Have you ever done something and tried to cover it up? It seems a natural and common thing to do. The main character of Poe’s “The Black Cat” tries to cover up his crime by hiding the victim behind a wall. In mysteries, bodies turn up under floors, in lakes or rivers, buried, cut up, or burned. Children hide things under the mattress or in the bottom of the toy box, or wash the chocolate off their faces (the only time they touch soap willingly).
Perhaps we come by that tendency naturally. After all, it can be traced back to our original ancestors.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:6-8)
Of course, as so often happens when we try to cover something up, it didn’t work. Adam, himself, showed his own guilt. “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked?” (verses 9-11)
At this time of the year, though, many people are looking forward to a legitimate hiding of their sins. Yom Kippur (October 2 in 2006) is often translated as the Day of Atonement, but it is just as proper to call it the Day of Hiding. When the Temple was standing sacrifices were made annually for the covering of sin.
This was a unique concept among religions. Many religions emphasize social justice, doing good rather than harm. With some there is no provision to cover harm done. With others the good and bad are weighed at death, and if the bad outweighs the good it results in either annihilation or reincarnation in a “lesser” form. Sin, if there is any concept of such, can never be truly covered.
Our God, on the other hand, provides for a true covering of sin, and that in this lifetime. His people do not have to wait for death to cover their sins. For the repentant, that covering is present and complete.
If that covering was afforded first to the Jewish people on Yom Kippur, it is afforded now for all people through another blood sacrifice. This sacrifice is even more complete because it does not have to be offered annually.
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, … Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:11-14)
Several things can be noted about this passage. Contrary to the belief of many Christian preachers, the sacrifice of bulls and goats was fully effective to cover sin completely and forever. The greater sacrifice, however, was more effective because it was more personal. The Messiah offered his own blood. As with the animal sacrifice, though, that blood had to be (and was) “without spot.” Lastly, the covering of sin offered through the Messiah not only covers the sin but also the consciousness of sin.
A day, a year, a lifetime of hiding sin. That is what everyone faces. The important question is, who will do the hiding? Will it be you, or will it be God. Therein is all the difference. Therein is all the hope.