August 17 I Friday
“This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”
Although covered with gold, the Ark of the Covenant was stained with blood. On the tenth day of the seventh month of every year, the high priest would enter the Most Holy Place and sprinkle the blood of a bull and a goat on the ark to make atonement with God for his own sin and the sins of the people. This did not take away their sin; it only “covered” it, because “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).
The blood of bulls and goats functioned like a cheque might function today. The paper on which we write a cheque is worth nothing. The first cheque I ever received was from a school friend made out in jest for one million dollars, but cheques are only as valid as the cash in the account against which they are written. My friend’s account was empty, so the cheque was worthless.
Now suppose I wanted to make a purchase where the cost exceeded the money currently available in my account. It would be legitimate for me to come to an arrangement whereby I postdate a cheque to the time I knew my account would have enough funds to pay for it. In handing over the postdated cheque, I receive the goods and treat them as mine. My debt is being covered, though is not yet paid for by the cheque.
The Old Testament sacrificial system was like the writing of a cheque postdated to Calvary. The blood of bulls and goats acknowledged the debt and covered sin for the time being, but these sacrifices had no value in themselves. Only at Calvary, when the sinless Son of God was made sin for us, was the debt finally paid. When Jesus cried from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30), He was declaring for all history to hear, “There is money in the bank! You can cash your cheque. The sin that for centuries has only been covered is now removed. Your debt is paid!”
We no longer need to postdate the cheque! At the moment of true repentance where we willingly turn from our sin and confess it to Christ, the account of the Lord Jesus is credited to our account in full payment of our sin, and we are free. We are no longer in debt and can never be called to account for it again. The ark had to be regularly re-stained with blood so the Israelites could have access to God, but because Christ shed His blood once for all, we are forever forgiven, redeemed and brought back into fellowship with God.
Prayer: Gracious God, thank You that because of Christ, I need not return again and again with sacrifices but can enjoy forgiveness and fellowship with You right here, right now.