Making our Wrongs Right
We have been looking at the Temple sacrifices over the last few months and we have seen that these sacrifices not only foreshadow Messiah, but that they are still relevant today, even in the life of a believer. This month we want to look at the guilt offering and again we will see how relevant these sacrifices are in the life of a believer. It may not be quite the same as in the days of the temple and the Levitical sacrifices, but in their own way today, we as believers still need to keep the intent of the sacrifice alive in our lives.
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 right and 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, 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, 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 offence 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?" And 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."
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.