Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, If any man of you bring an offering to the LORD…
What an important part the word "if" plays in the opening chapters of Leviticus! At first we did not seem to see it, but by frequent repetition it urges itself upon our notice as a term of vital importance in the argument of the subject, whatever that subject may be. We cannot enter into the subject except through the gate if. It is God's word. Through the gate if we enter into the temple of obedience. Having crossed the threshold, then law begins to operate. After the if comes the discipline — the sweet, but often painful necessity. Observe the balance of operation: Man must reply; having replied, either in one form or the other, necessary consequences follow. It is so in all life. There is no exception in what is known as the religious consciousness and activity. The great sea says in its wild waves, "If ye will walk on me and become citizens of this wilderness of water, then yon must submit to the law of the country; you must fall into the rhythm of the universe; you must build your wooden houses or your iron habitations according to laws old as God; you need not come upon my waters; I do not ask you to come; when you come I will obliterate your footprints so that no man may ever know that you have crossed me; but if you come you must obey." We have, therefore, no liberty after a certain time. This is the law of all life. But we never give up our liberty in response to the laws of the universe without our surrender being compensated after God's measure. The law gave great choice of offering. It said, "If you bring a burnt-offering, bring it of the herd if you have one. If you have not a herd of cattle, bring it of the flocks; bring it of the flock of the sheep; but if you are too poor to have a flock of sheep, bring a goat from the flock of the goats; only in all cases this condition must be permanent: whatever you offer must be without blemish. But if you have no cattle, no sheep, no goats, then bring it of the fowls: bring turtledoves or young pigeons; the air is full of them, and the poorest man can take them." Is that not mercy twice blessed? We are not all masters of cattle that browse upon the green hills; nor are we all flock-masters, and amongst flockmasters there are rich and poor. God says, "Let your offering be according to your circumstances, only without blemish, and it shall be accepted." There is no short and easy method with sin. Men have sought by excess of the very thing itself to destroy sin, and if they could have gone forward from indulgence to indulgence, from insanity to insanity, they might have escaped the remorse of this world; but God has so constituted the universe that men have moments of sobriety, times of mental and moral reaction, periods in which they see themselves and their destiny with an appalling vividness, and in those hours it is found that the sin which began the mischief is still there. There is no way out of it but God's way.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.