Invited & Welcomed

Reading through Leviticus chapter 16 initially brought an interesting sorrow for me as I read a completely opposite message from what I am used to reading in the New Testament. The sorrow didn’t last long, and it actually turned into a complete reversal of joy and elation as I examined the stark contrast between what we read in the Old Testament and what we are invited to in the New covenant. We are constantly reading in New Testament scripture that we are to boldly come to the throne of grace. We can come at any time and come as we are, and we have complete freedom to see Jesus, face to face at the mercy seat. We are completely unhinged, unlimited and unmasked from the presence of God. We have total and complete access because of Jesus. Nothing to be sad about here, right? But as I read Leviticus 16 the complete opposite message was being conveyed because it was the old covenant. Aaron’s two sons had gone into the tent of meeting unauthorized and offered God a “strange and unauthorized fire” in their firepans, so they died instantly. The scripture doesn’t tell us why these two brothers decided to go off and do this thing on their own, but the tent of meeting was a very serious place. In chapter 16 God was revisiting this incident with Moses and sternly warning Aaron that he could not just enter the tent of meeting whenever he wanted. In fact, there was a very long set of prescribed procedures he had to follow because he was responsible for the entire community of Israel and if he did just one of the hundreds of steps wrong, he could and would die instantly. Just like his two sons had. He literally carried the weight, the sin, and the risk of the entire community of Israel every time he went in to the tent of meeting to make these sacrifices. There were bells and ropes attached to his ankles just in case he made a mistake and dropped dead while he was in there so they would be able to drag his body out of there without being at risk themselves. As I continued reading, I noticed there was a whole procedure for him to complete the appropriate sacrifices for the community’s sin, and then release a live goat that represented all of their sin and rebellion and it was released in a remote location to wander. The person that released the goat had clean up procedures for after handling the live goat, and then Aaron had other procedures after handling and releasing the goat as well. Then he had to perform more sacrifices and things afterward as part of his purification process. This is a lot! Aaron literally carried the weight, sin, and responsibility of the entire community every time he had to perform these rituals and sacrifices. It really put a huge perspective on the fact that when Jesus came to pay the ultimate sacrifice it literally changed everything. He not only washed away our sin and our guilt, but he went much further than that because he also provided us complete and total access to himself and to the father. Because of his perfection we are allowed to look face to face with God and enter the throne room any time we want or need. We are welcomed, we are wanted, and we are so loved in this place! What a beautiful thing we have in salvation! This inspires my heart to worship because of the beautiful place of freedom we have, and it fills my heart with so much gratitude that my savior wants me in his presence. How can we not be so excited to meet him in this place of worship!

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