Jesus Christ Offers A Superior Sacrifice
Monotony can often become a way of life. So often the same things are repeated over and over again. The woman faces that seemingly endless pile of dishes to clear, another meal to prepare, or that never shrinking heap of clothes to be washed. Dad thinks garbage and trash grow. The more he carries out, the more there is. The grass jumps several inches higher overnight, and it appears as though the family vehicle has a built in magnet attracting highway dirt and film. Work is endless. Day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year, it is the same thing over and over. Monotony can often become a way of life.
If you had been born into the Levitical lineage during Old Testament times, your work would be the same during your entire twenty-five year term of service in the Tabernacle or Temple. You may have done little more than trim the wicks and fill the lampstand. You might have been assigned to care for the table of showbread. Maybe your job would have been just to keep one small area clean. Perhaps, if you were of the family of Aaron, you would have been assigned to offer some of the thousands of daily sacrifices the people brought to the Lord’s house. In any case, your life would have been one of endless monotony and drudgery. Each day would have been the same. Won’t this ever end? might well have been a question you would have asked continually.
THE OLD TESTAMENT SACRIFICES WERE ENDLESS
Sacrifices were started during the lifetime of Adam and Eve. God clothed them with coats of skins (Gen. 3:21), requiring animals to have been slain. “And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering” (Gen. 4:4). Noah sacrificed animals to the Lord when he came out of the ark, at a time when they were in short supply (Gen. 8:20-21). Abraham was instructed to slay animals when God made a covenant with him (Gen. 15:8-17). Again, God provided a ram for a sacrifice when Abraham had willingly taken Isaac for that purpose (Gen. 22:6-14). Thus, we see a parade of sacrifices beginning with the patriarchal days. However, it did not end there. With the giving of the law, a precisely detailed sacrificial system was established. Throughout the entire Old Testament there was an endless array of animals slain. It is an absolute impossibility to ascertain the countless thousands, or possibly millions, of animals killed during this period. The process was the same, over and over. From the lowliest peasant to the high priest of the nation, there was a seemingly endless series of sacrifices. Monotony became a way of life.
THE OLD TESTAMENT SACRIFICES COULD NEVER PROVIDE ACCESS TO GOD
All of this endless ritual, even with its pageantry and form, never gave any of the people direct access to God. Even the ministering priests were not granted that privilege. The Jewish people faithfully brought their sacrifices to the Temple for centuries. They stood in awe as the choicest of their flocks were killed before their very eyes. With all the detailed system, and with all the blood that was spilled, they were still denied direct access to God. Their sin separated them from Him. They were never allowed to enter the Holy Place or the Holy of Holies. Their continual separation was evident by the presence of thick curtains and a veil. They could never have close fellowship with God.
The only one who ever came into the immediate presence of God was the high priest, and that only on the Day of Atonement. He spent just a few minutes in the Holy of Holies. Even those fleeting moments were tenuous, for if he had not been properly prepared, it would have meant his immediate death. So, in reality, under the Old Covenant there was no readily available access to the presence of God.
THE OLD TESTAMENT SACRIFICES COULD NEVER SAVE
Not only were the Old Testament sacrifices endless, not only did they fail to provide access to God, but furthermore, they could never save a man from his sins.
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins (Heb. 10:4).
And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering often the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins (Heb. 10:11).
Ritual, though repeated time and time again, could never provide complete cleansing from sins. At best, it could provide a kipporah or a covering of sins for a short time. Then the one who had sacrificed had to repeat the same routine again. In all of this, he had no lasting forgiveness nor any permanent assurance of salvation.
However, in His marvellous plan, through all this ritualistic system God provided shadows of an ultimate sacrifice which the Lord himself would provide. Almost four thousand years ago Abraham was aware of this. By faith, in obedience to the Lord’s command, he went to Mount Moriah to offer his son as a sacrifice. When Isaac asked where the lamb was for the burnt offering, Abraham simply said, “. . . My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering . . .” (Gen. 22:8).
THE SUPERIOR SACRIFICE OF CHRIST SAVES
If, then, all this ritualistic system and all these animal sacrifices could not forgive sin, and if they could not provide access to God, what could? A superior sacrifice was necessary.
That superior sacrifice has been provided through the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:29). He is a superior person, in that while He is undiminished deity, He is still perfect humanity. He offered Himself as that far superior sacrifice for sins.
For such an high priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins and then for the people’s; for this he did once, when he offered up himself (Heb. 7:26-27).
By which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all . . . For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified (Heb. 10:10, 14).
It becomes very evident then that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is far superior to any other. His sacrifice never has to be repeated, nor is it just a covering of sins. His sacrifice is the only one that can meet the righteous demands of a holy God and the greatest needs of mankind. It provides forgiveness of sins and salvation for anyone that will receive it.
THE SUPERIOR SACRIFICE OF CHRIST WAS NECESSARY ONLY ONCE
Lambs, rams, goats, bullocks, pigeons and turtle doves were offered day after day for centuries. God even tired of this ritual when it was often abused (1 Sam. 15:22). Many times the animals were slain simply because of duty, rather than from a heartfelt faith in His promises.
In the fullness of time, God sent His Son into the world (Gal. 4:4). He came to be His ultimate and final sacrifice. When Jesus Christ hung on the cross for sin. He died as the final sacrifice for all time. The price was paid. No more sacrifices were needed.
Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins and then for the people’s; for this he did once, when he offered up himself (Heb. 7:27).
Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world. But now once, in the end of the ages, hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Heb. 9:25-26).
As the result of the redeeming work of Jesus Christ on the cross there is no need of another sacrifice for sin. There is nothing more anyone can do to add to that work. The monotony of days gone by has ended. The reality has come and man cannot put this superior sacrifice back on the cross. Our responsibility today is to by faith receive that sacrifice which God has provided for us in Christ. By so doing, God grants a full and final forgiveness once and for all.
THE SUPERIOR SACRIFICE OF CHRIST PROVIDES PERMANENT ACCESS TO GOD
Ever since man sinned, he has sought to gain access to God. It eluded him for centuries. It was never possible even with the most strict obedience to the law. However, in and through our Savior and High Priest, we now have that direct access to Him. We not only have immediate access to Him, but a continuing access as well.
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us (Heb. 9:24).
But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore, he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:24-25).
Seeing, then, that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:14-16).
Not only do we have a high priest in the heavens with God, but we are invited and exhorted to come boldly and regularly into the very presence of God himself. Through Christ’s superior sacrifice we have continual access to God, as well as close fellowship with Him.
What follows then is absolutely amazing. The Old Testament sacrificial system with its priesthood has been completely done away. It could not save, provide direct access to God, or even completely forgive sins. Now we have just one High Priest, Jesus Christ, and we need no other. He saves, provides us access to God and even intercedes on our behalf (1 Tim. 2:5). In fact, every believer now becomes a priest (1 Pet. 2:5). We can enter into the very presence of God – a privilege denied to the Old Testament faithful, even to the priests as well! Jesus Christ certainly offered a superior sacrifice at Calvary to provide all this.
As a result of our studies in Hebrews, we have first learned that Jesus Christ is far superior to any person or system man has ever known. He is far superior to the angels, to the prophets of old and even to the Jewish prophet Moses. He is the greater prophet Moses predicted would come (Dt. 18:15-19).
Secondly, He is of a far superior priestly Iine than that of the Old Testament priests. While they died, His priesthood is a continuing and eternal one. Rather than coming through the line of Aaron, He is after the order of Melchizedek.
Thirdly, He offers a superior covenant the new one promised by Jeremiah, but never fulfilled during Old Testament times. This new and better covenant was sealed by Christ’s shedding His blood on Calvary (Lk. 22:20).
Fourthly, we have seen on the pages before us that His sacrifice is superior. It is once for all! It saves and provides eternal access to God. Therefore, we conclude that Jesus is far superior to anyone or anything ever offered to man under the Old Covenant. To reject Him, no matter what our background, Jewish or Gentile, would be very foolish, in fact absurd. He is the SUPERIOR ONE! Trust Him!