When you were little, I sometimes let you go outside to play in the rain or mud. What is the first thing I said to you before you came back in the house? It was probably something like: “Don’t come in” or “clean off first” or maybe even just “take your shoes off before coming in”. I certainly wanted you back in the house, but you had to clean off first instead of coming in a complete mess and getting the whole house dirty!
If you can get that mental picture in your mind, it will give us a hint of the feeling or meaning behindwhat we can read in Lev. 5. Keep in mind, this analogy is only a hint, because a clean house falls WAY short of a holy, pure God we read about today. In Lev. 5, God lays out sin and guilt offering instructions. At the end of each section, we see today’s verse or something similar. It speaks of atonement and forgiveness. Atonement is not the most common word for us. I found my german Bible helped me understand this a little better. This is probably more of a paraphrase, but goes something like this: “With this offering, the priest gets things straight (or pure) again, and he is freed from his sin.” Two key thoughts here: purity and sinlessness. God prescribes pages and pages of instruction for his people to get them “pure” and “free from sin”.
Why is that? It is because they can not come into His presence unless they are in that state. We can not either. At the most basic level, God will not and CAN not let us “in his house” is we are “covered in mud”.
Have you ever read through Leviticus? Do you know how much instruction is given to the priests, what they must wear, how to preform these sacrifices and offerings and all the rules to follow? If you haven’t read it, just skim it for a couple of minutes and start counting pages. There is a LOT about what is to be done for atonement and the sins to be forgiven. Everyday. These things were bloody, costly, animals died, and it was a full time job for these priests. Why is all that there? Why did God bother with all that?
It is because HE WANTS US IN THE HOUSE. As he stated in Exodus, God desires to dwell with us. If he didn’t want to be with us, He would not have bothered with any of this. Where the muddy child analogy falls short is with God’s holiness. Walking in a dirty house just makes more mess for a mom to clean up. Approaching a holy God covered in sin is completely different. There is no entry, only death.
Leviticus was the start of what Jesus finished. Leviticus showed that really, no matter how much we try to follow those instructions, we continue to be covered in sin. We need an outside source to wash all the sin off and to do it so that we can dwell with God. Jesus was our atonement and through him, we are forgiven forever. He was both the priest and the sacrifice. The door is open, we are no longer muddy, and our father desires that we spend as much time in His presence as possible. Now that we can come in the house, He can teach us and give us the tools for us to learn how not to get “dirty” in the first place. So, come on in. Spend time in His house, and let’s learn to stop playing in the mud, moving on to the much better things our Father has for us!