February 17, 2007


Leviticus 17:10-16

"The life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement ..." Leviticus 17:11


In ages past people would eat the heart or the liver of a lion, believing they would receive its power and stealth. They did this with rituals, believing that magical powers were involved in the transfer. Some religious rites used blood for the same purpose.

Israel was not permitted to imitate those rituals because that would distort the purpose of the offering. Nothing in the offering itself could make life better, not even through magical powers. The animal's blood belonged to the Creator, the One who receives it sacrificially and counts it as a gift for the people's sake.

In Israel's history the people were often tempted to give in to impressive religious shows and displays of magical power. Idols were even placed in God's temple.

Magic still attracts people to power. People wear crystals, amulets, and copper bracelets for good luck or good health. They seek advice in tarot cards and horoscopes. Some give seed money to an evangelist, hoping it will be multiplied twenty, forty, or eightyfold. It's all a matter of seeking for life in all the wrong places.

Let's not imitate the magic this world believes in. There is no magic solution for anyone's problems.

But there is forgiveness for sin. The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ has been shed, once for all. Believe this truth by the power of God, and you will live.

Lord, wean us from any beliefs we have in luck or magic to help us. Wash us clean, Lord, so we can believe in the truth of your forgiveness, love, and guidance. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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