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North Wake Church

This Sunday At North Wake

Gathering for Worship Online

Larry Trotter will be continuing our Lent series: "Christ Our Sacrifice and Sin Bearer."

Click HERE to worship with us online this Sunday morning.

Click HERE for Conversations Starters for your family over lunch this Sunday.

Worship Lyrics & Chord Charts

If you would like to play along during worship, click HERE for the worship lyrics and chord charts.

Praying Prayers of Paul for the Church You Love

ll Thessalonians 2:16-17

This week, take this prayer of the Apostle Paul and use it as a prompt to pray for North Wake.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. ~  ll Thessalonians 2:16-17

Meditation For Preparation

Christ Our Sacrifice and Sin Bearer

Written by Mike Wittmer.

Read: Lev. 16

The Bible uses the terms propitiation and expiation. The two terms differ in their prefixes and their meaning. The prefix pro means "before" or "in front of." Propitiation refers to the vertical direction of the sacrifice of Christ. It is an act directed to the Father, before whom Christ makes satisfaction for our sins. The prefix ex means "from" or "out of." In his work of expiation, Christ removes our sins from us, in a horizontal direction. Our sins are "remitted" or "sent away from us."

Both expiation and propitiation were prefigured in the Old Testament drama of the Day of Atonement. Three animals were used in the ceremony: a bull and two goats. The bull is used first as a sin offering for the high priest and his house.The first goat is slain on behalf of the people, and its blood is sprinkled on the mercy seat, symbolizing the act of propitiation.

The second goat is the scapegoat. The law in Leviticus reads: "... when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat; and Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness." (Lev. 16:20-22)

In the ceremony of the scapegoat, we see the drama of expiation via a substitute, or what we may call "vicarious expiation." In laying on his hands, Aaron symbolizes the transfer of the people's sins to the back of the goat. Now, by virtue of imputation, the goat bears the people's sins. The goat is sent away, indicating the removal or remission of  sin via expiation.

It is vitally important that the goat is sent outside the camp into uninhabited wilderness. This action must be understood in light of the sanctions established in the Mosaic covenant. In Deuteronomy God promises a blessing to all who obey his commandments, blessing in the city and the country, in their produce and livestock, in all areas of their lives "... it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God. ..." (Deut. 28:1-2)

In like manner God promises a negative sanction, a curse, on all who violate his commandments, a curse that will strike in city and country, in farm and field, and in all things:" shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord  your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you...." (Deut. 28:15)

To understand the language of blessing and curse, let us examine the classic Hebrew benediction: "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace" (Num. 6:24-26).

The literary form of the benediction is a type of synonymous parallelism in which each verse repeats the same thought using different words. In each verse there are two related benefits. It looks like this:

Bless ... keep
Make His face shine ... be gracious
Lift up His countenance ... give peace

"Keeping," "being gracious," and "giving peace" are parallel concepts. Likewise "bless," "make His face shine," and "lift up his countenance" are parallel. To the Jew the highest possible state of blessedness is the beatific vision — being able to see the face of God. The closer one comes to seeing his face, the higher the degree of felicity. Blessedness is inseparably related to God's nearness.

The antithesis of blessing is curse. To fall under the curse is to be not "kept" or "preserved" by God. It is to experience not his grace, but his justice. It is to have not peace (shalom) but conflict. To be cursed is to be removed from his presence, to be forbidden ever to see his face, to be cast into outer darkness where the light of his countenance does not shine.

In the New Testament Paul speaks of Christ's bearing the curse of the law on behalf of his people: "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Gal. 3:13-14).

The drama of the curse is played out in detail in the Gospel narratives of the crucifixion. Christ is delivered first to the Gentiles for judgement. He is killed according to Roman law by "hanging on a tree." It becomes dark in the middle of the afternoon, and Christ cries out about being forsaken. All of these elements reenact the driving of the scapegoat outside the camp, its banishment to the outer darkness.

By his passive obedience Christ receives the curse for us. The curse is punishment for the sin that has been imputed to him. "Passive obedience" means the things Jesus allowed to happen to him for our sake. He accepts the dreadful cup the Father sets before him and drinks it to its bitter dregs. He passively endures the punishment for sin that is not his own, but is transferred to him by imputation. He fulfills the role of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53: "Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." (Isa. 53:4-5)