(Leviticus 9:6-7 ESV) 6 And Moses said, “This is the thing that the LORD commanded you to do, that the glory of the LORD may appear to you.” 7 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Draw near to the altar and offer your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and for the people, and bring the offering of the people and make atonement for them, as the LORD has commanded.”
Like many people, I’m on a quest to read the Bible in its entirety this year. I’m not doing it to get another notch on my belt. Nor, am I doing it because I feel some sense of obligation to do so. Rather, I’m enjoying the discipline of committing myself to a plan that will take me to passages I might otherwise avoid. Leviticus is a section of Scripture that can be laborious to read and difficult to understand without in-depth study. However, it does contain some very important and descriptive information.
One such topic has to do with the various offerings that were to be brought to the priests for the forgiveness of sins. The way the animals were to be killed, the processing of the body parts, where the blood was to be placed; these descriptions are very bloody and gory. It’s really not very enjoyable to be subjected to this graphic detail. And yet, reading it reminds me of how messy sin can be.
Our culture’s concept of sin has become entangled in legalistic arguments over right and wrong. When we ask, “What is sin?” we often think of violating of the Ten Commandments. We tend to categorize and rate the seriousness of differnet types of sin. For instance, murder and adultery might be considered “major” sins when compared to lying, cursing, or idolatry.
The truth is that sin, as defined in the original translations of the Bible, means “to miss the mark.” The mark, in this case, is the standard of perfection established by God and evidenced by Jesus. Viewed in that light, it is clear that we are all sinners.
Instead of getting caught up in the messiness of sin, I’d rather concentrate on the provisions of grace which allow us to be forgiven and freed from its power. Right in the middle of the various gory stories of animal disections the writer of Leviticus reminds us why the shedding of blood was necessary. He says, “that the glory of the LORD may appear to you.”
The glory of the Lord appears to us through what Moses called atonement. Theologically and historically, the word “atonement” does not mean gratification as in common usage, but rather “to make restitution”: mending what has been broken, or paying back what was taken.
So, when reading these passages of Scripture in Leviticus, remember that while sin is messy, God’s grace is amazing!
PRAYER: Thank you Father for forgiveness of my sin. The blood of goats and rams, pigeons and grain, could never do for me what the shedding of your blood has done for all of mankind. I’m forever indebted to You! Let Your glory be visible in our repentant hearts. Amen.