Summary: Before Christ gave up his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, there was a system that God put into place through Moses that resembled what was to come in Christ. This system of sacrificing animals and shedding blood was the people’s effort to g
Today we begin a short series on what I believe may be the best chapter of the bible in terms of explaining exactly what Christ has done, because it puts in the historical perspective of why sacrifices were necessary in the first place. You can read more about the old covenant in chapter 9.
That is why I am including this in the most important sermons I will preach, because if you get this chapter, you will truly understand the nature of Christ’s sacrifice, and it will greatly help you share the gospel with others. And of course if we are living like this is the last year on earth before Jesus comes back, that becomes very important. Because of the importance of this passage I am keeping the sermon relatively short so that we really get the point.
When a person or team rehearses or practices for a main event, it is not the event itself. It looks like it in some respects, but it’s not perfected. The hope is that through the rehearsals, the kinks and imperfections can be noticed and ironed out. Once the main event comes that’s it, its over and you can’t have a do over.
Before Christ gave up his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, there was a system that God put into place through Moses that resembled what was to come in Christ. This system of sacrificing animals and shedding blood was the people’s effort to gain forgiveness of their sins through the necessary blood that was required in order to fend off the death penalty, because the wages of sin is death. But these were only shadows of what was to come in Christ. In essence these sacrifices were imperfect rehearsals for what Christ would ultimately do.
I. The Sacrificial Law was a Rehearsal (vv 1-2)
And Jesus through those many centuries was sitting in the shadows of these bulls and goats preparing to give the final performance at Calvary. But do you realize that God actually made the first sacrifice for human sin long before Moses? God makes the first and the last sacrifices necessary to cover our sins.
In the Garden of Eden after the first sin, which brought death into the world, how do you think Adam and Eve got those skins to cover themselves with? God said to them the penalty of sin is death, and by all rights He should have killed them right after they ate the fruit. But instead he chooses to kill for the first time in the history of the world, animals to cloth Adam and Eve and cover their shame.
There’s a shadow right there. Adam and Eve walked with God (very likely the preincarnate Jesus, the physical manifestation of God) in this garden, and they in essence spit in his face by willingly disobeying him with Satan’s help. But here already is a beautiful picture of God’s incredible loving grace toward humanity.
It would have made perfect sense for Him to turn Adam and Eve back into dust on the spot and start over, but instead he turns to another one of his innocent, precious creations, and kills it for their sake, effectively covering the shame of their deed and saving them from immediate death. They tried to cover themselves but that was impossible. God had to do it. Imagine how they felt every time they looked at those animal skins they were wearing.
Let me show you this clip form the first Narnia movie, to give an illustration of this sacrificial law…. After this if you’ve seen the movie, Aslan the lion goes and allows the white witch to kill him instead of Edmond, only to come back to life of course.
In the same way that these skins would have reminded Adam and Eve of their guilt:
II. Rehearsals Show us our Mistakes (vv 3-4)
Every time they looked at those skins they would have felt the guilt of their sin. When the sacrificial laws were introduced through Moses, every time the sacrifices were made, people were reminded of their sin. The sacrifices didn’t take away their sin, they actually reminded them of their guilt and gave them a temporary stay of execution.
As they watched the priest solemnly enter behind the curtain to the Holy of Holies to give the sacrifice, the people were reminded graphically of their separation from God. But the curtain of the Temple was torn for a reason when Jesus died on the cross. It was to be a vivid display showing that that separation is now done away with. To me this is one of the most unfortunate things that our Catholic brothers and sisters have not realized. Jesus is our high priest and intercessor, and there is no need for any others.