This year was a rough year for Ezekiel Elliot to say the least. I don’t know much about it, but I know two things: He did something wrong and because of that, for a number of games, he was not allowed to play. This affected him, his family, his team, and anyone who had him on their fantasy football team as well. His choice to do something wrong was very costly. The cost was long term and painful. He was punished for doing wrong.
We all are familiar with the Old Testament punishments for doing something wrong in God’s eyes. Today’s verses are just one example. Disobedience regarding what the Israelites ate could cost them to be cut off from their people. That was God’s instruction. It was a harsh punishment. In this case, it would have also been immediate. The Israelite offender was cut off from his people and from God. This means unless he was restored and that sin was atoned for, he was no longer a part of “God’s chosen people”, the promises were no longer his and the blessings God would be giving his people would not be his to partake of. This was a high cost.
Doing wrong still has a cost. Ezekiel Elliot’s cost was not quite as immediate as the Israelites, but it eventually came. He was “cut off” from “his people”. His punishment became very public. But not all “doing wrong”, or sin, is made public and not all consequences are immediate. I do want to make a quick distinction here between punishment and consequences: All sin has consequences. As believers, Jesus took the punishment for our sin, but we will still suffer the consequences of that sin. Keeping this in mind, what can we learn from this portion of Leviticus that shows God’s character and teaches us today?
Sin is still serious. This is not new news. Because our consequences may not be made public like the Israelites or Ezekiel Elliot’s, it may seem like we won’t experience any. Don’t be fooled- they are coming. The sowing and reaping principle always holds true. The habit of speeding will eventually end up with in a speeding ticket. Sitting under the influence of coarse words amongst friends or media will eventually creep into our own language patterns. A careless word “misspoken” or “mistyped” will destroy a friendship. These things will most likely not be on the front page of ESPN, but they will fracture relationships and cut us off from others. It will cut us of from “our people”, just as sin and impurity cut the Israelites off from their people.
The saddest piece to this equation? Who is the loser? You and I. The sinner. Sin breaks trust and relationships. Sin keeps us from God. Sin causes guilt. Sin separates us from believers-someone walking closely with Christ will not desire or choose to be with someone walking in habitual sin. They won’t be BFF’s for long and their idea of favorite “activities” will differ greatly. There will be a separation of friends.
Today’s stark words from Leviticus should resound in our hearts as a warning. Pray God keeps us from sin. Walk closely with God and His instruction so we can hear His still small voice warning us of danger. Obey that still small voice immediately. Where there is no sin or disobedience, there are no consequences. We have nothing to fear if we start each day and ask for the Spirit’s help to “walk in His ways” all the days of our lives. This is the life of fulfilled promises of God, blessing and healthy, vibrant relationships that will extend into eternity. It is then that we can be certain not to be a headline on ESPN or anywhere else, and we can enjoy all the blessings and privileges of being on God’s “team”.