deals with the penalty the sinner deserves.
The penalty for sin is clearly displayed in the animal sacrifice - death. That penalty is symbolically transferred onto the gift by the guilty party laying hands on it before it is killed. The guilt of sin is also removed. This is shown by the statement repeated again and again in this passage: “he will be forgiven.”
De-Sinning the Tabernacle
But that is only half of what the purification offering does. The second thing this offering accomplishes is purification (or “de-sinning”) of the sinner and the sanctuary.
Based on who commits the sin different things happen to the animal’s body and blood.
There are basically two groups. First, there is the priest or the whole assembly. Second, there are individuals, including governing rulers like princes.
If someone from the second group sins, the blood is only placed on the altar outside the tent. This is done because their sin not only threatens to defile the place where they meet God, but the place where they make sacrifices to God. The blood is specifically placed on the altar so that their sacrifices might be acceptable before God. After all, the altar is where most of their communion with God takes place. So it needs to be cleaned up from their sin. The altar needs to be “de-sinned.”
But when someone from the first group - a priest or the whole nation of Israel - sins, the purification has to go deeper. The blood isn’t taken to the outer alter, but right into the entrance of the Holy of Holies where God’s presence is.
The higher the status of the sinner, the deeper the blood of purification must go. Not only is one person’s offering threatened, but Israel’s entire proximity to God’s presence. Therefore, the tabernacle as a whole must be “de-sinned.”
Where is Jesus?
This gives us all new ways to understand and appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
Jesus Removes Sin’s Penalty
When Jesus died for us on the cross, he made a way for us to be de-sinned.
By believing in Jesus, we symbolically put our hand on his head like those in Leviticus did with the animal. We put our faith in the fact that Jesus’ death dealt with the penalty our sins deserved. Because of this, God can say to us the same thing the priests would say to the worshipper making their offerings for sin: “you are forgiven.”
Jesus Removes Sin’s Pollution
But Jesus’ blood does even more than this. It also purifies us.
His blood cleanses the temple of our bodies. God’s presence doesn’t live in a tent anymore. Instead, he takes up residence in each and every believer. And even though we still sin, Jesus’ purification continues. As 1 John 1:7 says, "The blood of Jesus his Son purifies us from all sin.”
But the purifying nature of Jesus’ blood doesn’t just make a way for God to dwell within us. The blood of Jesus also entered into the eternal temple of heaven and made a way for us to get into God’s very presence.
The tabernacle on earth was a copy, or a symbol, of God’s heavenly home. Listen to what the New Testament says about this: “Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (Hebrews 9:24).
The higher the status of the person making the sin offering, the deeper into the tabernacle the blood would have to go. So when Jesus, who has the highest status imaginable, made the sacrifice of his own blood, it wasn’t taken into the depths of an earthly tent, but into the very presence of God.
Through his sacrifice, we have full access to God’s presence. What Leviticus and all its sacrifices do partially, Jesus does completely.
See For Yourself
I pray that the Holy Spirit would give you eyes to see the God who has made a way to forgive us of our sins and that you would see Jesus as the one whose blood makes a way for us to enter, not into a copy or symbol of God’s presence, but God’s very presence.