Devotional: Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Good Friday Collect 1 from The Book of Common Prayer

Almighty God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross, who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.  Amen.

Leviticus 5:14 Loving Your Neighbor

14 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 15 “If anyone commits a breach of faith and sins unintentionally in any of the holy things of the Lord, he shall bring to the Lord as his compensation, a ram without blemish out of the flock, valued in silver shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering. 16 He shall also make restitution for what he has done amiss in the holy thing and shall add a fifth to it and give it to the priest. And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and he shall be forgiven.

The guilt offering was the sacrifice that sought to make repayment for a violation against your neighbor.  In addition to making repayment for a sin committed against a neighbor it dealt with other types of guilt, too.  Specifically, it dealt with three instances which incurred guilt:  against the holy things of the Lord, against God’s commands by mistake, and sins against his neighbor.

When the Bible mentions the “holy things of the Lord”, it means the holy furniture and articles used for worship in the tabernacle, the sacrifices themselves, and the portions of sacrifices designated for the priests.  They were made holy by God when he accepted them as part of his worship.  Somehow, the worshiper profaned one of them in his carelessness (it most likely wasn’t done intentionally, see Nadab and Abihu in Lev. 10).

Sometimes we make mistakes, we mess up and do something wrong, but don’t know it at first.  That’s the second type of guilt this offering covers.  ““If anyone sins, doing any of the things that by the Lord’s commandments ought not to be done, though he did not know it, then realizes his guilt, he shall bear his iniquity.” (Lev. 4:17)

The sin against neighbor, like the sin against the holy things requires a 20% addition to it.  This is kind of the payment for damages.  The whole worth of whatever the priest determines your sinful action requires must be repaid, but in addition 20% more has to be added.   In this sacrifice we see a striking difference to Christ.  It’s presupposed here that repayment can be made, but in terms of our sinful condition, there’s nothing we can do to repay what we owe. 

This sacrifice has a lot to say about the people of God.  We are made into a people, not just individuals who love God and sometimes come together for our good and God’s glory.  We are truly united by Jesus’ work.  This sacrifice acknowledged that aspect of our relationships.  While David said in Psalm 51, “against you only (God) have I sinned”, he said in the ultimate sense of the word.  That God is good and he alone defines sin, and that all sins are ultimately committed against God.  Yet, we still understand that we can and do sin against other people.

It didn’t matter who you were in Israel nor who you offended.  If you sinned against your brother or sister, you were liable to repay its value to them plus 20%.  And your guilt incurred against your brother meant that you also were guilty in God’s eyes.  There are two important principles there:  first, all of God’s people are equal—equal in sinfulness, equal in righteousness, equal in restitution; second, God cares about his people, if you sin against your brother, God holds you guilty too.

Christ came and paid for our sins, not so that we can be free to sin again, but to be free from our sins.  To love our brothers and sisters as Jesus does. To seek God’s help in loving one another as He does.  Jesus said the two great commandments are “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  And You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Having trouble loving your brother or sister in Christ?  Remember that Jesus died for them too.  Remember that Jesus loves them as a perfect husband loves his bride.  Remember that Jesus is even now working in them to present his bride spotless before the throne of God.

In Jesus’ everlasting kindness and love,

Pastor Matt

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