February 14, 2007

Once a Year for All

Leviticus 16:15-19, 29-33

"On this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you." Leviticus 16:30


Although Israel's priests worked daily to diagnose cleanness and uncleanness, they were not perfect. Further, not all Israelites reported their own skin conditions. By ignorance, carelessness, or just plain disobedience, such people made unclean all whom they touched.

Some conditions also went beyond the ability of the priests, like that of the woman who touched Jesus' cloak (Mark 5:27). Because she was always unclean, there was no way she would ever hear, "You are clean!"

Was this a terrible weakness in God's law? There was nothing wrong with the law. The problem was with the priests and the people who promised to live by it--but didn't or couldn't. Our minds and bodies, broken by sin, are a continual reminder of our uncleanness before God.

All of us live under the brokenness of sin. But the good news is that God is merciful. For all the conditions the priests missed or the people failed to report, and even for those conditions the priests could not deal with, God provided the Day of Atonement. On that great day all uncleanness was covered by the prescribed sacrifices. On the Day of Atonement you knew that God had heard your cry for cleansing.

Are you embarrassed and guilt-ridden because of your uncleanness before God? Look to the cross of Jesus, who atoned for all our sins--forever!

Lord, have mercy on me, an unclean sinner from birth. Thank you for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, who died to cover all our sin and to give us a new, clean life. In his name, 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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