“On the eighth day you shall have a solemn assembly. You shall not do any ordinary work,
but you shall offer a burnt offering, a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD:
one bull, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish, and the grain offering
and the drink offerings for the bull, for the ram, and for the lambs, in the prescribed quantities;
also one male goat for a sin offering;
besides the regular burnt offering and its grain offering and its drink offering.”
“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood,
and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
As I was reading through Numbers chapters 28 and 29, the amount of sacrifices just kept building. So much blood poured out, sacrifices for the people’s sins against a holy God, continually offered because the blood of animals cannot completely accomplish the task of salvation.
These sacrifices were not just every once in a while. It was every day. Morning and evening. Plus more on the Sabbath, at the beginning of every month, during Passover and on the Day of Atonement, and at every appointed feast throughout the year. And anytime unintentionally committed sin was discovered. Not because God is unfeeling or because these animals’ lives don’t matter…but because sin is so wicked. So dark. We try to pass it off as not a big deal, we seek to justify it in ourselves and base our “goodness” on comparisons to other people. But the reality is, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Because God is just. And justice is a good thing. It is our sense of justice that demands wrongs be dealt with. That people pay for crimes committed. That the hurts others cause will not go unnoticed. That stirring in us is a reflection of our just God who will not overlook a wrong. So in His justice, our sin must be accounted for. It cannot just be swept over like it didn’t happen. Because even the smallest sin is an act of defiant pride against a holy, powerful God who reigns over the heavens and earth in all authority and in perfect goodness and light.
Justice demands debts be paid.
But oh, the grace of God to save us. Because He loves us, oh, so greatly. Sinners. Enemies. Loved.
Our sin separated us. And so God made a way.
These many sacrifices described in the Old Testament convey to us the depth of our sin. The blood required, constantly, to remain in right standing (or get back to right standing) with this holy God who loves us – inexplicably, because we clearly didn’t do anything to earn it – and makes us whole.
And so these sacrifices, this picture of what our sin requires, highlight magnificently the power of Jesus Christ to save us. Forever.
“For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly…But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Hebrews 9:24-26
“He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” Hebrews 9:12
“It is finished,” indeed (John 19:30). Those words of Jesus on the cross hold such power and finality. The Son of God Himself perfectly, completely filled the debt we could not pay. Determining to put away sin itself forever, freeing us from its destructive grasp by writing God’s law on our very hearts and transforming us, cleansing us, to be like Christ and to be the person God created us to be. Whole and complete in Him, filled with fullness of joy and abundant life as we abide in the presence of the God to whom we have been reconciled through the blood of Jesus Christ shed willingly on a Roman cross.
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:2). The Lamb of God. Sent with purpose and astounding grace to accomplish what the blood of animals, all the bulls and rams and lambs and goats and doves offered throughout those generations prior to His coming, never truly could: securing our eternal redemption.
This is why Jesus came. This is why He set His face to go to Jerusalem in those final days (Luke 9:51). To die for us, His own blood poured out for our sin. And to rise again in victory and life, conquering death forever for all who believe in Him.
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?
But for this purpose I have come to this hour.”
“He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
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.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth…
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief…
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many;
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.”
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation…
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”
Revelation 5:9, 12