Exodus 32 tells the story of the way in which Israel breaks the Mosaic covenant with Yahweh before Moses is even able to come down Mount Sinai with the tablets. That’d be like a newlywed cheating on their spouse between the wedding and reception! Yet, after a rich conversation with Moses in chapters 33 and 34, God perseveres with His people. He promises to be faithful to them despite their grave failure. Can you believe it?
On the last page of Exodus, we read about how the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle as the cloud of His presence rested on the tent of meeting. The scene is full of God’s literal glory and builds to the moment when humans will once again dwell with Him, but there’s a hitch. When Moses tries to enter, he can’t. This cliff-hanger leads us right into the book of Leviticus, as we wonder how anyone will ever be able to enter into God’s presence if Moses himself cannot.
In the ancient world, sacrifices were the primary way people garnered the favor of their temperamental gods, but Leviticus shows us that ritual sacrifices to Yahweh are God’s plan for the covering of our sin and allows for His people to become pure so that they may enter His presence. Leviticus also lays out ritual feasts, laws for the priests, and ritual purity laws—all for the purpose of making the people holy, as God is holy.
Here, the biblical authors lay a foundation for the concept of atonement, the idea that sin can be covered. In Leviticus 17, God tells Moses, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.“ The power for life is in the blood.
What Israel experienced in a temporary way through ritual sacrifices and ritual purity laws, we, by God’s grace through faith, receive through the blood of Christ. And as we trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, we also access God’s presence through His Spirit and a transformed heart.
Jesus taught in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Indeed, it’s by Christ’s blood, that we are able to experience purity in heart, and therefore behold God. We in Jesus are living sacrifices, one’s who have experienced the truth of these words from the prophet Ezekiel, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (36:26).
Today, take a moment to ponder the power of Christ’s blood, which covers our sins and gives us access to His presence through the Holy Spirit. Do you struggle with guilt and shame? In Jesus’ name, you are pure. Do you believe it? Now you get to act like it! By God’s grace, through faith. You might feel a little bit like Moses today, unable to access God’s presence. Rest your heart, dear sister. He is nearer than you can imagine, and He’s already made a way for life in His blood.
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