Christ in the Levitical Sacrifices Christ in the Old Testament Ceremonies Series: Lecture One
Read Leviticus 1:1-9.
We have been looking at the life of Moses, and we noted that he was famous for the fact that he gave the law. That law would include the Ten Commandments, or the moral law, but it also would include what we call the ceremonial law. In fact, as far as verses are concerned, a good bit of what Moses wrote was the ceremonial law. The things that would be done in the nation every day were done because this man prescribed it under the authority of God. Ceremonial law in Israel dealt with the tabernacle. And when you begin to think on what is said in the Pentateuch about the tabernacle, there is a great deal of space there given. It also dealt with the priesthood. It dealt with the feast days. It dealt with the sacrifices, and under the sacrifices I would list as well the laws of cleanness and uncleanness. When you begin putting that all together, Moses gave a great deal concerning what we would call ceremony, and that which is not valid for us today. And yet, in each one of these ceremonies there are truths that are given to us about Christ. I want us to think on the five sacrifices that begin the book of Leviticus.
David picked up five smooth stones to kill Goliath. And Christ, as the seed of David, took these five pictures of the atonement and, with one complete and finished sacrifice, He slew our Goliath of sin and death. Whereas the moral law was given to Moses on Mt. Horeb (Mt. Sinai), God gave direction for these sacrifices from the tabernacle. This means that historically these ceremonial laws that we are looking at were given after what we read in Exodus, because the Lord told Moses how to build the tabernacle in Exodus and it was set up. Now from that tabernacle the Lord is speaking to Moses. He is down “on the ground,” in the midst of the nation. But He is at the tabernacle, the very centre of worship and the centre of power and control in the land.
Here he is before God, and the Lord comes and He speaks to him that which was absolutely necessary in order for the people to commune with God. God, in teaching the people about sacrifice, was teaching them about the one great sacrifice that was coming – that is, the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. So as we look at these five offerings, I do not want us to look just at the offerings and stop there. If we stop there, then we have missed the whole import of why these sacrifices were given. They were given to point us to Christ and His sacrifice. So let us focus on these five sacrifices that are mentioned here, and then go from there as to the work of Christ on our behalf.
The Sacrifices Could Not Atone for Sin
The first thing I would like you to note is that the five sacrifices could not atone for sin. They could not atone for sin! They are of divine origin – there is no question about that. While there were burnt offerings before the book of Leviticus, yet the sacrifices given is these first five chapters would give new meaning to the burnt offering and also add more understanding as to the atoning work of the coming Christ. God did ordain these five sacrifices. And yet they could not remove sin.
Psalm 50 is one of those places that teaches us that indeed God was not happy with the sacrifices of the Old Testament even though He ordained them. He put them in Israel; He made Israel do it. And yet He Himself knew that these would not atone for sin. In Psalm 50:8-13 we read:
I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are continually before Me. I will not take a bull from your house, nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Psalm 50:8-13, NKJV.
Sacrifices were not feeding God! That was not their purpose. And they were not in and of themselves that which would remove sin. We have in Hebrews 10:4 the Apostle saying this: “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins.” It is not possible! And then in Hebrews 10:8 he quotes from another passage in the Old Testament (Psalm 40): “’Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them’ (which are offered according to the law).” Here they are offered by the law. God is the divine appointee of what should be done in the sacrifices. But God does not take pleasure in them. They did not satisfy God. They did not remove one sin in all the sacrifices that were given! It is the sacrifice of Christ alone that removes sin. And that is taught both in the Old Testament as well as in the New.
One of the great passages dealing with this sacrifice is in Isaiah 53. It says in verse 5: “But He” (that is, Christ) “was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” How was sin removed? It was removed by the coming Christ in this case (a future looking to His coming) as He would die on the cross and be wounded for His people's sins. In Isaiah 53:12 it says: He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for transgressors.” He bears our sins! This is not a New Testament doctrine; this is an Old Testament doctrine! This was taught in the Old Testament. And certainly those who knew the language of sacrifice could not help but understand that this One who was coming would be the sacrifice, He would be punished, He would receive the pain for our sins, and He would bear our sins until they were no more.
In Daniel 9:24, in speaking again of this future day when He would come, Daniel wrote: “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” Here, as they were looking for the Messiah to come and the exact time of His coming was given, you have it very clearly stated that He would make an end of sins, He would make reconciliation for iniquity, He would bring in this everlasting righteousness. He would do that, because the sacrifices in the Old Testament could not do it.
When you come to the book of Hebrews there are so many verses that deal with this very idea of blood atonement and the atonement of Christ as indeed removing our sins. In Hebrews 9:22, in comparing the old with the new, it says: “Almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” Without the shedding of blood there is no remission. And yet, when you begin the book and begin looking at what is said there in Hebrews 1:3, in speaking of Christ it says: “when He had by Himself purged our sins.” When did He purge our sins? He purged our sins in the shedding of His blood, because there has to be the shedding of blood for there to be the remission of sins. And so He purged our sins when He was there on the cross. And the next statement says He “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
One of the greatest statements about His atoning work is found in Hebrews 2:17: “Wherefore in all things it behoved Him” (that is, Christ) “to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” He had to be like we are as far as human is concerned. He had to be a man. But more than that, He had to give a sacrifice that would be accepted by God. He had to make the sacrifice that would reconcile us to God. Why did He have to do that? Because none of the sacrifices of the Old Testament remove sin. He had to do that which they pictured. They themselves could not remove sin.
So I say that at the very beginning. These five sacrifices that we are looking at (both from the Old Testament theology and the New Testament doctrine of salvation) did not remove sin. And yet at the same time, when you wanted your sins removed you offered these sacrifices as a picture for what Christ would do.
The Order of Implementation
The second thing I would bring to your attention is that the five sacrifices were implemented in a different order than what we have here. What we have here are the sacrifices given according to the sweet smelling savour (that is the first three sacrifices), and then you had at the end the sin offering and the trespass offering. The sweet smelling savour offerings were the burnt offering, the meal offering, and then the peace offering. They are listed here perhaps because it would make it easier for the Levites who would be watching over the sacrifices in their own minds to gather these sacrifices together according to what was sweet smelling and what was not. But when it was actually offered – when you actually sinned against the Lord – the sweet smelling sacrifices came afterwards. They did not come at the beginning.
Turn to 2 Chronicles 29, and let me point this out to you. In 2 Chronicles 29 where did they start? They started with the sin offering. You see that in verse 21: “And they brought seven bulls and seven rams and seven lambs and seven male goats for a sin offering for the kingdom.” That is where they started. If you were looking at Leviticus 1, that is the burnt offering. And then in Leviticus 2, that is the meal offering, and then the peace offering. You to go all the way to Leviticus 4 before you see the sin offering. Leviticus is not giving us the order that the sacrifices would be given if you had sinned against the Lord. Here you have the order presented. In 2 Chronicles 26:27: “Hezekiah commanded them to offer the burnt offerings.” So they have offered the sin offering and now they are offering the burnt offerings. And then when you have finished the consecration, according to verse 31, they then came forward with the thank offerings. The thank offerings were part of the peace offerings. So what was the order, if you had sinned? The order was to come with a sin offering and then offer a burnt offering and then offer a peace offering. That order is very important as we will look at these different offerings.
Turn in the book of Leviticus (and you will see in some of the different chapters where they did this very thing) to Leviticus 8:14. Here you have the consecration of Aaron. Aaron is a sinner; he needs to have his sins, in picture form, washed away. So where do they start? Verse 14: “He brought the bull for the sin offering.” That is where they started. And then you find him going from that to the burnt offering (verse 18): “He brought the ram for the burnt offering.” And then when that consecration was done you had the other offering, the sweet savour that was given.
Turn to Leviticus 9:15. Here you have the people themselves bringing the offerings to the Lord. And where do they start? Verse 15: “He brought the people's offering, and took the goat, which was the sin offering for the people, and slew it, and offered it for sin, as the first.” And then what did he do? “He brought the burnt offering and offered it according to the manner.” And then he brought the meat offering, which was always offered with the burnt offering. And then verse 18: “He slew also the bull and the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings, which was for the people.” Here you have it again – the same order. It was the sin offering, then the burnt offering with a meal offering accompanying the burnt offering, and then it was the peace offering.
We are not going to take time to go through the different feasts in the Old Testament, but in the feasts, when you have them starting with the burnt offering it is because it is teaching you something. That feast was not primarily about removing of sin; it was primarily about the dedication or consecration of God's people. That is what was the meaning and the message of the burnt offering (as we will see in just a moment). So when you go, for instance, to Numbers 29 and the Feast of the Tabernacle, it started with what? Not the sin offering. It started with the burnt offering. This is a dedication of the people to the Lord for all that He has done for them. And when you look at the burnt offering, they offered twenty-nine burnt offerings on that first day. Twenty-nine animals were slain the first day! Then they came in with a sin offering – one, just one! We could go through the feasts (and perhaps we will do that on another occasion), but when we are in glory everything is dedicated to the Lord, and the blood is allowing us to dedicate everything to the Lord in our service. And that is what is being depicted in the Feast of the Tabernacles. Each day started with another demonstration of their dedication and the animals that were slain in that dedication.
So while we are here in the first seven chapters of Leviticus, the order that is given here is not the order that you would offer the sacrifices if you had sinned against the Lord. You would start with the sin offering.
The Purpose of the Sacrifices
So I want in the third point then to look a little bit at these different sacrifices. And I want to start with the order that would be presented if you had sinned against the Lord. If you had broken His command, either as the nation (as we see in 2 Chronicles 29) or if as an individual you had sinned against the Lord and you needed to make things right, what was the method? How did you do that? Now, obviously the atonement could only be made by Christ, but He has not come yet. And so there were sacrifices given as the picture for what you are doing and given as a picture for what He Himself would do. Where would you begin?
The Sin Offering and the Trespass Offering
You would begin with a sin offering or the trespass offering. They are listed separately. You have the sin offering as the fourth offering/sacrifice, and the trespass offering as the fifth. The trespass offering is often viewed as a part of the sin offering; they are doing the same thing. The difference is a trespass offering was often more specific in stating what the sins were, and also it dealt with restitution if you had sinned against an individual. So if I had sinned against you and I stole from you, I would bring a trespass offering to the Lord, and in that trespass offering I would give twenty percent more back to you than what I took from you. But other than that, the sin offering and the trespass offering are very much alike. In both there is the confession of sin.
And when you come then to Leviticus 4, I want us to see some of the peculiarities of this offering. In verse 26 it says very clearly the sin offering accompanied that of forgiveness. Forgiveness. You are coming and confessing your sins, and the sin offering, while it could not remove your sin, yet it was a declaration to you that Christ would come and die for your sins, therefore there is forgiveness. It is a picture of atonement. Now, as you come to the first part of this chapter, you find in verse one that the priest comes to our attention, and he is to offer a bull for his sin. But in verse 13 the congregation, when it has sinned, is to offer a bull as well. And then the ruler/prince, when he has sinned, he is to offer a male goat. But when the individual person sins a female goat would suffice. In other words, the priest has the more weighty sacrifice – he is given that which is the most expensive – and his sacrifice is of equal importance to that of the congregation.
There are different reasons for that that are given by commentators. I think perhaps the most easily understood is that this man who is the priest was the mediator. He was the one who stood between God and the people. If he corrupted what he did, he was corrupting the whole method of salvation, he was corrupting the doctrine of grace, and in doing so he was damning the souls of others. And so he had to give the important sacrifice of a bull, a bull that was equal in weight to that of the congregation. Now, we do not have a priest in that regard in today's ministry that corresponds exactly. But he was the minister in the Old Testament.
And I dare say he is, in that regard, the picture of what I am about tonight and what every minister is about. The sins of the ministers in our country are really the foundation of the corruption of our land. I am not talking so much about their moral sins, although that would enter in; I am talking about their corrupting the gospel. And as the ministers have corrupted the gospel and corrupted then the morality of the people, you now see in politics, you now see in society, you now see in Hollywood great filth and abominations being done. Why was that? You could lay it at the doorstep of the ministers of our country two or three generations ago. Very seriously, you had the priests giving the most expensive sacrifice, one that was equal to the sacrifice of the congregation, because he held the mysteries of God in his hand. And if he sinned in those mysteries, he was perverting the gospel and the souls of men.
When you actually look at the animals, whether you are looking at the bull or you are looking at the male goat, it was to be an animal without blemish. And you see in Leviticus 4:3, 4, 15, 24 and 29 that they were to lay their hand on the animal. This was to identify themselves with the animal. This was in a sense saying, when he put his hand on the animal, “The animal now is representing me. What should be done to me is now going to be done to the animal. I have sinned. I deserve to die. But this animal is dying in my place.” In the special Day of Atonement, when the sin offerings are offered there, they put their hands on the head of the animal and they confessed their sins over the animal. And this seems to be the import of the sin offering. It was a time of confessing of sin and the removal of that sin from the individual.
Again, the animal could not remove it, but he was picturing someone who would. And we have laid our hand upon Christ! He is the one who died, and we are the cause of that death. We are identified in Him. We truly lay hold of Him as our representative tonight. The sinner was the one who slayed the animal. You see that in Leviticus 4:4, 29. You also see in verse 4 and 15 that he was killed before the Lord. It was not the priests who killed the animal; it was the sinner himself who killed the animal. Now, if the priest had sinned, he would kill his own animal. But it was the one who had sinned who killed the animal. And when you look at the Lord Jesus Christ hanging there for you and you see His pain and His agony and His death, it was your hand upon Him that caused the death! It was our sins laid upon Him that caused the pain and the agony. He had no sin! Yet all the sins that we have committed, whatever law it is in the Ten Commandments that you have broken, those sins were laid upon Him. Because we have broken the law He received the punishment. That is what was being said in this animal, as they laid their hand upon the animal and then they killed the animal by slitting its throat. And they did it before the Lord.
Then the blood of that animal was taken, and seven times it was sprinkled – indicating that the sacrifice was perfect, it was sufficient, it did not need to be done again. Seven times is the number of perfection in Scripture. And then the blood was applied to the altar of incense. The animal was killed outside the Tabernacle, but to get to the altar of incense you have to go in the Tabernacle. And so the blood was taken, and there were horns coming out from this altar of incense, and the blood was applied to the horns. It was an indication that the picture of prayer (which is what the altar of incense was a picture of) was indeed bathed in the blood, and the reason why that incense could come before God and be accepted by God was because of the blood of the atonement that had been made. The blood was also sprinkled before the veil. The veil is that which separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. And when you think of all the sin offerings that were offered, they would come and they would take the blood and they would sprinkle it on the ground before the veil. One commentary said the soaking of the sin offering made the place before the veil a blood soaked threshold.
We speak today in language of coming before God through the “blood sprinkled way” –that is what we are referring to. Inside the holy place, before you would go into the Holy of Holies was a veil, and the blood was sprinkled there before the veil, because on the other side of the veil was Jehovah meeting with His people, as it were. His name was placed there above the Ark of the Covenant, and He was meeting with them. There had to be blood, as it were, between Himself and the people. And every sin offering was to have this sprinkling on the ground before the veil. The bull was then taken outside the camp and it was burned there outside the camp, an indication of our Lord who went outside of Jerusalem and He was suffering there for His people.
Then there was a special day of sin offering, the Day of Atonement, where all of this was brought together, and the blood in that occasion was sprinkled upon the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. The one who was approaching was indeed protected by the blood that was between himself and God. And then God was meeting with the people above the law, and He could look upon the people, He could bless the people, He could with grace minister to the people, because the blood was upon the mercy seat. That was the sin offering. A special sin offering done once a year.
The Burnt Offering and the Grain Offering
That, you would think, would be enough, would it not? Confession of sin, the blood showing us what Christ would do to remove our sin. But God gave another picture. And that is where the book of Leviticus starts; it starts with the burnt offering. In the burnt offering, the whole offering was consumed. Unlike the sin offering, the whole offering was consumed, except for the skin, as we will mention in just a minute. It was accompanied by the meal offering. It is called the meat offering; literally it was a grain offering.
And in that offering you see in Leviticus 2:1 that the grain was beaten; it was ground to fine flour. There was frankincense poured onto this fine flour, and there was oil mixed with the fine flour. The indication was the fine flour was again speaking of the humanity of Christ, and as it was ground to perfection it speaks of His suffering and the perfection of His humanity. Frankincense is one of those aromas that is given off when fire is attached to the frankincense, so when you burn frankincense there is a pleasing aroma that comes from it. And here you have the burning of the fine flour and the frankincense, and it is sweet smelling savour in the nostrils of God. Oil was put on this fine flour indicating that the Holy Spirit (which is the symbol of oil) set apart the humanity of Christ for the service that He was going to accomplish.
But this meal/grain offering was never offered by itself; it was always offered with the burnt offering, which was a blood atonement. And so on the one hand you have the perfect humanity of Christ ground by sufferings to be the Saviour of His people, as is expressed in the book of Hebrews, filled with the Holy Spirit, and when the wrath of God came upon Him there was this fragrance that came up from His humanity that filled the nostrils of God. And yet it was in the burnt offering that we have again a great picture of the blood atonement.
In Leviticus 1:3-4 we read that it had to be a male without blemish. Again, they would lay their hand upon the animal, indicating that the animal was standing in the place of the one who had sinned. Everything was consumed but the skin. Leviticus 7:8: the skin was given to the priest as a robe. He could use it as a robe of righteousness. And we see in this picture that in the atonement there is shedding of blood, there is forgiveness of sin, but there is also coming from the animal a skin that you could use for a robe, for clothing. And from Christ's atoning work there has been given to us a robe of righteousness.
What was the purpose of the burnt offering? Obviously it was to make atonement. You see that in Leviticus 1:4. It was to make an atonement. There was to be that which would be expiated – the sins. But what sins? In 2 Chronicles 29 I think we have understanding given to us as to what the burnt offering was about. 2 Chronicles 29:28, 31: “And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished….Then Hezekiah answered and said, 'Now you have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings” (or peace offerings). What were they doing in the burnt offering? They were consecrating themselves.
You see, when you sin it is not merely that you have broken God's law and now there is the “writing” of that infraction on God's books. There is that, but it is more than that. When you and I sin, we corrupt our inner man. We used our eyes to sin, or we used our hands to sin, or we used our mind to sin, or we used our tongue to sin. We have corrupted this man that God has put on the earth. And for God to forgive and for there be a real repentance, there has to be a giving back to God those instruments that were used in the sin. So if I used my eyes in the sin, I give them back to God. I dedicate them back to Him. I consecrate them to Him. If I used my hands in the sin, I give my hands back to God. If I use my brain, I give my brain back to God and say, “God, this belongs to you.” If I use my tongue in my sin, then I bring it to God and consecrate it.
In this sacrifice you have the picture of Christ whole heartedly, totally giving Himself to God as a punishment for our sins. And in His doing that, you and I are accepted in our consecration. Our consecrations are never perfect. Would that they would be! There is no excuse for us not to be perfect in our dedicating of ourselves to God. But we do not do it perfectly. We do not love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. And so you and I need a blood atonement in the giving of ourselves back to God. And so in the sin offering there was the confession of sin, the admission that we had sin, the killing of the animal, but now in this burnt offering there was the consecration of a life back to God.
You and I are supposed to do that when we truly repent and we are confessing our sins. The consecration is not the means of our forgiveness. What is the means of our forgiveness? It is the sacrifice. It is Christ’s death. It is His burnt offering that allows us to come into God's presence. It is that shedding of His blood that allows our consecration to be accepted in God's sight. So the burnt offering was indeed the method of consecration.
The Peace Offering
You have then, following the burnt offering, the peace offering. The peace offering, when you come to the Scriptures, is the one that indicates the communion that God's people had with the Lord (Leviticus 3). It also was to be without blemish. In Leviticus 3: there was the laying of hands upon the head of the animal, indicating the animal was indeed standing in the stead of the sinner. In that death of the animal, part of the animal was burned to the Lord – the fat was burned to the Lord. That was His portion. If you touched the fat, if you took it to yourself, you died. That was belonging to God.
But the shoulder – the heave offering and the wave offering – went to the priest. It is not stated here in Leviticus 3, but it is stated in Leviticus 7:30-34. The wave offering – the part that was given to the priest – he ate that. The heave offering – the part that was given to the priest – he ate that. The shoulder of the offering was given to them, and they are now eating. So part of it is being burned to the Lord and part of it is being eaten by the priest. In Leviticus 3:11 this is called the “food of the offering.”
And there was actually part that was given to the people – not just to God, not just to the priest, but part of it was given to the people. You see that in Deuteronomy 12:6-7: “And thither you shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings,” (freewill offerings were offerings that were part of the peace offerings) “and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks: And there you shall eat before the LORD your God.” Later on in the chapter (verses 17-18) it says that you were not to eat the peace offering somewhere else. You were to eat it before the Lord. And so there was part of that sacrifice that the people themselves ate.
Now, why is that important? Well, when you were at peace with someone, when you fellowship with someone, when you commune with someone, you would have them over for a meal. And as you sat around the table, there was an equality at that table. So you were fellowshipping around the table. You were rejoicing. You were having a grand time in the presence of those that you invited. Here in Deuteronomy 12 it talks about their rejoicing, it talks about their coming together, it talks about their eating together. It is indicating that they are at one; they are at peace! You do not sit down and eat with your enemies; you eat with your friends. You are communing with them. So in this offering, part of it was burned to the Lord, it was “food” for the Lord (not that He ate it, but it was given to Him). Part of it was given to the priest and he ate it. Part of it was given to the worshipper who had sinned. You are speaking of communion – communion with God, communion with the priest. Everything has been restored to that which it was like before sin came!
And so in the sin offering you confessed your sins. In the burnt offering and meal offering you dedicated yourself back to the Lord through the blood of the Lamb. And now you are communing with the Lord based on that same blood! An animal had to be shed, the blood had to be shed, because you and I cannot come into the presence of God apart from the blood. Why are you always pleading the blood over your sins? It is because there is no way possible to come to God apart from the intercession of Christ and His shed blood. He is called, therefore, the Prince of Peace, because the main work that He has accomplished is peace. It is not just the removal of sin in the sin offering, it is not just our dedication, but it is so that we can commune with God!
And one day He is going to remove all the sin that surrounds us in this universe, He is going to remove all the effects of sin, and you and I will be in this realm of peace like we have never known! In Colossians 1:20 we read: “And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things to Himself.” It is the blood of the cross that enables God to reconcile all things to Himself. Ephesians 2:13-14a: “But now in Christ Jesus you who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace.” You and I have been made nigh. We were far off because of our sins. Now we have been brought in. Why? Because Christ is our peace! Because His cross work, His shedding of blood has brought us near. In Romans 5, in dealing with our sins and that we are enemies with God, Paul says this: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we should be saved by His life.” You were reconciled! God came, and we were enemies with God, and yet now we are reconciled! There is fellowship; there is communion; there is peace. That is what the doctrine of reconciliation means – it means you are at peace with God.
In Ephesians 5:2 Paul says: “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.” When that peace offering was offered up, it was the smell in the nostrils of God that turned His wrath away and made the light of His countenance to shine upon His people. God said that peace offering is a picture of what Christ would do. And the Apostle Paul brings all of that together and he says that He is that offering. And God smells that offering, and He is pleased with the offering. He is satisfied. He does not need another offering. He does not need an offering from you or from me. He is satisfied with the offering of His own Son! The New Testament is very clear – the Christ, in His one sacrifice for sin, did what thousands of animals could not do. He truly atoned for all of our sins.
Thousands of animals were slain. They think that underneath where the altar was there was a gutter that went from that area to the Valley of Hinnom, where the blood could just flow and go out from the presence of the people. Animal after animal. Hundreds of animals, thousands of animals every year were slain. And not one sin was removed by those animals. All they did was picture what this sacrifice of Christ would mean. And God put these pictures in the nation. He demanded that the people learn the pictures. He demanded that the people perform the pictures, in order that they would understand what Christ would do for them.
We have in our hymns some of this picturesque language:
Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain.
But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.
My faith would lay her hand
On that dear head of Thine
While like a penitent I stand
And there confess my sin.
Isaac Watts, 1709.
Horatius Bonar wrote:
No blood, no altar now,
The sacrifice is o’er;
No flame, no smoke, ascends on high;
The Lamb is slain no more!
But richer blood has flowed from nobler veins,
To purge the soul from guilt, and cleanse the reddest stains.
We thank Thee for the blood,
The blood of Christ, thy Son;
The blood by which our peace is made,
Our victory is won.
Great victory o'er hell, and sin, and woe,
That needs no second fight and leaves no second foe.
Horatius Bonar, 1858.
Christ the Ultimate Sacrifice
Christ did what these five sacrifices could never do. He fulfilled them. Tonight your sins are as far away from you as the east is from the west. And yet, when we sin we break fellowship with Him, and to restore that fellowship we come and we do much of what was done by our brethren in the Old Testament. We come confessing our sins. We come dedicating our life to the Lord. We come into His presence to commune with Him. And all of that is done through the blood of a Lamb. It is all encapsulated, as it were, in what John said (1 John 1:9): “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
If you are outside of Christ, there is only one way to be saved, and that is through the blood of the Lamb. God did not take all of this time in the Old Testament, all of these sacrifices, to teach Israel something that did not matter. There is only one way to have your sins removed, and that is through the shedding of blood – that is, the blood of Christ. Come and lay hold of Him. The Bible says if you will call upon His name, He will save you. Romans 10:13: “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” This One who is the sacrifice and priest says if you will come to Him, He will in no way cast you out. He won't cast you out. Come and ask Him to wash away all of your sins and to become your Lord and your Saviour. As God's people we all sin. This last week you sinned. I do not know what you did, but I know you did it. The Bible is very clear: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.
Do you have confidence in the blood of Christ? Most of the time when people do not have confidence in the blood they end up trying to atone for their own sins or they punish someone else for their sins. We all do it. We are all good at it. Nobody had to teach us how to do it. But there is another way of having your sins removed, and that is through the blood of Christ. Come, openly admit your sin to Him and ask for that fresh cleansing that God has freely offered. God made it something that Israel could not ignore. It was in the heart of a nation. The way back to fellowship with Him was through the blood. Tonight you and I have seen the reality; not the picture, but the reality. Make use of that blood daily; make use of it even tonight. Lay hold of the blood for cleansing from your sins.