The Old Testament gives vivid, detailed instructions about the offering of a sacrifice in atonement for sin. Since Jesus was the sacrifice for your sins and mine, we do not offer blood sacrifices on this side of the cross. And because our culture is so different from God’s people in the Old Testament, we often do not fully understand the significance of its meaning.
Because sin had entered the world through Adam and Eve, man could no longer come into the presences of Holy God without redemption. Our all knowing God designed His divine plan for redeeming fallen man even before creation and before man sinned. It would require the shedding of blood. A sacrifice had to be made.
In order for man to understand His plan, God designed the system of blood sacrifices in the Old Testament to give man a preview and understanding of the meaning of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ for sin. In Numbers 28-29, God called for 1,273 public sacrifices a year-each morning and evening, each Sabbath, the first day of each month and during the special feasts days of assembly and celebration. In addition to the public sacrifices, there would also be individual sacrifices. This must have been a continuous flowing of blood that spilled freely from the altar.
One day a year was celebrated as the Day of Atonement. On this day the High Priest would offer a sacrifice for the sins of the nation. These sins were symbolically transferred to the spotless, blameless lamb dying in the place of the people and became the sin substitute for the collective sins of the nation.
The High Priest would first offer an animal sacrifice for his own sins. The offering had to be a spotless lamb with no defects or blemishes. After his personal offering was made, it was now his responsibility to offer a sacrifice for the nation of Israel.
The High Priest would take another chosen lamb, lay it on the altar and slit its throat. As the animal died, the blood was caught in a basin and sprinkled by the priest on the horns of the altar and then poured out at the base of the altar where it was collected to present in the Holy of Holies where God’s presence resided.
The Holy of Holies was separated from the Holy Place by a veil or curtain.
Only one person, the High Priest, was allowed behind the veil to present the blood before God. He would take the blood of the lamb into the Holy of Holies. The High Priest then must sprinkle the blood on the Ark of the Covenant. God either accepted or rejected the offering. If God rejected the sacrifice offering, the High Priest was struck dead. If God accepted the sacrifice, the High Priest would return to the people and rejoicing would take place for the people knew their sins had been forgiven for another year.
Romans 3:25 “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood—to be received by faith. “
Jesus was both our High Priest and the Lamb of God. Because Jesus did not sin, He was the blameless lamb sacrificed for the sins of the nations. He was also the High Priest who carried His own blood before the Father and presented it as atonement for our sins. Because of His sacrifice, our sins are forgiven. And we as individuals can boldly come before the throne of God because of the sacrifice of the sinless Lamb of God named Jesus!
1 John 2: 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 4: 10 He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.(emphasis mine)
It was God’s great *”hesed” for you that sent Jesus to the cross. His love demands a response.
What will your response be to God’s *”hesed” for you?
Will you live a life for Christ because of the atoning sacrifice He made for you?
*“Hesed” is the consistent, ever-faithful, relentless, constantly-pursuing, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained, furious, loving kindness and everlasting love of our God who shows grace and mercy!