Yes, it looks like we will be reading about sacrifices and offerings for some time to come. I think it will be interesting, then, to note some of the differences between the different sacrifices.
For instance, in today’s chapter, all the sacrifices God describes are for anyone who "sins unintentionally." I thought that was sort of strange. So often, we think of sin as something defiant, a choice we make to do something willfully. If that’s the case, why would God ask the Israelites to make sacrifices for something they didn’t mean to do?
I think it has to do with the nature of sin and something wonderful we can learn about God. Let me use an example to illustrate. A few years ago, I unintentionally spilled boiling liquid all over my leg. Yeeeeeoooowwwwch! Fortunately, I was in a place where I could immediately put a lot of ice on the burned area, and in the end, I didn't even have a single blister. I was totally shocked. If I hadn’t been able to address it that quickly, I know I would have ended up with second-degree burns. It was one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced.
Now a second illustration. I have heard God-awful stories of parents who have abused their children by burning them — sometimes with a hot liquid or sometimes with matches or cigarettes. I can’t even imagine such a thing. It makes me sick just thinking about it. Children who are subjected to such torture end up with two kinds of scars — physical and emotional.
Both of these scenarios have something in common and something unique. The difference is that my burn was unintentional, but the burns on an abused child are inflicted intentionally. However, the thing these two examples have in common is the result of heat on flesh. Hot liquids or hot objects burn skin, no matter if they are brought together on purpose or on accident. The result is the same.
The point of all this is that our God deals in reality. Sure, willful sin is a major problem. God sometimes has to use strong measures to deal with a rebellious attitude. However, the nature of sin is destructive — whether we have entered into it knowingly or unknowingly. The fact that I spilled hot coffee on my leg on accident wasn’t going to change the fact that if I didn’t get it taken care of, it was going to greatly damage my skin!
God wanted the Israelites (and us) to know that sin hurts, even if we have gotten into it accidentally. And because He deals in reality, He confronts all of our sin head-on and with seriousness — even when we haven’t knowingly put ourselves in harm’s way. What God is saying is, "What you don’t know can hurt you." And He doesn’t want anything to hurt us!
He takes all of our sin seriously, and He wants us to take it seriously too. As we learn to appreciate the seriousness of sin, we will also continue to grow in our admiration for the generous and gracious Spirit of God, for He is able to heal all the damage done by sin in our lives.