Today’s Reading: Leviticus 4-6
Today’s Reflection: Leviticus 4:2-3
2) “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the LORD’s commandments about things not to be done, and does any one of them, 3) if it is the anointed priest who sins, thus bringing guilt on the people, then he shall offer for the sin that he has committed a bull from the herd without blemish to the LORD for a sin offering.
The early chapters of Leviticus are filled with sacrifices for a variety of offenses and transgressions of the law, but the sacrifices in chapter 4 are interesting because they are for unintentional offenses. Times when the people or priests of Israel broke the law without knowing it. Further on in the chapter, there are remedies for people who break the law and eventually come to understand the severity of what they have done. But even before this, the sacrifices described in verses 1 to 12 seem to describe the need to have an atoning sacrifice even for things a person or people don’t realize are wrong.
We will see as we go further into the history of Israel (the books of 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles), the reason for such a sacrifice is clear. As the kingdom of Israel cycles through evil leaders, many of the ways of God are forgotten for a long time. Even when a good king is ruling the nation he may not restore all of the commandments of God. So for long stretches of time the nation was transgressing God’s law and was unaware of their sin.
But even more important, the fact that a sacrifice was necessary for unrecognized sin means that doing wrong exacts a cost that must be atoned for, even when it isn’t our intention to do wrong.
It isn’t our intentions that matter; it’s our actions.
We often justify our behaviour by saying that we meant well. Leviticus 4 warns us that the road to hell is quite literally paved with good intentions.
Even our unintended sins are sins Jesus had to die for. Why? Because even if we didn’t intend wrong, wrong actions have consequences on others and on the world around us. The person who thoughtlessly litters leaves a mess for someone else to clean up. The person who speaks carelessly hurts the feelings of another, or threatens their security by revealing private matters. Unwise decisions sometimes result in a domino effect leading to disastrous outcomes.
If we truly have the best of intentions, we must employ the best wisdom available to us: God’s wisdom not our own. At the same time we can be confident and comforted that Jesus Christ, our ultimate sacrifice, covers us not only when we knowingly sin, but also when we unintentionally break the laws of God.
Isaiah 55:8-9 – 8) For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9) For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.