Monday, October 20, 2014

The Question: Leviticus; the Answer: Hebrews

This is one of those days where I read an amazing article on Tabletalk Magazine, and without trying to I read it again on the website.

It is the article where Benjamin Shaw explores the biblical dichotomy of clean versus unclean.

While studying the book of Hebrews this semester, I read about the book of Leviticus and realize: Leviticus is the question, Hebrews is the answer.

Our God is so holy and we are so not.  Without cleansing we cannot approach this perfect God or we will burn.

Leviticus 11-15 showed all the ways the Israelites had to cleanse themselves before they could approach God.  They had to stay away from any "unclean" food.  They had to abandon their houses if mildew showed up.  They had to sacrifice a lamb to the priest at the temple only to sin right away and have to be cleansed again.

This was God's way of showing them that they cannot ever come clean before our holy God by this treadmill of rituals.  This is where Hebrews steps in:

9:13-14, "For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God."

God let these people labor until Christ came simply to show them that they cannot be clean and stay clean on their own time.  A perfect man had to live the perfect life and then take the punishment for us.  It's by his blood we are clean and we don't have to keep renewing the contract.  His blood was for one time.

I sang "Ancient Words" yesterday in church.  It has a lyric that says: 

Holy words of our Faith
Handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice
Oh heed the faithful words of Christ

I meant to sing "faithful" during the practice before the service.  It wasn't even 9:00 and I was tired.  I mindlessly sang "faithless."  Ugh.

Mistake or not, that is no small error.  That borders on blasphemy.  If I lived in the Old Testament, I would have to bring a lamb to be slaughtered by a priest.  Afterward, I'd end up sinning again.  I would lose the salvation status that I have just earned by that lamb.

Now that I live in the New Testament, Christ was slaughtered for me.  He offered the perfect sacrifice of himself.  And he never sins, so he doesn't have to do it again.  And when I approach God for forgiveness, he now sees Christ's sacrifice and not my crappy version.

There are people who live under the name of Christ that still believe you have to keep your salvation status up because you lose it every time a peccadillo comes along, which is many times a day.  They are shocked when you think that they have to work for their salvation, but their system says otherwise.  If I was in that church, I'm sure I would have to go talk to a priest.  Then I'd have to say a prayer five times a day and do some community service.

"By these means, the people maintained, rather, regularly restored their cleanness before God through the ordinary course of life."
These folks still live in the Old Testament.  They do not live with the hope that Jesus paid their sin only one time and that's it.  They can't even approach him directly.  While the New Testament says that he is our priest and intercessor before God, they still like to approach a human priest or even someone deceased.  This is an absolute insult to God and what Christ has done for us.

And this logic leaks into all denominations.  (Not to step on any friends' toes, but here goes) Some have to say "Hail Mary"s, some have to speak in tongues, some need to be rebaptized, some need to end global warming.  We are always tempted to try to add to what Christ has done which shows we still do not trust him.  Just ourselves.  After my lyrical slip yesterday I seriously wanted to just do the song again.  Or bang my head against the pulpit.  Thank God that in the next two services I got it right because I looked to Jesus and not to my own memory.

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