Lent Devotion for March 12 – Second Sunday in Lent
"The Blood Makes Atonement"
Reader: “For everyone has sinned.”
Response: “We all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”
SCRIPTURE: Leviticus 17:11
11 for the life of the body is in its blood. 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.
SCRIPTURE: Romans 3:23-28
23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant had a cover called the Lid of Atonement. It was the place on which the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled. It was the place, the physical location of the exchange, the transaction of the forgiveness of sins. It was made of pure gold. God instructed Aaron that He would meet him there, once a year on the Day of Atonement, and speak to him from above the Atonement cover. In ancient times if someone killed his neighbor’s animal, he would repent and make restitution by “covering the corpse of the animal with grain, or gold.” You have heard that atonement is “at-one-ment.” It’s a renewal of a relationship. Paul reminds us in Romans that the sins of those in the Old Testament times were not actually atoned for with all the sacrifices. The writer of Hebrews reminds us as well of “the impossibility of the blood of bulls and goats ever taking away sin.” (Heb. 10:4). In Old Testament days, God held back bringing final judgment as He was looking ahead to the time of the coming of the Messiah, His Son, who would ultimately take away, not only the sin of the past, but sin of the future. The atoning sacrifice of Christ works both backward and forward in time. The theological words are anamnesis and prolepsis. Atonement involves repentance and reparation. Man must purify himself. That is why there are so many discussions in the Torah about the clean and the unclean. Ultimately it is impossible for man to be pure. Hence, the ultimate reparation is death, but it is the death of a sinful man. God is holy; man is not. Though man repents, his reparation must come from elsewhere. That “elsewhere” comes from Christ’s atoning death. We can say on God’s authority, your sins are forgiven!
MUSIC: “At the Cross" by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
O Lord, I have heard a good word inviting me to look away to Thee and be satisfied. My heart longs to respond, but sin has clouded my vision till I see Thee but dimly. Be pleased to cleanse me in Thine own precious blood, and make me inwardly pure, so that I may with unveiled eyes gaze upon Thee all the days of my earthly pilgrimage. Then shall I be prepared to behold Thee in full splendor in the day when Thou shalt appear to be glorified in Thy saints and admire in all them that believe. Amen.
– A.W. Tozer The Pursuit of God, p.98