02/07/17 Atonement

READING: Leviticus 1-3, Matthew 24:1-28

“So it can be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. . .”

Leviticus 1:4

Sometimes the Scriptures simply lead me to tears. Today, we read about the “law of burnt offerings,” offerings that were almost completely burned as a sacrifice to God on behalf of a sinful worshiper. Though the actual animals offered differed according to the means of the donor, the sacrifices and processes are powerful reminders of the holiness and the grace of God. First, the fact that God required a sacrifice at all reflected the seriousness of sin. As the worshiper slayed the animal, he was surely reminded of the consequences of sin before a holy God. Second, a sacrifice from a herd or flock was to be an “unblemished male” (Lev. 1:3, 10). No animal with defect was to be presented to this God.

Third, the one who was worshiping was to lay his hands on the animal, symbolizing the transfer of sins from the sinner to the sacrifice. The animal thus died for the sinner, becoming the substitute in his place. It is likely that confession of sin also accompanied this act. Fourth, the worshiper was to believe by faith that God would grant forgiveness on the basis of the shed blood of the sacrifice – God would accept the sacrifice “on his [the worshiper’s] behalf to make atonement for him” (Lev. 1:4). He would thus “cover” the sins of the sinner, and the sacrifice would be “a pleasing aroma to the Lord” (Lev. 1:9, 13, 17). Such a sacrifice, though, could provide only a temporary atonement – and thus it pointed to the need for and the significance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the One whose death would provide ultimate atonement for His people (Eph. 5:2; Heb. 10:12).

A few years ago, I watched as followers of another faith sacrificed a bull to please their “god.” To be honest, I knew such things still happen – but I was not prepared for the emotion this sacrifice created in me. The ritual was elaborate. The blood of the animal flowed freely. The passion of the people seemed obvious, as they threw themselves into the ceremony. The goal was the death of the sacrifice. And, it was all unnecessary.  

From the sacrifice to provide skin coverings for Adam and Eve in the Garden through the burnt sacrifices of Israel, God pointed toward Jesus. He paid the price for our sin, and no other sacrifice is needed.

I can only weep in gratitude that He died for me.  

ACTION STEPS: 

  • Thank God for the sacrifice of His Son.
  • Pray for those around the world who still sacrifice animals to false gods.

PRAYER: “God, thank You for Your sacrificial love for me.”

TOMORROW'S READING: Leviticus 4-5, Matthew 24:29-51