Deliverance: It's All About Him
It was not a day of joy. It was an annual event both dreaded and anticipated. It was dreaded in that the day would begin with the painful reminder of all the many, many ways that you had failed. The times you doubted the Lord. The times you coveted your neighbors good fortunes. Those moments when shading the truth seemed more expedient than clear honesty. The days when you were so angry at your brother/sister that, IF it had been permissible, you might have snuffed them out! The fleeting flirtations. The continual temptation to doubt the presence and power of the Lord and were drawn to divert your confidence to lifeless idols. The harsh words spoken to your family when the heat and weariness of the day overwhelmed you. No, it was not at first a day of joy.
And it got messy quickly. First the bull was slaughtered and then a male goat. The blood was collected and the carcass incinerated. The blood was taken, along with coals from the altar fire and incense, inside the tent, out of sight for all who stood solemnly near-by. There the people’s representative would sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat that covered the Ark of the Covenant. Almost breathlessly the gathered masses waited to see if the priest returned. Had God accepted the sacrifice?
Then the two goats. The sadness and sorrow was almost more than could be endured. The lot was cast and one was chosen to die as the sin offering. The other was to be led away to die alone in the wilderness. It would have been so quiet you could have heard a feather fall on the wilderness earth. Your head would drop and your heart would break as you heard the priest call out the sins of your people. You found yourself saying, “Why does he need to point out ME? Why does he have to declare to the whole world MY failures, MY offenses, MY transgressions? Why ME?” It was of little comfort to your soul that you were not alone. For in the hearing of the rehearsing of the many sins committed in the days preceding, your soul never felt so alone!
But then the sacrificial substitute died. YOU should have died. The lamb was totally innocent but you knew YOU were certifiably guilty. Still, the innocent lamb died the death you deserved to die. And when it died, your heart again began to live. Sins forgiven. ALL your vile sins forgiven! You watched as they led away into the wilderness the scapegoat. It was YOUR sins that had been called out as the priest laid his hands on its head. But now it went outside the camp to die alone with YOUR sins upon it. And suddenly your heart was alive again. Atonement made. Penalty paid. They had died so that YOU could live!
It began as a dark and depressing day. But by the end of the Day of Atonement it was as though the sun had begun to shine with a never-before brightness. The Day of Atonement. Your heart set free!
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace!” Ephesians 1:7 Our hearts can live again!
See you Sunday, Church!