Leviticus is a book of the Bible that most people (including me) tend to skip. But I’m trying to read through the Bible this year and not just jump around to my favorite parts, and this morning I read through Leviticus 5-7. Yesterday morning, my eyes were glazing as I took in words that had little to no meaning for me, and seemed boring and repetitious. All the offerings and procedures and scripted motions. Today I was determined to get something out of my reading, and tried really hard to pay attention to what was happening. Here’s what struck me:
If I had lived back then, I would be broke because all of my animals and grain would have to be sacrificed. Everything, intended sins and unintentional sins, required a sacrifice. Lev. 5:4 says that if you even swear rashly (something I frequently do), a female goat of lamb must be sacrificed for atonement. Wow.
I would not want to be one of the sons of Aaron. They were butcher-priests. All day long, they had to kill animals, clean them, sprinkle blood on everything, and burn them. I hate the smell of meat cooking (at least ground beef… it makes me want to puke). The Tabernacle didn’t have smoke alarms built in for a good reason: they burned fat and entrails and blood and flour all day long. Can you imagine how disgusting that would have smelled? They weren’t cooking steak medium-rare. They were burning it. Mixed in with the awful smells would be the frankincense, which would be mixed in with the flour of some of the grain offerings. Frankincense is a fabulous aroma, kind of a mix between Christmas pines and cayenne pepper, but I would think that something that pungent, mixed with all the other smells of death would just be overwhelming. But this aroma was a pleasing fragrance to Jehovah?
I used to say that I couldn’t believe how the Israelites could stray to false gods when they had the presence of God in the Cloud and the Fire during their desert wanderings. Now I can’t believe that they would sin when it would cost them so much… and I bet the sounds and smells of the sacrifices could be heard throughout the camp. But they did sin, and stray. Is there any hope for me?
A Person, Jesus, died. Sacrificed Himself because of the horrible things I have done and will do. Yet I CONTINUE in my sin! Every day! He is so much greater than a pet lamb or goat, and yet I spit on His sacrifice everysingletime I choose to be selfish, I choose to have a bad attitude. No wonder the sacrifices were sin offerings. They were disgusting because our sin is disgusting.
I understand the theology: it is impossible for us to be perfect. Restitution must be made for the wrongs we have done, and that price has been paid by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. Because he defeated death, we can walk the path of victory over sin that He paved. I can never earn it, I don’t deserve it, but I am so loved. So amazingly, incredibly, infinitely loved by this supernatural being (and He’s way better than sparkly Edward).
I’m glad I read Leviticus today. My sin is real. It has a real price. I am so grateful that I don’t have to pay the price. I am so overwhelmed by grace.
The Wondrous Cross
Isaac Watts 1707 (ancient Gregorian chant)
When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ, my Lord;
All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.
See, from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet? Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
Version by Matt Redman and Chris Tomlin