Thought for the Week - 13th OctoberPastor Gareth Watkins
Leviticus 16: 1-11
1 The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons, who died after they entered the Lord’s presence and burned the wrong kind of fire before him.
2 The Lord said to Moses, “Warn your brother, Aaron, not to enter the Most Holy Place behind the inner curtain whenever he chooses; if he does, he will die. For the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—is there, and I myself am present in the cloud above the atonement cover.
3 “When Aaron enters the sanctuary area, he must follow these instructions fully. He must bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.
4 He must put on his linen tunic and the linen undergarments worn next to his body. He must tie the linen sash around his waist and put the linen turban on his head. These are sacred garments, so he must bathe himself in water before he puts them on.
5 Aaron must take from the community of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.
6 “Aaron will present his own bull as a sin offering to purify himself and his family, making them right with the Lord.
7 Then he must take the two male goats and present them to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle.
8 He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the Lord and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel.
9 Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the Lord.
10 The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the Lord. When it is sent away to Azazel in the wilderness, the people will be purified and made right with the Lord.
11 “Aaron will present his own bull as a sin offering to purify himself and his family, making them right with the Lord.
Last week we had a dedication in our church for three of our children. We have a responsibility to bring our children before God, to see their growth, to see them develop and mature. It’s costly and difficult sometimes to take responsibility for our own families. Responsibility isn’t an easy word in the world today. Nobody wants responsibility for anything. Because if we have responsibility, we may have some liability.
Responsibility is a God given thing. We have to have responsibility for our children and our grandchildren. In a church sense, we have spiritual children and spiritual grandchildren.
In the verses above we read of Moses and Aaron. As some background, Moses had said that he didn’t have the ability to speak, as he had a speech impediment. He didn’t want to represent God. God therefore used his brother Aaron to be His mouthpiece. Aaron would be the one to go before Pharaoh and the leaders of the land.
Aaron had a responsibility as a father and a family member. But he also had the responsibility as the high priest of the whole nation. Today it would’ve been like the Archbishop of Canterbury. He had a responsibility not only to that side of things, but also for himself and his whole family. It makes you think. What kind of responsibility does this man actually have? He’s been called by God to speak. His brother’s called to be the prophet and to get the word from God. But he’s the one who’s been called to deliver the message to the people and the nation.
I don’t know if I’d want that responsibility. It’s the responsibility to make sure you get the message right from your own brother. It’s the responsibility for the people, and it’s a responsibility for the family. There’s a lot of responsibility on that one man’s shoulders. It’s a very serious responsibility, because prior to the verses above, Aaron’s two sons had died. A very serious responsibility, involving the life and death of your own family, and the rest of the nation.
The Jewish people still have this today. Earlier in the week, some Jews were shot on Yom Kippur, which is the Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement – the day the Jews will take responsibility for themselves, for their family, and for the nation. To come before God and become right with God once again. This is a sacred day to the Jewish people, and still a day where they take responsibility for their atonement – their at-oneness – with God. It’s a day when their sins are taken away.
Our responsibility is to bring ourselves and our children to God. To become right with God is the biggest thing we can do.
These verses were written more than 3,500 years ago, but the condition of man has not changed. Moses was a murderer. And yet God used that man, who was a sinner, to free all the people of Israel who were kept in slavery in Egypt. He used that man to bring Leviticus, and all the books of the Law. God used this sinner to do such a mighty work. God chose that man for His greatest works that history has ever seen.
Aaron had to take responsibility for his part. His responsibility was to be obedient to God. Aaron had to take responsibility not for just getting things right between him and his brother, and what God was saying through His prophet, but he had to take responsibility then for the nation, and for delivering these things to his own family. What a responsibility!
Those responsibilities haven’t left us as people. The responsibility for our families, and when we’re before God, is there. You can’t ditch responsibility of this type.
In verse 2 above we read:
The Lord said to Moses, “Warn your brother, Aaron, not to enter the Most Holy Place behind the inner curtain whenever he chooses; if he does, he will die.
God was telling Moses that there was a particular way for this atonement – this dealing with sin – to happen. Aaron was a sinner too. He was a man who had grown up in sin, and had to do what the Lord God said. If Aaron wants to be right with God, if the priest needs to be right with God on behalf of the nation, then he has certain things he has to do in a particular way. Thankfully all these rules have changed since the coming of Christ. There was a responsibility on Aaron to do it right, and if he didn’t do it right what would happen to him? He would die.
We may not die today if we haven’t done things right before God, but we will have shirked our responsibilities and perhaps an inner death might happen. Where something in you will just die to the things of God. We can come into the church and find the presence of God. We can become alive to what God is saying to us. If you take responsibility for the life that God has given you, then you can grow. You can change. You can feel God, and you can feel those sins coming off you. You can feel new life, you can feel blessing. You can feel the protection of God. And that’s the responsibility each one of has before God Himself.
The high priest was the priest for all of Israel. And yet this man had to be responsible for so many details. The responsibility for us when we have a family comes into so many details. Aaron had responsibility on behalf of himself, his family, God – and all of it personally with God Himself.
Think of Aaron coming before God Himself. Purifying himself to be at one with God. Would you take that seriously? To put yourself right with God? Would you take that responsibility so seriously?
Because the benefit to you and your family becomes incredible. The benefit when you see your son, daughter or grandchild becoming free from their sin is enormous. That sin is lifted off that person and things are changed. When that person is at one with God, it’s a beautiful thing to watch your children have that encounter with God. It’s a lovely thing to see your children blessed. It’s a lovely thing to see your children protected in this mad world. God provides these things in terms of blessings, salvation, and protection for our families.
Three and a half thousand years later, it still applies.
It’s in us to be naturally sinful, even as children. We need the blessing of God. We need the protection of God. We need to take the responsibility of the spiritual growth of our children. It’s up to us to take responsibility and not just leave it to somebody else. We need a spiritual responsibility for our children and grandchildren.
In verse 6 we read:
Aaron will present his own bull as a sin offering to purify himself and his family, making them right with the Lord.
Will take responsibility like Aaron? Will you pray for your children? Will you bring them to a place where they can hear about God? Aaron had to take responsibility. His sons though were flippant, and died.
Yom Kippur is a time of fasting and prayer. It’s there to this very day, where people come to God to repent and put away their past mistakes. Will you bring your children and ask God to forgive their sins? Will you bring your children that they would be made right with God? It’s not just for today.