May 21, Tuesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Atoning Sacrifice”

Exodus 29:10-25

 “Bring the bull to the front of the tent of meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. 11 Slaughter it in the Lord’s presence at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 12 Take some of the bull’s blood and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour out the rest of it at the base of the altar. 13 Then take all the fat on the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, and both kidneys with the fat on them, and burn them on the altar. 14 But burn the bull’s flesh and its hide and its intestines outside the camp. It is a sin offering. 15 “Take one of the rams, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head.16 Slaughter it and take the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar. 17 Cut the ram into pieces and wash the internal organs and the legs, putting them with the head and the other pieces. 18 Then burn the entire ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the Lord, a pleasing aroma, a food offering presented to the Lord. 19 “Take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head.20 Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Then splash blood against the sides of the altar. 21 And take some blood from the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated. 22 “Take from this ram the fat, the fat tail, the fat on the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, both kidneys with the fat on them, and the right thigh. 23 From the basket of bread made without yeast, which is before the Lord, take one round loaf, one thick loaf with olive oil mixed in, and one thin loaf. 24 Put all these in the hands of Aaron and his sons and have them wave them before the Lord as a wave offering. 25 Then take them from their hands and burn them on the altar along with the burnt offering for a pleasing aroma to the Lord, a food offering presented to the Lord.”

Two months ago, my dog of 17 years passed away.  Although I had prepared myself for this sad day, the grief was one that I still cannot explain.  Most of it came, when looking back, from the realization that my dog had been with me for more years of my life than not.  She saw me through my rebellious, absent teenage years to my move to college that left me seeing her only a few times a year, until I moved back home during the last years of her life.  As I saw all the transitions that she had gone through to cater to my absent lifestyle, I realized her undying loyalty and faithfulness to me until the end. It was precisely this realization that brought me so much grief as I regretted my choices to not be a better caretaker.

Today’s passage highlights the unusual process of laying hands on an animal’s head before slaughtering it before the Lord.  This process was meant to symbolize the transference of sin from a guilty person onto an animal that, then, is slaughtered as a substitutionary sacrifice.  We know that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) and to approach a holy God we must be cleansed by an atoning sacrifice. What a humbling experience: to put your hands on the head of an innocent animal as you confess the sins that you should die for, and then witness its innocent death in your place.

Although the death of my dog and the regret I felt in no way compares to witnessing something die in place of my sins, I can see the weightiness that God desired for all people to understand during this process.  We must recognize that the road to sin is death and it separates us from the God who desires to be in a relationship with us. However, God does not leave us here; He gives us a gift – an ultimate sacrifice that will take our place forever.  “For the wages of sin [may be] death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

Today let us remember the cost of sin and the sacrifice it took, but may it not leave us in despair or regret, but thanksgiving for Jesus’ work on the cross.   And most of all, may it lead us to action to pursue a life of purity because we know, through the work of Christ, God does not just delight in sacrifice and takes no pleasure in burnt offerings, but a broken and contrite heart he does not despise (Ps. 51:16-17).

Prayer: God I thank You for Your love that moved You to stand in the place of my death.  And thank You that I may now freely approach Your throne. Help me to never forget the cost of my sins, but may it lead me to a life of purity that seeks to honor You in all things.  In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 10


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 6:15-23: What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. 19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are the effects of living as a slave to sin compared to living as a slave to righteousness?
  2. What is the mark that you are not a slave to sin but to righteousness?
  3. This passage reveals that we are either a slave of sin or a slave of righteousness, for we cannot serve two masters.  Is there any sin in your life that is preventing you from living in righteousness?

Notes

  1. Slaves of sin will reap death (v.16) while slaves of righteousness will live in holiness and eternal life (v.22).
  2. A life of obedience (v.16).
  3. Personal.

Evening Reflection

Take some time to reflect on the day.  Were you living in the righteousness given to you through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross?  Or were you living in sin? If you find yourself discouraged at the sins of your life, remember we are living under grace because of Christ.  That does not mean we can continue living in sin, as we read in today’s lunch break study, but it does mean God’s mercies are new every morning. As you go in repentance, ask the Lord for strength to live in obedience and righteousness tomorrow.

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