Religion: Buried Alive

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By Kathy Johnston

Have you ever been overwhelmed by a certain task that you’ve been avoiding?  The longer you put it off, the more it piles up?  I know I have!  I used to sell vintage clothing and items on Ebay.  I would go to lots of thrift stores and yard and estate sales to find these items to sell.  Obviously, to make a profit you have to build up an inventory.  I would bring home boxes full of items and stash them in our garage.  Unfortunately, I didn’t sell these items as fast as I found them.  Needless to say, my garage was full before long and I was looking for more storage space.  Soon I had a shed full of items also.  At this point, I knew I had a problem.  I needed to get some order in the situation and sell or get rid of all the stuff I had accumulated.  I remember standing at the door of the shed, looking at the seemingly impossible task before me and feeling overwhelmed.  Thankfully, my gracious, patient husband came alongside me and together we emptied the shed out and got rid of most the items.  What a relief that was-  I felt so free!  I have to confess my garage is still not empty, but it’s getting better!  

I’ve been reading through the Bible on a chronological plan that keeps me in the Old and New Testament at the same time.  As I was reading through Leviticus and Numbers, I was struck by the incredible amount of detailed instructions regarding sacrifices, offerings, special days, feasts and purification rites. I began to wonder what it would’ve been like for the Israelites.  I bet there were times when they felt like they could never catch up…or ever make enough sacrifices for sin.  I’m guessing there were times when the task seemed too impossible… like my shed stuffed full of items.  

Of course, now we know that that was the purpose of the law…to help us see that we never could fulfill all the law, and that we needed a Savior.

Back in that day, the priests would work in the tabernacle offering the same sacrifices of bulls and goats, over and over, day after day.  But the blood of those sacrifices was never enough, because the next day there would be more sin that needed to be atoned for.

It has been so exciting reading Hebrews at the same time as Leviticus and Numbers!  The writer of Hebrews talks about this very same dilemma!   Hebrews 9:22 says that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins”.  But here’s the good news:  Christ came as our High Priest.  “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12).   And in verse 26, “but as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”  

When Jesus Christ offered himself as a single sacrifice for sin, the work was done.  No more sacrifices needed.  “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”  (Hebrews 10:14)  One sacrifice to end all other sacrifices.  It’s done!  What a relief!  What freedom from the never ending, overwhelming cycle of sacrifices for sin.

Unfortunately, our enemy doesn’t want us to believe in this final sacrifice, so we struggle to atone for our own sins even though the price has already been paid.   Paul himself mentions this struggle in Romans 7;   “Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  Even with this great message we have available to us, we still try to make up or offer “sacrifices” for our sin.  But the fact is, apart from Christ, we are dead!  Dead means dead, no ability to do anything to save ourselves from this body of death and overwhelming pile of sin.  Oh wretched man that I am!!

How thankful I am then to read this;  “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.  This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.  He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”  (Colossians 2:13)

Just as it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins during the days of the old covenant, it is also impossible for us to make up for our sins by following certain religious moral behaviors or laws. Only one sacrifice could do that.  And it’s been done completely, at the cross.  “And by that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  (Hebrews 10:10)   

What a privilege it is to live under the new covenant!  Let’s “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”  (Colossians 1:10)  And let’s remind each other of this good news, confessing our sins to God and to each other.   “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”  (Colossians 1:13-14)

What can wash away my sins?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh precious is the flow, that
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

-Robert Lowry

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