Death Pays A Wage

One of the vehicles on our property recently caught fire.

Despite its proximity to several other vehicles, the fire was miraculously contained. The lack of rain and high winds here in Texas has created a volatile situation on the ground. There are several grass fires burning around the state and earlier this week, my mom was evacuated from her home overnight due to a fire that raged within two miles of where she lives.

Of all the ways God revealed Himself to the nation of Israel, I think fire must have been the most terrifying.

“Fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the whole-offering and the portions of fat on the altar. At the sight, all the people shouted joyfully and prostrated themselves.”

lev 9:24

How could the people be joyful over such a sight? The fire signified that God had accepted their offering. What was this offering? It was a purification and a whole offering, made for the expiation of the people of Israel.

Expiation is a fancy word that means “to make payment for.”  The people had sinned against God. Just as we all do. “For all alike have sinned, and are deprived of the divine glory;” The offering, in this case, a lamb and a calf, were killed in payment for the sins of the people. God’s wrath, His holy fire, consumed the offering and signaled that He had accepted the payment. 

It’s hard for us to read about the slaughter of innocent animals. But our sin has consequences and, ultimately, “sin pays a wage, and the wage is death.” In the early days of the nation of Israel, this “wage” was paid by the killing of an innocent, unblemished animal.

God told them:

“because the life of a creature is the blood, and I appoint it to make expiation on the altar for yourselves: it is the blood, which is the life, that makes expiation.” (Lev 17:11)

The book of Leviticus lays out twenty-seven chapters of laws and what to do when those laws were broken. It was a recurring cycle for the nation of Israel. They were given the law, they broke the law, they were sorry for breaking the law, and they offered an innocent animal to “pay” the penalty for breaking the law. Then the cycle started all over again.

How exhausting! Perhaps you’re feeling a bit exhausted, too? By the failures in your own life? The mistakes or poor choices that have had consequences not only for you but for others? Maybe you’re just tired of trying to be good enough. Tired of trying to hold it all together. Tired of trying to figure it all out and find your way in the dark.

The hardest thing we ever do is admit we’re wrong. Admit that we’ve fallen short. That we’ve sinned. To admit we can’t do it all and do it perfectly, and frankly, we don’t want to keep trying.

The Good News is that there is Someone who can take our mess, our failures, our striving, and give us a new start.

“Christ was innocent of sin, and yet for our sake, God made Him one with human sinfulness so that in Him we might be made one with the righteousness of God.”

2 Cor 5:21

Christ’s death on the cross mirrored the Levitical sacrifices. But unlike the calves and lambs, Jesus’ sacrifice did not end in death.  Jesus is alive! Easter, Resurrection Sunday, celebrates this Truth.

And because He is alive His death did what the offering of calves and lambs could never do. It paid the price for our sin – once and for all.

“There have been many Levitical priests because death prevents them from continuing in office, but Jesus holds a perpetual priesthood because He remains forever. That is why He is able to save completely those who approach God through Him since He is always alive to plead on their behalf.”

Hebrews 7:23-25

So what is your response to these truths? Do you want the salvation that Jesus offers?

“If the confession ‘Jesus is Lord’ is on your lips, and the faith that God raised Him from the dead is in your heart, you will find salvation.”

Romans 10:9

It’s that simple, friends.

“For it is by grace you are saved through faith; it is not your own doing. It is God’s gift, not a reward for work done.”

eph 2:8-9

“If we claim to be sinless, we are self-deceived and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is just and may be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every kind of wrongdoing.”

1 john 1:8-9

There is freedom in the arms of Jesus.

He is risen. He is risen indeed.

2 thoughts on “Death Pays A Wage

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