Day #198: Daily Bible Reading - July 14th
Scripture Reading: Leviticus 16 - 18 ...
You can either try to "work your way" to heaven, or you can believe that the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the cross, satisfied God's justice and made "atonement," payment for your sins. The choice should be an easy one, for the standard by which God will judge every person who has ever lived is perfection. "Be perfect, for I am perfect" (Matthew 5:48). "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it" (James 2:10). Since no one can meet God's requirement for entering into His presence, all of mankind should be looking for a better way ... but they're not. Having been deceived by Satan and the old nature of sin, most people in the world insist on making their own way, bringing their own offerings before the Lord, believing that He will accept them and excuse their sin. But there is only one thing that will cover your sin in God's sight: BLOOD!! ... and not just any blood.
Having given the people of Israel His law at Mt. Sinai, God instituted what has been called "the sacrificial system." He instructed Moses and Aaron to teach the people of Israel that they could approach God only through this system of sacrifices in order to point them to the coming Messiah, who Himself would make atonement for their sins. They could not possibly imagine how that would happen, but they were called to have "faith," to believe God's promise to forgive their sins through the blood. In order to help them understand His holiness and their sin, and the need for atonement, payment, God commanded them to bring offerings to the priests at the tabernacle, and later to the temple. Only the priests could offer sacrifices, and they must follow strict rules or they themselves would die.
Among the many offerings the people were to bring and the priests were to offer, there was one that rose above the rest in importance: the Day of Atonement. On this day, once a year, the High Priest (Aaron was the first), could actually enter into the Most Holy Place (the "Holy of Holies") ... but only with the blood of a special offering. The Most Holy Place was separated from the Holy Place, where the regular offerings were brought, by a thick veil. If anyone entered there in a different way or at a different time or with a different offering, they would die. This is a picture of those who attempt to enter God's presence in any way except through faith in Jesus. They will endure spiritual death ... spiritual separation from God - forever!
But God made a way to approach Him. The High Priest first had to offer a sacrifice for himself, for he, too, was a sinner. Then he had to offer a sacrifice and take the blood into the Most Holy Place and sprinkle it on the Ark of the Covenant in the way God had commanded . The top of the Ark was called the "Mercy Seat," and it was there that God offered His mercy ... withholding His judgment, not giving people what they deserved, but instead showing His grace - undeserved favor. The High Priest killed the goat for the sin offering for the people and took its blood behind the curtain, the veil, and sprinkled it on the atonement cover and in front of it. God said, "In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites" (16:16).
When Aaron finished making atonement (a payment covering sin in God's sight) for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting (the Tabernacle) and the altar, he brought another goat and laid both hands on the head of the goat and confessed over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites - all their sins - and put them on the goat's head. Then he sent the goat away into the wilderness as a sign of Israel's sin being taken away. This goat was called the "scapegoat," a word we still use today to describe someone who is blamed for or who carries the burden of someone else's sin or wrongdoing. God then pronounced that "on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins" (16:30).
All of that sounds very strange to our ears and minds today. In fact, most believe it sounds foolish and utterly ridiculous. But there was a point to it all. These things happened for us, for those who would live after the death and resurrection of Jesus, to give us a picture of what Jesus accomplished for all who believe in Him, who put their trust in HIS blood. In Chapter 17, God forbids the people to eat blood, saying, "For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life" (17:11).
The beauty of God's Word is that it all goes together like pieces of a puzzle designed by God ... In the book of Hebrews the writer explains in Chapter 9 how the earthly tabernacle and the people were cleansed by the blood of the offerings brought by the High Priest into the Most Holy Place. Then he says, "The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing" (9:8). Through a detailed explanation he reveals that the Old Testament sacrifices, and especially the Day of Atonement, pointed ahead to Jesus! "How much more then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God" (9:14).
Then he says, "For Christ did not enter a manmade sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence" (9:24). The Old Testament sacrifices could not take away sin, but only point to the sacrifice the Messiah would make ... that we now know was the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. Listen to how the writer of Hebrews explains it, inspired by the same Spirit of God who inspired Moses to write Leviticus: "When this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool, because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy" (10:12-14).
This IS the Gospel! This is the good news only those who trust in the blood of Jesus know, and it is the only message that reveals the way into the Most Holy Place. No one, not one, will enter His presence without their sins being covered by the blood of Jesus. In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes, "God presented Him (Jesus) as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood" (Romans 3:25). There simply is no other way to enter the Most Holy Place. But listen to the conclusion of the writer of Hebrews: "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus ..." (10:19) ... confidence, faith, trust ... in Jesus ... HIS blood paid the price for YOUR sins ... IF you place your hope in Him alone for forgiveness.
Do not be confused or misled by the ideas and religions of man that there are other ways to enter God's presence or to be saved from His judgment. You are saved by the blood of Jesus ... or you are not saved at all. On the cross Jesus offered the only sacrifice for sin that removes the guilt that we all bear. Thank God for the gift of His Son, who purchased our salvation by offering His blood in our place. Love so amazing, grace so astounding, demands a response of praise!!
"O Lord, my God, I praise You for Your mercy and Your grace. Give me wisdom to hear, to understand and to believe all that You have revealed in Your Word. I trust in the blood of Jesus alone and claim no other way to be saved. He is my life and my salvation, for my life is found in HIS blood. To You, Father, I give my thanks and praise, now and forever! In Jesus' name, Amen"