Today I read Leviticus 4 where the Lord outlines how to handle an Atonement offering. It is very detailed and, to me at least, seems to be trying to convey the sacredness of it to the people. These are Atonement offerings, the people have done something wrong and an animal is going to be sacrificed because you did something wrong. I wonder if this made the people think twice about what they were going to do, or perhaps it was just the opposite, when they were contemplating sinning their thought was that it was only a bullock that would be sacrificed and they would be off scott free.
Sadly, this type of mentality is very prevalent in our society. There are many people that think all they need to do is confess their sins and they are automatically absolved of them. I have heard horror stories of people going to mardi gras with the intent to do things they know are wrong and they do it because they know all they will have to do is confess to their priest and all will be well. Such people do not understand the Atonement and repentance at all. Such people would really benefit from reading Alma's account of his repentance in Alma 36.
Repentance is in fact a gift from God but it is painful when done properly. This is because the purpose of repentance, and true repentance, is to change our very nature and our lives. It is not to absolve us of sin, although that is part of it. The real goal of repentance is to change who we are so that we become more Christlike. And just like breaking a limb that set wrong so it can heal properly, it can hurt, a lot! I hope the Israelites valued life, even animal life, so that they did not think that they had an easy way out when they did something wrong. I hope they seriously considered the consequences and that an innocent animal would lose their life if they did something wrong. I know I would have if I had lived back then! Until tomorrow.