"Or if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a male without blemish: and he shall lay his hand upon the head of the goat, and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt-offering before the Lord: it is a sin-offering. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin-offering, with his finger, and put it on the horns of the altar of the burnt-offering, and shall pour out his blood at the bottom of the altar of burnt-offering. And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the offering of peace-offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him." — Lev. 4:23-30.
Suppose you had met the Jew, returning from the priest; and you had asked him, how he knew that his sin was forgiven him? what would he have said? Would he not have said; "I know my sin is forgiven, because God says so. My sin came to my knowledge, and I could get no rest to my spirit until the blood of my sin-offering flowed. This hand has been laid on the head of the goat. It thus became my substitute. It was killed — I saw it bleed and die — Its blood touched the horns of the altar — It was poured out at the bottom of the altar — The atonement was made for my sin — and God said, "And it shall be forgiven him." Thus, by these words of God, I know, with the utmost certainty, my sin is forgiven."
Now this was a shadow of good things to come; a Type of the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus, the sinner's substitute; who died, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. Ah my reader, you are still going on in sin, blinded by Satan? Your sin may seem a very light matter — oh, you think, God is not so particular. "Poo, poo," you say, "God will never cast me into the lake of fire; I am not so bad." But ah, when the Spirit of God convinceth of sin — when man's sin cometh to his knowledge — then there is no rest, day nor night. The most fearful, the blackest sins, have been committed, in ignorance of their full, fearful character — the very murder of Jesus. Peter says, "I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers." (Acts 3:17.) And Paul, speaking of himself, says,"Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious; but I obtained mercy became I did it ignorantly in unbelief." — 1 Tim. 1:13. When Saul's sin came to his knowledge, he was three days, and nights, and ate nothing. Oh my reader, has your sin ever come to your knowledge, in the presence of God? Do you feel something of its fearful vileness? Have you not loved the world, that murdered Jesus? Yea, have you not long rejected him? May God bring you into the light of his presence now, while there is mercy. For most certainly, your sin shall come to your knowledge, either now, before the mercy seat; or hereafter, before the judgment seat. Ah, there will be no sin-offering then; no mercy then; no forgiveness then; but the awful weight of sin, in that place where the fire shall not be quenched. It will be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living, God. Be not deceived. But perhaps my reader says, "This is no comfort to me. The weight of my sins is more than I can bear; they crush me down, down, down. I can get no relief. I know that without shedding of blood there is no remission. I don't doubt the blood of Jesus has been shed; but how am I to get to know that my sins are forgiven? That is the question of all questions to me."
Remember the Jew; how did he know that his sins were forgiven? Laying the hand on the victim, shewed identification — or substitution. In each offering, where blood was shed for atonement this took place. In the burnt-offering it was so. "And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt-offering; and it shall be accepted for him, to make an atonement for him." — Lev. 1:4. And so with the peace-offering. — Lev. 3:2. And so with the sin-offering, in this chapter before us. — Lev. 4.
Now though man could not reach his hand to heaven, and put it on the head of the Son of God, (Oh, who could even have thought of such a substitute?) Jesus could, nay Jesus has come down from heaven, and freely offered himself, the sinner's substitute. He has put forth his hand, and identified himself with, and for, the vilest of the lost. Yes, look at him going up to Jerusalem. See him give his hand to be nailed to the tree — His body to be broken on the cross. Yea, he was made an offering for sin. Oh hear his dying cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" His precious blood has been poured out. Full, infinite atonement has been made. God hath accepted him for the justification of every sinner, who shall believe God, who raised up Jesus from the dead. All this is done. It is finished.
Now I ask, with all reverence, Is not the blood of Jesus of as great value as the blood of a goat? And is not what God says, about the blood of Jesus, as true as what he said about the blood of the goat? Many learned teachers (blind leaders of the blind) deny this. For whilst the blood of a goat gave the certain knowledge of sin forgiven, to the Jew, they say that the blood of Jesus does not give this certainty. Is this your estimate of the sacrifice of Jesus? Yea, it is exactly the thought of every unbelieving heart. Is it not this that keeps you, my harassed, anxious, reader, in such bitter bondage? Oh how fearful, to lower the sacrifice of Christ below the blood of a goat. Why, there was no value, in itself, in the death of bulls, and goats. These only pointed forwards to the one sacrifice, of infinite and everlasting value; through the value of which, and on the certainty that it would be offered, God pardoned the sins of every believer, from Adam to the Cross. — Rom. 3:25.
God proclaims forgiveness through that blessed Jesus. "To him give all the prophets witness, that through His name, whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins," — Acts 10:43. And again, "Be it known that through this man is preached the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things." — Acts 13:38.
Now, if the Jew knew that his sin was forgiven, because God said so; then if you do believe God, about the blessed Jesus, do you not see that you must be forgiven, for God says so. He says, "whosoever," and "all who believe are justified." Can you not, from your heart, now say "I have believed; I do believe; that Jesus died for me." Then praise the Lord, and tell everybody you are forgiven. God says so. "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth from all sin."
"Blest Lamb of God, thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power,
Till every ransom'd saint of God
Be saved to sin no more."