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Leviticus - Week 2 Atonement

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Leviticus - Atonement

Why is marking a wrong right so hard?



Leviticus 16:6-10
Leviticus 16:6–10 CEB
Aaron will offer the bull as a purification offering to make reconciliation for himself and his household. He will take the two male goats and place them before the Lord at the meeting tent’s entrance. Aaron will cast lots over the two goats: one lot labeled “the Lord’s” and the other lot labeled “Azazel’s.”Aaron will present the goat selected by the Lord’s lot and perform a purification offering with it. But the goat selected by Azazel’s lot will be left standing alive before the Lord in order to make reconciliation upon it by sending it away into the wilderness to Azazel.
Let us begin by defining Atonement
Atonement “The activity of atoning for sin or wrongdoing, especially in regards to appeasing a deity”
“The activity of atoning for sin or wrongdoing, especially in regards to appeasing a deity”
For most of us, we find ourselves in church at some point for this reason.
To some, it is THE reason for faith.
We know what it means to have to ask for forgiveness from God because we all have had to do it. We all know the pain we have felt when someone has done us wrong and we all know both sides of pain from inflicting hurt on others. The human emotions that we have had to live through are in a large part the catalyst for our knowing the pain of sin.
Our human reaction is to make it right or to make it gone
We get to this section of Leviticus and there is a purification scene before us. Aaron will make a sacrifice of an animal, something that has not only real size but costs his family in vulnerability with the loss of the best quality of life giving food.
So what’s the deal with the goats?
I know that is the main question so lets step back from it and first look at the lots that were cast.
Casting of lots is the practice of discerning answers from deities by the use of small objects and a jar (think bunco or yatzze). The order that the pieces fall out of the jar determine what the will of the deity is. Aaron was casting lots so that he wasn’t the one responsible for what goat did what, he wanted God to own that and he wanted to simply accomplish the job however possible.
This was a part of one of the many formalized rituals that were in place to act through the atoning of sin.
The beautiful part of the OT was that there were systems and structures. This is also one of the biggest stumbling blocks but there was a purpose.
We gravitate toward things that have meaning and significants. We do that in the small things and we do that in the large things.
Jesus as THE atoning sacrifice
From a Christian perspective, Jesus came as a final sacrifice and ended the traditional mode that was present.
God knew that no number of offerings would ever make up for the total cumulative sin that was in the world and so in the death of Jesus the cumulative debt of the world was paid and in the resurrection the life offered free from that debt was displayed. Now we could write a few sermons on how that all worked and what it all means but instead of those weeds today I want you to remember that what was learned is that no full measure of our sinfulness was freed in these rituals but only in Jesus were they.
This is great and this is awful!
This is great because we don’t have to do those things any more
This is awful because we don’t quite have the practice like we used to.
as a note, this is one of the reasons that the confessional in the Catholic church is so powerful still today, it ritualizes and gives shape to something we know we need yet cannot understand in the abstract.
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