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Atonement

Last week I killed my first chicken. I accept the reality that animals must die so that we can eat, but I am happy to entrust the task to others. Killing a chicken made me think about the sacrificial system that the people of Israel were commanded to follow in the Old Testament. The idea of atonement is central in the Biblical story. All the way back to Adam and Eve, who felt shame in their naked rebellion against God, they needed a covering to atone for their sin. The killing of animals was a reminder of the consequences of sin, death. Blood needed to be shed to atone for evil actions of rebellious people against God. The atoning sacrifice satisfies the justice of God by providing forgiveness (payment-yes someone must pay) and also turns away His wrath from the deserving person.

The reality of death is all around us. From loved ones who are taken from us to our beloved pets. Every living thing is destined to die in our current world. This is the reminder of our sinfulness and our need for atonement. This reality also awakens in us a hope for a future with no death.

As I watched the life (blood) of the chicken soak into the ground I felt a cry in my heart, a longing for a better world. A world not resigned and hardened to sin and death, but a world where life is eternal and death is unnatural. Romans tells us that the “whole creation has been groaning as if in the pains of childbirth” looking forward to being liberated from the bondage of decay and brought into the “glorious freedom of the children of God.”

One chicken seems like nothing, but I thought about the millions of people who will die today. People will die in the wars in the Middle East, the violence in the streets of America, and from starvation in Africa. Their blood cries from the ground as well.

Yet there is a blood that speaks louder than all of these…truly innocent blood that speaks from a place outside Jerusalem. Blood shed on a cross that represented all the injustice, violence, fear, hate, selfishness, and pride of the human race. Yes this blood speaks loader and it speaks atonement for everyone who will receive it. Receiving this blood covers our shame and guilt.

The story of the Bible is a story about a new world, a new world that God is creating in human hearts. He is creating this world by removing sin and replacing it with love, a love for God and others. “We wait eagerly for our adoption as sons and daughters, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we are saved…” (Romans 8:23-24a).

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