The lesson this week serves as a conclusion to our examination of the Law and the atonement sacrifices from the last few lessons. We are jumping ahead to Deuteronomy 10 and 11. The point of this lesson is be reminded that while we are never saved by the law, there is great blessing granted to one’s life when he seeks to keep the law.
Now we have to be careful there. We don’t want to fall into the thought that “Great Blessing” means we always stay healthy, we have an ever increasing checking account balance, or that we experience no hardship ever. The great blessing of the Old Testament is the great blessing of the New Testament. We are blessed when the LORD is our God and our God is with us.
Sometimes that means that the crops come in, our loved ones are healthy, and things come up roses. But sometimes that means that in the midst of loss, illness, pain, and even suffering, the LORD is still our God and our God is still with us.
In your presentation of the lesson material this week, keep in mind that I will be preaching from Acts 16:16-25 on Sunday. Paul and Silas do a great work for God and end up beaten and incarcerated for it. In their bruised and bloodied state, they pray and sing hymns to God. How can we fight for joy, like these two men, even in the midst of difficulty and hardship? It starts with knowing that the LORD is our God and our God is with us.
We continue this week with our examination of the various offerings commanded by God in the book of Leviticus. This week we are covering the Sin Offering and the Guilt Offering.
The video this week is a little different than normal. Instead of walking through various aspects of the lesson itself, we are going to focus on the atonement itself, and specifically, on the atonement of Christ. It is fascinating that throughout church history, there has been no definitive move to nail down one orthodox teaching on the way Christ’s atonement worked.
While we have affirmed the atoning sacrifice of Christ, to be sure, various theories of the just how this atonement worked have been put forth through the years. In this video I share with you the basics (and I mean the very basics) of five theories of the atonement: Moral Influence Theory, Government Theory, Ransom Theory, Satisfaction Theory, and Substitution Theory.
You may or may not bring this discussion into class on Sunday, but I think wrestling with these various theories is a good theological exercise for your heart and soul.
How the atonement works is all about answering the question, “How can a sinful people be accepted by a holy God?”
When we lived in Egypt, we had the opportunity to witness a significant Muslim holiday called Eid Al Adha. This holiday signifies the ram provided by God to take the place of Abraham’s son. (Muslims say this son was Ishmael…that is for another time.)
The central component to this holiday is the slaughtering of an animal to be used as a family’s holiday dinner. No good Muslim would let Walmart do the slaughtering. No, no. The animals are gathered in a central location in town and the slaughter commences right after morning prayer.
Literally hundreds of sheep, goats, bulls, and even camels are killed right there in the center of town with their blood running down the streets. If you have never seen an animal killed, I wouldn’t recommend this holiday being your first go around.
I can remember standing there,though, watching these animals go down one after another, and finally understanding something about sacrifice. We read about Old Testament sacrifices with such sterility that we lose sight of the fact that blood is really shed and life is really lost.
These next two weeks will give us a glimpse of sacrifice and offering. This week, we cover the Guilt Offering, the Grain Offering, and the Peace Offering. We will also take the Lord’s Supper together in the worship gathering, reminding us of another bloody sacrifice.
I am not a tent guy. I was in Boy Scouts growing up and went on countless camping trips and spent plenty of nights in cold, drooping, and dripping pup tents. We never could seem to set them up just right.
To this day I would much rather stay in a hotel (climate control, comfy bed, firm ceiling) than in a tent of any kind (subject to the weather, bumpy ground, not-so-firm ceiling). And yet, I will admit that tents have their perks.
They are highly portable for one. You can get up and go at the drop of a hat. They are customizable. You can put them in an open field, a rocky ledge, or deep in the forest. And they completely fall apart when attacked by a bear…wait…make a note: that is not a perk.
Since God is infinitely wiser than I, he chose to start his people out with a tent. This tent would be the place where he would dwell. The tent would be at the center of his people’s lives. The tent would be the place where worship and atonement took place. This is a pretty high calling for canvas, lines, and stakes. A tent became sacred because God chose to take up residence within it.
While he eventually moved into a hotel (more on the temple in future lessons) God commanded his people first to build him a tent. This week’s lesson will teach us the significance and the beauty of God’s pattern and plan.