Summary: Just as ancient offerings were said to ascend to the heavens, so also a life lived in praise connects us with God in powerful ways.

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2,186,230 Can anyone guess what that number represents?

2,186,230 any Ideas?

2,186,230 this is the number of people who were in Jail, or Prison in the United States alone in June 2005 (the most recent statistics I could find).

Each person incarcerated in our system today is there because the government believed they had committed an offense that warranted a punishment. It’s not the only way the government punishes people, but it’s one.

Other means of punishment include parking tickets, community service, probation and a slew of other reprimands.

Throughout time there have been many very odd ways justice is carried out. In Elizabethan England women who gossiped to much was led around the city with a metal cage over her head with spikes in her mouth so she couldn’t move her tongue, they also made drunkards walk the streets wearing nothing but a barrel, and encouraged public jeering. The means for carrying out justice have changed but in every society there has been a consequence to breaking the rules.

In the time of Jesus things were no different. If you stole, you were punished. If you killed you had to face consequences. There were laws in place to keep the peace, and keep society plugging along.

There were also laws that the people followed in order that they could have peace with God. These were laid out in a group of writing that were the heart and soul of Jewish culture. This collection was called the Torah. The Torah laid out the beginnings of the Jewish people, stories of how God had intervened to help, save, and nurture the Jewish people throughout time, and laws that taught the Jewish people how to have fellowship with God.

One of the major ways people made peace with God was through sacrifices.

Sacrifices were offered in the temple in Jerusalem periodically throughout the year. Many of these sacrifices were slaughter offerings where an animal was killed for the people. We see in the book of Hebrews that this was because blood was required to fulfill the justice of God. As Hebrews 9:22 states, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”

Blood was needed, blood was given, but God wanted a deeper connection. He wanted life with us that was forever. Our lives fell short of God’s righteousness. We couldn’t live up to the standard of God. We weren’t perfect, and God requires perfection. This is what Christ’s life was about. He came and was killed, a perfect sacrifice between God and us forever. He opened the way to life with God, and united us with our creator for all time.

Because of Christ we are right with God. There is no need to sacrifice. There is no more blood needed for salvation. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.

That often leads me to the question, “now what?”

Seriously, Christ took care of it. What are we to do now?

In the Torah we can see hints of what life with God is all about.

The offerings for sins were required to be perfect, as Leviticus 22:20 states, “Do not bring anything with a defect, because it will not be accepted on your behalf.” However there were other things we people could give God that were not required to be perfect.

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