[Thought questions for Atonement: Purification Offering October 30, 2013]
1. What redeems us. We sing “redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.” Do the molecules and other ingredients that make up the blood of a lamb redeem us? What does? Why did God point the people to the ritual of slaying a lamb to represent the elements of forgiveness and redemption? Why didn’t he choose a calf? Or a kitten?
2. Tekoa. How does the place known as Takoa fit in with the study for this week? How does Joab’s concern for the broken relationship between David and his son Absalom, relate to God’s desire for a solution to the broken relationship between God and sinful man? Do you see the sanctuary service as a story with a much deeper meaning? Since the wages of sin is death, is that why capital punishment was the penalty for such a crime? How does the widow from Takoa suggest this punishment be transferred? How does her solution relate to how God treats our sins? What do you think touched David’s heart in her plea? Was the widow’s story successful in its purpose? Why? Or Why not? Can both justice and mercy be applied to broken relationships today? Will broken relationships ultimately be mended? How?
3. Laying on of hands. Would growing up in a farming community where livestock was the most valuable product help you understand the sacrifice of the lamb better? What was the role of ritual in the sacrifice? Why was it necessary for the sinner to take the life of the sacrificial lamb? Is there anything in our lives as repentant sinners that resembles the offering of the lamb? What does it mean that the life of the lamb was a “substitutionary” death? What do you think was substituted? How important is that belief to the Christian?
4. Blood. How does the wine of the Communion Service remind of Jesus’ blood which was shed for us? Of all known earthly liquids or solids, why do you think blood is used to represent the process of getting rid of sin? Compare our dependence on the shed blood of Jesus’ sacrifice to the indispensable blood in our bodies? Does the handling of blood in the ritual service help us to understand the process of forgiveness? How? The blood was caught in a golden bowl, smeared on the horns of the altar, poured beneath the altar, and transferred to the sanctuary. Is this the path our sins must take? Explain. Does love have a place in all these rituals? 1 Kings 1:50 tells the story of Adonijah who held the horns of the altar in a time of fear. What was the significance of that act? Is there mercy seen in the handling of the blood as well? What characteristics of God have you seen in the transference of sin from the sinner to the sanctuary as carried out by the priests?
5. Bearing sin away. Have you ever in your life done something wrong and wished more than anything else that it had never happened? How would you treat this offense if you lived in the time of the Israelites and the sacrificial system? How do you imagine it would make you feel to have that sin forgiven? Are the sins of your life in danger of ruining your Christian experience? Can you do anything about it? Does God want to do something to your sins? What?
6. Forgiveness. In his gospel Luke gives us some guidelines for forgiveness. (Read Luke 18:23-35) Why do we need forgiveness? What is expected of the one who is forgiven? Micah 7:18 asks for a comparison and a challenge. Is it unusual to think of God as forgiving? Or having compassion? Why or why not? We notice the sinner brought the lamb to the tabernacle for a purpose: the forgiveness of his sin. If “God’s forgiveness is neither cheap nor automatic” what should the person who apologizes do besides saying, “I’m sorry”? Can we find God’s forgiveness in our human relationships? Do we “need” forgiveness? Is forgiveness possible without repentance? How can we answer Micah’s question: Who is like our God? Is His character replicated in His inheritance?
7. “Big Question.” Read the following conclusion to this week’s lesson: “The blood of Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the law, was not to cancel the sin; it would stand on record in the sanctuary until the final atonement; so in the type the blood of the purification offering removed the sin from the penitent, but it rested in the sanctuary until the Day of Atonement.”—Ellen G. White. What does it mean that you will be released from the condemnation of the law, but the sin will not be canceled? Is there a benefit in being released from the penalty of our sins and an equally great reward in having our sins canceled? Forever? Discuss.