Sacrifices are a central theme in the bible and I want to look at them in a little more depth, especially as they point towards Jesus and the sacrifice that he made.
Sacrifices were a central theme of the tabernacle. Every member of the Israelite community was involved. They would individually purify themselves and bring their sacrifice to the tabernacle. The sacrifices would typically be; bulls, rams or birds. They would lay their hand on the forehead of the animal signifying the transference of sin. This was probably where the phrase “laying on of hands” originated. It was the person themselves who killed the animal and prepared the sacrifice and it was only after this was done that the priest would then come in and perform the rest of the ritual.
The sacrifice was consumed completely (except for the skin which was given to the priest). This was a central theme of the burnt offering because it signified a complete consecration before God. It was sometimes referred to as “the whole burnt offering”
They shall teach Jacob your rules and Israel your law; they shall put incense before you and whole burnt offerings on your altar. (Deuteronomy 33:10)
then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar. (Psalm 51:19)
And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. (Mark 12:33)
This perfectly shadows Jesus because although his body wasn’t burned on the cross, He was completely consumed by suffering and the full barbarity of the cross. You only have to read the accounts in the gospels to get an understanding of the physical, emotional and psychological effects of this sacrifice. Jesus gave every ounce and completely submitted himself.
He prayed to the father “not my will, but yours, be done” ( Luke 22:42)
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. (John 6:38)
All of these animal sacrifices pointed towards the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made. Since the cross, there has been no need for a single animal to be sacrificed. Jesus completed the picture
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 10:11-12)
Sitting down signifies that the task has been completed and there is no more to be done.
Next week we will look at another sacrifice and how it shadowed Jesus.