Over the last 3 weeks we have looked at the various regular sacrifices and offerings that were established at the time of the tabernacle. Each one of these has foreshadowed Jesus and covered an aspect of His life and ministry.
The first three offerings were all about man coming before God a s a worshipper, but this week (and next) we see sacrifices that men made before God because of their sin.
The sin offering is recorded in many places in the bible but mainly in Leviticus and specifically chapters; 4,5,8 & 16.
The sin offering was a mandatory offering for specific unintentional sins or sins committed out of weakness or waywardness. It wasn’t for sins of open defiance or rebellion towards God.
The animal sacrificed depended on the status of the individual, which is typical of God’s grace and mercy towards the poor. The high priest and people who were well off sacrificed a bull, a leader would bring a male goat and a common person would bring a female goat or a lamb. The poor brought a dove or pigeon and the very poor a portion of fine flour.
These sacrifices were not meant to permanently take away sin, which was not even possible;
For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4)
God was looking forward to the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus would make for sin, on the cross.
The sacrifices were not burned on the brazen altar in the courtyard but were taken and burned outside the camp. This is a shadow of Jesus taking our sin outside the city where He was crucified.
For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. (Hebrews 13:11-13)
Jesus substituted himself as a sacrifice for our sins.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
He was sinless but paid the pardon on our behalf
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18)
It is important to note that Jesus death is not universal. In other words it doesn’t automatically cover everyone. It is our responsibility to take this sacrifice and appropriate it to ourselves. We need to accept it, repent of our sins and trust in Jesus alone and not any of our own efforts. It is his gift to you, but you have to accept it.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
There are two great biblical words which relate to this:
Propitiation – Which is God’s wrath towards sin being satisfied and turned back by Jesus’ death. (Romans 5:25, 1 John 2:2, Romans 3:23)
Expiation – Jesus covers all our sins and restores the relationship between us and God. He removes our sins through His own sacrifice that then satisfies God’s righteous demands.
What a wonderful saviour!