Fifteen maybe twenty pounds, ears still pink, clear black eyes shining through pure white fleece not yet long enough to shear, without defect, flawless, without blemish, selected from a group kept separate from the rest of the flock specifically for this special purpose, this tiny lamb is brought to the entrance of the tent of meeting. There, I lay my hands on the small wooly head imparting my sin to this innocent of God’s creatures, my fault on the faultless.
I slit its throat.
The tiny heart sprays its life blood through the opened carotid until there is not enough left to sustain life. The anointed priest smears some of this blood on the horns of the altar, the rest he pours out at the base where it mingles with the blood of hundreds of other sacrifices; bulls, goats, lambs, doves. The priest butchers the carcass removing the fat; the fat which covers the entrails, the fat on the kidneys, the loins, the liver and burns it on top of the altar where thousands of such offerings have been burned. Its smoke rising through the curtains of the temple, now coated with the soot and steeped with the smoke of thousands of sacrifices. The blood is on my hands, the aroma of burning flesh in my nostrils, the heat of the fire against my face of my sin offering … my offering for my sin. The sickly sweet smell stays in my nose longer than my hands stay sticky from the blood, the stains on my clothes last much longer; the reality of my offering for my sin lasts for days.
Leaving the tent of meeting, blood stained, reeking of the smoke of burned animals, it is impossible to leave behind my personal involvement in the offering for my sin. Personal involvement? Is this the kind of involvement Paul speaks of when he appeals to me to present my body as a living sacrifice; holy and acceptable to God (Rom 12:1); an intensely personal, extremely intimate, “get it on me”, heart to heart encounter with the Living God? My “reasonable” service of worship.
Tonight, I’m stuck, asking myself when was the last time … hmmph … last time? When have I EVER left my offering at the altar of my God and walked away feeling truly involved, affected, impacted, changed?
Yet how often to I leave what I call “church”, discussing the finer points of the bible study or sermon and wondering what’s for lunch. How often am I more concerned about the level of the thermostat than I am about my relationship with the Most High? How often do I comment on the length or choice of music and remain completely unconcerned about my “reasonable” service?
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB)*2 He allowed Himself to be slaughtered as the sacrifice for my sin. It was His blood, the blood of the perfect lamb poured out on the altar of God. As High Priest of all creation He presided over this sacrifice. He executed this His perfect sacrifice of His perfect Son by His own hand … for me … for you. Shouldn’t His personal involvement in my salvation affect me, shouldn’t it impact me, change me? Shouldn’t that mean SO much more than the building or the pews or the music or ANYTHING else?
I cannot help but think that if I get that right, if I understand that, comprehend that I won’t even notice a thermostat or what song was sung or even IF one was sung …
“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 (NKJV)*1
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 (NKJV)*1
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 12:1 (NASB)*2
“‘But if he brings a lamb as his offering for a sin offering, he shall bring it, a female without defect. He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they slay the burnt offering. The priest is to take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and all the rest of its blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar. Then he shall remove all its fat, just as the fat of the lamb is removed from the sacrifice of the peace offerings, and the priest shall offer them up in smoke on the altar, on the offerings by fire to the LORD. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him in regard to his sin which he has committed, and he will be forgiven.” — Leviticus 4:32-35 (NASB) *2
*1 “Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
*2 Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org)
Yeah, too long, but that’s where I am …