I am not a hunter. I am not against it at all, and several of my boys are very much into the sport. I have a very conflicted relationship with the deer population. On one hand I see them as beautiful creatures of God’s creation; but on the other hand, given the 10+ family incidents of car collisions with these overgrown rodents, I applaud all efforts at herd control! My issue for not taking personal revenge against them with a Mossberg Deer Thugs .30-06 Bolt Action Rifle with Scope is that I don’t want to deal with the blood and guts! Gross! Major Yuck! That is disgusting!
So, I’d probably not do well as a priest in the Levitical system in Israel. There was blood all over the place … regular sacrifices and hunks of meat and innards, etc. Think also about the smells! And did I mention yet?… blood everywhere! Everything about the Old Testament system of sacrifice pictured the terrible cost of sin, along with the costly and bloody price of redemption.
Why blood? Why sacrifice? Why the innocent for the guilty? Well, it all goes back to the beginning. Adam and Eve needed to be clothed to cover their nakedness and sin. Where did the skins come from? Yes, from innocent animals – slain to provide cover for the guilty sinners. A principle was established – a theme was set that would carry throughout Scripture and find descriptive fulfillment in a series of “cross words.”
Today’s reading gives details as to the role of the High Priest on the annual Day of Atonement – the biggest day of the year in terms of sin being paid for by sacrifice. Aaron was to come into the most holy place and into the presence of the ark – over which was the Shekinah glory of the Lord that was the very presence of God amongst His people.
When Aaron entered behind the curtain the first time, he was to take a censor of hot coals (from the altar upon which the sacrifices were made outside the tent) and put incense upon it – the result being that this would make a cloud of smoke which would hide the Shekinah glory from being seen by Aaron, in which event he would die. And he was also to take blood from a slain bull and sprinkle it on the atonement cover of the ark. The idea here is that the blood provided a symbolic covering for debt of the broken law, which was contained in the ark.
On the next trip into the most holy place, Aaron was to take blood from the goat upon which the lot had fallen to be slain. Again the blood was sprinkled on behalf of the nation to provide an atonement for sin. As well, Aaron would put blood upon the various furnishings of the tabernacle structure and even the brazen altar – again, as a cleansing cover for sin.
This entire scene is ripe with significance and meaning that would find ultimate fulfillment in the work of Christ. We will go to Hebrews to detail that for Thursday and Friday devotionals … after reading and commenting upon the scapegoat tomorrow.
No matter how you look at it, paying for sin is costly. I have light-heartedly spoken of blood at the top of these thoughts today. But as we end, let us be much sobered by our own sin that has contributed to the price of our own individual redemption. As Peter wrote: For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors,but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
11 “Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household, and he is to slaughter the bull for his own sin offering. 12 He is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the Lord and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain. 13 He is to put the incense on the fire before the Lord, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the tablets of the covenant law, so that he will not die. 14 He is to take some of the bull’s blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover; then he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover.
15 “He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. 16 In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the tent of meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17 No one is to be in the tent of meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel.
18 “Then he shall come out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement for it. He shall take some of the bull’s blood and some of the goat’s blood and put it on all the horns of the altar. 19 He shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times to cleanse it and to consecrate it from the uncleanness of the Israelites.
Two more “cross words” for the puzzle:
Judgment – God’s justice demands that He judge sin. It cannot be in His presence. We need to be perfect to be with God – to have righteousness … which we don’t have. But we may gain Christ’s righteousness – the one who took the judgment of God on our behalf.
Blood – Life is in the blood, and the shedding of blood was the giving of life. Without the shedding of blood (the Scriptures say) there is no remission of sin.