THE REASON FOR SACRIFICE

REASON FOR SACRIFICE
REASON FOR SACRIFICE

THE BOOK OF PURIFICATION(LEVITICUS)

JUSTICE: SOMEONE HAS TO PAY

IN THIS WAY THE PRIEST WILL MAKE ATONEMENT FOR HIM FOR THE SIN HAS COMMITTED, AND HE WILL BE FORGIVEN. (LEVITICUS 4:35)

WHEN YOU COMMIT A CRIME, YOU DON’T GET OFF IN COURT JUST BY SAYING “SORRY, I’LL TRY NOT TO DO IT AGAIN.” JUSTICE REQUIRES THAT YOU PAY FOR WHAT YOU DID. (REASON FOR SACRIFICE)

THE ISRAELITES, THEREFORE, COULD NOT JUST MARCH INTO GOD’S PRESENCE TO FELLOWSHIP WITH HIM. THEY HAD TO BRING SACRIFICE TO PAY, OR “ATONE,” FOR THEIR INADEQUACIES.

THESE SACRIFICES COST DEARLY. TO SUBSISTENCE FARMERS, A BULL OR GOAT REPRESENTED A SIZABLE CONTRIBUTION. VERY POOR PEOPLE COULD GIVE LESS—A PAIR OF DOVES, OR SOME FLOUR. BUT, IN ALL CASES, A PERSON WOULD FEEL THE COST, COST IN TERMS OF SOMETHING HE HAD WORKED FOR, SOMETHING GROWN ON HIS OWN FARM.

UP IN SMOKE (REASON FOR SACRIFICE)

A GOOD PORTION OF THE NATION ECONOMY WENT UP IN SMOKE EACH YEAR: HUNDREDS OF ANIMALS AND A LOT OF MANPOWER TO GATHER  WOOD, KEEP THE FIRE LIT, AND OFFER SACRIFICE. SINCE THE TENT OF MEETING STOOD AT THE CENTER OF THE CAMP, THE SMELL OF THE TWO-A-DAY SACRIFICE ALWAYS HUNG OVER THE ISRAELITES. THEY RARELY COULD AFFORD MEAT, BUT EVERY DAY THEY SMELLED THE AROMA OF BARBECUE DEDICATED TO GOD.

OFFERINGS FELL INTO THREE BROAD TYPES. THE GUILT AND SIN OFFERINGS WERE USUALLY OFFERED FIRST: THEY CLEANSED PEOPLE FROM SIN. THEN CAME THE BURNT OFFERINGS, IN WHICH WHOLE ANIMALS WERE BURNT TO ASHES. MADE AT LEAST TWICE A DAY, THESE SACRIFICES EVIDENTLY EXPRESSED COMPLETE DEDICATION TO GOD. THE FINAL SACRIFICE WAS THE FELLOWSHIP OFFERING, ESSENTIALLY A FAMILY MEAL SHARED IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD. (REASON FOR SACRIFICE)

THE SEQUENCE OF THE OFFERINGS—FORGIVENESS OF SINS, THEN TOTAL DEDICATION, THEN FELLOWSHIP—SHOWS THAT THEIR GOAL WAS FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD. TO REACH THAT GOAL, FORGIVENESS OF SIN AND COMPLETE DEDICATION TO GOD WERE NECESSARY.

LEVITICUS, HOWEVER, DOES NOT EXPLAIN THIS UNDERLYING PHILOSOPHY: IT READS MORE LIKE AN INSTRUCTION MANUAL ON HOW TO MAKE SACRIFICE EXACTLY THE WAY GOD WANTED. THE EXACTNESS HELPED PRODUCE A PROPER ATTITUDE. YOU COULDN’T APPROACH GOD CARELESSLY. YOU HAD TO BE VERY CAREFUL TO DO JUST WHAT HE SAID, TO OBEY HIM IN EVERY DETAIL.

CAN AN ANIMAL REALLY PAY? (REASON FOR SACRIFICE)

THE WHOLE SCENE—WITH ITS CONCERN FOR BLOOD, RITUAL—IS STRANGE TO MODERN PEOPLE. JUST HOW CAN KILLING A GOAT MAKE THINGS RIGHT BETWEEN GOD AND PEOPLE? IS THE SACRIFICE OF AN ANIMAL REALLY ENOUGH TO “PAY OUT” OUR MISTAKES? WE MAY FORGET THAT THROUGHOUT HISTORY, PEOPLE HAVE INTUITIVELY FELT THAT SACRIFICE WAS NEEDED TO APPEASE GOD. MANY RELIGIONS AROUND THE WORLD STILL SACRIFICE TODAY. (REASON FOR SACRIFICE)

FOE US THESE SACRIFICES SEEM OUTMODED PRIMARILY BECAUSE ONE GREAT SACRIFICE—THAT OF GOD’S OWN SON—OUTDID THEM ALL. THE ANIMAL SACRIFICES WERE NOT ENOUGH, ULTIMATELY, TO PAY FOR HUMAN SIN. THEY PREPARED THE WAY FOR A SACRIFICE THAT WAS.

THE COST AF AN ANIMAL WAS SUBSTANTIAL, BUT THE TRUE COST, EVEN FOR US, IS INFINITELY GREATER. YET WE DON’T HAVE TO PAY THE COST. JESUS PAID IT ALL.

LIFE QUESTION:

DO YOU THINK OF GOD AS REQUIRING SACRIFICE? HOW DOES THE PICTURE OF GOD IN LEVITICUS FIT WITH YOUR IDEAS?

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQqT_zirQpJJewIeXcH-snQ/featured?view_as=subscriber

 

 

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