God’s Graciousness to Us

February 9, 2012 at 9:24 AM

It is relatively easy (unfortunately) to read through parts of the Hebrew Bible (OT) and gloss over parts of it.  The opening chapters of Leviticus are a case in point.  At first glance, it appears to be one type of offering for sin after another.  There is a good deal of repetition included in these chapters as well and it can be tedious to read through.

Today’s schedule had me reading Leviticus chapters 6-7 and after reading it, I couldn’t help but ask the question, “What does this have to do with me today?”  This is often the case because we are egocentric.  However, what I was trying to get at was why there was such detail associated with the various offerings for sin.

There are sin offerings for sinning unintentionally.  But there are also offerings that should be offered when a person sins intentionally.  Leviticus 6:1-7 states this:

The LORD said to Moses: 2 “If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving a neighbor about something entrusted to them or left in their care or about something stolen, or if they cheat their neighbor, 3 or if they find lost property and lie about it, or if they swear falsely about any such sin that people may commit— 4 when they sin in any of these ways and realize their guilt, they must return what they have stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to them, or the lost property they found, 5 or whatever it was they swore falsely about. They must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day they present their guilt offering. 6 And as a penalty they must bring to the priest, that is, to the LORD, their guilt offering, a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value. 7 In this way the priest will make atonement for them before the LORD, and they will be forgiven for any of the things they did that made them guilty.”

It is important to realize that the people who sin like this recognize their guilt (v. 4b).  When this is the case, they have options to have their sin forgiven or set aside.

Again, I read passages like this and I question what have they to do with me.  As I was walking for exercise this morning, this is what I was mulling over in my mind and that is the question I asked as I prayed.

The realization then came to me that God is not a God of wrath, but of grace, even in the Hebrew Bible.  We are tempted to see God as a God of anger and of wrath, killing people who were in the Land of Promise before the Israelites arrived.  We wonder why He ordered those executions and we learn it was because those other cultures had polluted the Land with idolatry and God wanted nothing left in the Land that would cause the Israelites to turn away from Him by worshiping other gods.

We know that the Israelites repeatedly failed and often followed other gods.  Yes, God became angry at them, but also gave them a way out so that He would not have to visit His anger on them.

The sacrificial system points not to God’s wrath, but to His graciousness.  Did God have to provide a system that would ultimately find its fulfillment in Jesus in which those who place their trust in Him would receive a full pardon? No, He didn’t have to do that, yet it was His infinite love for us that prompted it.

In the Hebrew Bible, when we read of all the details surrounding the sacrificial system, it should help us see God’s tremendous love and grace.  I think – unfortunately – it is too easy to see His anger and wrath.  But in actuality, this is not the purpose of the sacrificial system.

As I pondered this, I was again reminded of just how gracious God is toward us.  The sacrificial system is not so much a system of appeasement as it is a system that points to the perfection of Christ’s atonement.  Every other god who requires sacrifice for appeasement is offering the best they can offer.  The problem of course is that there is nothing final about those other gods.  They cannot offer what only Jesus can.

The sacrificial system put into place under Moses was for the Israelite people so that they would come to learn what grace truly meant.  Of course, many of them failed to learn it ever.  As Christians, we can read His Word – all of it – and understand that the sacrificial system is a system of grace and love.  We sin yet there is forgiveness.

Books like Leviticus were written to and for the Israelites.  In those books, the system of sacrifice are clearly delineated for each Israelite so that they are without excuse.  Though Christians are not Jews (though some may be) and are not under the old covenant that Moses instructed the Israelites in, we certainly benefit from that system.

First, we benefit because it points to Jesus, the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52-53.  He suffered so that we do not have to suffer.  This is something that the sacrifices of old could not do.  In fact, there were no chairs in the tabernacle of temple because the priests were always busy.  Their job was never done.

Second, Jesus said “It is finished” and that’s exactly what He meant.  Nothing else was needed to complete the action that would allow us to receive God’s full pardon.  All we have to do is receive it.

The sacrificial system is a reminder to us of how great God’s mercy, love, grace, and patience is to us.  We do not deserve it, yet it is there for us to receive.  The sacrifices that the ancient Israelites participated in painted a much larger picture with a far broader brush.  While those folks were forgiven, their sins were never fully cancelled out.

In Christ – since He completed the work He was sent to accomplish – our sins are fully forgiven and forgotten.  Is there anything more gracious?

When we read through the Hebrew Bible, it is tempting to skip over areas that seem redundant and even…dare I say, slightly boring.  The truth though is that everything in the Hebrew Bible, just as in the Christian Bible, points to God, His love, His truth, and His grace.  We must consider these things because they tell us about God Himself, His character, who He is, and what He has done for us.

Entry filed under: 9/11, alienology, Atheism and religion, Barack Hussein Obama, Barry Sotero, Communism, Demonic, dispensationalism, Eastern Mysticism, emergent church, Gun Control, Islam, Islamofascism, israel, Judaism, Life in America, Maitreya, new age movement, Posttribulational Rapture, Pretribulational Rapture, Radical Islam, rapture, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, Satanism, second coming, Sharia Law, Socialism, temple mount, Transhumanism, ufology. Tags: , , .

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