“You are to bring the bull to the front of the tent of meeting, and Aaron and his sons must lay their hands on the bull’s head. Slaughter the bull before the LORD at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Take some of the bull’s blood and apply it to the horns of the altar with your finger; then pour out all the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. Take all the fat that covers the entrails, the fatty lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys with the fat on them, and burn them on the altar. But burn up the bull’s flesh, its hide, and its dung outside the camp; it is a sin offering. (Exodus 29:10-14 HCSB)
There are many times when we read passages like this and wonder how they could ever be applicable to us, today, in 2005, in a post-modern context. We oftentimes even overlook passages like this looking for the easy ones. We look for the passages that tell us that God is sovereign or tell us that we need to love our neighbor as ourselves or that tell us that we are in need of redemption.
These passages are all well and good, but there is something beautiful about finding an application to your life in a passage such as the one quoted today.
Again, this passage may not look like it has anything to do with us today, but look at what Paul tells us:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 HCSB)
In the passage quoted today, we see the institution by God of the sin offering. When I read this a few days ago, I was a bit unsure what to do with it. I wanted to find some way to apply it to my own life, but I was having a hard time doing so. Today, I came to my application.
We, in our Christian circles, talk about how Jesus wants us to come as we are. We emphasize this so much that, I think, sometimes we neglect to teach a little thing called holiness. God demands holiness. Jesus tells us,
For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20 HCSB)
He also says,
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48 HCSB)
Holiness is a demand of God. God wouldn’t have to command us to be holy or to be perfect if we already were. We aren’t. God knows that. So He made provision for our holiness. This is where the sin offering comes in.
Moses was commanded about the animal to “burn up the bull’s flesh, its hide, and its dung outside the camp; it is a sin offering”. I want us to look at this part of the passage and look specifically at the 3 things Moses is commanded to burn outside of the camp.
What is the camp?
The first thing I want to make clear is how I am applying the reference to burning the items “outside the camp”. I am saying that the camp is the place where God’s people are gathered together. Where do God’s people gather together? The church. So, as I speak of the 3 things being burned “outside the camp”, I am applying camp to the church.
The bull’s flesh
The first thing Moses is commanded to burn outside the camp is the bull’s flesh. We would apply the bull’s flesh to our lives as being symbollic of our sinful nature. Applying this further, we are to burn our sinful nature outside the camp.
Our inherent sinfulness should have no part of the church. We should put off the old self and put on Christ. In fact, this is exactly what Paul tells us.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires. (Romans 13:14 HCSB)
The fleshly desires have no place whatsoever in the church.
So many people in our day have reall flesh issues. They have never put it outside the camp and destroyed it. When they came to Christ for redemption, they kept their flesh in their back pocket so it couldn’t be seen, and, when they left, they got it back out. That isn’t to say that these people aren’t truly saved. I believe that there are plenty of people who are saved but don’t fully understand what it means to be saved. That is the nature of salvation. We may not understand it all, but we have faith that it is true.
We must strive to not be like that, though. We need to put the flesh outside the camp and burn it.
The bull’s hide
The next thing Moses is commanded to burn is the bull’s hide. The hide is that which covers and hides the flesh. We all have a hide of some sort. We all have something that covers and hides our flesh. In fact, this is often something that we don’t want to give up. We don’t want to be exposed.
The camp is no place for hiding. We should be open with eachother. When Christ saved us, He made sure that we had nothing more to worry about. He appeased God’s wrath and covered over our sins in His blood.
He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:2 HCSB)
We no longer need our hides. In fact, the hide is now stained with the blood of Christ and everyone who sees us knows full well that we’re a Christian still wearing our hide. Blood stains are hard to remove. Since our hide is ruined, do what you’re supposed to with it, and burn it outside the camp.
The bull’s dung
This is the last thing Moses is commanded to get rid of outside the camp.
If you know anything about dung, you know that another word for it is poop. Before we see it, though, it is inside of us. Our food, after digestion, has moved into our bowels and is awaiting excretion. We are full of poop. And this is easy to apply. The church is no place for us to be bringing in our “poop”. The camp doesn’t need our lieing and cheating and discrediting and backbiting and judgmental attitudes. Poop has no place in the camp. In fact, Deuteronomy states,
You must have a place outside the camp and go there to relieve yourself. You must have a digging tool in your equipment; when you relieve yourself, dig a hole with it and cover up your excrement. For the LORD your God walks throughout your camp to protect you and deliver your enemies to you; so your encampments must be holy. He must not see anything improper among you or He will turn away from you. (Deuteronomy 23:12-14 HCSB)
Who is making the sin offering?
One last thing to note here is that the sin offering is offered by someone on behalf of all God’s people. Notice who is commanded to burn the animal. Aaron and his sons. The individual person doesn’t give his sin offering, but someone offers it in representation of him.
We can’t offer our own sin offering. We are unfit to remove our own flesh, hide, and dung from our bodies. It takes someone to do it for us. That someone was Jesus.
Therefore [Jesus Christ] had to be like His brothers in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17 HCSB)
It’s been done for us. The wrath of God has been appeased and our sins have been covered over by the blood of Jesus. In God’s eyes, redemption for His people is completed. Afterall,
When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. (John 19:30 HCSB)
From our perspective, all we have to do is respond accordingly.
if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. (Romans 10:9-10 HCSB)