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July 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”—Hebrews 10:4 (NKJV)
When God delivered the children of Israel from their enslavement in Egypt, He also established a system of deliverance from another form of enslavement. One that was far more perilous than their physical bondage to their Egyptian taskmasters.
This subjugation was spiritual in nature; it ran deeper, proved deadlier, and it wasn’t something they could flee from. It was with them wherever they went. It was firmly embedded in the deepest part of their being. And, it was an enslavement to their own sense of guilt—knowing they were sinful creatures before a sinless and holy God.
Understanding their dilemma, God established a sacrificial system that would alleviate their anguish and quiet their conscience. Through an elaborate set of laws revealed to and recorded by Moses, Israel was given a way to process their sin and culpability. When an Israelite would break any one of the six hundred and thirteen laws, they would take an innocent bull or goat, as prescribed by God, and sacrifice it. In so doing, their sinful shame was transferred to the animal, which would suffer the penalty for sin, which was death on their behalf.
This sacrificial system delivered God’s people from their inner sense of guilt. But in reality, it was an imperfect system. Imagine the effort (and expense) involved in living under such a system. Each time they were aware of violating God’s law, another animal from their fold would have to be slain. And while this was better than nothing, it would never end! To their dying day, every Israelite would need to anticipate offering a sacrifice for their sin, because sin would never fully die until they died.
And let’s be honest. This may have helped to ease their sense of guilt to a large extent. But there must have been a multitude of sins that were never fully accounted for. Even if they fully intended to obey God’s laws, they were surely guilty of violating them without always realizing it. Despite the best of intentions, the storm clouds of guilt would inevitably gather and form over their consciences.
This way of dealing with sin was all they had, but it was ultimately insufficient. As the author of the Book of Hebrews reminds us in the verse above, the blood of bulls and goats couldn’t serve as a sufficient sacrifice for sin. Yet God knew all of this from the start. In fact, it was His intention to allow Israel to live under this system for a season to reveal their need for something greater. A superior sacrifice that would cover, not just an individual sin, but the sum total of all sins . . . an eternally effective sacrifice that would only need to be offered once. A sacrifice greater than any sacrifice ever made before . . . a sacrifice as great as God, Himself.
This is precisely what happened when Jesus was sacrificed on the cross. His death brought an end to the system given to Moses and initiated a new deliverance from guilt, not just for Israel, but for all mankind! After all, every person on the planet stands before God as a guilty sinner. A sacrifice for sin isn’t just needed for Israel but for the entire human race. This is what God provided, and this is the profound truth the writer of Hebrews goes on to unpack for us: “He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all”—Hebrews 10:9-10 (NKJV).
The first system was removed in order to establish a second system. The insufficient sacrifices of bulls and goats were taken away and replaced by the perfectly sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He gave His own body to be beaten, bruised and broken—to suffer the punishment of our sin, which was nothing short of death.
Now consider the incredible contrast. Instead of us bringing a sacrifice to God, He has sacrificed Himself for us. And this sacrifice, being as great as God, Himself, is sufficient to cover every sin that has ever been committed. What the blood of bulls and goats could not do has been done by the blood of the Son of God. All that remains is for us to place our total trust in Him doing this for us.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.