Wednesday, April 12—God Deals With Sin and Reconciliation in the Old Testament

The need for atonement is made clear in the earliest chapters of scripture. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the forbidden tree, they damaged their relationship with Him, bringing sin into the world. He had warned them that sinning would cause the relationship they had with Him to die, but they chose sin over remaining close to God. They immediately knew the error of their ways, but God did not just turn His back and walk away from them.
 
“And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die…’ And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden… And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3: 2-3, 8, and 21, Revised Standard Version)
 
As we know so well, the first sin led almost immediately to a second one and so on. Sin became a dominant force in human life. Even in this first case, however, God offered man a form of atonement that involved the sacrifice of an innocent being for our sins—the death of animals that had not eaten from the tree provided the garments Adam and Eve were given to wear.
 
These early verses from the Bible establish the foundation for all of mankind’s existence and the way God has reached out to save us over and over again. It’s interesting to note that few Christians actually even realize the connection between the way God handled Adam and Eve’s transgressions and His ultimate plan for our atonement—the life, death, and resurrection of His son.
 
The pattern is easy to spot, however, when we truly begin to grasp that God loves us so much that He does not ask us to personally atone for our sins but provides a substitute to carry our burdens. It’s easy to forget that the animals and vegetation, as well as every other aspect of the world around us, were God’s creations and were important to Him. So even this initial example of how God reaches out to us validates that His love for us. Furthermore, we can see that His desire to maintain a deep and abiding relationship with us is profound and beyond our understanding. He is willing to sacrifice the works of His creation in order to restore us. God’s commitment to us and His approach to our atonement are stated unequivocally in John 2: 16.
 
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Revised Standard Version)
 
Reference: An essay by Dr. Eugene Merrill, Distinguished Professor of Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, found on The Exchange: A Blog by Ed Stetzer, http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2012/january/closer-look-jesus-and-atonement-in-old-testament.html
 

Prayer Suggestion

Once again, you can use this standard prayer of confession to begin your time of repentance and then add your own personal confessions.
 
“Almighty God, you poured your Spirit upon gathered disciples creating bold tongues, open ears, and a new community of faith. We confess that we hold back the force of your Spirit among us. We do not listen for your word of grace, speak the good news of your love, or live as a people made one in Christ. Have mercy on us, O God. Transform our timid lives by the power of your Spirit, and fill us with a flaming desire to be your faithful people, doing your will for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.”
     Book of Common Worship (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), p. 343.