February 15, 2007

Waiting All Year Long

Leviticus 16:20-28, 34

"Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites." Leviticus 16:34


The waiting made everything more difficult. Your arthritic knee was so painful that you could hardly wait for the surgery that promised to help. But there were others ahead of you. So you waited. And now, after surgery, there's more waiting till the pain disappears. Maybe some will always linger, the surgeon told you.

All year long Israel waited for the Day of Atonement. And, meanwhile, careless sin and incurable uncleanness added up, day after day. If you were aware of these, you couldn't get close to people or go to the altar in front of the tabernacle. But once a year all this suffering and waiting came to an end. All uncleanness and rebellion were completely covered by the atonement sacrifices.

Still, you had to wait all year. And while you waited, you suffered the shame and stain of your sin. You learned to wait patiently for God to do as he promised.

For us today, the Lord has done as he promised, once and for all. The great Day of Atonement has come. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, has fully cleansed us, washing away the shame and stain of sin.

Nevertheless, we are waiting for the Lord to come again. And while we wait, the shame and stain of our sin tempt us to believe nothing has changed, that we are still lost in our uncleanness. Don't believe that lie. Hold on to the truth of Christ's cleansing.

Turn our eyes toward Jesus, O Lord, that our faith may be patient as we await his coming again. Assure us and strengthen us to spread this good news while we can. 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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