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from every stain ! The priest's hyssop is introduced into every corner of the building that we may be altogether pure. Well may we join the seraphim in their song, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts."
Some have regarded the offences for which satisfaction is made in this chapter as offences of a national kindoffences against the Theocracy, by which an Israelite forfeited the favor of Jehovah as his Theocratic Ruler, and was for a time cut off from his protection. Even when taken in this limited view, how significant are the sacrifices. The offender comes, confessing his sin and bringing a victim to suffer in his stead. The animal is slain in his room; the man is forgiven, and retains his standing as a protected Israelite-remaining under the shadow of the Guardian Cloud. The sacrifice never failed to produce this effect; but nothing else than the sacrifice ever did. “ Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” This principle of the Divine government was engraven on the hearts of Israel, viz., whossever is pardoned any offence must be pardoned by means of another's death. “The great multitude” of the saved are all pardoned by one of infinite worth having died for them all. See 2 Cor. v. 14.
the next generation. Perhaps, Josiah’s alarm at the hearing of the law found in the Temple is the kind of case there intended. In ver. 27–29, individuals are taught to seek personal pardon besides.
Sin-Offering for Sits of Inaduertency.
BRETHREN, IF A MAN BE OVERTAKEN* IN A FAULT, YE WHICH ARE SPIRITUAL
RESTORE SUCH AN ONE IN THE SPIRIT OF MEEKNESS." -Gal. vi. 3.
Ver. 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,
The meaning is, “If a person sin in this respect," viz., that he hear the oath of adjuration administered by the judge, and is able to tell, having either seen or otherwise known the matter about which he is to testify: if such a man do not tell all he knows, he shall be reckoned guilty of a sin.
“ The voice of swearing" undoubtedly means here the adjuration of a judge to a prisoner. The term ($) employed here is the same as that used in 1 Sam. xiv. 24, “Saul had adjured (bxna) the people ;” and in 1 Kings viii. 31, “If an adjuration be laid upon him, adjuring him to speak out the truth ;" and Judges xvii. 2, “ The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from thee, about which thou didst adjure ;" and Prov. xxix. 24, “He heareth an adjuration, and yet telleth not." The judge, in a court of justice, was permitted to elicit
* “Overtaken," is apolnoon, hurried into sin ere he is well aware, (Bretschneider.) “Fault,” is rapartwa, transgression, sin.
information from the witness by solemnly charging him to answer and tell all he knew, under penalty of a curse from God if he did not reveal the whole truth. It was in those circumstances that our Lord was placed before the High Priest. (Matt. xxvi. 63.) He was then, surely, in the depths of humiliation! For now he is called upon, under threatening of the curse of his own Father, to break that strange silence, and tell all he knows, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” And then it was that the Lamb of God no longer kept himself dumb; but, bowing to the solemn force of this adjuration, showed the same meekness in replying as before he had done in keeping silence. From the depth of his humiliation he pointed upward to the throne, and declared himself Son of God, and judge of quick and dead.
The sins mentioned in this chapter are chiefly sins arising from negligence—sins which might have been avoided, had the person been more careful.
The case of the witness in ver. 1, is one where the person omitted to tell particulars which he could have told, or else, through carelessness, misstating some things. Let us learn the breadth of God's holy law! Not a tittle fails. Let us learn the Holy Spirit's keen observation of sin in us. Let us learn to be jealous over ourselves, and seek to be of “ quick discernment, in the fear of the Lord.” Much sin is committed by omissions. Duties partially done have in them the guilt of Ananias and Sapphira.
Ver. 2. “Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcass
of an unclean beast, or a carcass of unclean cattle, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty.”
These, as well as ver. 3, are cases where others could see the pollution, though the man himself might be unaware of it at the time. They were, therefore, cases of a public injury in some degree. Through inadvertency a man might touch a carcass* of an unclean “ beast” (min), the term used for the sort of animals most commonly met with in every-day work. These are noticed first, as it was most likely they would oftenest meet with them. Then “cattle” in the fields or forests. Lastly, "creeping things,” such as the weazel, the mouse, or the lizard (xi. 30). Thus there is a gradation, greater, middle, and smallest; as if to say to us, that any degree of pollution is offensive to a pure and holy God. A true Israelite ought to keep completely free from all that defiles, however trifling, in the eye of the world. What. ever sin God's eye resteth on, that is the sin which the man of God abhors. The man after God's own heart prays, “ Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” (Psa. xix. 12.) And, in reference to its being "hidden," yet still chargeable upon the sinner, he exclaims, “ Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.” (Psa. xc. 8.)
Here, too, we learn that “sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John iii. 4.) It is not merely when we act contrary to the dictates of conscience that we sin; we may often be sinning when conscience never upbraids us. The most part of a sinner's life is spent without any check on the part of conscience—that being dead and corrupt, fallen and depraved, responding to the man's lusts, rather than to the will of God. Hence it is said
* Were dead bodies reckoned unclean on the ground that they are the fruit of sin? The sting of death is, as it were, sunk into them; and so sin is proved to be there.
here, that though " it be hidden from him," he shall be unclean. He is guilty, though his conscience did not warn him of the guilt contracted.
Awful truth! We know not what we do! When the Book is opened and read, what a record of unfelt guilt! “ Had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory;" but yet their act was the blackest of sins. Who can tell what pages there may be in the Book of Remembrance ?*
Ver. 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.” This last clause is equivalent to “ If it be hid from him, though he afterward come to know it.” “ The uncleanness of a man,” is such as the leprosy, or a running issue caused.
Again the lesson is enforced, that unconscious as our depraved souls may be of the presence of sin, sin may have polluted us and separated between us and God. We are guarded against the deceitfulness of sin. We need to be told of sin by others. Our coming afterwards to know our sin, may often be by means of our brethren's reproofs, and their quicker discernment of evil. Hence it is written, “Exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest
you be hardened through the deceitful. ness of sin.” (Heb. iii. 13.)
Ver. 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.”
* Francis Quarles truly, though quaintly, says of a sin of ignorance,
" It is a hideous mist that wets amain,