I read a little bit in Leviticus this morning. It is a collection of laws and how to receive atonement for the violation sins. There are instructions for priests and rules of conduct. There are also ways to deal with sickness and times to celebrate. It would be tough for me to give up the life I have now and suddenly begin to live by this set of rules and regulations in order to be saved.
Leviticus 1:4 Lay your hand on the animal’s head, and the Lord will accept its death in your place to purify you, making you right with him. 5 Then slaughter the young bull in the Lord’s presence, and Aaron’s sons, the priests, will present the animal’s blood by splattering it against all sides of the altar that stands at the entrance to the Tabernacle.
How long did this take? First, I would have had to kill the animal. That would have been messy. I had to slit a deer’s throat that had broken its neck once. I couldn’t believe how much blood went everywhere. In an instant the grass was painted with blood. As if that wasn’t enough of a mess, then Aaron’s sons would be splashing blood all over the altar. I don’t think I would have enjoyed having the job of “blood-splasher”. I don’t know what these guys other duties were or if they just waited around patiently for more blood to splash. After the splashing, I would still not be done. I would have to skin the animal. That is no simple feat. Cutting and tugging the skin off any large animal is a lot of work. Next, I would be required to cut it into pieces and arrange it on the altar. I’m still not done. I have to wash the guts and the legs and place them on the altar. Then the priest comes out and burns the whole thing. I can see doing all of this on a hot, humid day wearing a robe. By the time a guy got done he would be ready to find some air-conditioning and get some rest. Too bad they didn’t have A/C back in the days of Moses. This whole process had to be repeated as necessary. Be good or get bloody!
Going to church was a little different back in that era. It wasn’t all cushy chairs in climate-controlled conditions with everyone wearing their Sunday best. A man had to go out there and grab his salvation by the horns (or ears or whatever) and make sacrifices just the right way. If he got one detail wrong, it didn’t count and had to be done over again. I have to be honest, it sounds like a terrible way to serve God. It may have been a wonderful aroma to the Lord but it was probably a stinky, sweaty, nasty smell to the men that had to do it. I am thankful that things changed.
Galatians 4:5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
No more slaving away, slaughtering animals and living by a rigid set of rules in order to preserve my place in God’s Kingdom. I am not only free from sin but I am free from the law that temporarily made a way for us to be redeemed. Life is good.
But if this is true, why do we try to continue to write our own law? Why do we insist on making a set of rules that defines us as Christians or sinners? Is it because the commandments of Jesus and the words of the apostles require too much of me? If I live by a set of rules and live in the loopholes and interpretations I can hang on to the old man inside me a little longer. If I live by “Thou shalt not kill” and only injure am I doing good enough? I don’t think so. As slaves to the law we would be required to sacrifice animals and carry out rituals to be saved. Through the sacrifice Christ made for me, I am saved. I have only two rules now. Two rules that should guide me and become who I am.
Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Sure there are things I simply cannot do and be pleasing to the Lord. But my salvation is not dependent on them. Sin in my life is a fog that clouds my view of Jesus. It deafens my ears to His voice. It weakens my body and spirit and I become frail. It makes me a stumbling block to others. It ruins my relationships and isolates me. But Christ who lives in me will make me an overcomer. I must simply love the Lord my God and others. The darkness will flee if I devote my life to doing these things and allowing Christ to live abundantly in my life.
God, help me to realize the freedom I have to serve you in all things. Show me I am not being saved by my actions. Show me every day that the sacrifice You made was enough to cover all my sins and nothing I can do can add to that. Help me to have your commandments to love You and others live in me and motivate me. Amen.