The Power of Pleading the Hyssop
What if the blood of Jesus not only covers completely but also covers permanently?
“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” — Psalm 51:7
As I stood with my daughter looking out the window into the woods following a snowfall this past winter, she remarked, “It is so bright and clean."
I suppose you have to know that behind our house is an area that leads down to the creek. Branches from trees fallen from Hurricane Irma remain. While typically an eyesore, covered with snow it was bright and clean.
It was beautiful.
King David knew that about snow. As a perfectly white substance, it is an apt metaphor for purity. But with the revelation of his grievous sins exposed by his friend Nathan, he felt anything but pure.
No groveling before heaven nor scrubbing with the useless rag of penance or empty promises of change could cover the fallen, dead and entangled branches of sin that were such an eyesore in his soul.
So, he pleads the hyssop.
In other words, he pleads the blood. Hyssop is a plant that was used in the ceremonial cleansing rituals of the Old Testament, where an animal would be slain and the hyssop plant dipped in its blood and sprinkled upon the altar.
Hebrews 9:19-22 describes the practice.
19 When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprin kled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.” 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
The fact that sin requires death indicates how serious our offenses are before the law of God. Sin is far more than making a mistake or breaking a rule. It is the defiant, willful rejection of a royal edict. Meaning, my sin is nothing less than treason against the King of Kings. Even today, treason demands the death penalty. That is what the Old Testament sacrifices show us. God does not wink at sin but has dealt with its seriousness with his eyes wide open.
Without winking, the sacrifices in the Old Testament foreshadow the active atonement accomplished by Jesus.
On the altar of a Roman cross, he shed his blood unto death as a sin substitute. His blood now covers my sin like snow.
But the snow in my backyard began to melt when the temperature rose. Thankfully, the blood of Jesus never melts. It not only covers completely, but it also covers permanently.
With full and complete confidence in the efficacy of the hyssop and all it represented, David was able to say, “Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow!"
He did not say I might be clean or will be clean temporarily. I will be clean. Period.
Did you notice he didn’t just claim he would be white as snow, but whiter than snow! How pure is that? Imagine the most forgiven you could possibly be. Consider the purest moral condition, and then envision being even more forgiven, more clean, more perfect.
Imagine perfect righteousness!
That is the promise of the gospel in Isaiah 1.
Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.
In Christ, covered with his shed blood, the Father now looks upon you as he does Jesus. But not because of your obedience to the law or personal sacrifice for the Lord, but because of Jesus' obedience to the law and personal sacrifice.
With the shed blood of Christ covering your sins, the Father looks upon you like my daughter and I looked upon our backyard under the thick blanket of snow. It was bright and clean. It was beautiful.
And in Christ, so are you.
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