Friday, September 1, 2017

Atonement for sin

Israel sins by worshiping a foreign deity and having sexual relations with foreign women, when death was the punishment. (Numbers 25:1-13)
This idolatrous worship is described in terms similar to the earlier worship of the golden calf, and it is met with the same fate. The report of the dead does not come until later; the account is interrupted by the appearance of a single guilty man, taken in the act of intercourse with a Midianite woman; his death at the hands of Phinehas turns away God's wrath and makes atonement for the Israelites.                          
We all conduct ourselves in a particular way. However we retain responsibility for our own actions. We may not be responsible for those things which are done to us, but we are responsible for our choices. We all have our own natural tendency or orientation towards specific sins. 
The question for all of us is: what will we do with them?
The death and life issues in this story are fierce. Apostasy brings on  God's wrath, and a great plague that wipes out thousands. One individual sin is avenged in a grisly scene where the man and woman are run through with a spear, apparently during intercourse.
Yet that death is seen to make atonement for the rest of the people, and the plagues are stopped. Indeed, all the Israelite deaths cease at this point in the book, and Israel can move on to the new land.
Here, again, we see clearly the biblical teaching that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23), not because God desires death, but because sinful acts have their own dire consequences.
God allows a single death to make atonement for all, establishing through it a "covenant of peace" (Numbers 25:12), so new life can begin.
Although a direct connection with this story is not made in the New Testament, we can see a parallel in how God the Father did sacrifice His Son. Jesus Christ who gave His life for our sins and that of the whole world. So that whosoever believes in Him, confessing his/her sins, asking the Father forgiveness, will be cleansed by the blood of Jesus, from all unrighteousness. Thank You Jesus!
Hebrews does interpret Jesus' death as that of a "high priest in the service of God, to make a Sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people." (Hebrews 2:17)
Thank God, the Father, that He provided Jesus as a Sacrifice for our sins. Thank Jesus that He was willing to suffer and die for you and me. We would have never made it on our own.
In God's Service,
Minister Dr. Trudy Veerman

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