Forgiven and Free

I began reading the Chronological Bible in January of this year, and I have loved every second of it. Granted, I am a slow reader and somehow always find myself days behind the day that I am supposed to be on, but I have learned to be ok with moving at my own pace. I have to read slow because my brain is wired with this weird obsession to deeply process everything that filters through it. Just ask my husband. He can read a chapter of something in minutes and it could take me an entire hour to read the exact same thing. But hey, I say as long as I am still reading, learning, and growing, there’s no harm done. As I continue to read, I am finding it impossible to not fall in love with the Old Testament. I have grown up hearing the stories that it emcompasses, but they seem to all be making so much more sense, fitting together like puzzle pieces. However, so far the book that has been the hardest for me to get through is Leviticus. You guys, it’s rough. It seemed so repetitive the whole time I was reading it. It is just chapter after chapter of rules and regulations from God to the Israelites. There are obviously some gold mines found amidst the mundane, but as a whole, I struggled to read it and get through it. There are plenty of books in the Old Testament that I have never read (real life), Leviticus being one of them. So me being me (stubborn and never turning down a challenge), of course I was determined to actually read every last word of it, no matter how repetitive and irrelevant it seemed to me. Now that I have read it all the way through, and because I took the time to actually read it, God revealed such a relatable concept in a book that seemed to be so distant from me.

Starting in Leviticus 1, God calls Moses to instruct the Israelites on the procedures for burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, and sin offerings. Following these specific procedures, we find ourselves in chapter 5 where God lets the Israelites in on what sins require a sin offering. He then tells them what they are supposed to do once they become aware of their guilt in order to make themselves right with Him again. Alright, I want you to stop reading this for a second, pick up your Bible, and read Leviticus 5:1-13. Bare with me. You can do it.

I genuinely hope that you read it, and I hope you haven’t left me here alone writing to myself. I know it may have been boring to read, probably somewhat confusing, and kind of morbid, but I promise I have a point. Don’t give up on me now.

The way in which this passage of scripture is formatted is something that we see a couple of times throughout all of God’s commands and instructions to the Israelites. However, as I read through this on my couch at 7:00 in the morning, this one in particular stood out to me. I don’t have a specific reason why except that God chose that moment in my living room to convict me. Not only had I been reading with an arrogance like I had nothing to gain from Leviticus, but by doing so, I was depriving myself the opportunity for God to speak to me through His words. I mean, really, leading up this point all I had read about was a bunch of sacrifices that we don’t have to do anymore because Jesus paid it all for us. Why should I take it seriously? Well, turns out I need to take my own advice because I always say that God specifically chose for His Word to contain the words that it does. After all, He is God and He doesn’t do anything without meaning and purpose. These words have to be there for a reason right? It’s possible that we may never understand all of the reasons, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying. And, who even am I? I am queen of reading and thinking deeply about EVERYTHING, so why was this different? Well like I said, as I read through this piece of scripture, God gave me new eyes to see and clearly a new brain to think, and I saw something so valuable. So valuable to God’s character and so valuable to our lives today.

If you’ll notice, beginning in verse 7 of Leviticus 5, God begins to give the people other ways to purify themselves of their sin if they are unable to afford the previous option. In just those 13 verses God gives the Israelites three ways, three chances, in which they can purify themselves before Him of their sins. Doesn’t this reveal so much to us about God’s character? God is not a God that likes to punish us. As we see here, even before Jesus and even amongst a people as broken and stubborn as the Israelites, God did not want them shackled to their sin. He did not want them to live a life of shame, guilt, and unforgiveness. A life separate from Him. So much so that He was willing to provide them with as many options as possible so that they could receive His forgiveness and find their way back to Him. God loves His people so deeply that He was and still is willing to give us every reason to turn to Him instead of run from Him. God does not want us to have any excuse as to why we seek sin instead of Him. In this instance, in order to be forgiven for their sins, the Israelites had to confess their sins and bring a female goat or sheep from their flock as penalty for their sin. If they did that, they would be made right with the Lord. Seems pretty straight forward. But God knows His people. He knows our hearts, our struggles, and our shortcomings. I can just imagine that there must have been some people among the Israelites that God knew would sin, that God knew would genuinely desire forgiveness from Him, but would be unable to attain it because of their lack of resources. God had compassion over these people and a love so deep that drove Him to create not one, but two more ways in which those with less could still come to Him and make themselves right with Him.

You are probably starting to realize where I am going with this. Aren’t we just like the Israelites? We live in a broken world and fallen humanity. We continue to sin. We doubt God. We are broken. We feel lost. It seems as though we always come up short. But guess what? God sees you. He sees me. He sees our culture and our world. And even still He does not desire for us to carry the burden of our sin. He wants us to seek forgiveness in Him so that He may remove it from our load and carry it for us. He wants us to understand our identity in Him so that we may see ourselves as He does and know that we have a purpose in Christ. Isn’t it humbling to think that God wants to make forgiveness from Him as accessible to us as possible? Here we are, continually doing wrong by Him and hurting His heart, yet, as we see with the Israelites, He goes out of His way to make forgiveness obtainable.

For us, we are not required to make animal sacrifices in order to receive freedom and forgiveness from the sins that we are slaves to. If we think that God made it easy on the Israelites, He has made it even easier for us. We don’t have to make animal sacrifices because Jesus sacrificed Himself for you and for me so that all we have to do is simply ask God for His forgiveness. We repent. We die to our sins, our old ways of life. We lay them at the feet of Jesus and desire nothing less than for God to step in, take charge, and forgive. We desire a changed heart, and genuinely want nothing other than a new life in Christ. Let that sink in for a minute. Jesus, God in human flesh, perfect in every sense of the word, suffered an unimaginable punishment and death so that we wouldn’t have to. You know the death that He suffered is what we deserve right? And again here we find ourselves understanding God’s character. He does not want to punish us so much so that He punished His Son instead. He wanted us to be able to find forgiveness in Him forever in the absolute easiest way possible. There is no reason we should not be able make ourselves right with our Lord. He has made it accessible to each and every one of us.

Now I don’t say any of this to say that we will never suffer consequences for our sins. I am also not saying that we should just keep on sinning because we know if we just ask God for forgiveness, He will forgive. Go read Romans 6. Paul has something to say about this. We have been set free from sin and shame to walk in freedom alongside of God. We GET to walk away from our sin and experience the life God desires for us. We take for granted how available God has made Himself to us. We read books like Leviticus and we are reminded how good we have it. We are also slapped in the face with the reality that even thousands of years later, we are just like the Israelites, and surprise, we have the same God that they had. All of the time, every second of everyday, we have a God that wants to live with us instead of apart from us. Our sin separates us from Him, but He is willing to meet us where we are at so that we are no longer slaves to our sin, and so that we can live in relationship with Him. God has made a way for us so that nothing can keep us from Him. We have no excuse. What excuses are you making? Confess that and come to Him today.