February 19: Ancient Words, Future Hope
Leviticus 4:1–6:30; John 7:14–44, Song of Solomon 5:13–16
Atonement is appealing because we all have relationships we wish we could reconcile. The 12-step program involves forgiving and forging renewed relationships when possible. But the story with God is different. There’s an acute awareness that we can’t fix things with our Creator; we need someone or something else to do it for us.
Jesus is described as the atonement, the sacrifice, and the perfect offering. But what do these terms actually mean? In Leviticus 5:14–6:30, we learn what it means for Jesus to be a guilt offering: He takes the guilt of the people, incurred through their sinful acts, and takes it upon Himself. He becomes the “ram without defect from the flock” (Lev 6:6).
Jesus takes the stage as the Suffering Servant in Isa 52:13–53:12, fulfilling the events it prophesies. Isaiah 53:10 reads, “If she places [the servant’s] life a guilt offering, he will see offspring, he will prolong days. And the will of Yahweh is in his hand, it will succeed” (my translation).
When He is arrested, Jesus understands that He is on His way to die at the hands of His own people (the “she” in Isaiah is “Jerusalem” or “Zion”). Matthew notes, “But all this has happened in order that the scriptures of the prophets would be fulfilled” (Matt 26:56). Jesus acknowledges it by saying, “the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners!” (Matt 26:45). This echoes Isaiah 53:3: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of suffering, and acquainted with sickness, and like one from whom others hide their faces, he was despised, and we did not hold him in high regard.”
Leviticus seems archaic until it is put into this perspective. The oddities of this ancient book give us a connection to Jesus. He is the fulfillment of all Israel hoped for. Isn’t this the same in our lives? At first it might seem like the events are somehow disconnected or distant from God and His works. But upon a second glance—in retrospect—we see they’re a foundation for hope.
In what areas of your life do you need to connect with God’s work? What does the interaction between ancient law, prophecy, and Jesus’ life teach you about God and His work in our lives?
JOHN D. BARRY
- Moreover, the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of the Israel, saying, If any shall sin through ignorance, in any of the commandments of the Lord, (which ought not to be done) but shall do contrary to any of them, If the Priest that is anointed do sin (according to the sin of the people) then shall he offer, for his sin which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering, And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation before the Lord, and shall put his hand upon the bullock’s head, and kill the bullock before the Lord. And the Priest that is anointed, shall take of the bullock’s blood, and bring it into the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Then the Priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord, before the veil of the Sanctuary. The Priest also shall put some of the blood before the Lord, upon the horns of the altar of sweet incense, which is in the Tabernacle of the Congregation, then shall he pour all the rest of the blood of the bullock at the foot of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. And he shall take away all the fat of the bullock for the sin offering: to wit, the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is about the inwards. He shall take away also the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and upon the flanks, and the caul upon the liver with the kidneys. As it was taken away from teh bullock of the peace offerings, and the Priest shall burn them upon the altar of burnt offering. But the skin of the bullock, and all his flesh, with his head, and his legs, and his inwards, and his dung shall he bear out. So he shall carry the whole bullock out of the host unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured, and shall burn him on the wood in the fire: where the ashes are cast out, shall he be burnt. And if the whole Congregation of Israel shall sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the multitude, and have done against any of the commandments of the Lord which should not be done, and have offended: When the sin which they have committed shall be known, then the Congregation shall offer a young bullock for the sin, and bring him before the Tabernacle of the Congregation. And the Elders of the Congregation shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock before the Lord, and he shall kill the bullock before the Lord. Then the Priest that is anointed, shall bring of the bullock’s blood into the Tabernacle of the Congregation. And the Priest shall dip his finger in the flood, and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, even before the veil. And he also put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar, which is before the Lord, that is in the Tabernacle of the Congregation: then shall he pour all the rest of the blood at the foot of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, And he shall take all his fat from him, and burn it upon the altar. And the Priest shall do with his bullock, as he did with t he bullock for his sin: so shall he do with this: so the Priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. For he shall carry the bullock without the host, and burn him as he burned the first bullock: for it is an offering fot the sin of the Congregation. When a ruler shall sin, and do through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord his God, which should not be done, and shall offend, If one show unto him his sin, which he hath committed, then shall he bring for his offering an he goat without blemish, And shall lay his hand upon the head of the he goat, and kill it in the place where he should kill the burnt offering before the Lord: for it is a sin offering. Then the Priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the burnt offering altar, and shall pour the rest of his blood at the foot of the burnt offering altar, And shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the peace offering: so the Priest shall make an atonement for him, concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him. Likewise if any of the people of the land shall sin through ignorance in doing against any of the commandments of the Lord, which should not be done, and shall offend, If one show him his sin which he hath committed, then he shall bring for his offeirng, a she goat without blemish or his sin which he hath committed. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering and slay the sin offering in the place of burnt offering. Then the Priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the burnt offering altar, and pour all the rest of the blood thereof at the foot of the altar. And shall take away all his fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb of the peace offerings is taken away: then the Preist shall burn it upon teh altar with the oblatiosn of the Lord made by fire, and the Priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him. Also if any have sinned, that is, if he have heard the voice of an oath, and he can be a witness, whehte rhe hath seen or known of it, if he do not utter it, he shall bear his iniquity: Either if one touch any unclean thing, whether it can be a carrion of an unclean beast, ro a carrion of unclean cattle, or a carrion of unclean creeping things, nad is not ware of it, yet he is unclean, and hath offended: Either if he touch any uncleanness of man (whatsoever uncleannes it be, thta he is defiled with) and is not ware of it, and after cometh to the knowledge of it, he hath sinned: Either if any swear and pronounce with his lips to do everil, or to do good (whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath) and it be hid from him, and after knoweth that he hath offended in one of these points, When he hath sinned in any of these things, then he shall confess that he hath sinned therein. Therefore shall he bring his trespass offering unto the Lord for his sin which he hath committed, even a female from teh flock, be it a lamb or a she goat for a sin offering, and the Priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin. But if he be not able to bring a sheep, he shall bring for his trespass which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons unto the Lord, one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering. So he shalll bring them unto the Priest, who shall offer the sin offering first, and wring the neck of it asunder, but not pluck it clean off. After he shalll sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering pon the side of the altar, and the rest of the blood shall be shed at the foot of the altar: for it is a sin offering. Also he shall offer the second for a burnt offering as the manner is: so shall the Priest make an atonement for him (for his sin which he hath committed) and it shall be forgiven him. But if he be not able to bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, then he that hath sinned, shall bring for his offering the tenth part of an Ephah of fine flour for a sin offering, he shall put none oil thereto, neither put any incense thereon: for it is a sin offering. Then shall he bring it to the Priest, and the Priest shall take his handful of it for the remembrance threof,and burn it upon the altar with the offerings of the Lord made by fire: for it is a sin offering. So the Priest shall make an atonement for him, as touching his sin, that he hath committed in one of these points, and it shall be foriven him: and the remnan shall be the Priest’s, as the meat offering. And teh Lord spake unto Moses, saying, If any person transgress and sin through ignorance by taking away things consecrate unto the Lord, he shall then bring for his trespass offering unto the Lord a ram without blemish out of the lfock, worth two shekels of silver by thy estimation after the shekel of the Sanctuary, for a trespass offering. So he shall restore that wherein he hath offended, in taking away of the holy thing, and shall put the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto the Priest: so the Priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering,and it shall be forgiven him. Also if any sin and do against any of the Commandments of the Lord, which ought not to be done, and know not, and sin and bear his iniquity. Then shall he bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, in thy estiation worth two shekels for a trespass offering unto the Priest: and the Priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred, and was not ware: so it shall be forgiven him. This is the trespass offeirng for the trespass committed against the Lord. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, If any sin and commit a trespass against the Lord, and deny unto his neighbor that which was taken him to keep, or that which was put to him of trust, or doth by robbery, or by violence oppress his neighbor, Or hath found that which was lost, and denieth it, and sweareth falsely, for any of these things that a man doeth, wherein he sinneth: When, Isay, he thus sinneth and trespasseth, he shall then restore the robbery that he robbed, or the thing taken b violence which he took by force or the thing which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, Or for whatsoever he hath sworn falsely, he shall both restore it in the whole sum, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it pertaineth, teh same day that he offereth for his trespass. Also he shall bring for his trespass unto the Lord, a ram without blemish out of the flockin thy estimation worth two whekels for a trespass offering unto the Priest. And the Priest shall make an atonement forhim before the Lord, and it shall be forgiven him, whatsoever thing he hath done, and trespassed therein. Then the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the burnt offering, (it is the burnt offering because it burneth upon the altar all the night unto the morning, and the fire burneth on the altar). And the Priest shall put on his linen garment, and shall put on his linen breeches upon his blesh, and take away the ashes when the fire hath consumed the burnt offering upon the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar. After, he shall put off his garments, and put on other raiment, and carry the ashes forth without the host unto a clean place. But the fire upon the altar shall burn thereon and never be put out: wherefore the Priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it, and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings. The fire shall ever burn uon the altar, and never go out. Also this is the law of the meat offeirng, which Aaron’s sons shall offer in the presence of the Lord, before the altar. He shall even take thence his handful of fine flour of the meat offering and of the oil, and all the incense which is upon the meat offering, and shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savor, as a memorial therefore unto the Lord: But the rest thereof shall Aaron and his sons eat: it shall be eaten without leaven in the holy place: in the court of the Tabernacle of the Congregation they shall eat it. It shall not be baked with leaven: I have given it for their portion of mine offering made by fire: for it is as the sin offering, and as the trespass offeirng. All the males among the children of Aaron shall eat of it: It shall be a statute forever in your generations concerning the offerings of the Lord made by fire: whatsoever toucheth them shall be holy: Again the lord spake unto Moses, saying, This is the offering of Aaron and his sons, which they shall offer unto the Lord in the day when he is anointed: the tenth part of an Ephah of fine flour, for a meat offering perpetual: half of it in the morning, and half thereof at night. In the frying pan it shall be made with oil: thou shlat bring it fried, and shalt offer the baked pieces of the meat offering for a sweet savor unto the Lord. And the Priest that is anointed in his stead, among his sons shall offer it: It is the Lord’s ordinance forever, it shall be burnt altogether. For every meat offering of the Priest shall be burnt altogether, it shall not be eaten. Furthermore, the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and say, This is the Law of the sin offering, In the place where the burnt offering is killed, shall the sin offeirng be killed before the Lord, for it is most holy. The Priest that offereth this sin offering, shall eat it:in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Whatsoever shall touch the flesh thereof shall be holly: and when there droppeth of the blood thereof upon a garment, thou shalt wash that whereon it droppeth in the holy place. Also the earthen pot that it is sodden in, shall be broken, but if it be sodden in a brazen pot, it shall both be scoured and washed with water. All the males among the Priests shall eat thereof, for it is holy. But no sin offering, whose blood is brought into the Tabernacle of the Congregation, to make reconciliation in the holy place, shall be eaten, but shall be burnt with fire. Leviticus 4:1–6:30
- Now when half the feast was done, Jesus went up into the Temple, and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, How knoweth this man the Scriptures, seeing that he never learned! Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself, seekth this own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. Did not Moses give you a Law, and yet none of you keepeth the Law? Why go ye about to kill me? The people answered, and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? Jesus answered, and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel. Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision, (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers) and ye on the Sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the Sabbath receive circumcision, that the Law of Moses should not be broken, be ye angry with me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath day? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Then said some of them of Jerusalem, is not this he whom they go about to kill? And behold, he speaketh openly, and they say noting to him: do the rulers know indeed that this is indeed that Christ? Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when tat Christ cometh, no man shall know whence he is. Then cried Jesus in the Temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and know when I am: yet am I not come of myself, but he that sent me, is true, whom ye know not. But I know him: for I am of him, and he hath sent me. Then they sought to take him, but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come. now many of the people believed on him, and said, When that Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than this man hath done? The Pharisees heard that the people murmured these things of him and the Pharisees, and high Priests sent officers to take him. Then said jesus unto them, Yet am I a little while with you,and then go I unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me, and where I am, can ye not come. Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? Will he go unto them tha tare dispersed among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What saying is this that he said, Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me? and where I am, can ye not come? Now in the last and great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unt ome, and drink. He that believeth in me, as saith the Scripture, out of his belly shall flow of water of life. (This spake he of the Spirit, which the that believed in him, should receive: for the holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) So many of the people, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is that Prophet: Others said, This is that Chirst: and some said, But shall that Christ come out of Galilee? Saith not the Scripture that that Christ shall come of the sed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So was there dissension among the people form him. And some of them would have taken him, but no man laid hands on him. Then came the officers to the high Priests and Pharisees, and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Doth any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believe in him? But this people, which know not the Law, are cursed, Nicodemus said unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, and was one of them.) Doth our Law judge a man before it hear him, and know what he hath done? They answered, and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no Prophet. And every went unto his own house . John 7:14–44
- His cheeks are as a bed of spices, and as sweet flowers, and his lips like lilies dropping down pure myrrh. His hands are as pillars of marble set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is as sweet things and he is wholly delectable: this is my well-beloved, and this is my lover, O daughters of Jerusalem. O the fairest aong women, whither is thy well-beloved gone? whither is thy well-beloved turned aside, that we may seek him with thee? Song of Solomon 5:13–16