Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the Lord, and they are guilty, when the sin which they have sinned is known, then the congregation shall offer a young bullock for the sin . . . and it shall be forgiven them.”
Leviticus 4:13-14, 20
Israel’s population during most of the time of the Old Testament books was easily in the millions. That means if the entire nation sinned, millions of people were guilty. What does it tell us about God, that for the sins of millions in ancient Israel, God demanded but one young bull as an atoning sacrifice? If every guilty person in the nation had contributed the smallest possible amount to the purchase of the bullock, it would have added up to an amount far more than God required of them.
The God of the Old Testament is often described as a harsh, demanding God. But what is harsh about the sacrifice of one bullock for the sins of an entire nation? And what does it tell us about God that He required so little of those who had sinned against Him?
One thing it tells us is that God does not expect man to do something so grand that man merits His mercy. He knows we can’t do that. He has never demanded sophistication, wisdom, power, or proper style of those who call on Him for forgiveness. All He requires is faith enough to obey Him. He only asks that sinners repent and do what is right. He does not forgive sins based on how stylish people’s clothes are, or how impressive a building they can build, or how great a reputation they have. He forgives those who trust Him, those who will humble themselves to approach Him for forgiveness in the simple, sincere way that He tells us to come.
God is good. His compassion for fallen man is beyond understanding. He knows that we can never fix ourselves. And in our natural state of sinfulness, we do not have the strength or wisdom to do something so great in God’s sight that He would feel obligated to forgive or heal us. All He asks is the simplest thing He could ask us to do: trust Him. That is the one thing that He does require of us to be forgiven for our sin.