Thursday, February 2, 2012
looking for Jesus in Leviticus: "holocaust"
The Word for today:
Leviticus 9, 10
In all the universe, the greatest failure is man. Sorry if that bursts any bubbles, but here’s why:
Rocks are good at being rocks. Turtles are good at being turtles. Roses are good at being roses. Rainbows are good at being rainbows.
But man is not good at being man. We have fallen short. “Falling short” is what the Bible calls sin:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
We were made in the image and likeness of God. We were made to reflect and radiate his glory as we exercised dominion over certain spheres of creation that he delegated to us. We were to name the animals and sculpt the garden.
How sadly ironic it is that instead of standing in God’s stead, reflecting his vibrant glory, God would eventually have to stand in our stead on a dead tree, reflecting our sin:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Sin isn’t something superficial. It permeates through and through, down to the root of our being.
That’s why Leviticus, when carefully read, is foreign to our way of thinking about ourselves. The offerings of Leviticus are, for the most part, to atone for sins that the people did not knowingly commit. They were sins that did not surface to the level of their consciousness. The sacrificial animal was completely burnt for sins that were unpremeditated and unintended.
We think of that as overkill, but that’s not how God sees things.
To say that Jesus died for the sins of the world is superficially true, but the deeper truth is that Jesus died for the sinners of the world. Jesus didn’t die for the effects of sin, but to root out the cause. He didn’t die to put a band-aid over sin, but to create a brand new person:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Thus the sin offering was called the “whole burnt offering” or holocaust (from the Greek hólos, "whole" and kaustós, "burnt"). It was burnt through and through until there was nothing left to consume. The sacrifice had to reach further than the sins of our hands; further than even the thoughts of our minds and the intentions of our hearts.
It had to reach deeper than hands, heart, and head to an essence—what theologians call the sin nature—that can be traced back to the core of an apple in Eden.
It had to reach all the way back before the genesis of sin, in order to start all over again with a new seed -- the seed of the woman (1), the new Adam (2)--with his new Bride in their new garden:
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (3)
(1) Genesis 3:15; (2) 1 Corinthians 15:45; (3) John 12:24