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March 12, Day #72 – The Forgiveness of Sin is Expensive

Today’s readings focus on the topic of forgiveness. We see this clearly in Leviticus 23-24 which emphasize the different kinds of feasts, sacrifices, and offerings that - under the law - were necessary to bring Israel back into a right relationship with God. “These are the LORD’s appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times – The LORD’s Passover … the Firstfruits … the Feast of Weeks … the Feast of Trumpets … The Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles” (cf., Leviticus 23). Think of the ritualistic animal sacrifices and the livestock needed for them; think of the time consumed in offering all these sacrifices up to the Lord; and think of all the related activities necessary to carry them out. Thus, we learn from this chapter (and others) that the forgiveness of sin is expensive. Every feast, every offering, every activity that God required had a high price tag. We need to understand that forgiveness is free, but it is not cheap. In Leviticus 24, we see God’s requirement that the lamps in the tabernacle had to “be tended continually” (verses 2-4). The lamps, which are a picture of our Lord – the Light of the world – were to be kept burning because only Christ’s light can penetrate the thick darkness of sin; hope, in our dark world, can only be found in Him. We also see here that the “son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out” and “blasphemed the Name with a curse” (verses 10-11). The LORD told Moses to remove this man – take him outside the camp – and have him stoned for his curses and his blasphemy. A holy God requires his people to be holy … and He means business.

Psalm 32 is a beatific Psalm which informs us how wonderful it is to be forgiven of God. David indicates that forgiveness depends upon and comes to us through acknowledgement and confession of our sins to God. If “His hand is heavy upon us” (verse 4), we ought to consider that we may have committed sin, and if so, we should confess that sin before Him. God delights to forgive us; His love is “unfailing” (verse 10). Not only does God forgive us, but also He becomes our “hiding place” to protect us from trouble, and to “surround us with songs of deliverance” (verses 7-10). I can’t imagine a more beautiful picture - this is what God Himself desires for each of us.

In Mark 15:33-47, we are confronted by the extreme cost of our forgiveness - the precious, shed blood of God’s own Son. Nothing in this universe was more precious to God our Father than the blood of His Son. We could say that, economically, His blood was the most precious commodity in the entire universe because, by His death and the shedding of His blood, Christ effected our reconciliation to the One Whom we have offended. All the gold in the universe could not accomplish that. And, importantly, we must recognize that we are the ones who need to be reconciled - not God. As we said, forgiveness is expensive. We cannot pay its price, nor can we bring it about. In Mark 15, we also see that, upon the death of Christ, the temple veil was “torn in two from top to bottom” (verse 38). Here, both the action and the direction are important. God Himself did this. Christ’s death opened the way for all of us to enter into the holy presence of God.

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