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The Trespass Offering

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Archives / 1973 / April



The Trespass Offering

Alec Charles Thomson
-Director of the aboriginal work of the North N.S.W. Conference in Australia at the time this article was written


EVERY offering was ordained to aid man's understanding of salvation. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have ever lasting life" (John 3:16). The offering of Christ our Saviour was the ultimate in offerings, swinging the gate of salvation wide open. All other offerings culminated in this one.

The first offering recorded in the Bible was the sin offering (Genesis 4), the offering of blood as an act of atonement by the sinner. But in the Exodus period God inaugurated through Moses a number of other special offerings. There was the Day of Atonement offering of the two goats. There were also the thank offerings, offerings of first fruits, the heave offerings, and the trespass offering.

Many have the idea that most of these offerings were only for the Jewish people of the Old Testament and that type having met antitype, we need no longer be troubled about them. Although we recognize this to be generally so, still they continue to offer precious lessons.

Why the Offering?

What do the Scriptures say of this offering--the TRESPASS OFFERING?

And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing: and he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord for his sin which he hath sinned. . . .

If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the Lord; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering: and he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him (Lev. 5:5, 6, 15, 16). In chapter 6, verse 17, where the meat offering is described, we find these significant words: "It is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering." The Holy One who freed us from sin is as the trespass offering He is holy. The Sabbath also and the tithe are spoken of as being holy.

Further instruction followed:

"They shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed. But if the man have no kinsman to recompense the trespass unto, let the trespass be recompensed unto the Lord" (Num. 5:7, 8).

Modern Application

God has not left us to conjecture as to the application of this offering in the Christian Era and in our day. In her advice to a selfish, scheming man, Ellen G. White said: "You cannot make every case right, for some whom you have injured have gone into their graves, and the account stands registered against you. In these cases the best you can do is to bring a trespass offering to the altar of the Lord, and He will accept and pardon you. But where you can, you should make reparation to the wronged ones." --Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 339. This brings to my mind the cases of two whom I wronged in my college years. I have never been able to ask their pardon, for they rest, but now I can see God's way. There is peace and pardon in following God's provision.

A part of God's plan in initiating many of the offerings was to teach man to hate sin and to deter him from committing sin. The trespass offering does this.

"It would be well to have a trespass-offering box in sight, and have all the household agree that whosoever speaks unkindly of an other or utters angry words, shall drop into the trespass-offering box a certain sum of money." --The SDA Bible Commentary, Ellen G. White Comments, on Lev. 5:6, p. 1110.

Our congregation has instituted this plan. I am sure as we follow it, we will soon with God's help free ourselves of some of the trespasses that could keep us from His kingdom of love.

Call to Faithfulness

One cause of lack of strength at home and the languishing front line posts in the mission field is that we are not following the blue print. "Should all whom God has prospered with earth's riches carry out His plan by faithfully giving a tenth of all their increase, and should they not withhold their trespass offerings and their thank offerings, the treasury would be constantly replenished." --Testimonies, vol. 3, pp. 408, 409. We no doubt are faithful with our tithes and our offerings given Sabbath by Sabbath, but we have long neglected the trespass offering plan, which I am sure would replenish the treasury and make us more aware of the attacks made upon us by the evil one.

When and where should we pay our trespass offering today? As specific as the instruction given to ancient Israel is the instruction to modern Israel. Only it comes in the form of a rebuke for not doing the Lord's will in the past. "Neither have they come up to the yearly gatherings with their freewill offerings, their thank offerings, and their trespass offerings." --Ibid., vol. 3, p. 510. The great Advent family has no doubt as to the yearly gathering the camp meeting. We should then bring, or send, our trespass offerings and give them to the Lord, if we have not brought them on another occasion.

God loves the sinner but hates sin. He desires us to know He loves us forever and He desires us to hate sin as He does forever. The trespass offering will make us conscious of sin and of our need of Him. Those who follow His plan will know that "he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

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