Friday, August 8, 2008

The Law of Sacrifice Points To The Atonement

Isn’t it amazing how the Lord prepares His people, no matter what time period they live in, to understand and apply the offering that was made by Him through His atoning sacrifice?

This last and great sacrifice that the prophets of long ago spoke of was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ himself, the lamb without blemish, in the meridian of time. It was a culmination of years of instruction and symbolism, replaced today by instruction and symbolism.

The Law of Sacrifice as taught to the children of Israel by Moses was a preparatory law for this great event. Just as the fall brought about the three types of death which was spoken of in the last post, and taught in our modern day scriptures called the Doctrine and Covenants.... these sacrifices and offerings that Moses taught showed this exact principle and how the atonement covered each of these different types of death.

Physical Death- This was represented by the continual burnt offering that was upon the altar of the temple. The offering was done in the morning and in the evening and burned continually. This continual burning illustrated the principle of immortality, a life that was never ending.

The First Spiritual Death- This principle was taught through the example of the Sin Offering. This offering was for all the sins that were done in ignorance, or as a consequence of being a “fallen” man. It is interesting to note the manner in which this offering was offered.

The bullock was brought to the door of the tabernacle and was killed. The blood of the sacrifice however was taken first to the vail of the sanctuary and was sprinkled seven times before the vail. It was then put upon the horns of the altar of incense, which is right before the vail. Next the blood was taken outside to the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle, and poured on the bottom of the altar. The whole bullock was then carried outside the camp to a clean place and completely burned there.

The progression of the blood goes from the most sacred spot, near the vail to completely outside of the camp. To me it teaches of the condescension of God as he went from His place on high to descending below all things, to supply the demands of the law brought about by the fall. This is the “get out of spiritual death free card” which was talked about in the previous post.

The Second Spiritual Death- This principle was taught through the example of the Trespass Offering. This was an offering that was made when someone knowingly sinned, or chose to sin. This offering was made with requirements. The offending offerer had to repent, confess, forsake, make restitution, and fast upon bringing his offering to the altar. It was an offering that required action beyond the offering itself. Today we term this as the death that is overcome by action, faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost.

The Trespass offering taught that the second death is a choice, and to overcome it, it will take action by the offending party.

These three sacrifices taught the children of Israel in a beautiful way the principles of the Fall and the Atonement in a manner that they could always remember how infinite and eternal the last great sacrifice would be. It showed them their part, or what was required of them in applying this wonderful gift in their lives.

It is a beautiful illustration of "saved by grace after all you can do".

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Fall Brought About Death

Before we can understand the blessings of the Atonement in our lives we need to more fully understand the Fall and the consequences of it.

When Adam fell, three different types of deaths were introduced.

This is addressed in the Doctrine and Covenants section 29:41-42

41 Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead, which is the first death, even that same death which is the last death, which is spiritual, which shall be pronounced upon the wicked when I shall say: Depart, ye cursed.

42 But, behold, I say unto you that I, the Lord God, gave unto Adam and unto his seed, that they should not die as to the temporal death, until I, the Lord God, should send forth angels to declare unto them repentance and redemption, through faith on the name of mine Only Begotten Son.

Notice the first death is spiritual, and the last death is spiritual. In between those is the death that is temporal.

First, we need to understand what the temporal death is. It is simply the ability that we have to die physically, or as some call it physical death. The Atonement covers that for everyone. We are all given the gift of resurrection, regardless of how we live or what we do. The Atonement is a “get out of physical death free card.” Everyone will be resurrected and therefore the Atonement is a wonderful gift even if that was all that was offered or it stopped there, but it is much more infinite that that.

Now, let’s talk about the two spiritual deaths. The first spiritual death that the scriptures refer to actually occurred because of the transgression, or disobedience, of Adam and Eve in the garden. It introduced an imperfect fallen individual who was unable to reside or live in the presence of the Father. This resulted in a “casting out” or cutting off from continual sociality with our Father because of imperfection. Our birthright as spirit children of Heavenly parents was that of sociality with the Father, but our earthly birth parents Adam and Eve made that position impossible.

The Atonement covers that spiritual death unconditionally. In essence it is a “get out of spiritual death free card” for this death as well. This is the reason that children are born innocent... just like Adam and Eve were. The Atonement reestablishes our literal birthright inheritance of innocence, which was taken from us by the choice of our first earthly parents. For this reason there is no need for baptism of children.

Because of the gift of the Atonement, each of us is given our own opportunity to “fall”, which is completed by the time we are 8 year old, and continues each time we choose to be disobedient. It is because of the Atonement that we are then given another opportunity to be free from the last death, which is spiritual. This opportunity is in the form of faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost helping us to make right choices through out the rest of our lives.

This second death occurs by choice. We choose to sin and separate ourselves from God, therefore just as we choose to sin, we also choose to apply the gift of the Atonement in our lives for this spiritual death. This coverage is conditional. It requires work and effort on our part if we are to claim the blessings of it.

This concept was taught throughout the Old Testament... which will be explored in my next post!