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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Cross, The Church, and The Kingdom # 41

The Significance of the Death of Christ (continued)

Types of Sin

a. Leprosy

You turn to the Book of Leviticus where the whole question of relationship is being threshed out. In the fourteenth chapter you have the matter of leprosy and the cleansing of the leper and the cleansing of his house. One bird is killed, its neck is wrung, its blood is shed. It is killed as by an act of anger, of destruction. The other bird is sprinkled with its blood and let go. It lives - touched with that blood, but it lives. That is the cleansing of the leper from his leprosy - a picture of sin dealt with. Leprosy is the Bible's worst picture of sin; leprosy, the thing which is hateful, in which are all the elements of enmity. And leprosy separates; it is so against everything that is lovely and beautiful. There is an element in it of hostility to all that is good. The enmity leads to separation, and the poor leper has to depart. Lest anybody should come near, he cries with his hollow cry, Unclean! Unclean! He is put aside. And what can a leper do? Of course, today we have remedies, we are able to rescue the leper. But then leprosy was regarded as a hopeless and a helpless thing.

How is the leper cleansed? Well, there are two sides to his cleansing. Typically, he must bear judgment and be destroyed from the presence of the Lord, but, being sprinkled with the blood, he may also live.l It is the same person, not two halves. On the one hand, judged, condemned and destroyed from before God; on the other hand saved, the blood sprinkled. Judgment has passed, destruction has been carried out, but somehow 'from the ground there blossoms red, life that shall endless be.' The leper is saved.

b. Scapegoat

You pass to Leviticus 16, and you have the ritual of the great day of Atonement, and the central things are two goats. The priest brings the two goats and places them before the Lord. Then lots are cast upon the two goats, one for the Lord, one for the Scapegoat or "Azazel" - meaning for abandonment, dismissal. The latter goat is for judgment, all the sins of Israel being put upon it. It is driven out of the camp, away into the desolation of the wilderness, never to come back again, to be lost forever, never again to be looked upon. I have often thought of one of the most pathetic pictures in the whole Bible is that poor goat.

But the other goat - the lot has fallen upon him for God, and he is offered to God.

Now in the Bible and in the Hebrew language, there are two words which are of particular interest in this connection - one, holiness; the other, consecration. Holiness means 'set apart for God.' Consecration means 'devoted.' I do not know why, but in the Authorized Version the translators have strangely translated that word "devoted" as "accursed." You remember, Achan took the "accursed" thing (Joshua 7:10-26). It is the "devoted" thing. Saul was commanded "to devote" Amalek to the sword - man, woman, child, and beast (1 Samuel 15:3). Here are two sides of one thing. One, separated unto the Lord as holy unto the Lord; the other, devoted. Ah, but what does devotion mean? It may man devoted to judgment, devoted to destruction. Achan found that. He, his family, his tent, all that he had, was destroyed. He was devoted, consecrated. You have a new idea of consecration now, have you not? Consecrated; devoted to destruction from the presence of the Lord. That was the goat of dismissal. Devoted to be shut out for ever, never again to come back into the company of what is God's.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 42 - (The Significance of the Cross)

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