Leviticus 5:5–6 (HCSB)
5 If someone incurs guilt in one of these cases, he is to confess he has committed that sin. 6 He must bring his restitution for the sin he has committed to the Lord: a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin.
Leviticus 5 starts with a list of four ways that people might sin resulting in a need for a sin offering. Certainly this is not a comprehensive list, nor was it intended to be, as there are further scenarios to be documented. It is interesting to note that out of the four sins described here, only the first is a sin not described as being committed “without being aware of it”. Perhaps this is due to the nature of the sin (i.e. conveying knowledge about an incident), or maybe it is simply a “gray” area that qualifies it as being grouped with the remaining three.
Notice that the first step is “to confess he has committed that sin”. (Leviticus 5:5) The sacrifice is not the first step, confession is. We know this intuitively to be the way things are. If wrong-doing is never admitted, we typically do not consider a transgression resolved or settled. It simply is not enough for someone to make restitution or endure a penalty without recognizing the violation to start with. And so it is with God: we cannot be forgiven for that which we do not confess. After all, if we confess nothing is that not the equivalent of believing we are free of sin, we have not done any wrong? It seems logical that the first step of forgiveness from God then, would be confession.
Also, do not miss the beauty of God’s provision in this passage. Rather than set the sacrifice as a strict animal type, one that might keep people of less means from ever being able to offer a sin offering, God creates a system based upon means. We read in Leviticus 5:7 and 11 how God allows for lesser sin offerings for those that “cannot afford” a more expensive one. But the end result is still the same: forgiveness! See, forgiveness is not based upon how valuable our offering to God is, He simply is not interested in our “stuff”, it is about our heart, which is what He is after. Accordingly, we would assume that one who was affluent, if they were to present two turtledoves or fine flour as a sin offering, would not be forgiven. Not because of the quality of the sacrifice, but because of the state of their heart and its hardness towards God, valuing “stuff” more than Him.
Lord, thank You for forgiveness. It is nothing we deserve, but is a gift from You. I pray that we do not focus on our sacrifice, but that we focus on right-standing with You, being forgiven and redeemed, and the fact that it is worth more than anything we could dream. Amen.