Holiness, Part 3
The Guilt Offering
The guilt offering in Hebrew is called asham, and it means “reparation.” There were several types of guilt offerings for several different crimes.
The first is called the variable; these were usually things done that were not known at first and then became known: 1) If a person did not offer testimony in a court of law and held back information, 2) ritual impurity, and 3) a forgotten oath which was not kept. All of these required the person to confess the sin and repent and seek God for forgiveness and offer the sacrifice. Why was this so important if in most cases the person did not know or remember? Because doing wrong is still sin no matter if we know it or not. If we are caught speeding, even if we did not know it when the officer stops us, we are still guilty. And so that person who sinned, even not knowing, entered into the sanctuary and defiled it. God’s sanctuary is holy and must be kept holy.
The next is called the fixed guilt offering. This was for anyone who either misused the holy things of the Lord or took His name in vain by 1) committing sacrilege unintentionally by misusing the holy things, 2) committing sacrilege by attempting to use God’s name to conceal a financial misdealing, or 3) committing sacrilege by having relations with a married person. This person was guilty and was required to repent, repay the value of damages plus a fifth of the value, and then offer the sacrifice. The law of paying 120 percent applied to both Jews and God‐fearing Gentile believers in the land of Israel when the temple and Levitical system were in operation, but many believe that it still applies today, no matter if you are in Israel or not.
The next guilt offering is called the uncertainty. This is when a person is uncertain whether he has sinned, and to be on the safe side, he offers a guilt offering of uncertainty, asham talui. They would call this sacrifice the “hanging guilt offering,” because the offense that might have been done would have required that person to be cut off from Israel. So instead of leaving the person hanging, it was better to offer the sacrifice. Yeshua tells the parable of the sheep and the goats, and when asked, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or naked or imprisoned or sick?” He replies, “When you do to one of these little ones you did to me” (Matthew 25:31‐46). So when we cheat or steal or unintentionally neglect or harm someone, we are also doing this to God.
It was known among the Jewish people that Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth was called the Talui or ha Tului, “the Hanged One,” meaning “the Crucified One.” Anti‐Christian writings would use this description to imply “uncertainty” regarding Yeshua being the Messiah. Isaiah 53:10 says, “When His soul makes an offering for guilt (asham)….” Yeshua the crucified one (talui) hung on the cross as an asham. This is where we get the term a “Hung Jury,” because the jury is uncertain if the person is guilty or not.
The guilt offering did not take away a person’s sins, it only averted the consequences of his sacrilege; he still needed to make restitution where it was needed to be made. A thief still was obligated to restore the stolen article. Again, this applied to both Jews and Gentiles, and it applies even today. We see this in the story of Zacchaeus. Yeshua was passing through Jericho when a chief tax collector named Zacchaeus climbed up a sycamore tree to get a glimpse of the Master, because Zacchaeus was small in stature. When Yeshua looked up and saw him, He called to him and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” Zacchaeus stopped and said to Yeshua, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back to him four times as much.” And Yeshua said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a Son of Abraham” (Luke 19:1-10).
Zacchaeus went above and beyond the required law, but when we love God by keeping His commandments, His Laws are not troubling to us, for we serve Him out of a thankful heart.
The Burnt Offering
Now we are going to look at the burnt offering. You could say that this is the love offering. We celebrate Valentine’s Day and we give valentines as tokens of our love for each other. Well, the burnt offering is just like that Valentine.
The burnt offering was called the korban olah, which means “the sacrifice that rises.” As we know, a sacrifice was for the purpose of drawing near to God, and the burnt offering was for the sole purpose of just that. Like every sacrifice, the animal was to be without defect or blemish. It had to be the best of the flock. This is why it was an outward sign of one’s love and devotion to God, because when a person offered a burnt offering, he offered it as an act of surrender to God. Unlike the other offerings, this offering was totally burnt up, and there was nothing for the offerer like there was with the peace offering or grain offering, which allowed the offerer to partake of the offering. So because of this, the smoke from the sacrifice went straight up, as to heaven, as a sweet sacrifice to the Lord. We give gifts to those we love, and we don’t mind what we spend for those gifts because we love them and we give to them with great joy, and we wait to see their faces when they receive them. So too the Jewish people came with songs of praise unto the house of the Lord. It was a time of communion, a time of worship, a time for one to not only give thanks but to act out his faith and trust in God that not only will his sacrifice be accepted, but that God would meet his needs; after all, he was giving God the best of his herd for no other reason than the fact that he loved God.
This Can’t Be for Me
It was known that God‐fearing Gentiles also offered such offerings to the God of Israel. So that leads us to today and to believers in the One true living God of Israel. How much do we love God? How do we show it? Well, Romans 12:1‐2, for one, tells us:
“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your service of worship; and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
1 Peter 2:5 tells us, “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).”
Hebrews 13:16 tells us, “And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
Yeshua tells us, “If you love me, then keep My commandments” (John 14:15, 21, 23, 1 John 5:3).
These are just a few; so now ask yourself, “How much do I love God?” Is it enough to forsake all and follow him? Is it still fresh and new? Is it still binding and true? Maybe you need to bring the Lord a new burnt offering, renewing your commitment, love, and devotion. Maybe you need to get back on the altar and continue being that living sacrifice for the one you truly love.
The Sin Offering
We have looked at the different types of sacrificial offerings, and we have seen that the thanksgiving, freewill, and Passover lamb were all peace offerings. The peace offering was never offered for sin, yet Scripture tells us that Yeshua (Jesus) is our Passover Lamb. So we must ask ourselves, “If Yeshua is our Passover Lamb, how is He our sin offering?” Let’s first look at sin to see exactly what it is.
“Sin” is a word that comes from the Greek which means to miss the mark, as in archery. Sin is a transgression of the Torah. Sin is Lawlessness (1 John 3:4). Whether committed knowingly or unknowingly, sin keeps us from having a proper relationship with God. Sacrifices were God’s way of bringing a person close or drawing him near. The sacrifice was for the sole purpose of worship. So when we become defiled by known or unknown sin, we too must offer up an offering to become right again with God. But you may say, “That is the Old Testament,” or, “That was done away with; we now have Yeshua (Jesus).” Well, let’s take a close look and gain some insight into all of this.
The Sin Offering
A person who brought the sin offering was not offering up his offering voluntarily as with the peace, grain, and burnt offerings. A sin offering was required when a person inadvertently committed a sin that would require him being “cut off” from the community. There was a sin offering for the nation and for the individual. The priest would offer a sin offering for the sins of the nation for different reasons. For example, if the priesthood declared that something was according to the Torah but then later realized that no, it was not, this would require a sin offering. Even though it may have been the sin of the priesthood, it was still carried out by the whole community. Then there was the sin of the individual. Maybe a person unintentionally broke a commandment of Torah; he would bring a sin offering when he realized his sin. Other types of sin offerings are for a woman who has given birth to a child, a leper after being cleansed, a nazarite who came into contact with a corpse, and a nazarite who has completed the term of his vow.
These people are all required to offer up a chatat, or in English, a sin offering. Why are these people required to give a sin offering even when there is no sin committed? It is for the sole purpose of purification. You see, a sin offering was made to purify the Sanctuary from certain types of Levitical impurity and from the spiritual stain of sin. A person’s sins spiritually contaminated the Sanctuary, even if a sinful or unclean person entered into a holy place unknowingly. It would have to be purified, and the sin offering removed the stain. The sin offering was never made for atonement. A person did not bring an offering to clear his conscience or to acquire forgiveness. Hebrews 10:4 tells us, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Now if this sacrifice did not pertain to us, then why was Yeshua our sin offering?
You see, there is the cleansing of the flesh, and there is the cleansing of the spirit, the soul of man that lives on. Hebrews 9:13‐14 addresses this issue, telling us that the blood of bulls and goats may cleanse the flesh, but only the blood of Yeshua can cleanse our conscience from dead works so that we may serve the living God. Yeshua’s offering was done in the spiritual realm. How?
Paul tells the Colossians in chapter 1:26-27,
The mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God will make known what is the riches of glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Messiah in you, the hope of glory.
We want to look at one mystery of Messiah, and that is that He was slain before the foundation of the world.
Revelation 13:8b tells us, “Everyone whose name has not been recorded from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain (in sacrifice) from the foundation of the world…” (Amplified Bible).
Some other versions say it this way: “And all who dwell on the earth will worship Him, whose names have not been written in the book of Life of the Lamb slain from the creation of the world.”
Revelation 5:6, 12 also tells us, “And I saw between the throne and the elders a lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.”
We must understand that after Satan and all the rebellious angels who followed him fell, it made the sanctuary unclean, and so the heavenly temple needed to be cleansed. A sin offering had to be made. God in His sovereignty knew that the devil was coming down to earth, and man would also fall. Because we were also going to sin and needed to be cleansed, Yeshua prepared the way. It is because of this that when Adam and Eve sinned, God could sacrifice an animal; without the sacrifice of Yeshua first, any other sacrifice would not have been accepted because God always goes before man, not the other way around. Yeshua was the Lamb, the sacrifice, that was made. Scripture tells us that He entered into the heavenly sanctuary, not with the blood of bulls and goats, but His own blood which was sprinkled on the altar. Now, Yeshua still had to die in the physical realm because the devil was the prince of this world, and he had come down to cause men to fall. Before Yeshua died on the cross, the innocent Lamb of God said, “It is finished.” In other words, it was finished in the spiritual realm and now completed in the physical realm and the veil could now be torn and the way for us to have access before the throne of God was now available. We were reconciled with God.
This is a mystery, but the Bible does reveal to us that Yeshua was a sin offering before the foundation of the world. The Scriptures do tell us that the names were written in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world: “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).
Yeshua our Sin Offering
No man can come to the Father except through Yeshua.
2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us, “God made Him who knew no sin to be a sin offering on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness (or in right standing) with God in Him.” Yeshua’s shed blood purified the altar in Heaven, and so it was done to cleanse us spiritually (Hebrews 9:22‐26). When we come to God in prayer, we come in the name of Yeshua (Jesus), and we draw near by His sacrifice, washed in His blood to cleanse us of our sins. This is why it is important for us as believers to understand the temple service and the duty of the priesthood; for we too are a royal priesthood serving at the altar of God. We must understand that God and purity go hand‐in‐hand. His sanctuary is holy, and we are to be holy before God, for we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. No offering, be it the sin offering, guilt offering, or the offering made on the Day of Atonement, can bring cleansing without repentance from one’s sin and, of course, all we do must be done in faith in Yeshua’s sacrifice for us.
“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
“Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” (Hebrews 10:22).
“Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:19).
Let us remember that Yeshua is our Passover lamb, our peace offering, and as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5:6‐8,
Do you not know that a little leaven (sin) leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven (sin), that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened (without sin); for Messiah our Passover Lamb also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Yes, believers can celebrate Passover, because Yeshua is our Passover lamb (peace offering), and He is our guilt offering, our burnt offering, and our grain offering. He is our sacrifice by which we draw near to God.
“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it.”
The next part of the tabernacle is the bronze laver. Unlike most of the other components of the tabernacle, we find that the exact dimensions and design of the laver are not specified. A laver is simply a washbasin or bowl designed to hold water. This laver was made of solid bronze and placed upon a base of some type, which would bring the laver up to a level where the priest could use it effectively. The bronze was acquired from the mirrors of the women: “Moreover, he made the laver of bronze with its base of bronze, from the mirrors of the serving women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.” (Exodus 38:8). This was an act of great devotion, showing that they considered service to God of more worth than their own external appearances. Traditionally, it is told that God chose to honor their sacrifice by making the laver out of bronze when the temple was constructed as well, despite the ornateness of the rest of the temple.
From this point on, only the priests would continue. The priests bathed their entire bodies in the laver when they were first ordained, but after that the priest was required to wash only his hands and feet before entering into the tent of meeting. This was a symbol of purification. It may seem odd that the hands and feet were the only parts to be washed, but once put into the spiritual perspective, it all becomes clear. Feet represent our motives: “A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil” (Proverbs 6:18). Our hands are symbolic of our actions: “Concerning evil, both hands do it well” (Micah 7:3). By washing his hands and feet in the laver, the priest was going through a symbolic cleansing of the heart in preparation for further service to God. If the priest would forego this step and enter the tent of meeting without washing, he would die: “So they shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they will not die; and it shall be a perpetual statute for them, for Aaron and his descendants throughout their generations” (Exodus 30:21). It is not simply enough to accept the atonement brought by the sacrifice at the altar. Purification is required before the priest can come closer to God.
The tabernacle was a place of holiness, and so the priests were to remain in a state of cleanliness when offering the sacrifices. Yeshua tells His disciples that they have already been made clean because of the Word (John 15:3), and only their feet needed to be washed (John 13:7-10). What did Yeshua mean by this? When we accept Yeshua’s sacrifice (the lamb for the sin offering) on our behalf, and we repent of our sins (that is, a heartfelt turning away from what is opposed to God’s Word), living by the whole Word of God’s counsel, we are totally washed by His blood, as if we ourselves went to the Bronze Laver. We are cleansed. But as we go day by day, we stumble, we fall, and we may drift away; so we need to be cleansed from our actions which are represented by our feet. Our feet can lead us to do good or to do bad, as it is written in Romans 3:15, “Their feet are swift to shed blood,” and again in Romans 10:15, “How beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news.” We are to make straight paths for our feet (Hebrews 12:12-13).
It is important to understand the process of purity. A person could become impure either by acting in an immoral way (sinning) or according to various ritual standards (for example, coming into contact with a dead body). Impurity does not necessarily imply a sin took place, yet it still comes between the people and God. In our natural state, we as human beings are impure, even without sin. But through the process of purification, God made a way for the people to draw near and have a relationship with Himself.
The Laver represents water—the waters of life. John writes in 1 John 5:6-8, “This is the One who came by water and by blood, Yeshua the Messiah… For there are three that bear witness, the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” We have seen that the outer court consists of the gate which leads to life and the altar which leads us to the wells of salvation. Why the wells of salvation? Because salvation is redemption, and when we repent of sin and turn from our ways, then we are redeemed based on Yeshua’s sacrifice and His shed blood, which cleanses us from our sin. The songwriter writes, “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stain.” We see, then, that our duty as priests is first to be holy and righteous in Yeshua. Next, we must assist others as they draw near to God, leading them to repentance and accepting Yeshua’s sacrifice on their behalf.
This is what the Bronze Laver represents: sanctification. Sanctification is an ongoing process. It is the process of being cleansed from sin initially when we accept Yeshua’s sacrifice for us, but then it is a continual cleansing of our sins when we confess them before God (Exodus 30:18-21). The laver was made of bronze and mounted on a base and lined with mirrors which the Israelite women donated to the building of the Tabernacle. Could this be what James meant when he said that we are to be doers of the Word and not just hearers? For anyone who just hears the Word and does not do it is like a man who looks into a mirror and then forgets what he looks like (James 1:22-25). When Yeshua prayed for His disciples He prayed, “Father sanctify them in the truth: Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). It is by Yeshua’s blood we are cleansed initially, but it is in the keeping of His word that we remain clean. The sword of the Spirit, which is part of our defense against the evil one, is the Word of God, and Scripture tells us, “He saved us not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). We are to continually renew our minds through the Word of God.
So we see the Laver represents the waters of baptism. Paul continues to write in Romans 6:2 after he says that we should not continue in sin:
How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Messiah Yeshua have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
There is no other way to get into God’s presence unless we enter in through the gate (door), Yeshua, and then first stop at the altar, laying our lives down, crucifying the flesh, submitting to God’s will, not ours; and then off to the Laver to be washed and to drink from the wells of salvation. You see, our life—every moment that we live—is worship to God. True worship to God is not through ceremonial rituals. This was Paul’s main argument. True worship to God is from the heart that is totally surrendered to God, which leads to total devotion. So everything that we say or do must be done in the name of the Lord, giving glory to Him with praise and worship and adoration. This begins our path of worship. This begins our duties in serving God.
Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? If not, why not consider your deeds and repent? Give your life over to Yeshua and begin to walk in newness of life. Maybe you have already accepted Yeshua as your Lord and Savior, but you are not walking holy and blameless. Maybe Yeshua is not really the center of your life, or maybe you have not yet crucified the flesh; if so, then repent, consider your deeds, and turn for the good. We all need to stop at the laver daily and be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us of our sins. Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:20:
Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel of honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
What were “these things” Paul was referring to? The things that are not confessed and repented of that keep a person impure and not holy, the things we need to cleanse ourselves from.
The Holy Place
After repentance and cleansing and sacrifice, we are now ready to enter into the next section of the tabernacle: The Holy Place, the mikdash, also known as the sanctuary, which was the exact replica of Heaven’s sanctuary. God said in Exodus 25:8, “Let them construct a mikdash (Holy Place) for Me, that I may shachan (dwell) among them.” This was the whole idea behind the Feast of Tabernacles, God dwelling with man. During this feast, the people were told to dwell in tabernacles or tents, which, along with representing God dwelling among man, is a symbol of trust and reliance on God. The feast also represents the coming age when God will permanently dwell with man, the Bridegroom and the Bride dwelling in the bridal chamber. Scripture tells us that we are being built into a mikdash so that God may shachan with us (Ephesians 2:22). Shachan is the root word in shachanah, as in God’s presence. This is why the feasts are so important for us believers to celebrate. They represent and speak of God’s plan for us.
Upon entering the Holy Place, one would see the Menorah (the lamp stand) on the South, the Table of Showbread on the north, and the Altar of Incense on the west just in front of the veil into the Holy of Holies.