The Sacrificial System

Francisco de Zurbaran – Agnus dei [1635-40]

Hebrews 9: 26-29 …He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”  

God had created man in His image.  His very presence was shared with His creation as He communed with Adam and Eve in the beautiful Garden of Eden. But when Adam and Eve made the choice to disobey God (disobedience=sin), the residing presence of God had to be removed.  Adam and Eve would no longer enjoy the close relationship they once had with their Creator.

Their sin caused this separation.  They knew immediately they had sinned and hid themselves from God’s presence. They were ashamed and covered their nakedness with leaves in an effort to hid.  God, however, who already knew what had happened asked the question, “Where are you?”  This was not a question of location but of attitude.  Where is your heart?  It was meant to be a question of reflection so Adam and Eve might evaluate what had just happened. Much like a mother finding a child with forbidden chocolate cookies all over his face.  She says, “What are you doing?’  God knew what they had done.  He knew they had sinned.  He was asking for repentance.

Man must ask for forgiveness but can do nothing to remove the sin from his own heart.  Man can not make himself clean again no matter how hard he tries.  God is the only one who can remove it.  Thus, God began the process of showing man how sin is removed.

Because God had already determined before creation that an innocent had to be sacrificed for the sins of man, He began the teaching process of sacrifice while Adam and Eve were still in the garden. Something had to die to cover their sin. Leaves were not sufficient.

Genesis 3: 21 “Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.”

The skin of an animal-a blood sacrifice was used to make their clothing.  An animal died, maybe even a favorite lamb, because of what they had done? Adam and Eve would teach their children about the blood sacrifice for sin. It would be passed down from generation to generation. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and family continued the offering of sacrifices.  And in Exodus, God gave detailed instructions to Moses at Mount Moriah for the Ten Commandments, the building of the tabernacle, the priest and their responsibilities and the sacrificial system for offering sacrifices to God that required the death of an animal.

The requirement for specific offerings and sacrifices were established and recorded in Number 28-29. Here are but a few.

Numbers 28: 1-2 The Lord said to Moses, Give these instructions to the people of Israel: The offerings you present as special gifts are a pleasing aroma to me; they are my food. See to it that they are brought at the appointed times and offered according to my instructions”

Daily Offerings: morning and evening: 4 Lambs-2 in the morning and 2 in the evening=1,460 animals

Sabbath Offering: 2 Lambs=104 animals

Monthly Offerings: 2 Bulls, 1 Ram, 7 Lambs, 1 Goat=108 animals

Passover: 2 Bulls, 1 Ram, 7 Lambs, 1 Goat=11 animals

Feast of Harvest/Weeks: 2 Bulls, 1 Ram, 7 Lambs, 1 Goat=9 animals

Feast of Trumpets: 1 bull, 1 Ram, 7 Lambs, 1 Goat=10 animals

Day of Atonement: 1 Bull, 1 Ram, 7 Lambs, 1 Goat= 10 animals

Feast of Tabernacles (a 7 day festival): 70 Bulls, 14 Rams, 98 Lambs=182 animals

During the time of the Tabernacle, families were allowed to offer some of their own sacrifices but once the temple was built the priest were required to make the sacrifices for all. Blood ran continually on the altar and through the courtyard.

This system called for 1,273 public sacrifices a year and many more individual sacrifices. The sacrificial system was still in place when Jesus walked on earth. From the time of the first sacrifice to its end in 70 AD, the approximate number of public sacrifices was almost 2,000,000 animals.  It is clear from this, God was serious about blood being shed.  He was pointing to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 10:1-7  “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.  For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.  But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.  Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me.  In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure  Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.’”

Jesus blood was shed for your sin.  Why?  Because He loved you.  Have you accepted Him as Lord and Savior?


Sandra Hardage

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