Photo by Austin Johnson
Have you ever read through the whole Bible from beginning to end? I highly recommend it. Several different schedules or plans are available to help you accomplish this goal. Most promise you’ll read through the Bible in a year.
Though I’ve never stuck to a schedule, I have managed to read the Bible through a few times. Some sections are easier to read than others. The genealogies mean little or nothing to us in 21st century America. It’s hard to keep my eyes from glazing over as I read unfamiliar names with nothing significant to which I can attach them. I remind myself these are people, real people like me, whose significance is the part they played in the lineage of Jesus Christ.
Recently, I finished Exodus and started Leviticus. That means moving from the specifications for the tabernacle into the procedures for offering various sacrifices. While not the most compelling reading, I imagined the splendor of all skillfully woven panels that formed the walls of the tabernacle, the altar and tables of gold, the utensils of silver and bronze, and the beautiful robes for Aaron and his sons to wear as they performed their priestly duties.
Do you know what they did to those lovely robes and that beautiful furniture? They held bulls and sheep and goats outside the door of the tabernacle, slit their throats and drained the blood into containers. Then they took that blood and sprinkled it first on the priestly robes to consecrate the priests. After that, they sprinkled blood around the altar.
I’ve treated bloodstains on clothing before, and I can’t imagine purposely sprinkling blood on beautiful clothing or furniture. In fact, as I read about the sacrifices, I’m guessing that, with the exception of the hunters among us, most of us would probably vomit if forced to watch a sacrifice. We’re not accustomed to the brutality, the gruesomeness, the blood. And yet, this was done day after day after day at the tabernacle and later at the temple. It served as a daily reminder of the seriousness of sin. It cost the people in terms of their livestock. It was messy, smelly, even tragic to think of a top quality animal suffering and being put to death as a payment for its owner’s sin.
How much greater then was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us? An innocent, sinless man beaten beyond recognition, flogged until his back was torn to shreds, and dying an agonizing death. Why? Because of my sin. And your sin.
In Genesis, God gave instructions for weaving the veil that would separate God’s Holy of Holies from the rest of the tabernacle. A note in the Ryrie Study Bible says this veil was 4” thick—about about the length from the tip of my forefinger to the knuckle in my palm. It was replaced every year, and Dr. Ryrie comments that horses attached to either side could not pull it apart. Yet, this same veil was torn from top to bottom after Jesus breathed his last. Horses couldn’t pull it apart, but God could. And because He did, we can enter into fellowship directly with Him. Because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, we no longer have to participate in gruesome rituals to pay the price for our sin.
But, may we never forget the cost, the stink, the blood that our sin creates.
Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp in southern Wisconsin, much like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. Her first book, Hear No Evil, was a 2012 Genesis semi-finalist. The series continues with the recent release of Book 2, Speak No Evil. While raising her own three children, Mary was active in youth ministry, hosting small group Bible studies, pancake suppers and breakfast with her special recipe waffles. When she’s not writing, Mary loves knitting, the outdoors and nature. She and her husband make their home in TX with a rescued Golden Retriever.
Having his younger sister at camp was a pain, but Taylor Dixon never expected the pain to go so deep.
At 15, Taylor dreams of getting his driver’s license and driving racecars when he’s older. Only his younger sister, Marissa, believes in his dreams, but her adventurous spirit keeps landing him in trouble. Dad won’t let Taylor get his license unless he stays out of trouble, and predicts he’s heading for the same jail cell as his once-favored older brother.
Taylor returns to Rustic Knoll Bible Camp, expecting softball, swimming and sermons. Then he discovers a classic Mustang in the camp’s machine shed, and the owner’s invitation to help restore it fuels his dream of driving racecars. But when Marissa falls for his snobbish cabin mate, the ensuing war of words and pranks escalates until it threatens to destroy both the car and his dreams for the future.
Will Taylor fulfill Dad’s prediction?
Or will the message of the old Mustang’s engine set him free from the prison he built himself?