The ritual begins with two birds. One is killed and placed in “an earthenware vessel over fresh water” (Leviticus 14:50). Birds don’t belong in clay bowls; they belong in the heavens. In this we see Jesus, who “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7). He belongs in the heavens; he became as one of us–a “treasure in jars of clay” (2Corinthians 4:7).
The other bird is dipped in the blood of the first, then turned loose to fly. In this we see ourself, as we find our “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). When the bird flew into the skies, Israel knew it was made pure and set free. “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom” (Revelation 1:5).
It is in these rituals, these sacrifices, that Israel is being made ready for her Savior.
Heavenly Father, eternal God. You knew how You were going to save me long before I sinned. My sin is terrible, and reminders of it are terrible and bloody, but I need those reminders. I so easily think of my sins as common, and forget that I was not made for sin, but for Your glory.
Teach me to hate sin and love salvation. Remind me of the death sin brings, if only to make my desire grow for Your goodness and glory and grace. May I set my mind always on things above, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.