Then the priest is to take some of the blood with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar.Leviticus 4:30
In the book of Leviticus, the five great offerings specified there set forth for us so clearly and helpfully the basic needs of our humanity, needs which God has built into every one of us, and how these needs can be met — the only way in which they can be met. Here we come to the fourth of these offerings, the sin offering.
Remember that in the previous offerings, just as in the sin offering, blood had to be shed, and a death had to occur. But all the blood of the animal was poured out at the foot of the altar. But with the blood of the sin offering something unusual was always done. The blood had to be sprinkled seven times before the LORD. Then, in the case of the offering for the anointed priest as we see here, it had to be put on the horns of the altar of incense which stood in the holy place, right in front of the veil which guarded the holy of holies — i.e., right before the presence of the LORD.
What is the significance of this? It is obvious that a special emphasis is being placed upon the blood. It is to be put in a visible place, and in a place which is obviously connected with God. It is to be recognized openly as being on the horns of the altar before the LORD. And the individual for whom the offering is being made is to be able to see the blood there. That is the point. In other words, there is to be an understanding on the part of the one who sinned that this blood has now covered his sin, forgiven it, and before God it is acknowledged to be forgiven. And when he understands that, then his own conscience can be at rest.
I find many people who have never seen that God accepts the death of Jesus fully on their behalf. They are always troubling themselves about some terrible degree of sin they have committed, and which they think God is not able to forgive. They do not see the blood on the horns of the altar. As a result, they torture themselves endlessly with guilt. But God is trying to make very clear that there is a way to be free of guilt. And once the blood is there on the altar, it provides a way out. There is no guilt left!
He shall be forgiven, the Scripture says — not only of the sinful acts but of the guilt of his very nature. That is what this offering is teaching. It teaches us that this is the only way that man ever has of being free from his nagging, hidden, inward sense of guilt which alienates him from God.
Men are always trying to find their own ways to be free of guilt. Some try to forget it. Most are trying simply to avoid the whole subject. They don't want to think of their guilt. But you remember how David said he felt when he tried that. These are his words from Psalm 32:
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. (Psalms 32:3-4)
This is what unacknowledged guilt will do. It will dry up your life, will reduce it to a shallow, superficial level of living in which you have to be caught up endlessly in some diversion in order not to think about your relationship with God. And forgetting will never work either.
Help me to be honest, Lord, about my guilt, and not try to avoid it but to know that there is no way out unless I acknowledge it. Thank you that there is a way out of my guilt, and that I no longer need to be far off from you.
Honest confession and open repentance is never risk-taking with God, but rather the open door to forgiveness of all our sin. Do we seek this invaluable gift often and with joyful expectancy?