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Samuel Kuo
November 16, 2020
This entry is part [part not set] of 24 in the series 156 Pictures of Christ in the Old Testament
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Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.

Fact About Christ from page 21: Christ is the real guilt offering

As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive

– Colossians 3:13

The final offering in this series is the guilt offering. The primary verses for this offering are found in Leviticus chapters 5 and 6. Also called the trespass offering, it can be offered for two major reasons: trespass against God and trespass against man. It is similar to the sin offering, but differs in its requirement for restitution, in which whatever was stolen or held-back needs to be repaid in full with an additional fifth of the value added. Thus, the guilt offering shows a striking fact of redemption: the injurer is forgiven and the injured receives gain! 

The guilt offering is just like the sin offering; there is one law for them. The priest who makes atonement with it shall have it.

– Leviticus 7:7

When he realizes his guilt in any of these and confesses the sin he has committed, he shall bring to the Lord as his compensation for the sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat, for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him for his sin.

– Leviticus 5:5-6

The guilt offering is like the sin offering in its rules for how the offering is prepared and treated, so we will not go into detail in this discussion. Further information can be found in the previous article. Only, we must note that the offeror must realize his guilt and confess the sin he has committed, in addition to bringing the animal to be sacrificed. 

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “If anyone commits a breach of faith and sins unintentionally in any of the holy things of the Lord, he shall bring to the Lord as his compensation, a ram without blemish out of the flock, valued in silver shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering. He shall also make restitution for what he has done amiss in the holy thing and shall add a fifth to it and give it to the priest. And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and he shall be forgiven.

– Leviticus 5:14-16

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the Lord by deceiving his neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or through robbery, or if he has oppressed his neighbor or has found something lost and lied about it, swearing falsely—in any of all the things that people do and sin thereby— if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression or the deposit that was committed to him or the lost thing that he found or anything about which he has sworn falsely, he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt. And he shall bring to the priest as his compensation to the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flock, or its equivalent, for a guilt offering. And the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he shall be forgiven for any of the things that one may do and thereby become guilty.”

– Leviticus 6:1-7

The first category of guilt offering is when there is a trespass against God by sinning in any of the holy things of the Lord. This could be in the withholding of a tithe, or a cheating of the firstfruits of one’s harvest. Here, we see the uniqueness of the offering in full play. An offering must be given, then restitution must be made, and a fifth added and given to the priest as well, before atonement can be made and forgiveness given. 

The second is in the matter of trespass against man. The first thing we should note is that Leviticus clearly states that a trespass against your neighbor is primarily a breach of faith against the Lord. The people of Israel entered a holy covenant with the Lord on Mount Sinai, and this covenant dictated what it meant for them to be “the people of God.” There is no thought here that each man’s faith is between him and the Lord alone—but rather, faith encompasses his relationships with everyone else in the covenant. 

Furthermore, when it comes to a trespass against God, first there is sacrifice, then restitution. But when it comes to that against man, there must first be restitution, then the offering. This is mirrored in the New Testament in Matthew 5:23-24, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Real reconciliation before your neighbor must be made before you can fulfill the proper offering towards the Lord.

Lastly, we see again the principle of restitution here involves adding a fifth. It is not enough to simply confess your sin and restore what was taken through falsehood or robbery, but there is something added for the wrong done. This is a sweet provision given for the covenant people of God, a way for those who have sinned to make things right of their own accord, not through outside pressure but through a desire for a breach of faith to be restored. The one who wronged is forgiven and the one who was wronged has gained a fifth. 

So what does this picture say about Christ? 

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

– Isaiah 53:10

Isaiah 53 is a vivid and prophetic depiction of the suffering messiah, which the Lord Jesus fulfilled on the cross. It was the will of God to crush him on the cross, to put him to grief. His soul was an offering for guilt. He was the true guilt offering, given to make atonement for all the trespasses of man against God, against the holy things of God, and against one another. And yet, this sweet picture for us is more than atonement, but redemption. There is something gained through this offering. God’s plan of redemption is much more than a covering of wrongs, but a plan to gain

This is the wonder of the guilt offering. God gains through the cross of Christ. He begins with a sinful world in breach of faith with Him and an only begotten Son and leaves with a world reconciled and many sons being brought into glory (see verses at end of article). Not only does He receive what was lost, but actually gained much more through redemption than He lost through the Fall. Mackintosh says, “He reaps a richer harvest of glory, honour, and praise, in the fields of redemption, than ever He could have reaped from those of creation.”

What does this mean for me as a Christian? 

We too receive gain through the cross. The breach of faith that occurred between Adam and God in the garden of Eden is indeed mended, but because of the cross of Christ, we believers are also given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have much more than any of the Old Testament saints ever had. In Matthew 11:11, Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Yet there are still lessons from the guilt offering that we can apply today. As the guilt offering, Christ empowers His people to reconcile with their brothers by giving them the Holy Spirit. But this cannot be passive. Action is required to restore relationships. For one party, they must confess their sin and restore what was lost. For the other, there can be forgiveness, and in doing so, the receiving of the “added fifth” of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul says:

As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

– Colossians 3:13

This kind of forgiveness, reconciliation, and restitution is the marker of the people of God. This is possible through Christ as our guilt offering. When we struggle to forgive our neighbor, we can go to the Lord and be given supply from the Holy Spirit to forgive, and then we too can say, “I have received much more than I have lost.” 

Appendix: Some New Testament Verses

And behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

– Matthew 3:17

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

– Galatians 4:6

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

– Hebrews 2:10

Have any inspirations or questions about the content of the article? Or do you just want to say hello and introduce yourself? We’d love to hear from all our readers! Leave a comment or send an email to with the title of this post in the subject line. If you are burning to engage with us, but don’t know what to say, here are some questions that could be a help: 

  1. How has what the Lord done for you enabled you to forgive your neighbor?
  2. Leviticus says that a trespass against your neighbor is primarily a breach of faith with God. Spend a few moments to consider your relationships and ask the Lord, are there any trespasses you may be unaware of? 
  3. Through the cross, God has gained. How has He gained you, and how can He gain you more?
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