Thursday, May 27, 2010

Anyone who knows his Jewish scriptures well understands that God appointed Levitical priests to offer sacrifices to "atone" for sin in the OT (just peruse through the pages of Leviticus 16 to see this). Last night I preached on Psalm 65 at church and found myself drawn to verse 3.

דִּבְרֵ֣י עֲ֭וֹנֹת גָּ֣בְרוּ מֶ֑נִּי פְּ֝שָׁעֵ֗ינוּ אַתָּ֥ה תְכַפְּרֵֽם׃

"The accounts of my iniquities prevail against me; but our transgressions you, yourself, have atoned for [them]."

Amazingly, there are three places in the OT where God makes atonement for sins (all 3 are in Pss)—and this is one of them. The remarkable thing in my mind is the fact that God appointed priests to perform the ceremony. Here in Psalm 65:3, the psalmist refers to the gospel. This is gospel 101. This is fundamental to everyone who has a saving relationship with God.

I. Understand Your Iniquities are Too Great for You to Bear—You cannot bear your own sins! Sorry, but you can't! The word here for "iniquities" refers to that which is rebellious and devious. It actually comes from a root that means 'twisted.' It takes that which God has given and twists it for one's own purposes/to one's own likings. This is perversion and rebelliousness at its worst! All of our iniquities are too great for us to bear. They're too heavy. No one can ever bear his own sins—ever (even into eternity in hell no one will ever fully bear his own sins; that's part of the reason why hell must be eternal). But here's the good news of the gospel: though your iniquities are too heavy for you to bear they are not too great for God to forgive.

II. Understand God's Atonement Is Accomplished for His Own in Christ—This simply means that you can't make your own atonement. You can't do anything (not-a-thing!) to atone and bring reconciliation with God for your sins. It just can't ever happen. And in the OT the priest had to make atonement for sins—often. He offered sacrifices first for his own sins and then for the sins of the people. And this was the regular cycle of action. It's just how God appointed it in the Mosaic Law.

But in the NT, Jesus comes on the scene and atones for sin—once and for all. Note the parallel here. In Psalm 65:3, God Himself atones for sin. In the NT (=Hebrews 8-10 especially) Jesus who is God atones for sin once and for all! Just one NT support will suffice here:

Hebrews 10:11-14 11 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, 13 waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

So mark it on your heart: even in the Jewish Scriptures of the OT there was revelation that would Himself atone for sin. There was a recognition that the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin (Heb 9:13-14; 10:4). Thus, a greater sacrifice was needed that would once and for all remove the iniquities of His own children.

Praise God for the gospel. Praise God that though our sins have made a separation between us and God, his atonement is greater than the power of our sin and can atone for and wipe away our sins so that we can be forgiven only if we come to the Lamb of God who was slain and receive this forgiveness and cleansing.

Have you?


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