Two Goats and Jesus

Scripture Focus: Leviticus 16:21-22
21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.

Reflection: Two Goats and Jesus
By Erin Newton

Easter is over. What if we still don’t understand it?

Two men on Resurrection morning asked, “What just happened?” Jesus of Nazareth, powerful in word and deed, was crucified (Luke 24). They witnessed the horrifying event but walked away with more questions than answers. It was all so confusing.

Cleopas and his friend were called “slow to believe.” I think their slowness in faith was rooted in their inability to understand and not because they were lazy. Not because they needed higher education. Not because they were of lesser genius. Understanding takes time, questions, and pondering what we think we already know.

We have the benefit of the Spirit to help us as we look back on the Old Testament. When we think about Easter, we ponder why Jesus had to die—what was the meaning of his death? For those questions, one place we look is Leviticus 16.

Two goats are gathered for the Day of Atonement. One goat is killed, and its blood is used to cleanse the sanctuary from the innermost rooms to the outer. The second goat bears the fullness of the iniquities of the people and is banished from the community.

Jacob Milgrom explains, “Evil was banished to its place of origin (e.g., the netherworld, wilderness) or to some place in which its malefic powers could work to the benefit of the sender (e.g., to enemy territory) or in which it could do no harm at all (mountains, wilderness).” A ritual designed to purge and eliminate.

Jesus’ death on the cross more fully accomplishes this ritual. His blood purifies our approach to God so we can enter his presence without fear. His death banishes the power of sin to the wilderness, and we can be free from the bondage of evil.

Hebrews 10:10 says, “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” The need for ritual atonement is over but we still wrestle with how it all works.

Do we now descend into our daily routines? Do we re-enter the spiritually apathetic weeks on the calendar? I hope we do not. I hope we keep pondering the Gospel. I hope we never tire of asking questions and seeking answers.

Even the disciples left the cross with questions. Faith is a process. May our hearts, just like Cleopas’, burn within us as the Scriptures are opened.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, and your faithfulness to the clouds. — Psalm 36.5

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Reading
Leviticus 16 (Listen 5:36
Acts 12 (Listen 3:49)

Read more about Taking Sin Seriously
Jesus takes sin far more seriously than anyone…sin is deadly serious business to the one who came to die for sins.

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Humbled by the Heavens :: A Guided Prayer

Psalm 19.1
The heavens declare the glory of God;
   the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Reflection: Humbled by the Heavens :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

In our world many have a temporal superiority complex that author, Michael Crichton described as being a “temporal provincial.” These are those who think or behave as if their position in the present automatically proves them more intelligent, more capable, more resourceful, and more “human” than those who lived in prior ages. One of the side effects of evolutionary thought is falling into the trap of believing that modernity is automatically an upgrade.

Clothed in our modern superiority, we often look down at ancient peoples, thinking that they looked up at the sky and fell into religion through ignorance and scientific ineptitude. But as the scientific tools at our disposal give us greater levels of information, we remain stunned into awe at the size and scope of what we still don’t know.

As the world gazes in wonder at evidence of black holes that New York Times writer, Dennis Overbye called, “the image of the unobservable,” David’s ancient psalm tells us where to learn about our “unobservable” God—in the heavens. This weekend, reflect and pray through David’s psalm extolling the undeniable, wordless speech of God through the wonder of his creation that we, like David, can see with our naked eyes, if we will but open them.

Humbled by the Heavens

The heavens declare the glory of God;
   the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
   night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
   no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
   their words to the ends of the world.

God, we stand in awe on our tiny planet.

You have placed us here among deserts, seas, and mountains that seem incredibly vast, yet they are just imperceptible ridges on the tiny ball of our planet.

And, in the vast darkness of space, our tiny blue dot of light seems so insignificant compared to the other great lights of the sky that you have created.

Thank you for heavens that humble us, Lord.

Without words, let us hear your glory, see your law, experience your touch and your love.

Yet you gave us more than wordless wonder, Lord. You send your Word, your Son, Jesus, to clarify your commands and enlighten our understanding.

The commands of the Lord are radiant,
   giving light to the eyes.

Give our eyes your light. Give our actions your powerful love. Give our words your persuasive persistence and care. Make us instruments through which the world can see your magnificent presence.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Everyone will stand in awe and declare God’s deeds; they will recognize his works. — Psalm 64.9

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Leviticus 16 (Listen – 5:36)
Psalm 19 (Listen – 1:52)

This Weekend’s Readings
Leviticus 17 (Listen – 2:39) Psalm 20-21 (Listen – 2:37)
Leviticus 18 (Listen – 3:46) Psalm 22 (Listen – 3:49)

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Read more about The Materialist Cosmos :: Throwback Thursday
If the cosmos of the materialist is the real cosmos, it is not much of a cosmos. The whole of life is something much more grey, narrow, and trivial than many separate aspects of it.

Read more about In The Face of Wonder :: A Guided Prayer
The freedom the world seeks is freedom to dominate, dictate, and destroy. This freedom is a lie that seeks power and blessing for ourselves.
May we seek instead the freedom to serve, to create, and to restore. We can do this only in your power and through your Holy Spirit.