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  The Great Bible Story #36
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Sacrifices, their significance

Jacob Ninan
Expanding on the Ten Commandments, God instructed Israel through Moses on many different practical rules for personal conduct, relationship with others, etc. They would come to Moses whenever they had doubts, and then he would either clear it up or ask God what was to be done. Moses' father in law once saw how Moses was being pressed down by the demands made on him by the people, and suggested that he should delegate much of his responsibility to elders among the people, and they should bring to Moses only what they could not handle. This brought a great relief to the situation.

God also set up a system of sacrifices which people ought to do along with the priests. They could bring animals or grain to offer to God as a token of their gratitude to Him. The priests would offer these to God on the bronze altar. Sin and guilt offerings were necessary if anyone did wrong, and there were different instructions about how these were to be done. Even if someone had done wrong and came to realise it only later, he still had to bring a sacrifice for it whenever he became aware of it.

We see later that the blood of animals could not really take away any sin. So this arrangement of sacrifices was only to help people to recognise the seriousness of their sins, repent and set things right. It was only the blood of the sinless Son of God who became man that was sufficient to pay for the sins of the world. Till that became available, these animal sacrifices functioned as a picture of the ultimate sacrifice that was to come. At this time God just 'covered' the people's sins when they brought their sacrifices in faith, and finally wiped them away when the blood of Jesus was shed on the cross.

Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would make a sacrifice for his own sins and the sins of the people, and take some of the blood into the Most Holy Place and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and in front of it. This represented what Jesus would do later, when He presented His blood before the Father as the ransom for the people. When this happened, the rituals of the tabernacle (and later the Temple) became irrelevant, and this was signified by the veil in the Temple in Jerusalem getting torn supernaturally from top to bottom when Jesus breathed His last on the cross. Now the way to the 'Most Holy Place', the presence of God, has been thrown open to anyone who will go there with the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God.


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