When I was returning our grandson Alex to his family after a visit, the traffic seemed especially challenging. Fast-maneuvering cars blocked me from the correct toll lane, forcing me to go through a lane where only cars with a prepaid pass are permitted, which I didn’t have. Alex told me that my license plate would be photographed and a ticket might be mailed to me. I was frustrated because a penalty would have to be paid even though my infraction was unintentional.
For the ancient Jews, a violation of God’s laws committed even in ignorance was taken very seriously. The Old Testament recognized and provided for unintentional sins through appropriate sacrifices: “If a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments . . . let him offer to the Lord . . . a young bull without blemish as a sin offering” (Lev. 4:2-3).
Old Testament sacrifices were more than a reminder that accidental wrongs have consequences. They were given in anticipation that God in His grace would provide atonement even for wrongs we didn’t realize we were doing. He did this through the death of Jesus in our place. God’s grace is far greater than we could ever imagine!