. . . For today, the LORD will appear to you. I will be treated as holy by those who approach Me. (Leviticus 9:4, 10:3)
In my copy of the amplified Bible, whenever I see the word lord spelled out in all-caps, I try to take a moment to remind myself that the Hebrew word being translated means LORD in ways my finite mind may never fully imagine. Translators explain it best as equating to the phrase GOD ALMIGHTY. The word, capitalized so that it stands out from the other text surrounding it, reminds us that GOD is awesome, perfect, omnipotent, more than.
Too often, I think we take for granted the ease with which we access our LORD. Because Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice, becoming our High Priest and opening the way into the Holy of Holies for all who believe in Him, we only need call out to the LORD and know that GOD ALMIGHTY is with us.
But this easy access wasn’t always the case. Reading through Leviticus this week, with its detailed instructions on how to make sacrifices to God, my poet’s mind filled with images of slaughter and blood. Animals without blemish cut into pieces, the choicest cuts rising in smoke to heaven, the tendrils of all that killing and slicing became a pleasing aroma to God because it all signified the desire of His people to do whatever it took to come into fellowship with Him.
I have never slaughtered an animal. I have enough trouble sometimes handling the comparatively pristine meat in its cellophane package, the liquid red juices sending a pungent odor to my nostrils. So, I can only imagine how messy Aaron’s job of slaughtering animals for sacrifice must have been. I can almost picture him after a long day in the tabernacle, his fine tunic, his skin, his hair, all splattered in blood, everything on him and around him heavily scented with the smell of burning wood and flesh.
How ironic it seems that cleansing people from sin should require such messy business. After a long day at the tabernacle, Aaron’s knuckles, the cuticles around his nails, the space between his nail and his flesh, the curves of his earlobes, the creases around his eyes, every surface on his exposed body would be caked in blood. I can imagine his skin rubbed raw from the scrubbing it would take to clean up after cleansing all day.
When I seek God, how grateful I am that I don’t require a hose down after! Still, because my worship, my ability to come into the presence of GOD ALMIGHTY, does not require a human go-between or the perpetual shedding of blood, I can too easily take advantage of this easy access. I can approach God without the reverence the moment deserves. Also, I too often don’t take advantage of my ease of access to the LORD, failing to thank Him as often as I should or forgetting to call out to Him for help, instead trying to solve my problems all by myself.
But more important than letting my imagination fill with the filthiness of a process that represented cleansing to the Jewish people is remembering that what God wanted most from the Hebrews was the first of their goods as well as their best. The value He placed on His requirements for sacrifice emphasized the value God places on worship and fellowship with Him.
I heard a preacher many years ago state this obvious, but often overlooked lesson this way: If God wanted so much from those who would worship Him before He sent His only Son to die for all sins once and for all, how much more do we think He might want now that that ultimate sacrifice has been made?
God wants to be first in my life. He wants me to give Him the first of my energy, not what’s left over after a long day of work and driving and taking care of family. He longs for me to come to Him with the best version of myself, with my full attention and wholeheartedness.
Thankfully, God takes whatever of me I give. When I fail to offer my best, God still listens. The person I harm when I don’t give God my first and best is myself because God stands ready to provide the fullness of fellowship with Him at all times and in all ways as long as I do my part.
The next time you go to God in worship and prayer, take a moment to remember how Christ’s sacrifice simplified your access to the LORD. Your thankfulness will only enrich your experience and please God.