Day 323: A counter-cultural gospel

Psalms 92-94; Hebrews 13

And the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. Their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned up with fire (Leviticus 16:27).

According to Old Testament law, the priests could eat the meat of the goats and bulls sacrificed in most offerings. But they were not allowed to eat the sacrifice offered on the Day of Atonement – the one day in which the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to make atonement for himself and the people. This sacrifice was burned “outside the camp.”

The author of Hebrews alludes to this point of the law as he closes his letter with a beautiful picture of the gospel:

The bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood (Hebrews 12:11-12).

Jesus was crucified outside the city of Jerusalem as a criminal. He suffered reproach for our sake. In the world’s eyes, he was a weak and sad failure. But in God’s Kingdom, his death makes him victorious!

The Lord reigns; he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting (Psalm 93:1-2).

As we choose to live our lives according to God’s ways, we will also suffer reproach. The author exhorts us to stand under the love of Christ as we face the tides of culture. He calls us to sacrifice our sense of entitlement to care for the poor and encourage the prisoner. He calls us to lay down our pride and submit to our leaders. He calls us to keep ourselves pure for one spouse. And he exhorts us to live simply instead of satisfying our hunger for wealth and position.

We live in a culture which is constantly screaming at us to abandon God’s ways. It is difficult to walk in the ways of God, but God does not leave us to tough it out on our own. No. He is our helper. He will never leave or forsake us!

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen (Hebrews 12:20-21).

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