The fact that the Kingdom of God is a party doesn’t mean the God of the Kingdom winks at sin. He doesn’t! Not because he is a killjoy, not because he can’t wait to punish our misdeeds, not because he is an angry deity—not at all. Scripture is abundantly clear that God is benevolent, merciful and kind, all because love is the DNA of God. But let us never forget that true and pure love cannot turn a blind eye to sin. That is why God always confronts sin where it exists, punishes it when he must, but mostly, forgives it where his people acknowledge through confession and repentance.
Going Deep // Focus: Numbers 29:7-11
Ten days later, on the tenth day of the same month, you must call another holy assembly. On that day, the Day of Atonement, the people must go without food and must do no ordinary work. You must present a burnt offering as a pleasing aroma to the Lord. It will consist of one young bull, one ram, and seven one-year-old male lambs, all with no defects. These offerings must be accompanied by the prescribed grain offerings of choice flour moistened with olive oil—six quarts of choice flour with the bull, four quarts of choice flour with the ram, and two quarts of choice flour with each of the seven lambs. You must also sacrifice one male goat for a sin offering. This is in addition to the sin offering of atonement and the regular daily burnt offering with its grain offering, and their accompanying liquid offerings.
The fact that the Kingdom of God is a party (see yesterday’s devotional thoughts on Numbers 28) doesn’t mean that the God of the Kingdom winks at sin. He doesn’t! Not because he is a killjoy, not because he can’t wait to punish our misdeeds, not because he is an angry deity—not at all. Scripture is abundantly clear:
- God loves for us to experience joy: “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
- God is reluctant to punish sin and ready to show mercy: “Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! (Micah 7:18-19)
- God is fundamentally loving and kind in character and action: “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15)
Yes, God is all of those—benevolent, merciful and kind, because love is the DNA of God—but let us never forget that true and pure love cannot turn a blind eye to sin. That is why God always confronts sin where it exists, punishes it when he must, but mostly, forgives it where his people acknowledge and repent of it:
God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (1 John 1:57-10)
In Numbers 28-29, God lays out not only days of celebration but days of confession as well. He made it possible for his people to party—to remember his goodness and provision, and to repent—to acknowledge their impurity and be cleansed from it. Throughout the law Moses delivered to this new nation, God’s holiness took center stage. God is holy, and he expected his people to honor his holiness by following his guidelines for both public worship and daily living. And when there were missteps, he provided sacrifices to atone for their sin through offerings “to purify yourselves and make yourselves right with the Lord.” (Numbers 29:5) In fact, he set up a singular day of the year, called the Day of Atonement (Numbers 29:7), where he commanded his people to cease all their normal activity to fast, wait upon him and make sacrifice for the remission of their sins.
Since we live in a new age as followers of Christ where we are not required to offer sacrifices for sin or to set aside an entire day for confession, repentance and cleansing, that is, a Day of Atonement, it is easy for us to forget how deadly serious sin truly is. So let us never forget that sin destroys. It corrupts our nature, it corrodes our relationships—with God and one another, and it kills—both the abundance of God in this life and eternal life in the next:
For the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23a)
But let us likewise never forget the Good News that provision for the bad news of sin was made by a benevolent, merciful and lovingly-kind God, both through the temporary sacrifices in under the Old Covenant and permanently through the true Day of Atonement through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ:
The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. …For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. (Hebrews 10:1-4, 10)
No, God doesn’t wink at our sins. How could he wink at what would separate us relationally and eternally from his love? He doesn’t wink at sin, but he certainly washes us clean from it: “the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) Yes, the wages of sin is death. That is the bad news; but the Good News is,
But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23b)
Thank God for the true Day of Atonement!