It may surprise you to see that today’s devotion starts from the book of Leviticus.
Leviticus is often viewed as a book that’s full of puzzling and outdated rules, but amazingly it can spur our passion to follow our Lord God today. I’ll warm up by giving you one command from Leviticus that is appealing for people of a certain age……….
Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:32) If you are old enough for young people to stand up for you, this is a nice command. (Of course on a more serious note, think how our culture venerates youth and discriminates against talented older workers.)
But now on to today’s main point. Many ceremonies described in Leviticus seem quite strange to our 21st century eyes. But there’s one ceremony that points straight to the heart of what Christians believe. In talking to the people of Israel, God says: On the tenth day of the seventh month atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you…. from all your sins. The …. high priest is to make atonement. (Leviticus 16:29,30,32)
And in verse 34 God says: “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”
Can you imagine having your sins pile up for a full year……and then having an annual cleanup? It’s good to get rid of sin but still …. something about this remedy is defective.
Speaking of defective, I vividly remember one episode on the original Star Trek. It’s called The Changeling.Here the Enterprise crew meta space robot called Nomad. Nomad approached and then probed some crew members, and was not pleased with what it found. Indeed, in its robotic voice, Nomad would exclaim: “This unit is defective,” and the consequences were rather dire…. say goodbye to that crew member.
But now, let’s hear what Leviticus says about defective units. Here, someone is not allowed to approach God’s altar:
No man who has any defect may come near; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. …. because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the LORD (Leviticus 21:18,21,23)
This passage focuses on people with physical defects like crushed testicles, but aren’t we all defective when we stand on our own before the Lord? Yes, but are we hopeless?
No, we have hope because God chose to come in the flesh. Born a baby, Jesus grew up to become the man who lived the one and only perfect Christian life. He then was crucified to become the perfect, once for all sacrifice for our sin.
Jesus’ death and resurrection tore the curtain before God’s altar in the temple so that we can enter God’s presence. And now, free from sin, God no longer views us as defective units! We are presented “without defect” because of what Christ has done……….. What a joy!
Now to him that is able to keep you from falling, and make you appear in his glorious presence, without defect, and full of joy: (Jude 24)
Once we are freed from defect, what happens next? Do we just sit back and chill out? I don’t think so. See my next post.