Reading through the Bible together

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

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After the sanctuary and its priests had been consecrated, they were ready to serve God. Aaron and his sons officiated their first sacrifices, which were stunningly accepted by divine fire (Lev 9; compare 1 Ki 18:38-39). Elsewhere in the ancient Near East, a deity (represented by his/her idol) was brought into a new temple through rituals performed by humans. But the God of Israel changed this practice.  He took up residence at the tabernacle (Exod 40:34-35) before any rituals were performed there. In this way, He emphasized that His real, living Presence dwelt among His people. Unlike an idol, He could come or go (compare Ezek 9-11) as He wished. 

 

Before performing sacrifices for the rest of the community, the priests had to offer sacrifices for themselves because they were faulty like everyone else. Thus, they represented the people to God at the same time as they represented Him to the people. Christ, to whom their ritual service pointed, is the only ladder between us and God (compare John 1:51). He lived among us and experienced the kinds of temptations that we face, so He fully understands our struggles. But He did not sin, and therefore He needed no atonement for Himself (Heb 4:15; 7:26-28). His sacrifice is only for us.

 

Roy Gane

Andrews University