The Weight of Sin

            Jess and I are continuing our journey through the Bible. We are now in the middle of the book of Numbers. If you don’t know what Numbers is about, it’s about, well, numbers. Israel has escaped Egypt and is on the precipice of entering the Promised Land. Multiple times, God has Moses take a census of how many fighting age (over 20) men there are in Israel. So, a solid chunk of this Biblical book is dedicated to the results of the censuses. I can assure you that reading census results is not the most riveting way to spend your time. 

            Aside from the population numbers, several interesting stories happen in Numbers. The one that I want to talk about today happens in Numbers 16. The Jews were once again complaining and speaking out against Moses. At the beginning of the chapter, a group of them even tried to usurp Moses’ leadership. Because of their opposition against Moses and Aaron (Moses’ brother and right-hand man), God was very angry with them. 

In his anger, God decided to kill the Israelites who were inciting the revolt with a plague. This is what happened when Moses found out what was going to happen to the angry crowd: 

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with fire from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the LORD; the plague has started.” So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them.

Numbers 16: 46-47

Rather than let the people die, Moses and Aaron saved them. 

            I must admit, I don’t necessarily love reading the stories where God, out of his anger, decides to kill his people. It always seems harsh, but I think that is because I have lived my entire life in the age of grace. That age was ushered in when Jesus died on the cross and resurrected three days later. 1 John 2:2 says, “He (Jesus) is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” Jesus already paid the cost for all of our sins. The people in the Old Testament didn’t get that luxury. They had to bear the weight of their own indiscretions against God. 

            Because we live in the age of grace, we have taken on the mindset that sin isn’t that big of a deal. We all know that we have committed far more sins than we’d ever like to admit. Thanks to what Jesus did for us, we are able to ask for forgiveness and be forgiven. This has caused us to lose sight of the brevity of our sin. If we’re being honest with ourselves, we have all probably given God more than enough reason to wipe us out. If you ever question how much sin matters to God, read about the consequences of it in the Old Testament. It was truly life and death stuff. 

            That’s where that group of Jews found themselves with their uprising. They were going to be severely punished for their offenses. That’s where Moses and Aaron stepped in. Aaron ran into the midst of the crowd with what was a ‘fragrant offering’ in hopes of gaining atonement for the people. Numbers 16:48 tells us, “He (Aaron) stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped.” The people were saved because of what Moses and Aaron did. 

            Think about that for a moment. Moses and Aaron saved the people from God’s wrath even though the crowd was hostile to their leadership. It wasn’t only God that they had sinned against, but against Moses and Aaron too. Yet there they were, standing in the middle of God’s wrath to save a people who didn’t deserve it. 

            That is exactly what Jesus did for us. When he went to the cross, he made an offering, himself, to make atonement for us. Not only did he stand between the people and God’s wrath, but he also bore the punishment that we deserve. We all deserve death because of our sin; both spiritual and physical.  Although we sin against Christ daily, he still willingly went to cross for us. 

            Sin isn’t a light matter. It is the costliest thing that we can do. It disrupts our relationship with God and will have negative consequences for us here on earth. Thanks be to God that he didn’t leave us to deal with the penalty of our mistakes. Jesus, fully God, took on flesh and offered himself up as the ultimate offering on our behalf. He stood between us and God’s wrath that we deserved and took on the full weight of our sin. 

            Don’t ever fall into the trap that sin isn’t that big of a deal. We just happen to live in the time after Jesus was offered up as our sacrificial lamb. Because of that, we have a lifetime to make atonement for our sins through placing our faith in Christ. The Old Testament Jews didn’t get that luxury. They often had to pay instantaneously for what they had done. Even still, the Old Testament is full of story after story of God giving his people grace and forgiveness. 

            Sin matters. It matters so much that God gave up his son as payment on our behalf. For those who believe in Jesus, we live in a perpetual state of grace. Sin still will have an impact on our lives now. It can still break our earthly relationships and our wellbeing, but it will never separate us from the God who loves us because Jesus gave his life for ours. He is the one who stood between the living God and those who were dead in their trespasses (Ephesians 2:1). Don’t take sin lightly, and don’t forget the price that was paid so that we would never have to bear the brunt of God’s wrath.

Published by smith1626

I am the Director of Youth Ministries at St. John United Methodist Church in Scott Depot, WV. Mostly, I am a sinner saved by amazing grace.

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