The purpose of sacrifices under the law?
What was the purpose of the sacrifices under the system of Mosaic Law? Why were they needed? In the book of Hebrews, which was written to Jewish believers and non-believers, the unknown author provides us with some answers: they awaited and illustrated something ‘better’, a word he loves to use to prove the superiority of Jesus Christ and the end of the Law age.
Hebrews 9:23 “It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”
Like the rest of the law system, the sacrifices: the burnt offering; the peace offering; the trespass offering and so on – were a shadow or outline of the perfect offering of Jesus.
A temporary fix!
These sacrifices, as laid down in Leviticus, were a temporary fix or band-aid because God knew that Israel would break the law and sin. However, God still wished to continue in relationship with mankind, so under this temporary system, repeated every year, unintentional sin was dealt with by the sin offering, enabling the sinner to get his or her sins forgiven or covered for a whole year. What amazing grace!
A painful reminder
Unfortunately, this was all a bit like having to get an injection or immunisation every year for the rest of the your life! It wasn’t pleasant; it was a painful yearly reminder of the worshipper’s failure and sin.
Hebrews 10: 3: “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.”
A painful conscience
Another problem, was that it did nothing for the conscience; the worshipper still felt guilty. I mean, how could the sinner experience a clear conscience since the sin was covered by the blood of an animal? For example, if you spill ink all over your sofa 5 minutes before your guests turn up, you may fix it by covering it with a couple of cushions but you know that the ink is really still there!
Hebrews 10:11 “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:”
No change to the sinner
In addition, the sacrifice doesn’t change the offender. They are still flawed and faulty: sinners. No change had taken place; they are not perfected. They still feel guilty.
Hebrews 10: 1 “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.”
2: For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
Not God’s best!
The sacrificial system therefore, was never God’s best. It awaited the permanent solution and offering of a perfect sacrifice and a perfect High Priest and that’s what we will look at in the next article.
Hebrews 10:8 “Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;”
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