As Moses continued to prepare the Israelites to enter the Promised Land, he reminded them of the sacrificial offerings that the law given to him on Mount Sinai required. The Lord specifically instructed him on each sacrificial offering to be made – some annually, some daily – as a reminder of the sins they had committed and as a fragrant offering to the Lord in petition for forgiveness.
Scripture tells us in the book of Hebrews that the blood of bulls and goats alone could never atone for the sins of people, sins that separate us from a holy and spotless God. Only the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ Himself had the power to do that. But the fragrant aroma of the Old Testament offerings did bring to the Father’s mind the redemption of Christ’s coming sacrifice. These were also stark reminders that without the shedding of blood, there could be no remission of sin, and no reconciliation between God and humans. Thus the necessity of Christ’s coming mission.
14 … even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:14-15 (NKJV)
Jesus Christ is the prescribed offering for the remission of each of our sins. In fact, His sacrifice as the innocent and spotless Lamb of God covers the sins of the whole world, for all who would choose to receive Him and to believe in His resurrection power.
Besides providing a temporary cover for sins, the Old Testament ritual sacrifices were also a reminder to the Israelites of the great wonders performed by God and of His countless blessings. As Moses continued to teach them:
10 But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety, 11 then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the Lord. Deuteronomy 12:10-11 (NKJV)
The “place” that Moses was referring to was God’s chosen location for His future temple, Jerusalem, which would be built hundreds of years later by King Solomon. Beyond that, it will also be the future site of God’s earthly throne when Jesus Christ returns, as recorded in Revelation 21. Jerusalem, the place of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, will also be the eternal seat where the Lord’s name will abide forever.
The Old Testament sacrifices and offerings prescribed by God through Moses each point to some element of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Christ’s sacrifice was not just a temporary reminder or annual event, it was THE eternal sacrifice sufficient to atone for all the sins in the history of the world, for all those who would receive it.
J. Vernon McGee has summarized the character of each of the various sacrificial offerings given in Leviticus chapters 1-5. The fullness of Christ and His one sacrifice is represented by the sum of the five different offering types prescribed in the Old Testament law.
1) Burnt offerings – Christ our substitute.
2) Meal (Grain) offerings – The Loveliness of Christ
3) Peace offerings – Christ is our Peace
4) Sin offerings – Christ took our sinful nature upon the cross
5) Trespass offerings – Christ took our sinful acts upon the cross
May we today “nail” all of our sins, failures and shortcomings upon the cross of Christ. He wants to bear our burdens and lift each of them from us, be they shame, grief, fear, depression, addiction, loneliness, anxiety, broken relationships, or anything that is weighing us down. Jesus loves us and sincerely wants to be the source of our peace, healing, and freedom today.
Where do you need Jesus to lift a burden from you today? I pray that He meets all of your needs and fulfills your heart, comforting you with His loving presence and peace. I pray that, if you haven’t yet, you will accept His loving offer of salvation today.
Father God, we thank You for the freedom and forgiveness offered through the cross of Christ. Jesus’ death was an acceptable holy sacrifice, more than sufficient to permanently cleanse me of all of my sin and failures, and to grant me eternal righteousness in the resurrected Christ. Help me to put my past transgressions behind and to walk forward in Your light. We praise You for Your beauty, grace, and mercy, so lovingly extended to each one of us. May we respond to You in faith, gratitude and praise. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.