“If you bring a bird as a burnt offering to the LORD, choose either a turtledove or a young pigeon. The priest will take the bird to the altar, twist off its head, and burn the head on the altar. He must then let its blood drain out against the sides of the altar. The priest must remove the crop and the feathers and throw them to the east side of the altar among the ashes. Then, grasping the bird by its wings, the priest will tear the bird apart, though not completely. Then he will burn it on top of the wood fire on the altar. It is a whole burnt offering made by fire, very pleasing to the LORD.” Leviticus 1:14-17
Seriously? The priests had a very ugly job back in the day. This passage describes just one of the things priests had to do to help people make payment for sins. I’m not sure that if this stuff was in the job description today that I would have enrolled in seminary or ever even thought about ministering. I cannot imagine having to twist a turtledove’s head off and then rend the bird apart – just thinking about it, I can feel the bird ripping apart in my hands and I begin to feel sick. But that is what they had to do… and the end result is that it was very pleasing to the LORD.
I caught myself thinking that it is so much easier today. However, on further reflection, I realized that the truth of the matter is that dealing with sin and its consequences is not easy – it is an ugly job even without tearing birds apart with our bare hands. But that is what we have to do so that the end result is pleasing to the LORD. Incredibly, Jesus already paid for our sins. Without Jesus, we might as well not even struggle with our sins. With Jesus, we still struggle with our sins, but we can be confident of overcoming our sins. We won’t be completely free of sin until we meet him, but we can live lives that are holier and holier as we trust him. It is not easy nor smooth.
Sometimes killing and ripping a bird apart might seem quite a bit easier than dealing with sin in ourselves and in others. But what can appear like an ugly job is actually a beautiful work to God.