When a ruler hath sinned, and done somewhat through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord his God concerning things which should not be done, and is guilty; 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. — Leviticus 4:22-23
It has been said, “Ignorance is bliss.” While that phrase is debatable, we can surmise what was meant. Lack of knowledge on some topics can cause a temporary absence of stress or anxiety. However, even errors that are made through ignorance still have to be properly dealt with.
A few years ago, I was in Texas on business. When away from home on a Sunday, my custom is to see if one of our branch churches is nearby so I can attend service. After some research, I discovered that one of our churches was within a reasonable distance so I contacted the pastor for directions. He graciously obliged, and on a beautiful Sunday morning, I set out for church. Part way there, I realized that I had miscalculated the driving time and would be somewhat late for the morning service. Then, I turned the wrong way and began chewing up more precious minutes trying to find a way to backtrack. Finally, I found the church. By this time, it was nearly 11:30 a.m., but as I entered the sanctuary, the congregation was still singing hymns, so I joined in and, despite my embarrassment, enjoyed the rest of the service.
After church, the pastor and his wife invited me to lunch. We went to a local restaurant and enjoyed good food and even better fellowship. Eventually, I needed to get back, so I bid them farewell. After driving a short while, I turned on the radio and the announcer gave the local time. To my horror, it was an hour later than I had thought! This was the weekend that daylight savings time went into effect, and I had forgotten to set my clock ahead the previous night. Instead of being thirty minutes late to church, I had been an hour and a half late to church!
My tardiness was not a sin, but it was a mistake that needed to be acknowledged. I made my apologies to the pastor (and hoped he passed them on to his patient congregation, who had been waiting for my arrival!) The fact is, even though I did not realize how late I was, I was still late.
The Israelites who sinned ignorantly were still guilty and had to be reconciled to God. In today’s text, we see how God made provision for that eventuality. Let’s thank God for his provision and mercy both in the days of the Old Testament and today.
The first three chapters of Leviticus deal with voluntary, sweet savor offerings. With chapter 4, attention shifts to the sin and trespass offerings, which were obligatory rather than voluntary.
Leviticus 4 addresses sin committed through ignorance. This is where one unwittingly committed a violation of the Old Law but, for various reasons, did not immediately realize the transgression. A priest, a congregation member, a leader of the people, and an Israelite had varying rituals to observe as stipulated in this chapter.
One theme in this chapter is the requirement of a payment for sin. The higher the stature of an individual, the higher the price was to satisfy the guilty verdict. Ignorance was not a defense.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The way of access to God
A. By sacrifice
1. General instructions to all
b. The second utterance — the non-sweet-savor offerings
(1) The sin offering
(a) Introduction (4:1-2)
(b) A sin offering for the priest (4:3-12)
(c) The sin offering for the congregation (4:13-21)
(d) The sin offering for a leader (4:22-26)
(e) The sin offering for an Israelite (4:27-35)
 A goat (4:27-31)
 A lamb (4:32-35)
Ignorance may or may not be bliss, but when it results in error, the error must still be corrected!