Sunday, April 15, 2018

One Sacrifice - Once And For All

Hey Friend,

I am reading through the Bible chronologically.  This is my second time through and it reminds me just how alive God's Word is and how it speaks to me vibrantly in different stages of my life.

Right now I am reading through Leviticus.  There's a reason why you don't see a lot of oft quoted scriptures from Leviticus.  Some of the key themes are God's holiness and how, since the Israelites were unholy, there had to be many sacrifices made to atone for their sins.  There is a foreshadowing of the ultimate substitutional sacrifice to come, but for now there are A LOT of rules, regulations, and protocol for making sacrifices so as to atone for the people's unholiness.  

Their were three Voluntary Offerings:  The Burnt Offering, The Grain Offering, and the Fellowship Offering.  These were voluntary acts of worship, atonement, confession and generally for unintentional sin and were a sign of complete commitment to God.  

Then came the two Mandatory Offerings:  The Sin Offering and the Guilt Offering.  These were made for unintentional and intentional sin, for cleansing from defilement, and for forgiveness of sin by God.  (Note God made a way for forgiveness).  

There were often several offerings made in succession and for each type of offering their were specific Elements:  a bull, ram, or male bird with no defect.  Grain, fine flour, olive oil, incense, salt, no yeast, honey along with a drink offering.  A male goat, female goat or lamb, dove or pigeon or flour depending on one's wealth. There were rules as to how the animal was to be killed and prepared.

There were specific processional rules like the priest dipping his finger into the blood and sprinkling it before the Lord seven times and then putting some of the blood on the horns of the altar. 

Certain innards had to be removed and ceremoniously washed and cleaned in water before being placed on the altar.  

Eating fat and blood was forbidden.  

In some rituals, the priest took the breast and right thigh of the animal and waved it in a "wave offering" before the Lord.  

The altar had to be kept burning at all times.

In the Sin Offering, the clay pot in which the meat was cooked must be broken, but if it was cooked in a bronze pot, the pot was to be scoured and rinsed with water. 

The list of prescribed offering preparation and presentation goes on for chapters. It's kind of mind boggling.

Everything had to be done precisely in the prescribed way.  Two of Aaron's sons offered unauthorized fire offerings before the Lord - contrary to His command.  The fire of the Lord came out from Him and consumed them. Wow!  Talk about pressure!!

By the end of several chapters on atonement offerings, my head was spinning.  I tend to be forgetful, so chances are, I would have been one who would have been consumed by fire.  

After reading all this, my most prominent thought was:  I am SO thankful that God made ONE substitutional sacrifice for me ONCE and for all.  He gave His one and only Son and Jesus went knowingly to His death for me/us.

There is no way I could perfectly keep all the laws and take all the prescribed measures to make the holy sacrifices for my sins.  That's why it is such a huge relief to read this scripture:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 1: 28-29)

Jesus is talking to the people who are weak and weary from living burdened under the hard yoke of the law.  He knows they have struggled and failed to live under the Old Covenant of the Law.  He invites them to live under His New Covenant of Grace.

The "yoke" He refers to is the Law.  It is heavy and burdensome.  Jesus says, "Take MY yoke upon you and you will see that MY yoke is easy and my burden is light."  In other words, accept my substitutional sacrifice; accept my grace and forgiveness that comes with it, and you will see that it is gentle and light - unlike the heaviness of the Law.  Come, learn from me....

Accept ME as your sacrifice.  Accept MY grace and forgiveness and you will finally find rest for your souls. 

In other words, gone are all the rules, regulations, and protocol for sacrifices and offerings.  They are completely gone.  One atoning sacrifice has been made, once and for all.  All we have to do is accept it.  Wow....what a gift!

So, what are YOU going to do?  Are you going to keep living under the legalism of the law?  Trying to be perfect on your own?  Making offerings of your own righteousness and striving?  

Or, are you going to take HIS yoke of grace and forgiveness upon you?  Lift off the heavy burden of the yoke of the law and take on His yoke which is easy and light and accept His invitation to follow Him and learn from Him?

I know what my answer will be?  What will yours be?  Do you still struggle with accepting His easy yoke of grace?  Why?  Do you still live under the law - striving and trying to be perfect?  What might Jesus be calling you to? What sacrifice will make you "enough" in God's eyes?

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you and praise you that you foreknew how miserably we'd fail at living under the Law.  Thank you for loving me/us SO much that you were willing to offer the one and only atoning sacrifice that would take care of our sins once and for all.  Thank you Jesus, for going willingly to the slaughter, for taking my sins upon you, so that I could be forever freed from my sin. Help me to take your yoke of grace upon me for it is easy and light and you promise to forever be yoked with me and teach me your ways.  Thank you for this awesome gift.  Let me live forgiven and shed the burden and baggage of my sin.  Let me travel light in the gentleness of your amazing grace.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed.....our sin is great....God's love is greater still!