The Nature of Sin (and the Cat in the Hat)

Dear Reader,

As we have been reading through Leviticus in family worship (did I just say that? trust me, we are skipping huge chunks), I am struck again by just how tangible our sin seems to be in the Old Testament. I am thinking in particular of the passage about the scapegoat. If you are unfamiliar with it, the gist is that once a year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest gets to enter the most holy part of the Temple. He selects two goats. One is killed as a sacrifice to cleanse the temple. But the other is left alive. He places his hands on it and confesses all the sins of all the people from the past year (don’t you wonder how long that took?). The goat is then turned loose in the wilderness to go to Azazel (apparently a demon). So what I am noticing here is that the people’s sin has to go somewhere.

It reminds me of an old Cat in the Hat video I remember seeing as a child. The cat bathes in the kids’ bathtub and leaves a pink ring around it. The boy says it needs to be cleaned, so the cat grabs the mother’s best dress and cleans the tub. Now the tub is clean, but the dress is stained. So he cleans the dress with the bedspread and so on and so on. The pink stain never goes away. It just moves from place to place. This is how Leviticus is picturing our sin (as I see it at least). It may be transferred off of the people onto the goat, but it is not wiped out. It always has to be somewhere.

Too often we treat our sin lightly as if it is something easily disposed of. But the biblical view is that it has more substance. It is like that treadmill that you bought and don’t use but can’t just put out with the trash. It has to go somewhere. And then there is always more of it. It can’t just be dealt with and be done. The Old Testament gives a very involved, bloody process to try and deal with the situation. And it must be continual, because there are always new sins and the old ones never really go away. The message of the New Testament is that all that sinful stain can finally be wiped out for good. Even future sins! Only the blood of Jesus can wash it all clean (now, a new miracle cleanser!). He is the true Scapegoat upon whom all our sins are placed. And now they can and will go away for ever.



One response to this post.

  1. […] to which I am not inherently opposed. I actually discussed just that issue in an earlier post, The Nature of Sin (and the Cat in the Hat). The idea is that sin almost has weight; it has to go somewhere. In the Old Testament era, the high […]


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