Saturday, February 20, 2010

2010 – Feb. 20 – Chasing Away Scapegoats

Study from God’s Word - Exod. 23: 14-17, 34: 23; Deut. 16: 16-17; Exod. 34: 24; Exod. 34: 18; Deut. 16: 1-7; Num. 9: 13-14; Lev. 23: 4-8; Num. 28: 16-17; Deut. 16: 8; Num. 28: 18-25; Deut. 16: 9-12; Lev. 23: 9-14; Exod. 34:22; Lev. 23: 15-21; Numb. 28: 26-31; Lev. 23: 23-25; Num. 29: 1-6; Lev. 16: 1-5; Lev. 16: 6-34; Lev. 23: 26-32; Num. 29: 7-11; Lev. 23: 33-43; Num 29: 12-38; Deut. 16: 13-15; Lev. 23: 37-38, 44; Num. 29: 39-40 … Passage for Reflection: Leviticus 16: 22; … NIV The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert.

My Journal for Today: Well, my guess is that you didn’t likely follow me by reading all of the verses to which my Bible Reading guide has led me to read yesterday or today. When I saw what was asked of me to read/study today in my devotional bible series, I thought of the times when, staying overnight with grandparents, my grandmother would give me medicine, several teaspoons of Castor Oil, when I had an upset stomach. I remember that the second and third of those teaspoons, once having tasted the first, became terribly “yukky,” as she would say to me, “Now, young man, you take this because you need it!”

Well, my devotional guide today was having me study God’s instigation of the various FEASTS which were established by God to help God’s people remember and worship their God, helping them to remember what He had put them through and saved them from in their past. It was God’s way in those days to help God’s children retain their focus of worship in the One True God, Who had established an everlasting covenant with His people.

Well, it was tough reading; but it was good medicine for me to realize that we, of the New Covenant, can – and do – celebrate all that ancient Israel celebrated in our worship of Jesus Christ, Who, by becoming the sacrificial lamb, allow us to become the scapegoat and to run free, our sins having been atoned for by His blood sacrifice.

And it is this latter element of celebrated worship upon which F. LaGard Smith focuses in his highlighted verse for today from Leviticus 16: 22, which describes how, during the Day of Atonement, now called “Yom Kippur,” the priest laid his hands on the head of one of lambs, which was then sent out into the wilderness as a symbol of God laying all the confessed sins of His people on the head of another, perfect lamb. And it was this second, perfect lamb, who, by lot, became the blood sacrifice for the sins of all of God’s people.

I know it can seem so contrived that God would create such an elaborate way for God to give His people a way of celebrating what God had done for His people; but it was also God’s way of painting a picture of what would one day be the very real and final way for God to set His people free from their sins. And I’m sure it’s not difficult for Christians today to see whom has become the scapegoat and Whom was the perfect Lamb of sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. Our sins, of course, were laid on the head of the Lamb of God, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ; and we become the scapegoat, running free into the wilderness as the Lamb of God became the atoning blood sacrifice for our confessed sins.

Dr. Smith’s question today hits deep after I took my “medicine” and read through all that God did in ancient Israel to paint a ceremonial picture of what would take place when the perfect Lamb of God would be taken outside the city and sacrificed, becoming the sacrificial Lamb, shedding His blood so that I can live and go free, having confessed my sins and letting the Lamb of God take upon Himself my sins; and paying for my sin debt with His blood. Dr. Smith’s question is this: ”Does my gratitude match the extent of Christ’s love when He willingly became a scapegoat for the sins I will commit even this very day?”

As we enter the season of lent – the 40 days prior to Easter – we have to answer that question by the attitude we hold about what we’re willing to do to remember what God did for us by providing His Lamb to become both the scapegoat and the sacrificial lamb, taking our sins upon Himself and shedding His blood so that we can live and walk free for eternity. I’m glad I took my medicine today and read these passages to remind me of just how much I take for granted.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I’m totally convicted by my sinfulness and so grateful for Your sacrifice. Amen

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