New Church Life NCL May/June 2018 - Page 31

  ,   attention to our habitual prayers – the habit is in some way the point. In the whole burnt offering, everything was burnt, but there were no sacrifices which allowed the Israelites to eat the fat or the blood; this symbolizes our recognition that we ourselves never have pure, Divine truth or the good that goes with it. The whole burnt offering tells us to offer “habit prayers”; we should make a habit of prayer which reminds us that everything good and true comes from the Lord, not from ourselves. Saying the Lord’s Prayer every morning or evening can be how we do this. In the Lord’s Prayer, we ask to the Lord to give us our daily bread. Simply by praying to the Lord at all, you spend a moment thinking rightly that you depend upon Him. This is our daily spiritual maintenance. Sin Offering and Refocus Prayers However, offering only this kind of prayer would be a shallow spiritual life. This is only the first of four kinds of sacrifice. The second kind of sacrifice we call the “sin offering.” This second sacrifice was offered when someone realized they had committed an unintentional error in their lives. Leviticus describes the things prompting a sin offering as mostly unintentional. We might think “sin” means something evil and serious, but here the word is closer to “mistake” or “stumble.” The Israelites lived in a world where they could “sin” by not breaking a clay pot at the correct time or touching a dead animal on the wrong day or not speaking up when they knew the truth. If they realized later that they had made a religious mistake, they brought an animal for the sin offering. Again, the more important the person, the more valuable the animal would be. The priest would take the animal, butcher it, and place most of the animal on the altar of burnt offering. The blood and fat, of course, went only to the Lord. The priest was allowed to take a portion of the sacrifice as payment and to complete the ritual; this was one way priests fed their families. The cost of making a sin offering could be steep. Imagine realizing you had made a mistake and now had to pay a hefty fine. Nobody demanded you pay it – it was your responsibility. The way Leviticus describes it, the very poor could bring a small handful of flour as their sacrifice, but the wealthy brought an entire bull. This would ritualistically cleanse the person from the ritualistic trouble caused by their mistake and bring them back into the proper relationship with 207