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  • Writer's pictureVicar Matt Doebler

Matins Devotion: May 4, 2023

Leviticus 17

One of the beautiful things that we see throughout all the Scriptures is that the Lord always wants his people to have certainty that they are his people. The Lord doesn’t hide the knowledge of himself from his people. The Lord gives them the revelation of himself from nature, he writes his law in their conscience, and ultimately, he reveals himself to his people through his Word. In this Word, he gives his people certainty that they belong to him by giving them the certainty that he is not angry with them. The Lord wants his people to know that he is merciful and gracious. That he is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

In all this blood talk from Leviticus 17, that’s what the Lord is doing. That’s the goal that he wants to bring about. He wants his people to have certainty about the place and the means by which their sins are forgiven. And so we see that the Lord commands that no blood sacrifices are to be offered except in front of the Tabernacle. Why? Because he doesn’t want the people to take atonement into their own hands. He doesn’t want his people to come up with their own ways of trying to have certainty that God’s divine wrath has been appeased.

This impulse is at the root of all idolatry and false religion. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about offering sacrifices to goat demons or to the Hindu goddess Kali—when man takes the task of atonement into his own hands, when he tries to invent his own system of works to receive God’s forgiveness, he runs into the perineal problem of the law. The law says “Do this—and it is never enough.” Taking atonement into our own hands never brings certainty—it only creates doubt and despair.

But God wants his people to be certain. He wants them to rest in the knowledge that he will be merciful to them. And so he commands them to bring their sacrifices to the entrance of the Tabernacle. Because he wants his people to see the priest take the blood that has been spilled from the lamb, or goat, or bull and throw it on the altar. The Lord wants his people to see the preaching of the gospel. To believe in their hearts what their Father Abraham knew by faith, that one day God would himself provide the blood sacrifice that would forever turn away his anger from his people.

And that’s why, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record for us that immediately following the death of Jesus on the cross, the Temple curtain that hangs in front of the Holy of Holies was torn in two—from top to bottom—torn by God’s own hand. It was to show that the days of bringing sacrifices to the Temple was over. The Lord’s people were no longer to look ahead—but to look back. They were no longer to anticipate what the Lord would do---but to remember what the Lord had done to atone for their sins. In all this, the Lord wants to give them, as he wants to give you, the certainty that your sins are covered. Your guilt is atoned for.

“The law says, “Do this—and it is never done. The gospel says, “Believe this—and everything is already done.”

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