When Adam and Eve bit into the forbidden fruit and committed the first sin, they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves and self-made loin coverings. But their own efforts fell short.
When God confronted them, He took the skin off animals to cover their shame of nakedness.
From that time on, people brought sacrifices to the Lord with this same sort of display. In the wake of their sin, Abel sacrificed the firstborn of his flock, Noah offered burnt sacrifices of clean animals after the flood gave way, and verse after verse, priests in the Old Testament would follow certain rituals and practices to present an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord.
This was the best they could do. They were embarrassed about their mistakes, guilty over their wrongdoing, and no matter how often or thorough, it still wasn’t enough. They continued to be stuck in the pattern of their sin, and they looked to God to cover their shame.
As much as we try to do the right thing, we still make mistakes. We try to serve others, do good deeds, and be a good human—but all too often, we judge our neighbor, prioritize ourselves over others, raise our voice at our kids, cut corners at work, and spend more time watching Netflix than praying to God.
The Good News is that Jesus came to this world and offered Himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. Just as those sacrificed animals did nothing wrong and served as a substitute for the sinful party, Jesus Christ did nothing wrong and volunteered to be our substitute on the cross.
Through His death and resurrection, we are forever free from the penalty of sins we committed. He’s taken care of our punishment once and for all, so today, “if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9).
- What’s something new you learned in today’s passage about Old Testament sacrifices?
- May this be our prayer: “Jesus, thank you for seeing my sin—and instead of turning away and leaving me behind, You came down to this earth to free me and save me forevermore. Thank you for purifying my conscience and acting as my Mediator today. I love you, Jesus!”
Worthy and Unworthy Offerings
17 And the Lord said to Moses, 18 “Give Aaron and his sons and all the Israelites these instructions, which apply both to native Israelites and to the foreigners living among you.
“If you present a gift as a burnt offering to the Lord, whether it is to fulfill a vow or is a voluntary offering, 19 you will be accepted only if your offering is a male animal with no defects. It may be a bull, a ram, or a male goat. 20 Do not present an animal with defects, because the Lord will not accept it on your behalf.
21 “If you present a peace offering to the Lord from the herd or the flock, whether it is to fulfill a vow or is a voluntary offering, you must offer a perfect animal. It may have no defect of any kind.
Old Rules about Worship
1 That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth. 2 There were two rooms in that Tabernacle. In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place. 3 Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place. 4 In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now.
6 When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties.7 But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 8 By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use.
9 This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. 10 For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies—physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.
Christ Is the Perfect Sacrifice
11 So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. 12 With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.
13 Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. 14 Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.15 That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.