So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned.
Leviticus 5 is the law of the guilt offering. There are a few excellent focal points in this offering — God’s ordinance that the offering could be any of several things depending on the person’s means thus giving access to everyone; the statement that breaking a law unawares still renders us guilty of breaking that law — but it is the statement that the guilty party is to confess that in which he has sinned that caught my attention.
The word used, my concordance tells me, carries quite a variety of meanings, but the way the verb stem is parsed means that it either means confess or give thanks. And I can see how both might be true in the context in which the statement is made. When I confess my sin, I “speak with” God (using the etymology of the English term); I bring my statement in line with what God has said. This is an act of realignment; of adjusting my viewpoint and making sure that I recognize the thing I did as sinful. To a heart that wants to be properly aligned with God, being made aware of a misalignment; being made aware of guilt prompts gratitude. It is not gratitude that I am guilty — far from it — but a gratitude that I am aware of my wrongdoing and that there are steps I can take to restore my relationship with God. Both confession and giving of thanks could easily be tied up in this one word.
Another reason this jumps for me is that I too often get it into my head that confession and forgiveness going hand-in-hand is solely a New Testament concept. I hear the idea repeated so often in the NT that I lose sight of the fact that God had the same requirements in the Old Testament. This verse is an excellent reminder that God and His requirements never change.
Let me apply this by seeing the verb as a both-and instead of an either-or. Let me both confess my sins to God and thank Him for making me aware of them and providing a way for them to be wiped away.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that You have never changed and that what You instructed believers of old still applies.