I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but not many people write devotionals on Leviticus. You want to fail in a Bible reading plan? Leviticus is your book. You want to inspire people? Leviticus is generally not the first place you turn. Imagine my surprise when I was flipping through the bible and Leviticus 7 nearly jumped out and bit me.
Positioned at the top of the chapter (in large topical font) are the words “Guilt Offering”. I don’t know about you, but the word “guilt” draws me in every time .
I am a guilt person. Let me be clear to say that I do not mean “guilty person.” Like many of you reading this, I know I am not guilty because of what I believe about Christ. But guilt has a tendency to draw me in and wreak havoc on my peaceful heart. So the idea of doing something to earn forgiveness has some appeal to me. And Leviticus 7 describes the sacrifice that people gave to earn freedom from their guilt.
But reading on in the passage, we discover it was the priest the people came to with their sacrifices. They didn’t actually go to God with their guilt offering. The priest offered the sacrifice for them. Against this backdrop, the description of Jesus as our “great high priest” in Hebrews 9 makes a whole lot more sense.
Except our high priest doesn’t present the sacrifice. He is the sacrifice. God laid upon this great high priest the iniquity of us all. So reclaiming our iniquity is not in our power.
Let that soak in for a minute.
However, this last week we saw one thing we CAN do with this unmerited forgiveness we’ve been bestowed. We can let the forgiveness we’ve undeservedly received turn into forgiveness we undeservedly give.
I can think of no better way to describe what that looks like than some of the statements that have been released since the Charleston shooting last week. Ethel Lance was one of the victims. And here’s what her daughter said:
“I forgive you. You took something really precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you and have mercy on your soul. It hurts me, it hurts a lot of people but God forgive you. I forgive you.”