Day 9: Atonement

Today’s reading: Leviticus 1-10, Psalm 12-13

Perhaps as you began reading the book of Leviticus today, you felt like you were wading through the fine print of a legal contract.  Eyes glazed over as you read about all the sacrificial offerings and the meticulous instructions for how they were to be made. “Yada, yada, yada,” you thought to yourself.

What happens here in Leviticus, though, is important to understanding the kind of expectations God had for the people of Israel. They were to set themselves apart from the rest of the world by living holy lives–lives that honored God and showed respect for their fellow human beings. When they failed to do so, they needed to honestly acknowledge their failures. The system of offerings described in today’s reading includes instructions on what they would be required to do in order to make atonement for those failures.

The fine print of Leviticus helps set the stage for us to better understand Jesus’ life and death. In his life, he fulfills the expectations that had been set for the people of Israel. Only he is fully obedient to the will of God. It is only because his life is “without blemish” (remember seeing that phrase a few times today in the instructions for animal sacrifices?), that he can then offer himself as the sacrifice which makes atonement for the sin of the world.

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7 Responses to Day 9: Atonement

  1. Patricia McKeithen says:

    Another question I have is where are the Isrealites supposed to get all of these sacrificial items, particularly grains, in the middle of the dessert? I thought God was providing their food i.e. Manna. I know it’s not really the point, but I’m curious.

    • Ken says:

      Paricia,
      I didn’t see any response to your question, so I’ll take a crack. I have had some real questions on this text at least since I tend to take the text literally. I believe what we have been reading is in preperation for Israel entering the promised land. Also, I think the terrain was not completely barren.

      Regarding some of the other comments. I know a few of these books are a bit like our sojourn through the desert. However, I have found the OT very important toward my understanding of the Bible and my faith. Think of the Bible as a story of our faith, from infancy to its fulfilment in Christ. I think the OT makes us Christians truly complete.

  2. Cindy Hewitt says:

    As usual, Exodus and Leviticus have been tough reading for me-Steve’s post for Day 10 is my reaction “Yada, yada, yada…”, but the rest of his commentary makes it great. Every time that I read these books, I tend to skip over a lot and read very fast. I like having Steve’s commentary to keep me on track. I am determined to get through the Old Testament. I deliberately took the course on New Testament way back in college so that I could ignore the Old Testament.

  3. Barbara Broadbridge says:

    Just signing up to recieve comments

  4. Barbara Broadbridge says:

    Although I am enjoying the project of reading through the whole bible this summer, the actual text is very disturbing in Exodus and Leviticus. Making me question my faith and religion in general which I do not like. I will keep going in hopes that God has a plan and reason for me to be doing this.

    • Patricia McKeithen says:

      I agree, Barbara, it seems our roots are quite barbaric. However, I’m going with steve’s comment about why Jesus death and resurrection was the perfect and ultimate sacrifice for us. I think we take the fact that we know our God as a loving God too much for granted sometimes. I don’t like thinking that aaron’s sons would be killed just because they didn’t conduct a ritual properly.

    • runninrev says:

      Thanks for your honesty about wrestling with these texts. If you have not already read them, you may find the blog entries from Days 1 and 6 helpful in putting these and other difficult readings into context. I’m glad you’re hanging in there!

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