The Lesson of the Lambs in Leviticus
Today’s Bible reading is Leviticus 17 and Acts 2.
Leviticus–the third book of the Bible–is a bloody, bloody book. God is delivering law after law about the sacrifices his chosen people were to offer–burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings. It’s a challenging book for us to read. But every once in a while, we get clear glimpses of what this whole sacrificial system was really about.
Take a moment to read Leviticus 17:11 and 17:14-16.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.”
“For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off. And every person who eats what dies of itself or what is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or a sojourner, shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening; then he shall be clean. But if he does not wash them or bathe his flesh, he shall bear his iniquity.”
Blood. Why all the bloody sacrifices?
“The life of the flesh is in the blood,” and God was “giving it for you”–granting this sacrificial system–“to make atonement for your souls.” If the descendants of Abraham would follow his lead by faith, shed blood could make atonement. Unblemished life could be sacrificed to cover sins.
And if a person didn’t follow the LORD’s gracious lead? “He shall bear his iniquity.” No sacrifice, no atonement, only personal responsibility for one’s own transgressions.
Leviticus is a tough book to read and it’s easy to get lost in the details. But when we begin to wrap our minds around what God is really saying, great New Testament truths become all the more clear and powerful. For instance,
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 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. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Heb 9:11-14)
Life is in the blood, and the perfect life has been sacrificed, once for all, to make atonement for our sins.
If I turn my back on the sacrifice of God’s own Son, there is no other sacrifice, no means of atonement, only personal accountability to bear the soul-crushing weight of my own transgressions.
Praise God that someone–not something, Someone–was willing to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows.