Same Atonement for Rich and Poor (Lev 5:7)
Leviticus specifies the particular ways in which offerings were to be presented to God. A sacrifice had to be of a certain quality and given in a certain manner, among other things. I have wondered: how many animals would an Israelite have offered over his lifetime? In light of this, how prosperous was the average Israelite? Could every Jew afford to offer the required animal offering?
Israel had its fair supply of poverty. Jesus commented in Matthew 26:11, “For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me.” Among poor communities, perhaps many struggled to bring a prescribed offering. These particular families found great hope in Leviticus 5:7ff: “But if he cannot afford a lamb, then he shall…” Moses goes on to write-down what one had to do if he could not afford to bring a lamb for the Guilt Offering. In this way, God provided a means for poor Israelites to partake in the sacrificial system.
“So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin which he has committed, and it will be forgiven him” (v.10). Though this man was poorer than most, the atonement promised him was no different than the wealthiest merchant’s. The foreshadow quickly leads us to the cross. God always requires a sacrifice to atone for sin. However, in order to make atonement for your sin, you do not need a wealth of riches or righteousness. The poor in Christ enjoy the same forgiveness as the rich in Christ. We see in Leviticus 5:7, 10 a shadow of Christ coming and making a way for all kinds of men – rich and poor, high and low, king and peasant. Earthly status and possession does nothing to atone for sin. All who come to Christ will enjoy the same redemption.
An Atonement Despite Ignorance (Lev 5:17-19)
Consider this scenario: a man sins but is unaware that what he does is sinful. He is ignorant of the Law. Therefore he should be spared judgement under the Law, correct? Consider God’s answer: “Now if a person sins and does any of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done, though he was unaware, still he is guilty and shall bear his punishment” (v.17). The text says that ignorance of the Law does not excuse someone from a judgment under the Law.
The glimpse of Christ in this text is simple yet powerful: Christ’s death atones for sins that His people do not even realize they commit. I do not have perfect knowledge of my depravity. If I contemplated my wickedness and guilt for centuries, there would still be dark recesses of evil that I could not comprehend. Yet my ignorance of sin does not mean that Christ is an insufficient Savior.
There is a bottomless well of peace here: my confession of sin does not make Christ’s blood atoning. His death was sufficient to redeem me from my sin.