4:1–5:13 With the words “If anyone sins” (4:2), Moses introduces his instruction to the laity regarding the sin offering. While all sacrifices make atonement for sin to some extent, atonement is the dominant concern of the sin offering. Sin and uncleanness make a person unfit to be in God’s presence and also pollute the sanctuary, making it impossible for God to dwell there. The sin offering is designed to cope with this aspect of sin by purifying both the sinner and the sanctuary. The distinctive feature of the sin offering is the use to which the sacrificial blood is put. In other sacrifices the animal’s blood is splashed over the side of the altar, but in the case of the sin offering it could be applied to the horned corners of the altar, or sprinkled inside the tabernacle tent (on the incense altar or veil), or even inside the Most Holy Place. Because the tabernacle and its furniture were closely associated with the people who met God there (Heb. 9:22 note), the people’s sin defiled the tabernacle as well as themselves. Such pollution required cleansing.
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