Bible Verse: “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.” Leviticus 16:34
Scripture Reading: Leviticus 16
Spring cleaning. Do you have a routine? Or any other annual/seasonal activity that you undertake? Something that must happen (at least) once a year? That deep and thorough job that sets you up for the rest of the year…or at least a long time?
As I write this in late September, I just closed our pool for the season. It’s the kind of job that takes a long time. Full of many small tasks, I must follow my own step-by-step routine to get it done. It’s tedious and sometimes difficult (wishing I could cool off with a swim seems to be part of the routine, too!). But it’s necessary to do it right to continue enjoying the pool down the road.
Leviticus 16 outlines a once-a-year task for the priests (Aaron and his descendants) to make atonement for the people. Proper clothes, proper procedure, and proper offerings were all specifically prescribed for this solemn occasion. The people were to participate by observing a sabbath rest. This annual sacrifice cleansed the entire nation of their sins.
Reading chapter 16, it is difficult to miss the emphasis on atonement. Atonement for the priests is made 4 times (16:6, v.11, v.17,v.24); for the people 3 times (v.10, v.17, v.24); and for the furnishings of the tabernacle (v.20). This not only reminds us of the seriousness (and ubiquity) of sin, but of the cost and importance of atonement. God takes impurity very seriously. Sin is no small matter when it comes to the presence of our holy God.
All of Leviticus, with the demands of holiness and the sacrifices required to make pure what has been defiled by sin, point us to the incarnation of our Savior Jesus. He was the sacrifice that atones for our sins (Hebrews 10:14). He is the tabernacle where God and humanity meet. He is the provision of God to restore the relationship between himself and lost and broken humanity (2Corinthians 5:17-21). Have you allowed Jesus to be the atonement for your sins, to cleanse you from the impurity of your life, and to restore you to wholeness in relationship to God?
Prayer: God of restoration, You are holy and seek the holiness of Your people. But I am not holy without what You provide—that sacrifice of Jesus and the indwelling and empowering of the Spirit. Thank You for what You have provided for me in the person and work of Jesus. Empower me to live a holy life that is set apart for You.
Reflection: What sins do you need to confess and ask Jesus to cleanse you from?
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