Leviticus 5 describes a sliding scale for sacrifices; the wealthier the repentant sinner, the more expensive the sacrifice. The sacrifice needed to make a significant economic impact upon the one offering it and the cost of restitution was somewhat dependent upon the infraction (Leviticus 5:16). Sin had a price which took the form of livestock, birds and grain. Blood flowed continually at the altar. The sin of the people kept the priests busy.
Five times in chapter 5 the author of Leviticus repeats, “…the priest shall make atonement on your behalf for the sin that you have committed, and you shall be forgiven.” Repentance, forgiveness and restitution matter to God, the sinner and the community. The process is physical and burdensome, but also seems limited. What about sins committed that one might have a blindspot to? What then?
“Who can say ‘I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin?’ ” Proverbs 20:9
I am powerless to break the power of sin and death on my life. Guilt is wall between God which I am unable to scale, but God the priest bows low to provide the cleansing sacrifice— lower than one could ever imagine. He sends his pure and sinless Son, Jesus to do what all my personal sacrifices can never do. The blood of Jesus flows so that I am forgiven. Jesus brings the wall down so that I may stand in the presence of the Holy One of Israel.
Confession and repentance are even more important business in the light of what Jesus did on my behalf. God forgive me for ever taking the sacrifice of his Son for granted.
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts
When I survey wondrous cross, On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
“… for the life of the body is in its blood.” Leviticus 17:11a NLT.
Leviticus 17 speaks against consuming blood, and instructs the way to offer a sacrifice.
“I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.” Leviticus 17:11b NLT.
Instructions for the native Israelite and the foreigner living among them who “goes hunting and kills an animal or bird that is approved for eating, he must drain its blood and cover it with earth.14 The life of every creature is in its blood. That is why I have said to the people of Israel, ‘You must never eat or drink blood, for the life of any creature is in its blood.’” Leviticus 17:13-14 NLT.
This is the image, blood poured out upon a field, that stays with me when I read Matthew.
3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders.4 “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”
“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.”
5 Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.
6 The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.”7 After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners.8 That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood.9 This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says,
“They took the thirty pieces of silver— the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel, 10 and purchased the potter’s field, as the Lord directed.” Matthew 27:3-10 NLT
Judas is weighted down with remorse at the realization of his betrayal. It is a guilt he cannot carry, and a pardon no man can issue. The leading priests and elders had no desire to help him.
“What do we care?” they say.
“That’s your problem,” they say.
The money purchases a cemetery for foreigners, this field of blood, blood where life is found. With the distinction of native and foreigner in Leviticus, and the cemetery for foreigners purchased with blood money in Matthew, the way is laid out–a way for everyone who believes that Jesus died for their sins.
Father, no ordinary man can take away the guilt or shame of my sin. Left with this burden, I would also be weighted to hopelessness. Even in my beginning years as a Christian, I couldn’t grasp freedom from the burden, just a growing shame of my humanity. How I recognized my need for a savior. Only the blood of your son could take away my sin, make a way for life (now and eternally), and make purification possible. It is time in your word that tells me again and again of your great love. When the world is quick to condemn and leave me weighted down by my imperfections, mistakes and sins–you don’t give up on me, your mercies new every day, your faithful love unending. I am grateful.
“You lifted the cloud of guilt from your people, you put their sins far out of sight. You took back your sin-provoked threats, you cooled your hot, righteous anger. Help us again, God of our help; don’t hold a grudge against us forever.” Psalm 85:1-7 MSG
This week I had the privilege of sitting on a mentor mom panel for my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. I have been in MOPS for 10 years, since my oldest was a baby. It was humbling to be giving advice to younger moms.“How do you show love to multiple children, so none of them feel left out?,” was one of the questions that was asked. While there’s a lot of ways I can show love to my kids, forgiveness was one of the words that came to mind. I am quick to ask for forgiveness from my kids when I mess up. And when they apologize to me, I don’t ever want them to question my love and wonder where they stand with me. I think about how I am sometimes left wondering if someone is still harboring a grudge against me. Or, do I have an unforgiving heart that has a become a stumbling block for me?
I am grateful that I never have to question God’s love for me., or have to wonder where I stand with Him. He accepts my apology and forgives me that second. It is gone from His mind…Will I ever fathom that?
When I come to Him…He embraces me fully.
“It wasn’t long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose His temper and do away with the lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with incredible love, He embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ.” Ephesians 2:1-5 MSG
Thank you Father that Your love for me never changes. Help me to remember that, so I don’t hold on to guilt, that never comes from You. I pray that I would be quick to ask for forgiveness and forgive others, knowing how much You forgave me. Amen.
Writers block, Distractions? NO, I do NOT have any of those. My brain is constantly spinning and life is going on around me, people are moving by at fast paces, children are laughing in the background, families are arguing in the stores, men are begging for food on sidewalks, I am on the side of the road taking photos of a car bumper lying in the middle of the highway all while cars are zooming by, I am waking up late/missing the bus for the kids thus finding myself smack dab in the hallway of the school still in my pajamas searching for my child’s folder that his brother had taken by accident; and all the while..LIFE GOES ON…I whirl right by as soon as those moments are past. I HAVE to get to my appointment and then to the store to get the stuff to make the things so family can eat so they will go to bed and then I can have quiet and rest. This week has been a whirlwind of events ranging from : 1)having yet ANOTHER birthday , 2) receiving a very hard to swallow pill of a phone call regarding my child, 3) having someone from my past (whom I thought had been left there) confront me trying to cause temptation to resurface within me, 4) hearing that another friend whom had fallen deep into sin was now wanting to make changes in their life and was asking for my family’s insights and prayers. 5)having to explain to someone the reasons behind a firm decision I had made knowing it was none of their business but if I did not share it they would not stop asking me “why, why, why?” THE NOISE, THE VIVID SCENES carved deep into my heart and brain. Where do I find solitude and peace???
I was invited two days ago to attend a celebrate recovery event to listen and support a friend whom had been asked to share her testimony of God’s working in her life. I found myself still there after she was done speaking and decided to go into one of the smaller groups because another friend was there so I figured I could support her because why else would I go in? I DO NOT have ANY issues. I’m involved in church, I write for a Christian Bible blog, I sing on a worship team, I have a lot of good friends and am “on the right track.” My past has some ups and down, sure, but that is over and done with now. As I sat listening to others share, something happened within me that for the first time in 33, YES COUNT THEM, 33 years, God completely knocked me over the head, brought me to my knees in a moment of complete vulnerability and I confronted some very deep things that had been thrown to the wayside and overlooked because of my deep rooted PRIDE that I had forgotten about! I had chosen to not admit that I was struggling in these areas, but somehow believed I could mask it for so long and it would magically not weigh me down. There were no alter calls or any pressure to share by any of the others who were there, but I felt God’s pricking on my heart. As I obeyed, I released guilt, sorrow, pain, pride, envy, anger, stressors, thoughts of “what will others think of a,b, or c”. There I sat in one breath feeling completely renewed and suddenly in my human state was fearing that the direct acknowledgement of these issues would surely reveal that I was a hypocrite in some manner of speaking and could never be used by God again.
I do not have an astounding across the board theme and story depiction for these four chapters I am writing about today, but there is ONE thought and 3 verses that stood out to me!
Psalms 79:8-9 “Oh, do not hold us guilty for our former sins! Let your tender-hearted mercies quickly meet our needs. For we are brought low to the dust. Help us, O God of our salvation! Help us for the honor of your name. Oh, save us and forgive our sins for the sake of your name.” 2 Samuel 24:25 “David built an altar there to the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the Lord answered his prayer, and the plague was stopped.”
My “plague” that has burdened me for so many years and eaten away at my inner being HAS BEEN STOPPED. God can and will continue to use me just as he used David amidst his wrongs and JESUS is the answer to “Where I find my solitude and peace”. No more whirlwinds and scurrying by missing out on the heart of the matter just to ensure that the surface of it is “completed”.
Precious Father, I am unworthy of your mercy and grace, yet here I sit being surrounded by it and your never-ending love. You have taught me that eloquence and “perfectionism” is not a requirement to be used for your glory. You simply desire me, in my brokenness. For that I am eternally grateful. Use me, lead me, guide me and slow me down so that I do not find myself having to scrape off a mask again just to see what I am missing around me. Amen.
Although I’ve known of this song for years, it speaks direct louder volumes to me today!
In a recent Bible Study I attend, the ladies had just finished sharing their thoughts on a chapter in Exodus in which most of our focus was on how to obey God and root out our sins of omission and commission. A new member of the group seemed frustrated with us all for what she said was too much emphasis on guilt and this constant self-flagellation. She asked, “Where is the joy in that?”
At the time I felt defensive because I do enjoy the presence of God. Yet, I have to admit that my conscious is often pricked with concern that I am guilty of something. This is really false guilt and combined with an overactive conscious and can either drive a person to relentless striving for perfection or to giving up on the whole idea of becoming good enough.
Why do we place these burdens of guilt on one another? How do we know when we are truly guilty as opposed to when we are operating out of false guilt? How do we respond to the accusations of others when our actions are not sinful?
Scripture is not hazy on these points, I do not think. For instance, in Genesis 42 we read that Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt seeking food, and without knowing that he could understand their language, admitted their guilt. How amazing that after all those years since throwing Joseph into a pit and selling him to a caravan of traders, the brothers would believe that their treacherous treatment of Joseph was the reason for their current troubles. They rightly judged their actions as guilty.
Then in Job, we read that Bildad falsely accuses Job and his sons as having committed acts against God and that therefore, Job’s family deserved vengeance. Stripped of his health, bereaved of his sons, and shunned by his friends, Job could have agreed with Bildad. Yet, God had said that Job was blameless, so all that Job could do was to wait for vindication.
Then again, in Mark, we learn through a parable that God judges those who seek to destroy the innocent. There was a clear picture of mayhem and murder by the vineyard laborers. Jesus was just a clear about what would happen to them in the end. No false guilt here.
So it seems that we can know guilt from false guilt. Romans 12 sums up how to rightly divide good and evil. It says, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” Further, good is described as, “Be kindly, affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another, not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope…” Salvation is the answer to guilt, and loving God and serving one another is the answer to false guilt. There, then, is the joy!
Join us again in 2023 as we read the Bible in a year using a 5-day weekly reading plan. Weekday readings to take you on a journey through the Bible, 5-days a week through the year. Weekends are off, or use them to catch up.
We hope you’ll journey with us!
Welcome to the club
We’re just regular people reading the Bible to know God better. With insights and commentaries from Christians in various stages of life and their walk with the Lord, we invite you to join us in reading the Bible’s rich truths from start to finish.
Whether it’s your first time here, or you’ve read The Book before, we know God will meet you where you are.
(c) Copyright 2008-2023. All rights reserved. Please do not reprint content in part or completely without written permission. Contact email@example.com for information. Opinions and comments expressed here are not necessarily shared by contributors. 66 Books is not affiliated with any other site.