A while back, there was a show on TV called "What Would You Do." I think it's my favorite reality TV show. (Well, maybe. I also really like "Dirty Jobs.")
The premise is to see what real-life people would do when presented with a difficult choice. Sort of like "Candid Camera" (remember that?), the people don't know they're meeting actors and being recorded until the end.
The show often makes me cry. (Which often solicits a eye rolls from my husband.)
The latest tear-jerker was when an actress in line at a busy grocery store "forgets" her wallet. With tons of groceries on the counter, she searches her purse in vain, and ultimately presents the person behind her with the challenge- what would you do?
Some people grumble, some choose a different line, and then (this is the one that gets me) some people pull out their own wallets to pay her way.
Why does that "get us?" Why are we drawn in by that undeserved kindness? Why do we get the warm fuzzies when someone pays another's debt?
The fifth offering we see in Leviticus is called a "Guilt Offering" in the NIV translation, which really confused me. A commentary I read called it a "Reparation Offering." That made a little more sense to me.
First, before we get into it, let's read what the Word says-- grab your Bible and head to Leviticus 5:14 - 6:7, or click here to see the Scripture.
Basically, this is an offering that was required when a person violated holy things- like accidentally eating meat meant for a burnt offering, for example. This includes when you don't even know you've sinned (tricky).
It's also the sacrifice that's required if you take something from another person that doesn't belong to you.
"If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the Lord by deceiving a neighbor..." -Leviticus 6:2
I think it's so interesting here that God is very clear that inappropriate behavior toward another human being is also sin against Him. Deceiving a neighbor is unfaithfulness towards the Lord.
The solution to these violations is to return what was taken (or something of equal value), and also a reparation- something above and beyond.
This offering reminds the Israelites that they often disrespect the boundary between what is theirs and what is God's, and between what is theirs and what is someone else's. If they sin and take what isn't theirs, they are indebted to God and to their neighbor.
I'm reminded immediately of the story of the Fall. God said not to take the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil- it was off limits. Not for them. Adam and Eve disobeyed, and took what was not theirs.
And in so doing, they became indebted to God.
God Provides a Way Out of Debt
We know that we all fall short.
We take and abuse things that belong to God (like our bodies, our time, our money...)
We take holy things and treat them in an unholy way.
We take things that belong to other people (like that necklace we found on the ground at that concert, or mistreating something lent to us...)
Because of our sin, we owe God.
As Israelites, we'd pay for our sins through the sacrifices of animals- a way of temporarily repaying our debt (until we get ourselves in trouble again).
God had a better plan.
I owe God, through my own mistakes and my own actions. The grocery bill is huge, and it's due. And you know, I can't pay it. I don't have anything- not even an empty wallet in my purse. I'm completely, utterly, hopelessly incapable of paying what I owe.
Just like in that TV show, Christ comes up behind me. He's not frustrated. He's not angry. With gentle eyes, he looks over at me and pays my debt. Pays my debt plus reparations.
Here's the thing- even if I could pay for my debt to God, it wouldn't be enough. The messed up, broken life of one sinner is nothing in the face of a perfectly Holy God.
That's why Jesus was perfect- to be perfectly Holy where I couldn't. To give up a perfect life in my stead. To pay for my sin with his life- the live of a sinless man and also the life of God Himself. To pay my debt, "plus."
His sacrifice- his death on the cross- pays for my sin, once and for all.
My ransom is paid, my debt is forgiven.
Other Posts in this Series:
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