If something can be reduced to a mere common thing it can be ignored altogether. This is what has happened to the Bible this is happening with marriage and this is happening with God. This will continue to happen to the church. In order that the sacred can once again be trampled under foot by man. But God’s glory is not phased in the slightest while man heaps up a weight of judgment upon his own head. God is greater still.
This was the point with the sacrificial system: to make clean. The purpose of being made clean was so that worship of God was possible. God is trying to teach us something. He is Holy, until we understand that, the Gospel makes no sense. God is so Holy that sin had to be paid for, God is so Holy that his wrath is equally great. His wrath cleanses away sin to the degree to which he is Holy. Sin cannot stand in his presence.
Read the Old Covenant, God spent so much time relaying to us that he is Holy. That means his offering of his Son was that Holy and that important. The flip-side is that it was that important that we be cleansed. It is that needed.
When we downplay the sacred and Holy we undermine the nature of God that he wants us to understand. When God enters a door none other may make it budge. (Ezekiel 44:2) If we do not begin to grasp the awesomeness of God then the Gospel makes little sense. This is why the beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord. A fear of the Lord means at the very least a minimal understanding God.
Imagine wearing shorts and a Tee-shirt to a formal occasion, imagine the looks, the stares, the comments from your wife? Now imagine doing the same thing in a law firm, showing up in court to prosecute wearing a Hawaiian shirt and board shorts. Imagine meeting the president (one you respected) wearing ripped and stained jeans with a shirt with coffee stains all over it. I hope the silliness is not lost and the out of place-ness. This is the tiniest picture of simply just approaching God without his forgiveness, which doesn’t happen while we are unclean.
Now try picturing yourself feeling the dissonance that comes from being a guilty peasant in the presence of a King whom you just poached his prize pigs, and defecated in his private summer home, shouting loudly at his passing, while trying to steal his horses and then were caught. Until we can grasp how truly in the wrong we are we will never understand the need for forgiveness. Until we first understand our need to be made right.
This is a major theme in the book of Esther. The Queen, even the Queen herself, needed a pardon to approach the King unannounced. She understood his position, his power, his authority and no matter what she thought of herself or her standing she knew better. She knew that even though she was the Queen she had to approach in humility because that was the vast difference between the King and even his Queen.
This is merely a picture of the vast chasm that differentiates us from God. It should therefore also inform us what weighs in the balance when God says we are in violation. We sometimes get caught up in playing the comparison game. My sin is not that big a deal? It should not result in punishment? This is again though looking at ourselves instead of at the one whom we violated.
The idea of clean and unclean was important to teach the people that they were not yet fit to approach God. It is amazing to me that we again need this to be taught. We have a similar problem now except that it is not ignorance but a suppression of the truth. We used to know this but now after years of stopping our ears and demanding may it never be! We are back to square one. We are simply commoners with no understanding calling everything we don’t like “A Witch!” as from Monty Python. There was an assumed contamination that is not so forgone anymore. Without this understanding the Gospel is completely without context.
This is why the verbiage of clean and unclean was so helpful and why Christ can tell us we are now cleansed. God is saying look at me for understanding. Feel the weight of standing before the maker of life and reader of our thoughts, feel and then further understand the equally great forgiveness that is readily available. But there is an order to these things.
Have you ever been tempted to say the Old Covenant is so bloody and…well gross? Well you are right it is, the picture is that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. (Lev 17:11, Heb 9:22) So for a time sheep, goats, bulls, turtle doves continually paid the price for mankind’s sin. Before we weep for all the lost animals we should also recognize that God set this all up not because he is blood thirsty but, can I say this…he was relationship thirsty. Not thirsty in the sense that he would expire without it, but God desires relationship with his creation, the one he made in his image. But our condition stood in the way.
Get this and then further understand that this King wants to show compassion by having his own family right your wrongs. He allows his Son to go and make things right. This awesome accomplishment is that the world can have restoration and be invited into the Kingdom. But as we are naturally common, we want to call even the sacrifice of Jesus a mere common thing. This is what the world does. Rather than recognize the mountain of grace and mercy on display, we say we would rather have it our way-remaining filthy and assigning our own meaning to everything.
How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Heb 10:29)
Don’t treat the offering of Jesus as a common thing. Don’t treat the offering of mercy as a common thing. Don’t miss the opportunity for forgiveness. God doesn’t want us to look at our predicament and despair but realize his immeasurable love and grace. Our common form before such perfection is not a reason to shy away but a reason to smile because the one who is sitting on the throne is beckoning us forward not calling the guards over.
Rejoice you have been made clean!