Leviticus/ Va-Yikra 6:1 - 8:36
For the week of April 4, 1998
8 Nisan 5758
The Process of Forgiveness
In this way the priest will make atonement for him
before the LORD, and he will be forgiven for any of these things he did that made him
guilty (Leviticus/Va-Yikra 6:7).
A key aspect of the sacrificial ritual was forgiveness. Two of the offerings in particular, the sin offering and the guilt offering, were for the expressed purpose of dealing with guilt. While we do not offer animal sacrifice in our day, we would greatly benefit by working through this same process.
Sin is the failure to meet God's standards. These offerings confront us with the reality of the existence of sin. We often try to get rid of guilt by denying the reality of sin, but right and wrong are objective standards established by the Creator. When we do wrong, we, in fact, rebel against God, and abuse both the world and ourselves. Freedom from guilt is only possible once we accept that we, in fact, do wrong things.
The sacrifices were offered in a public setting. To find forgiveness and freedom from guilt, it was necessary to outwardly express one's realization of the wrong done. We read in 1 John:
This is not to say that it is the act of confession itself that frees us. But if we honestly acknowledge our wrongs to God, ourselves and others, confession becomes a vital part of our experiencing forgiveness.
Responsibility and Restitution
The people of Israel were commanded to pay back anything stolen from others. In order to come to grips with our misdeeds, we also need to do whatever we can to make up for them. We need to take personal responsibility for our own wrongs.
The Spilling of Blood
The sacrifices show us that the effect of our wrongs cannot really be reversed by anything we say or do. There is a penalty for sin.. As first told to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden:
By establishing sacrifice as the way to find forgiveness, God shows us that one life may be offered in the place of another. This was to prepare the nation of Israel and the whole world for the eventual coming of the Messiah, whose death provides the way for everyone to experience everlasting forgiveness.
But it is not just the fact that Yeshua died for us that allows us to experience God's forgiveness; it has to be a personal thing. It was by faith that the people of ancient Israel accepted the effectiveness of the sacrifice. And so we too need to believe that Yeshua died for us personally.
We read in the quote above that if a person followed these steps they would be forgiven. Guilt and forgiveness are not just states of mind. They are practical realities. In the same way that it was necessary to accept the existence of sin, it was really possible to experience forgiveness. What lacked in the sacrificial system, however, was that the sacrifices needed to offered over and over again. Yeshua's sacrificial death was once and for all time. If we accept his death as our own sin offering we can experience forgiveness once and for all.
No matter what we have done we can experience God's forgiveness. All we need to do is acknowledge and confess our sins, take responsibility for our wrongs, and accept the Messiah's sacrificial death on our behalf.