Thursday, March 27, 2014

Washed in the blood

I have been a Christian since I was seven years old, but I am just now in the process of reading the Bible all the way through. This is embarrassing for two reasons:

1. My husband has already done it twice.

2. People around the world are literally killed just for owning a Bible, and yet they continue to put their lives on the line to get a copy because they understand this truth: The Word of God is Life.

If anyone else feels like joining me on this journey, you'll be able to catch up pretty easily—I am currently in Leviticus. You should know, though, that this is a hard chapter. There is a lot of repetition, so it can be easy to "zone out." But I've heard pastors say that Jesus can (metaphorically) be found on every page of the Bible if you look closely enough, and so that's what I've been trying to do. Look for Jesus. 

Today, I caught a glimpse of Him.

"Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood from the altar and sprinkled them on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. So he consecrated Aaron and his garments and his sons and their garments." —Leviticus 8:30

My first thought when reading this was, "Okay, he just ruined their clothes." And these were some EXPENSIVE clothes. Check out these descriptions (all from Exodus 39):

"From the blue, purple and scarlet yarn they made woven garments for ministering in the sanctuary."

"They hammered out thin sheets of gold and cut strands to be worked into the [cloth]."

"They mounted onyx stones in gold filigree settings and engraved them like a seal with the names of the sons of Israel."

"They fashioned the breastpiece...then they mounted four rows of precious stones on it. In the first row there was a ruby, a topaz and a beryl; in the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and an emerald..."

The list just goes on from there. Jewels and gemstones. Fine linen and richly-dyed yarn. Chains and bells of gold. Intricately stitched pomegranates. How could Moses stain those beautiful outfits with spots of blood?

That's when I saw Jesus. That's when I remembered His blood, which was shed for me. That's when I realized that the garments worn by Aaron and his sons were not made beautiful and pure by their outward adornment but by the blood stains, which signified that the Lord had consecrated them and made atonement for their sins.

I have fought hard to prove my own purity in the past. I have scrubbed my clothes, wiped myself clean, Windex’d the walls of my heart and prayed that God would find me worthy. How did I miss the Truth that my purity has nothing to do with manufactured coverings of my own design, and everything to do with the bloodstains of my Savior—the Living Sacrifice that made atonement for my sins once and for all? The cross has made me clean, and nothing else. I must be washed in crimson to wear garments that are white as snow—bleach and soap and good works and righteous acts have nothing to do with it whatsoever. 

Without the bloodstains, we're just wearing clothes. When we're washed in the blood, we're clothed in garments of His righteousness. 

"I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."—Isaiah 61:10

Thursday, March 13, 2014

It can't be that easy!

Naaman was strong. As a leader of the Aram army, he commanded much respect—and he received it. There was just one problem:

"He was a valiant soldier," the Bible says in 2 Kings 5:1, "but he had leprosy."

Leprosy. The kind of disease that forced men to beg outside city gates. A disease that gave birth to lesions, sores, muscle weakness, and nerve damage. A shameful disease.

When you read the story in the Bible, you can almost feel the weight of that shame resting on Naaman. The leprosy is a weakness he cannot shake, something he's carried for so long that it's become a part of his identity. "Naaman, the incredible leader...with leprosy."  The commander was resigned to the fact that he would have to shoulder the burden of sickness and shame for the rest of his life. Of course, he longed to separate himself from the disease—but there was no cure. Or was there?

"If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria!" the servant girl said to Naaman's wife. "He would cure him of his leprosy."

A cure? A chance for release? Surely, these things were impossible. But however far-fetched the girl's words may have sounded, Naaman could not pass up the possibility of being healed. The king of Aram readily gave permission to his highly-regarded commander to seek out this cure, and sent him to Israel with 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothing to present as an offering to the unknown miracle worker.

"So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha's house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, 'Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.' " (2 Kings 5:9-10)

This is incredible news, is it not? Naaman's been living with a horrendous, flesh-eating disease for years and years, and all that stands between him and complete healing is a bath in the Jordan river!

Naaman should have been beside himself with excitement. He should have sprinted for that river without looking back. Except...he wasn't, and he didn't.

"But Naaman went away angry and said, 'I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy"...So he turned and went off in a rage."  (2 Kings 5:11-12)

I thought this "prophet" was going to come see me for himself, not just send out a measly messenger! I thought he was going to perform signs and wonders! I thought something amazing was going to happen; that I was going to receive some kind of cure I couldn't have found anywhere else. Heck, I can take a bath at home!

Can't you just hear that running through Naaman's mind? His hopes are completely and utterly dashed, but not because the instructions he received were too difficult. Just the opposite—they were too easy.

How many times have I done the same thing? I've come to God begging Him for answers, begging Him for a Word or a sign, begging Him for freedom from the prison of fear, worry, and anxiety. I come to Him expecting claps of thunder and instantaneous miracles. I say to Him, "I'll do anything!" And yet, when He simply responds, "Trust me," I feel that I've been cheated somehow. Why? Because my problem is too huge for the solution to be that easy!

Don't we do this when it comes to our salvation, too? We brace ourselves for an insurmountable task; a lifetime of earning our heavenly keep. Surely God's grace alone is not enough. Surely there must be something we can add to our free gift, something we can do to prove our worth. Didn't we bring 750 pounds of silver? Didn't we come prepared with 150 pounds of gold? Didn't we carry in our hands 10 sets of elaborately spun clothing?

And yet, God says, "My Son has paid it all. He has beaten you to the cross. He has already said, 'It is finished.' You don't have to earn My love. You don't have to buy your salvation. Your debt has been paid, and paid in full."

It can't be that easy! And is.

"Naaman's servants went to him and said, 'My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be cleansed'!" (2 Kings 5:13)

"Wash and be cleansed. Believe that what I say is Truth. Accept My free gift of salvation."

It's as simple as that—no need for complications. Our only role is to trust and obey.

"So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy." (2 Kings 5:14)

. . .

The Bible says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

No tricks. No gimmicks. No silver, no gold. No perfect record, no good works or deeds. Just a bath in the Jordan—just accepting the free gift that's been offered.

It really is that easy. Why not take hold of it today?

Karley with a K. Todos los derechos reservados. © Maira Gall.