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Trespass Offerings and Accompanying Regulations (Leviticus 5:1-6:7)

Though the trespass offering is sometimes called a sin offering (compare 5:6-9), there is a general distinction to be made between sin and trespass. Some have argued that sin is against God while trespass is against fellow man. But the Bible makes it clear that it is possible to commit trespass against God (compare verses 15-19). What then, is the difference between sin and trespass? Jukes explains, "With our shortsightedness, our inability to see beyond the surface, we naturally look at what man does rather than at what he is; and while we are willing to allow that he does evil, we perhaps scarcely think that he is evil. But God judges what we are as well as what we do; our sin, the sin in us, as much as our trespasses. In His sight sin in us, our evil nature [compare Romans 7], is as clearly seen as our trespasses, which are but the fruit of that nature. He needs not wait to see the fruit put forth. He knows the root is evil, and so will be the buddings.... Thus in the Sin-offering no particular act of sin is mentioned, but a certain person is seen standing confessedly as a sinner: in the Trespass-offering certain acts are enumerated, and the person never appears. In the Sin-offering I see a person who needs atonement, offering an oblation for himself as a sinner: in the Trespass-offering I see certain acts which need atonement, and the offering offered for these particular offences....

"Of course, in the Sin-offering, though the man is seen rather than his acts, proof must needs be brought that he is a sinner. But let it be noticed that this is done, not by the enumeration of certain trespasses, but simply by a reference to the law; which, though no particular transgression is mentioned, is said to have been neglected or broken" (pp. 148-149). Of course, there will be particular acts to show that the person is guilty of sin. Yet the sin offering does not atone for these specifically—it atones for sinful nature in general, which stands in rebellion against God (compare Romans 8:7). "In the Trespass-offering, on the other hand, it is exactly the reverse. We have nothing but one detail after another of particular wrongs and offences; the first class being of wrongs done against God, the other of wrongs against our neighbor" (pp. 149-150). The trespass offerings, then, are to atone for specific sinful acts. It is these specific acts of trespass that require restitution, as detailed in this section.

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