The Old Testament sacrificial system only provided a temporary covering for sin, like making minimum payments on our sin debt. Even though we no longer sacrifice bulls or lambs, many of us live much the same way, thinking a good deed here or showing up at church once in a while will keep the Creditor off our backs. Only to have the interest, the guilt and consequences of sin, pile up. But there is good news …
Exodus 29 & Exodus 30
“Are you trying to make minimum payments on sin?”
The Final Sacrifice
Imagine … this Sunday morning before going in to worship, you have to stop outside the church and sacrifice a bull, then take some of the blood and put it on the altar with your finger and pour the rest of it on the altar. Afterwards you take the fat that covers the intestines, the fatty part of the liver, and the two kidneys and burn them. Then you take the bull’s waste, the skin, and the rest of the flesh out in the parking lot to be burned! All this after baking bread, having oil poured on your head, and taking a ritual bath! (And you thought just getting the family out of the house was hard!)
It’s a funny picture, but a serious subject. Why would God require all of that? And why would He want us to understand? Because it pictures the seriousness and the cost of sin.
The cost of sin was death then and now (Rom. 6.23), but God made a way for that price to be paid. Under the Old Testament sacrificial system, it was only temporary and had to be done over and over. But the blood of animals could not do away with the debt. It was a little like making minimum payments on your credit card. It keeps the creditor off your back, but the debt is still there.
Only another man, but not just any man … a perfect man … without sin … could pay the debt once and for all. So God allowed Himself to be born in the body of a baby … all God, and yet, all man. He lived a sinless life and then offered Himself as the final sacrifice, once and for all, for anyone who would put their faith and trust in Him and what He did.
The book of Hebrews helps us understand. Chapter 10 (NLT):
1 The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship.
4 For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
12 But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand … 14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.
18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices. 19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
He offers us a free gift (Rom. 6.23), a most incredible gift! It is freely offered by His grace (Eph. 2.8-9). But we must receive it by faith. Faith that what God says about us is true, that we are sinners deserving of death and unable to do anything to save ourselves. And faith that God sent Christ as that Final Sacrifice. He was and is the Lamb of God. We must put our faith, our trust, in what He did and receive His forgiveness and cleansing. Then we are to turn away from our sin and seek His help to change. That is the essence of the gospel.
Christ died for our sins because even trying to make minimum payments on sin is futile. We can never be good enough or do enough righteous deeds to pay the debt we owe to God (Rom. 3.10-12).
If you’ve never understood the gospel before or have never confessed your sin and helplessness to Him. You can do that now. Just express those things to Him in prayer. No fancy words necessary. He is always looking at the heart. Tell Him you believe He is who He said He is and that you believe He lived and died on a cross as payment for your sins (Rom. 10.9-13). Tell Him you believe He rose from the dead so you could have a new life now and live with Him eternally in heaven (Rom. 6.4, 23; Jn. 3.16). Tell Him you know you’re a sinner (Rom. 3.23), that you cannot save yourself (Rom. 3.10-12) and that you need His forgiveness and His help to live life His way (Rom. 6.1-4; 1 Cor. 5.15).
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn. 3.16-18).
Christians use several phrases to explain what happens when faith comes alive and we come to God in this way: being “born again” (Jn. 3.3), being “saved” (Jn. 3.17), coming to faith (belief) in Christ (really belief in the gospel He preached, Jn. 3.16), and accepting Christ (again this is accepting by faith what He did on the cross and our need for His forgiveness.
Note: If you’re still not sure about what I’m saying, I encourage you to study to Scripture passages I’ve referenced and prayerfully consider the claims of Christ.
Today’s Other Readings:
Ongoing Faith & Trust
Verse 7, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”
The name of God speaks of His character, who He is. As believers we are not to put our trust in our jobs, our intelligence, our education, our strength, or other people. Just as we trusted Him for the forgiveness of our sins, we are to trust Him on an ongoing basis to live the life He’s called us to live. Faith if not a one-time thing, it’s a way of life. For “the just shall live by faith” (Gal. 3.11).
Teens & Sex
God’s Word, written centuries ago, before cell phones and computers and Facebook, before texting and sexting and online chat rooms, speaks so clearly to modern issues.
Yesterday’s reading introduced us to “the immoral woman … the seductress who flatters with her words.” Today’s reading show us who she is and how she operates:
She dresses seductively (v. 10).
She has a crafty, scheming heart (v. 10).
She’s brash and rebellious (v. 11).
She’s not content with the man God has given her (vss. 11, 12, 19).
She’s brazen and flirtatious (vss. 13-21).
She talks seductively (v. 21).
She doesn’t care who gets hurt as long as she gets her way (vss. 26-27).
We need to teach our daughters and granddaughters these truths from God’s Word. Chapter 7 of Proverbs would be a great study to do with any young girls you know. Read it together and talk about what it means because while we may not think of teen sexual activity as that of a seductress, the Bible teaches that even children can become known by what they do (Prov. 20.11).
Warnings for Sons
And if you have sons, what a great warning these verses contain for them!
The writer describes the young man who falls for her seduction, “simple” and “devoid of understanding” (Prov. 7.7). The New Living Translation says he lack common sense.
He is like an “ox going to the slaughter” and like a deer caught in a trap and about to be shot with a arrow (vss. 22-23).
Not a flattering picture!
We need to teach these truths in a straightforward manner from God’s Word. It’s His Word that pierces the heart (Heb. 4.12), instead of appealing merely to self-serving goals like college and career opportunities. After all, many young people are already doing the things they believe are in their own self-interest! Perhaps, we would have fewer teen pregnancies and broken lives.
Virgins & Talents
There is so much to learn from the two parables in this passage. First the Parable of the Virgins reminds us of the need to be ready for His coming. How many people who know they need to get right with God put it off thinking … “I’ll do it later.” Later may be too late!
The Parable of the Talents speaks of faithfulness. God doesn’t require us to do what He has called someone else to do, just to be faithful to do what He has set before us. We need to be faithful to share our testimony and the Gospel with our neighbors and families … be faithful to help those we can … be faithful to live our lives in a way that brings glory to Him!
Lord, help us to truly understand and appreciate what the gospel means and help us to be faithful ministers of Your truths to others through our words, our deeds and our testimonies.
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