The trespass offering is called the “guilt offering” in some of the other translations.
One of the notable distinctions between the sin offering and the trespass offering is that the latter, restitution was always required. Sin is coming short of God’s standards. Trespassing is overstepping the mark. It also means the unlawful possession or use of another’s property. It was very similar to the sin offering in what was required for the offering. The trespass offering was given for some specific sins committed: for instance, not testifying when you should have testified, touching something unclean, swearing thoughtlessly, lying, robbery, embezzlement, extortion, and things like that.
This trespass offering was very similar to the sin offering. But the emphasis of this offering was on the outward acts of sin, whether they be unintentional or intentional. It was that outward act of sin that was being addressed. The word for trespass or guilt is literally “a fault,” a commitment of a fault. It is an outward sin.
The difference between the sin offering and the trespass offering is this: the sin offering was offered for the root of sin (in our heart); and the trespass, or guilt offering, was offered for the fruit of sin (the outward act).
The ritual involved the sinner confessing the sin (Numbers 5:7), restoring the property involved, or its equivalent in money, paying a fine equivalent to 20% of the value of the damaged property, and sacrificing a ram to the Lord (Leviticus 5:15,18). The priest would value the ram to make sure of its worth, lest the offender try to atone for his sins by giving the Lord something cheap. The restitution and fine were first given to the priest so he would know it was permissible to offer the sacrifice (Leviticus 6:10). If the offended party wasn’t available to receive the property or money, then it could be paid to one of the relatives; if no relative was available, it remained with the priest (Numbers 5:5-10).
The trespass offering illustrates the solemn fact that it is a very costly thing for people to commit sin and for God to cleanse sin. Our sin hurts God and hurts others. True repentance will always bring with it a desire for restitution. We will want to make things right with God and with those we have sinned against.
Forgiveness comes only because of the death of an innocent substitute. The passage in Isaiah 53:10 states clearly that when Jesus died on the cross, god made His Son “a guilt offering” (NIV). The penalty we should have paid, He paid for us!
The nation of Israel had to offer 6 different sacrifices in order to have a right relationship with God, but Jesus Christ
“offered one sacrifice for sins forever” (Hebrews10:12)
and took care of our sin problem completely. Aren’t you glad?
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke1:46,47).