The great cost of forgiveness

In my annual journey through the Bible I have been working my way through the book of Leviticus.  I have always loved the Old Testament and even books like Leviticus invariably minister to my soul.  This read through is no exception.

On the face of it Leviticus might seem to a very boring, if not irrelevant book, with its minutia-like attention to detail in what is now an antiquated system of worship.  But as with all of God’s Word there is to the contrary, much hidden wisdom to be mined in books like Leviticus.  Most importantly we find a foreshadowing of the glories of Christ that are later revealed in the New Testament.  As the saying goes:  “The New is in the Old concealed, the Old in is the New revealed.  The New is in the Old contained, the Old is in the New explained.”

And so, as is my habit, I have been reading Leviticus like a prospector mining for gold.  I am always looking to discover veins of truth that will enrich my relationship with my Lord and savior Jesus Christ.  There is a verse from Proverbs that is a great inspiration when it comes to digging into the Bible.  “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” (Proverbs 25:2)

Having read through the first seven chapters of Leviticus outlining the ordinances for sacrificial offerings I have been deeply impacted by the ravage of sin and have come to appreciate as never before, the great price Jesus paid for sin’s forgiveness. 

Dealing with sin back in Old Testament days was a time consuming, expensive and bloody affair.  Whenever someone sinned, in order to receive forgiveness and re-consecrate themselves to God, they were required to experience up close and personal the consequence of their sin.  They had to take one of the best animals from their own flock and parade it through their neighborhood to a place of worship, while bearing the embarrassment and shame of their sin.  Before the priest, they were to lay one hand upon the head of the animal thereby transferring their sins to it, and with the other hand slit its throat and kill it.  The priest would then collect the blood, place some on the horns of the altar and pour the rest out at the altar’s base.   Then the animal had to be skinned, the fat removed and burned on the altar.  Now tell me, if that is not a deterrent to sin what is?  Sin directly affected not only the pocketbook and the conscience, but cost an animal its life while creating a gory mess.  The writer of Hebrews puts it succinctly: “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22)

This picture from Leviticus of the process of expiation for sin should give us an increased understanding and appreciation for the Apostle Paul’s statement that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) 

What Jesus did for us as the once-for-all sacrificial lamb is almost beyond comprehension.  He provided Himself as the perfect lamb so we do not have to pay the repeated cost of withdrawing an unblemished lamb from our bank account. We can go directly to Him in the Spirit with our sins and do not have to go through the embarrassment of traipsing to a place of worship to present ourselves to a priest.  We can transfer our sins to Him through confessing them with a repentant heart and do not need to put our hand on an animal’s head.  And this is the most startling to me, and I tremble as I consider it; we do not have to slit an innocent animal’s throat and watch it bleed to death for the forgiveness of our sin.

Can you comprehend how expensive forgiveness is?  Can you see how our sin necessitated Jesus the spotless lamb being led to slaughter; and how the shedding of His blood was actually by our own hand?  That is a stark realization.

May the Lord use this understanding as a deterrent to sin and call us all to an even more consecrated life unto Him!

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