There is a Hebrew word in the Old Testament which is apparently difficult to translate accurately into English. It is ‘avon’. We could try to use the English word rebellion, meaning rebellion against God, or iniquity, or use the phrase ‘turning our back on God’ but it carries even more meaning than that. It means the evil consequences and the punishment which come as a result of this behaviour.
It’s easy to look at our world today and clearly see evil, both evil behaviour and it`s consequences. There are atrocities of torture and murder and much suffering. It`s not so easy to understand why it’s happening. What is the cause of it all?
Seven hundred years before the time of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah described the root of the problem of our world and what the suffering servant, the Messiah, would do about it. ‘We like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all’ (Isaiah 53:6).
But long before that, in the time of Moses, the Day of Atonement was introduced by God. There were two scapegoats. One was sacrificed on the altar and shed its blood to make atonement for sin and the other was allowed to live but was sent away into exile in the wilderness. It bore the ‘avon’ of the people. ‘And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness’ (Leviticus 16:21-22).
In God’s purposes everything was leading up to the unique historical event when Jesus was willing to identify with our ‘avon’ and bear the full consequences of God’s rightful judgment on it. ‘For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). In a moment of time all the guilt and suffering of the human race was put upon our Lord Jesus Christ. It was the perfect sacrifice and was sufficient for the past, present and future needs of every single person.
The apostle Peter explained it this way. ‘He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls’ (1 Peter 2:24-25). There is a way back to God through what Jesus has done on the cross. In turning back to Him we are able to be forgiven, live to righteousness, and be healed from our wounds.
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Saviour, Redeemer and Deliverer. Thank You that by His atoning sacrifice our sins are forgiven and we can live to righteousness and receive healing for our woundedness. Amen.
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