Hebrews 5:3

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. Hebrews 5:3

The words, “Because of this,” are given to explain the words of the previous verse, which said when speaking of the high priest, “since he himself is also subject to weakness.” The high priest was not a sinless person. He was born into humanity from a human father, and thus he received his first father’s original sin. Further, he was subject to weakness, meaning he incurred guilt through committed sin as well. This made him able to be compassionate towards those who went astray, but it also meant that he required his own offering for sin just “as for the people.”

The book of Leviticus details the many sacrifices required under the Mosaic law, including offerings for sin. In the ordination of Aaron and his sons, and which would be required for any new priest after them, there was the necessity to offer a sin-offering. This is noted in Leviticus 8:2. The process of making this offering is then detailed later in the same chapter. The sin offering was required each day of the ordination process, and then when they were fully ordained, only then could the priests offer for the sins of the people, as is noted in Leviticus 9:7 & 9:15.

This is explained with the words, “so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins.” The very fact that the priests had to offer for their own sins, including the high priest himself, shows us the fallible nature of the Aaronic priesthood. They were tainted with sin, and they needed to have a substitute die in place of their failings before they could sacrifice for others.

And more, this didn’t just occur one time and then purify them forever from the need for a sacrifice for sin. Rather, each year on the Day of Atonement the high priest had to sacrifice a sin-offering for himself before he could offer one for the people. This was a clear indication that his ordination did not reckon him as sinless at all. Examples such as these show the fallible nature of the priesthood of Aaron.

But the most poignant example of all is found actually occurring on the final day of the priestly ordination of Aaron and his sons. On that day, after they had accomplished the sacrifice for their own sins, they sacrificed for the sins of the people. The priests were to then eat that sin-offering, thus symbolically taking the sins of the people upon themselves and purging them. However, two of the sons of Aaron died on that day, even after the sacrifices were complete. Later, Moses came and found that Aaron and his two remaining sons had not eaten the sin-offering, but had burnt it up. The following analysis of those verses from Leviticus 10 shows the absolute inability of the Aaronic priesthood to actually accomplish the purification of sin for themselves and for the people –

18 See! Its blood was not brought inside the holy place; indeed you should have eaten it in a holy place, as I commanded.”

Two different things are intended with the word “holy” in this verse. The first is speaking of the blood being brought into the holy place within the tent of meeting. This did not happen with this sacrifice, and therefore the meat was to be eaten, not burned up. The place where it was to be eaten is in a holy place, meaning within the sanctuary, but not within the holy place of the tent of meeting.

19 And Aaron said to Moses, “Look, this day they have offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord, and such things have befallen me!

Almost all scholars tie Aaron’s words in with his grief, and the grief of his sons, as being the reason for not eating the sin offering of the people, something prescribed by the law. However, this is not the case. Aaron will ask a conditional question based on what he has just noted to Moses, which is that the sons had offered their sin offering, and they had offered their burnt offering before the Lord. And further, they had done it before Nadab and Abihu had died. The offerings were on behalf of all the sons, not just the two living ones. And yet, two of them still died in sin on that day!

How could they eat the sin offering of someone else when they had not attained to the state of holiness which kept them from dying in their own sin? It is a giant mark upon the Aaronic priesthood, coming on the last day of the ordination process, which shows its completely fallible nature. It couldn’t even perfect its priests. As this is so, how could it be expected to perfect those who came to the Lord through those priests? Indeed, something much greater was needed for that to come about.

19 (continues) If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have been accepted in the sight of the Lord?”

The answer to his question is obvious, “No.” If the sin offering and the burnt offerings, which were intended to take care of the sins of the priests before they tended to the sins of the congregation, were tainted by what occurred, thus meaning the priests were also tainted, then how could they take on the sin of the people in order to purify them? Aaron’s logic is impeccable, and it shows us how vastly inferior this priesthood is to that of Christ – infinitely so.

The sin of man could never be taken away by the blood of bulls and goats – case in point is the death of Nadab and Abihu. Add into that the future death of Aaron, and then the death of Moses who performed the installation of Aaron, and you have a completely failed system. However, the system itself is not the failure, it is the people within the system. And within the people is the true failure, sin. Contemplating David’s words of the 51st Psalm shows to us the seed of failure contained within the Law of Moses –

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5

David shows us that sin is, in fact, inherited. This was the case with Aaron and his sons, and the Law of Moses could not make them sinless. Only in the coming of Christ could this come about.

Life application: The analysis of the verses of Leviticus provided in this commentary is an abbreviated form of the sermon, Absolute Zero, given by Charlie Garrett of The Superior Word. To understand the entire context of what is presented in those verses, please take the time to watch this video of the sermon – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwIpH6a4H7A

Lord God Almighty, we learn from the Bible that the Law of Moses could never adequately deal with the sin problem in man. Only in the coming of Christ could our sin nature be properly dealt with. Thank You for the surpassing greatness of the New Covenant which comes through the shed blood of Christ. Thank You for Jesus our Lord! Amen.

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