I absolutely love contradictions in the Bible. Yep, you heard me right. When I find a contradiction in Scripture, I know there’s something deeper going on that isn’t visible on the surface.
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. (Hebrews 9:22)
But if he be not able to bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, then he that sinned shall bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put any frankincense thereon: for it is a sin offering. (Leviticus 5:11)
Take a look at these two verses. The author of Hebrews states that there is no remission of sin without the shedding of blood. BUT God states that a person in poverty can bring a tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering. One verse claims that blood must be spilled for every sin offense, while the other claims that even a 1/10 part of an ephah of flour can suffice. Which one, in this apparent contradiction, is right?
One might make the jump, as most of Christianity does, that sin wasn’t really forgiven until Yeshua actually died. So even though God said He forgave sin, even though the law directly provided a path for forgiveness of sin, and even though the people of God sought forgiveness time and again… it really didn’t happen until Yeshua died. I’ve written a bit about this before here, here, and here. I don’t believe that theology, and I don’t believe it aligns with Scripture.
If we can’t solve this contradiction through that theology, then how does it get resolved? What’s going on here?
Well, according to the teachings of God, a poor person can bring 1/10 part of an ephah of flour for a sin offering. They don’t need to shed blood. But this is a commandment directed toward an individual with a personal sin against God. God is merciful and His grace is unending. If you can’t afford an animal to sacrifice, then flour will do. He just wants to see an attempt of the sinner to reestablish their relationship and return to Him. It’s a very personal event. How awesome that God provided a way for those, who felt that sin had separated them from God, to come back to Him.
BUT there is an event that did require the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sin. Remember Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement? It wasn’t about personal sin — it was about the sin of the community. A goat had to be killed and the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies by the High Priest. This is what Hebrews is referring to. For communal sin, blood needed to be shed. Take a look toward the beginning of this chapter from Hebrews.
But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: (Hebrews 9:7)
The author isn’t talking about any old sin here. He’s referring to the communal sin of Israel that needed cleansing for the entire people. This happened on Yom Kippur. The author of Hebrews goes on…
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 9:14-15)
Let’s get one thing straight. Our works aren’t dead. They can provide great help and ease the suffering of many who are oppressed or in turmoil. So whose works were dead during that time? Well if you’ve read a good section of my writing, you might think of the house of Israel — the only people who were cut off from God when God divorced them (Jeremiah 3:8). After that, the house of Israel could no longer rejoin as God’s people. Their works were dead. Even the blood of bulls and goats couldn’t bring them back, according to the law of divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1-4.
But this was all reconciled through the death of Yeshua. This is restated by Paul in Romans 7:1-4.
Christ’s blood was spilled similarly to the Yom Kippur sacrifice. He brought “redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament.” Those being the adulterous woman who was divorced. His death was offered for the communal sin of the house of Israel. “They which are called (the house of Israel) might receive the promise (Deuteronomy 4:20) of eternal inheritance.”
How great are the depths of God’s Word! It is exciting to be challenged with Scripture. It’s an opportunity to grow in the word of God.