Friday, July 8, 2011

Jesus, Our High Priest and Final Sacrifice

Jesus, Our High Priest and Final Sacrifice
Leviticus 1:3-5

 If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.  And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

Only the high priest could sacrifice the animals brought into the tabernacle. God commanded that each animal was to be clean without blemish or defect and that the person bringing the animal into the courtyard would place his hand on the animal’s head as a picture of his sin and guilt being moved from him to the animal. The high priest would then sacrifice the animal and sprinkle the blood before the veil of the Holy Place. The offering would be burned and the rest of the blood would be poured into the bottom of the altar.  For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11)  
The brazen altar was situated right inside the courtyard upon entering the gate to the tabernacle. “To slay” or “slaughter” comes from the Hebrew root word for altar. The Latin word alta means “high.” The altar was raised up on a mound of earth higher than the other surrounding furniture in the tabernacle courtyard making the altar a “high place for sacrifice/slaughter.”  The Bible says that our Lord would be high and lifted up as our atoning sacrifice for sin and that His altar would be the cross, erected outside the city, on a hill called Golgotha. Although the children of Israel were forgiven for their sins by the shedding of blood and sacrificing the animal, they had to come year after year to perform the sacrifices for they were not freed permanently from a guilty conscience. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, came as the ultimate and last sacrifice for the sins of man when He offered up His life. As Isaiah prophesied, But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:5-7)

Jesus has become our High Priest and with the shedding of His own precious blood paid sin’s debt for all eternity. (I Peter 1:18-19) Jesus provides all that we need to be fully and wholly cleansed from sin and the wrath to come. Never again will we have to perform the burnt offering, the drink offering, the meal offering or any other offering or sacrifice for sin. He is our sin offering, for He bore our sins on His own body. (I Peter 2:24)
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:12-14)

Thought:  The horns of animals were placed on the four corners of the altar, which in Bible times, symbolized power and strength. When the sacrifice was made by the high priest, blood was dabbed on the horns of the altar, signifying the power of the blood to atone for sins. There is absolute, complete, and marvelous power in the blood of Christ to forgive sin and save sinners. Jesus is called  “the horn of my salvation” (Psalm 18:2, Luke 1:69). He is the power and strength of our salvation now and forever more. Amen!

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