Calvary’s Anthem from the Valley of Vision
There is power in the blood of Calvary to destroy sins more than can be counted even by one from the choir of heaven. Thou hast given me a hill-side spring that washes clear and white, and I go as a sinner to its waters, bathing without hindrance in its crystal streams.
At the cross, there is free forgiveness for poor and meek ones, and ample blessings that last forever; the blood of the lamb is like a great river of infinite grace with never any diminishing of its fulness as thirsty ones without number come to drink of it. Amen.
Leviticus 4:4-7 Being Cleaned with Blood
4 He shall bring the bull to the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord and lay his hand on the head of the bull and kill the bull before the Lord. 5 And the anointed priest shall take some of the blood of the bull and bring it into the tent of meeting, 6 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle part of the blood seven times before the Lord in front of the veil of the sanctuary. 7 And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense before the Lord that is in the tent of meeting, and all the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting.
The regulations around the sin offering span Lev. 4:1 through 5:13 and again in Lev. 6:24-29, but we aren’t doing a thorough, in-depth, study of Leviticus. We’re looking at these sacrifices devotionally. Still it’s good for us to understand them, so that the applications we find are valid applications.
First, we notice that the symbolic transfer of guilt is the same. The worshiper or representative worshipers [see provision for congregational sin—4:13-21] lay hands on the sacrificial victim symbolizing that this animal is their substitute. Second, notice that the blood manipulation is different. The priest dips his finger in the blood and sprinkles part of it seven times before the veil that separates the holy place from the holy of holies. And blood is put on the altar of incense; horns on the altar refers to its raised corners that keep the incense where its supposed to be. Third, in verses 11-12 we read, “But the skin of the bull and all its flesh, with its head, its legs, its entrails, and its dung— 12 all the rest of the bull—he shall carry outside the camp to a clean place, to the ash heap, and shall burn it up on a fire of wood. On the ash heap it shall be burned up.” We read in v. 21 that a similar thing happens to the bull of the sin offering which was for congregational sin. The majority of the bull is burnt outside of the camp, not on the altar. Finally, like the other offerings, this one also has a graded scale based on income, “if he cannot afford a lamb, then he shall bring to the LORD as his compensation…two turtledoves or two pigeons…if he cannot afford two turtledoves…then…a tenth of an ephah (about 9 1/3 cups) of fine flour for a sin offering.” (5:7, 11)
Like all sacrifices, God demands atonement for sin, but he doesn’t require the death of his people. A substitute can be offered instead. The animal becomes the sin of the Israelites.
The sin offering demonstrated to the Israelites the corruption and pervasiveness of sin. The corruption is seen in the fact that the holy things of the tabernacle have to be cleaned with the blood of the offering. Those holy things are inanimate objects they can’t commit sin. They can’t commit anything at all! Yet they need to be cleaned because the Israelites’ sin has corrupted them. And sin is everywhere, even the clean Israelite camp isn’t holy, so it has sin in it. Only the holy realm is sin free—only God is without sin.
The sin offering becomes the sin of the Israelites. The blood is needed for cleansing, but the flesh of the animal is now wholly sinful and is disposed outside of the camp. The reprehensiveness of sin is seen here. Now that the substitute has become so defiled, it can’t be placed on the altar, it can’t even be kept in the camp.
God’s grace isn’t dependent on ability. Even the poorest of the poor can give their offering. All fall short of the glory of God and all of God’s people are given access through God’s appointed means.
Each of these aspects point to our need of Christ and his sufficiency. We need a substitute acceptable to God, and only Jesus is acceptable. He is the God-man because man owed God for the offense of sin and only God is holy, thus able to fulfil the requirements of the covenant of works (not to mention only God could withstand the Father’s wrath).
Our sinfulness isn’t fully known by us. Our corruption touches everything we touch—even our good works are only good as they are offered through Jesus, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ sacrifice cleanses us—from our least to our greatest sins!
He became sin for us who knew no sin so that we might become the righteousness of God. In the process of giving us his cleansing blood, Jesus became wholly defiled in God’s sight. He is the brightness of heaven, he dwells in unapproachable light, but for our sake Jesus didn’t get dirty from sin’s corruption. No, Jesus became that filth (think excrement from Joshua’s robes in Zechariah 3) which makes God’s creation unclean.
All of us are welcome in through our Savior. It wasn’t than anyone could offer the correct sacrifice. It was than no one could—all have sinned, none are righteous, their throat is an open grave, there is no fear of God before their eyes. Only God gave the sacrifice that atones—the sliding scale simply allowed everyone to take part in the ritual. We are all welcome, not on our merits, but on Jesus’ merits. Give thanks to him!
We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Heb. 13:10-16)
May the Lord keep you today, tomorrow, and for eternity,