In our women’s Bible study, we are exploring the book of Hebrews. The portion dealing with sacrifice is particularly eye-opening.
Until Jesus laid down His life, God required animal sacrifices to atone for the sins of the people. To understand some of the challenges this presented, we need to remember the Israelites were on the move. Specifically, they had just begun their forty-year journey through the wilderness.
Can you picture the scene? More than two million men, women, and children left Egypt to travel to the promised land.
Imagine how difficult it had to be to get that number of people up and on the road each morning!
Then there was the tabernacle and all the furnishings used to offer sacrifices. Setting aside the sewing nightmare, think about the effort it took and how many times during those forty years the tabernacle was set up and torn down. Historians say once the temple was disassembled, a minimum of six covered wagons pulled by a pair of oxen lugged those skins and poles through the desert while on this extended excursion.
In the Holy of Holies, priests sacrificed bulls, goats, sheep, and birds. To accomplish that, these desert wanderers had to breed, feed, restrain, and slaughter some of the most unruly animals. Only unblemished (perfect) animals could be sacrificed. There were grain offerings too. Since the Israelites had no time to plant and harvest, perhaps they obtained wheat through trade or as spoils from their defeated enemies.
And yet, grain and animal offerings could never accomplish what Jesus’s death and resurrection did for us. Because He gave His life’s blood, “. . .we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10, NIV).
Jesus, the Lamb of God, the purest one-time sacrifice. When we accept Him into our hearts, He cleanses us of all our sins. He is our High Priest, our Advocate with the Father, and secures our names in the Book of Life. And, unlike the Israelites of Moses’s time, we have unlimited access to God our Father.
No more herding bulls, no more priestly go-betweens, and no waiting in line for limited visiting hours. Jesus died to make us right with God so that we, ordinary people, can . . . “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, and receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV).
In this new year, this season of new beginnings, the book of Hebrews declares another reason to thank the Lord for His sacrifice for us.
By Amre Cortadino
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