Monday, February 21, 2011

Perfect Sacrifice

This year's Bible reading calendar has me in Leviticus right now.  Even though most of the book comprises laws and regulations for community life and worship, rules I might be tempted to skip or skim as not applicable to me, the first half of the book reveals much about the ugliness of sin and the cost of forgiveness.

It has struck me in this reading how costly, bloody-messy, and incessant the sacrificial system was.  Only the best of the livestock, oil, and grain were material for sacrifice.  Forgiveness of sin was costly.  The core animal sacrifices required the worshipper placing hands on the animal's head and cutting the throat himself.  The priests served as butchers, burned up most or all of the meat on the bronze altar, and often sprinkled or smeared some of the animal blood in specific places in the worship space or even on the worshipper herself.  Forgiveness of sin was a bloody mess.  Certain sacrifices occurred daily; others, according to the calendar; others, as needed.  In a nation of millions of people (extrapolated from the approximately 600,000 adult Hebrew males listed in Exodus 12:37-38 and Numbers 2:32), sacrifices must have been continuous and incessant.

"Was all this necessary?  What a waste of life and food!"  This might be my first response as an American in the twenty-first century, but Leviticus answers that objection in the explanation of the dietary law against eating blood:
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life (Lev. 17:11, ESV).
The New Testament book of Hebrews says even more clearly, "Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" (Hebrews 9:22, ESV).  In other words, yes, it was necessary; forgiveness requires bloodshed.  This is how ugly and costly sin, my sin, is.  Another life must bear the cost for me to be released from paying it myself.

How thankful I am that these requirements are finished!  That same chapter of Hebrews teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ is the once-for-all, final, sufficient sacrifice for sin.  He is the consummation and fulfillment all those ancient sacrifices pointed toward.
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, . . . he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:11-12, ESV).
He [Christ] has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 9:26, ESV).
Forgiveness of sin is a costly, bloody business and an endless need.  Thanks be to God that Jesus the sin-bearer, whose very name means "Savior," paid the cost, shed His own blood for love of humankind, and did so sufficiently for my every need!

Ways I've experienced God's love this week (gratitude list #3857-70):
~A good time studying Leviticus this week (That's not something one writes every day!)
~Jesus' perfect sacrifice for us, for me
~Forgiveness of sin
~Our faithful High Priest granting access to the Holy Place
~Tasting in small ways "the hard eucharisteo" in the midst of discomfort, impatience, and frustration
~Stories and books that take me out of myself and my circumstances
~Parents on a mission trip
~Gift for them of a day's rest in transit because of flight delay and missed connection
~Talking to my grandmother and both sisters this week
~A surprise Valentine from a distant friend
~Husband-bought groceries
~Two weeks without pre-scheduled medical appointments
~All the many medicines I need are playing nice with each other and not causing serious side effects.
~The last piece in the puzzle


  1. Congrats on the puzzle! Beautiful and timely--seems Leviticus is an important part of the puzzle our faith as well. Wonderful list.

  2. @Amy Thank you as always, Amy, for visiting and your encouraging comment. (Or should I say "tea girl"? A little slow putting that together.)

  3. I'm so happy to find your blog today! Loved this post! Thank you!

    Melanie :)

  4. @Melanie Thank you for visiting, Melanie, and for your affirming comment.

    God bless you, too!

  5. I know it’s not Ann’s Multitude Monday anymore – it’s Thursday – but there are just a whole lot of gratitude lists to get through!

    First – my fave from your list was ~The last piece in the puzzle (although I have to admit I’m not sure I’ve ever actually held one of those in my hand)

    And these words – so true, “Forgiveness of sin is a costly, bloody business and an endless need.” – really good stuff from Leviticus.

    Thank you for this – made me smile.

    God Bless you and all of yours this day.

  6. @Craig You are so welcome! I appreciate your specific comment feedback, and it always makes me happy to give someone else a smile.

    God bless you and yours, too.


Thank you for sharing your day with me! Your presence here is a gift. *You* are a gift. Right now I am unable to reply to every comment, but please know I read and pray for each and every commenter. Grace and peace to you in Christ.