Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Repugnancy of Sin

Exodus 29:38 "Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs of the first year, day by day continually."

Are you disgusted by sin? Its ill effects are enough to make one nauseous when the weight of the curse sets in to one's mind. Nations are leveled by earthquakes, floods, and famines. Families set against one another in violence. Misunderstandings lead to bitterness and lifelong anger. Disease, pain, cancer, lame limbs, heart disease, diabetes, depression, suicide, Alzheimer's, and death are the atmosphere of a people cursed by the effects of sin. Contentions, wars, suicide bombers, soldiers in wheelchairs, artificial legs and arms come because of the authorship of sin by mankind.

As foul as these effects of sin may be, God gave us a picture of sin's consequences as compared to His holiness through the people of Israel. As God laid out the plans for the tabernacle, which foreshadowed the Jerusalem temple, a grisly scene unfolded before the people whom He led from Egypt. Day after day, animal sacrifices took place before the nation as a constant reminder of sin's curse. And what a vivid reminder it is. In the tabernacle and eventually in the temple, we see daily a bloodbath of animal slaughter. Lambs and bulls whose throats were cut, the blood drained, the carcass and meat and entrails separated and burned. This relentless and never ending spectacle of blood and death stood as a testimony and reminder of sin. Can you imagine the scene? Animal after animal led to be butchered on behalf of man's offenses. Can you hear the sounds of lambs calling out in longing to return to their owners as they are led to the priest where their flesh was opened and their white wool stained with the scarlet flow of their own blood? Can you imagine the stench of a place where animals are massacred under the priest's knife every single day because of the uncleanness of the people?

Oh that this would cause the children of Israel to hide their faces in their hands and lament that the sacrifice is never complete. The macabre marches on, day after day, to remind them that the atonement is never complete. But yet, it did not have that effect on Israel. Soon, they became calloused to sin, and such sacrificing became mere routine. And one day, when a sacrifice came that would put an end to all other sacrifices; when the One came whose blood would finally and completely atone in what the blood of bulls and sheep failed to do; they by and large disregarded Him and the effects of sin.

God's Holiness and man's sin cannot coexist. Yet it appeared for thousands of years that God was allowing that to happen. The world plunged deeper and deeper into sin as His own people even failed to keep the Law that He had given them. Animals were slain day after day as atonements for sin, but none fully paid the penalty that His Holiness called out for. These were mere shadows of what was to come. Jesus Christ became the lamb that was slain upon the Holy altar of God's sacrifice in order to atone for sin. He entered the vile, filthiness of sin, and became sin on our behalf. The weight and vileness of sin cannot be realized by those of us who now live and walk this earth. We see and experience much of its ill effects, yet we do not comprehend the full load of mankind's sin against a Holy God. But Christ does. The one whose body was broken and whose blood was spilled like the lambs who were slaughtered day in and day out at the altar in the tabernacle and temple. And it is in His sacrifice that we can escape the curse of sin and enjoy Him freely. Where the blood of animals failed to atone for our sin and continually reminded us of our state before His Holiness, we now have one we can look to and say, "It is finished! There is atonement, there is sacrifice, there is peace with God!"

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