…he [Aaron] will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts might be (Shemot / Exodus 28:38).
Purim (see the book of Esther) is this week (15 Adar / March 9). This week’s Torah portion includes a principle also found in the story of Esther.
The Torah describes the special garments that were to be worn by the priests as well as the ceremony involved in setting them apart for their work. Extra special garments were to be worn by the head priest (Hebrew: Cohen Ha-Gadol). In the midst of this description it is said that he would bear the guilt involved in the Israelites’ gifts to God.
This reference to guilt shows us that in terms of the people’s relationship to God, they were in trouble. They could not come to God in their present condition. Yet somehow the Cohen HaGadol was able to represent the people before God, providing a way for the people’s service to God to be acceptable.
It was God who provided this, so that his people could properly relate to him. On our own, in our current state, we fall short of what it takes to be in God’s presence. It takes a third party to make us acceptable.
This is demonstrated in the Purim story. The people of Israel were in great trouble, facing destruction due to the evil Haman’s scheme against them. But as it turned out God through his providence had someone who had access to the king and was able to plead their case before him.
Esther’s decision to approach the king meant her revealing her identity to him, thus risking her own life. Up until that point her identity was kept secret. She may have thought that as long as she hid her Jewish identity she would be safe. But that’s not what she did. She took the risk and represented her people before him, which saved them.
And so like the Cohen Ha-Gadol, Esther bore the plight of her people on herself and made a way for their acceptance.
Many others have stood in that place culminating with the Messiah himself. In a way neither Esther nor any of the High Priests could ever do, Yeshua has taken upon himself our guilt. Like Esther it was risky and, in his case, cost him his life.
Like the people in Esther’s day, we are in trouble. Our guilt prevents us from being in right relationship with God. But through Yeshua’s bearing our guilt before God, we have been made acceptable.
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