“Now if the whole congregation of Israel commits error and the matter escapes the notice of the assembly, and they commit any of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done, and they become guilty;”
We usually want to point our fingers at others and disassociate ourselves from those we believe are committing acts of sin. In the United States we divide ourselves up in the us and them categories whether it be in politics or religion or lack thereof. We pick sides and we want only our perceived guilty side to take the blame and rarely does anyone in authority step up and choose to take responsibility for the choices of those living under their authority.
In 2020, here in the US, we have the Baby Boomers versus the Millennials with the Generation Z coming up quickly behind them. We have the Baby Boomers being blamed for criticizing and demeaning the Millennials for all that is going wrong in the world while the Millennials point the fingers back to the Boomers. What we don’t often see is the Baby Boomers, who are now the “elders” of our families, churches, and even our nation taking responsibility for what is deemed wrong in our homes, in our churches, and in our nation.
In the days of the nation of Israel’s birth when the Lord was giving these instructions for the sin offerings for the people we see that the elders were to take responsibility and action for the sin of the congregation. When it was discovered that the assembly was not walking in accordance with the command of the Lord the elders were not to stand up and point fingers at the people. They were, instead, to take the sin of the congregation upon themselves and bring it before the Lord.
It was the responsibility of the elders to teach the congregation. It was the responsibility of the elders to be the guides and the coaches and the examples to the generations that followed them. If error was found in the congregation it was not automatically assumed that it was rebelliousness of the youth but it was deemed as something unknown now becoming known and it was dealt with according to the law of God.
The sin offering for the unintentional sin of the congregation once again would be the largest and most costly offering, a bull. The blood of the bull would also be taken and placed on the horns of the altar before the Lord which was in the tent of meeting. The blood of this offering would also be sprinkled before the Lord in front of the veil. This offering was as serious as the offering of the priest for it was just as far reaching. The elders took responsibility for the entire congregation’s sin and therefore in their forgiveness the entire congregation was forgiven. This is the grace and mercy of our God at work.
It is possible for an entire nation to be led astray and into wrong thinking and wrong actions by having the wrong perspective due to the lack of instruction of a few. Elders assuming something should be known and therefore not purposely teaching it snowballs into a generation being completely ignorant of those particular things. This ignorance leads to error and sometimes it takes a while for that error to become known.
It is also possible for us to be living and teaching error, but be unaware that we are doing so because we cannot see it within ourselves. However, when the fruit of our lives and teaching begins to be manifested through the lives of those who live around us and learn from us, then we can finally see through them that there is error coming from us. The mercy and grace of our God makes a way for us to address this error without it leading to blaming and choosing sides and wrongful prosecutions. The elders simply acknowledge it, own it, bring it before the Lord, and it is forgiven and we change and move on in our forgiveness and knowledge.
When our children were young there were many times and many things that I would see them say and do that I would react to and wonder why in the world they were behaving that way or saying something that way. Then I would hear it or recognize it afterward coming from myself. I had never recognized it in myself before. I had never seen it as erroneous or unkind or even annoying when it came from myself, but when I watched it lived out in them it was different. In those moments I had a choice to make. I could continue to blame and discipline them or I could take personal responsibility. I have learned that taking personal responsibility as “the elder” has never failed to change them as well as me.
In 1 Peter 5:1-5 we read, “Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Could it be in the days of the giving of Leviticus that the younger could easily submit to the elder because they knew the elder was taking responsibility for them before God. The elder could in return be humble to the younger because they recognized that the younger simply lived out what they themselves had modeled before them. There was to be no finger pointing or blaming among the people. They were all to know and understand that we all are in need of the mercy and grace of the Lord our God. Here in Leviticus 4:13-21 all pride was laid aside and the elders humbled themselves before the Lord taking responsibility for the sin of the congregation and in this act of obedient faith the entire nation would find forgiveness.
Your grace and mercy is from everlasting to everlasting. As I study through the book of Leviticus I don’t see legalism, I see provision for forgiveness. I see a God who loved us in spite of ourselves and knew how we would fail Him again and again, but made a way for us to have a relationship with Him anyway. I see a Holy God who takes responsibility for His people. I see a Creator who does not point fingers or cast blame, but instead takes the sin of others upon Himself. Jesus, thank You for being the example that we can follow. You look past our ignorance and offer us forgiveness in our repentance. You do not hold our lack of knowledge against us, but meet us where we are and lead us to Yourself. May we in our forgiveness and knowledge of Your truth do likewise for others and lead them to You.
My Jesus, I love You and it is in Your name I pray,