The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming–not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.
– Hebrews 10:1 NIV
NLT Hebrews 10:11 Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. 12 But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand.
Today we are paying a return visit to Josh Ketchum, a pastor in Kentucky who also has a passion for marriage and family counseling. Click the title below to look around his blog, Life in the Kingdom.
I am teaching a Wednesday night Bible class on the Old Law. This week we are studying the sacrificial system. We are all familiar with the foreshadowing of Christ in the sacrificial system. But here are a few fresh thoughts I have from looking at this in an in-depth manner. (I am not going to reference the statements, but most all of these thoughts come from Leviticus 1-7).
- Sacrifices were required so the people could come into the presence of God. (Read that slowly) Put in other words– you couldn’t come to God without a sacrifice!!
- The entire system was based upon God, through his grace, allowing a substitute life to atone for the offerer’s sin.
- There was an emotional and convicting element involved when the offerer had to place their hands on the animal and slaughter them (often the priest would kill while they were touching.) It was impossible to miss that this animal is giving his life as a substitute for my sin so I can remain in a relationship with God.
- The sacrifices were gifts offered to God. All of the sacrifices, except for the peace offering, the worshipper did not get to partake. He offered his best to the Lord and received not a bite! The individual offerings were voluntary and involved conviction.
- Forgiveness was not just because of the ritual, but was based on the grace of God and faith of the offerer. With the trespass offering the sinner was responsible for demonstrating sincere repentance by offering restitution and monetary payment to the one they had defrauded.
- The peace offering involved a meal together between God, the priests, the offerers, and others gathered at the tabernacle. It was a communal meal. It foreshadowed the communal meal of the Lord’s Supper were Christians celebrate and remember the death of Jesus.
- Offerers were forgiven at the sacrifice, but they were to live dedicated, holy lives from that point forward.
- Finally, though I don’t want to suggest that the Old Law was better or we should in any way practice sacrifices today, I do wonder if we often neglect to emotional grasp what a physical sacrifice would teach us. Since owning animals, I can’t help but think of what it would be like to sacrifice them.
- First, it would be hard to take your best.
- Second, it would be a real sacrifice to give up your food for a spiritual cause. It would take much faith and conviction of sin.
- Third, it would bring home powerfully for you, when you slaughtered your own animal and saw its blood sprinkled on the altar and body parts consumed, the seriousness of sin and the holiness of God.