The Old Testament system of ritual and sacrifices, such as found in Leviticus, offers more examples of what we saw yesterday — Old Testament symbols pointing to New Testament truths. Though modern readers of the Bible often pass over these rituals, they do contain many important spiritual truths that can be of great value to those who study them.
Read the instructions for the sin offering for a regular Israelite in Leviticus 4:32-35. What can we learn from this ritual, even though we don’t have a sanctuary or temple with an altar where we can offer sacrifices for our sins? Connect this ritual with John 1:29 and 1 Peter 1:18-21.
A ritual is an excellent communicator of important values and information, and it needs to be understood in its context. It usually requires a specific time, a particular location, and a predetermined sequence of actions to be efficacious. Indeed, when we read through the biblical injunctions in the Old Testament regarding sacrifice, it becomes clear that God gave very specific details about what could be sacrificed, and when, where, and what ritual and procedure to follow.
Central to many of the rituals, of course, was blood and the spilling and the sprinkling of blood. This is not pretty, nor was it supposed to be, because it is dealing with the ugliest thing in the universe, and that is sin.
What exact role did the blood play, and why did it have to be put on the horns of the altar? While most of the rituals associated with the sanctuary appear in prescriptive forms (i.e., they give instructions on how to do it), they do not always include all the explanations. Perhaps that’s because the people already understood what it all meant. After all, people in Israel understood the significance of blood (Leviticus 17:11).
The example taken from Leviticus 4:32-35, however, contains an important explanation in Leviticus 4:35: “So the priest shall make atonement for his sin that he has committed, and it shall be forgiven him” (NKJV). Thus, blood was key to the whole process of atonement, the means by which we sinners can be made right with a Holy God. What we see with these sacrifices, then, is a type, a model, of Christ’s death and ministry in our behalf.
|Think about how bad sin must really be that it took the sacrifice, the self-sacrifice, of One member of the Godhead, Jesus, in order to atone for it. What should this teach us about why we must rely only on grace and never works? After all, what could we add to what Christ has already done for us?|