I’m reading again in Leviticus this morning and the math just doesn’t line up. You know, the math that says that if A=B and B=C then A=C. Or, in the case of this morning’s reading in Leviticus 5, if a lamb can pay the price for a sin, and if two turtledoves can pay the price for the same sin, and if a tenth of an ephah of flour can also pay the price for the same sin, then a lamb must be equivalent to two turtledoves and both must be the equivalent to a tenth of an ephah of flour. Don’t really know what an ephah is . . . not familiar with the ancient market price for turtledoves or lambs . . . but my instinct says that there’s no way that all three of these things can be equal in value.
And yet, depending on a person’s level of income, any of them could be offered “as the compensation” for their sin. Sin demands a price be paid before a holy God. Yet, depending on what someone could afford, they could bring either the lamb, the turtledoves, or the flour as an offering for their sin “and the priest shall make atonement for him for the sin that he has committed, and he shall be forgiven” (5:10, 13, 16). So how can that be? How can the same transgression be paid by either a lamb, or some birds, or some flour?
Short answer: It can’t.
For, says the Scriptures, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). When it comes right down to the economics of reconciliation with a holy God, neither a lamb, nor a couple of birds, nor an offering of flour, is really sufficient to pay the price. So, in that sense, they are all equal. All equally insufficient. But then it begs the question, “If none of these Levitical offerings were sufficient to truly atone for sin, how could any of them atone for sin?”
Short answer: Jesus.
. . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show Gods righteousness, because in His divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (Romans 3:23-25 ESV)
No way that any of the Old Testament sacrifices could pay the price for sin. At best, they could evidence a sinner’s heart who wished to confess their guilt and seek forgiveness. At best they could point to a future sacrifice, one that would be sufficient to appease fully the wrath of a holy God towards His creation’s rebellion. A sacrifice of which lambs, and birds, and cakes of flour were but a foreshadow. A sacrifice which would fully meet what was lacking in all other sacrifice and which was of such a certainty that God “in His divine forbearance” could pass over “former sins” knowing that one day they too would be covered by this ultimate sacrifice.
This sacrifice being the great equalizer.
Making equal the sacrifice of a lamb, or birds, or flour . . . for they all pointed to a greater offering. Leveling the playing field between the rich and the poor, the religious and not so religious, the “moderate sinner” and the “depraved and wicked.” All given opportunity to be justified through faith “by His grace as a gift.” All because redemption is in Christ Jesus. And He is the Great Equalizer.
To Him be all glory . . .