The Gracious Gospel

Divine Forgiveness

Old Testament sacrifices had no power to deliver

It is difficult to understand the Law of God that required the shed blood of an animal to put away sin. In the Old Testament we learn that this was the Law given to Moses. ‘Without the shedding of blood there is no putting sin away’. 

Nevertheless, for thousands of years, the Israelite people carried out this requirement of the law. The problem with this was, although it satisfied the law of sin and death, it did not satisfy God. God had no pleasure in the death of animals year after year. 

Another problem was this. The laws of Moses were weak, because the daily shedding of the blood of animals did not have the power to take away sin’s power. of shame and guilt  We understand from the New Testament that sin’s power starts in a person’s mind. From there we know that the actions are finally carried out through the members of our body, with the five senses involved.

It’s reasonable then, when you think about it, that killing an animal, for its blood, although it fulfilled the law, did not have the ability to affect the way a person thought or what they did. We can then arrive from that analysis that if it had the ability to do so, first, there would be no need to continually offer them. Second, there would have been no need for Jesus’ death.  

For then would they not have ceased to be offered?  Because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 

Therefore, the sacrificial offerings of the blood of animals did not give pleasure to God or the people of Israel. Another problem was that every time an animal was sacrificed, it brought up the memory of the sin committed. Therefore, it made people feel guilty. Once again, there was no pleasure in this offering for the people or for God.

But in those sacrifices, there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

God’s pleasure is for people to be free from condemnation. You cannot  love God and feel guilty. The need for people is to be free from the power of sin and the memory of it, so as not to continually offend God.  

Under the old covenant, the sacrificial laws required certain things.  The High Priest once a year, on the Day of Atonement, sprinkled the mercy seat, in the most holy place, with the blood of sacrifice.  Forgiveness on this one day was granted to the people on an annual basis until the time came when these sacrifices could finally be done away with. However, the daily sacrifices they made never cleansed their conscience from dead works.  

And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.  Heb 10: 2-25.

When we instruct people about God forgiving us our sin, we need to help them understand what we mean by the good news of God forgiving us all our sins. We may find people have accepted the Lord as their saviour, but they still feel guilty about their past. There may be restitution needed. Certainly, this should be discussed with them. But everything being equal, God does not want them to feel guilty. It is the evangelist’s job in discipling new converts to teach them the freeing message of the gracious Gospel.  

For some it is distasteful that the sacrifice of blood is the core of the Christian message. I agree. It is distasteful. However, when we remember that the taking of life is the ultimate sin and the giving of life is the ultimate sacrifice. 

The Law of Moses says, ‘a life for a life’. This is the law of sin and death. It was this law, that Jesus’ dying on the cross fulfilled. This was the plan of God from the beginning. Jesus came in the fullness of time to execute that plan. 

Grace, in all its beauty and fullness, was escorted in by Jesus coming to this earth and dying to carry out its entrance. Once Jesus’ blood was poured out, the old law of animal sacrifice stopped. A new agreement, a covenant, could be escorted in  and approved. Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished.” It was not a cry of defeat, but of victory!  Jesus was saying, in effect, it is carried out. 

Under the new covenant it is a pleasure for the believer to please God. The reason is because God’s laws are written on our mind.  We have the mind of Christ. This is the power of the Gospel. God does not remember our sins. That is the power of the blood of Jesus. ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin’. The blood of Jesus cleanses our conscience from guilt’, The blood of Jesus cleanses our conscience from dead works to serve the living God’. We are no longer in debt. Instead, we are in credit! That is the power of divine love and that is the Good News.  

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.  Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin (Heb 10:18).

Now, the blood of Jesus has covered our sins, and we have peace and friendship with God. Now we have boldness to come to God. Now we can pray to God, make our requests known to God. Now we have peace with God. This peach is through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Under the old covenant, they had a High Priest to represent them before God. However, the Jewish High Priest was also a sinner. He had position, but he was also powerless, the same as the people. He also felt guilty, and more so, because he had to make representation before God on behalf of the people.  

Now, we have a High Priest over God’s house that gave his life for us. Our High Priest is Jesus. Jesus never sinned. Jesus prays for us. He brings us to God. Our mind need not condemn us. Jesus was a person like us. He lived here on earth He knows the struggles of temptation. He was tempted too. He knows we will fall. 

The difference between us and Jesus is that, he was tempted yet never gave into sin.  Now, there is a human being, yet without sin, sitting on the right hand of God. This is the reason we do not need any other mediator. This is the reason we do not need saints to pray to. We do not ask the mother of Jesus to pray for us or ask her to speak to her son to pray for us. 

Jesus is the first of many more to come. That is us. We are they. We are therefore encouraged in the Scriptures to have confidence and boldness in the shed blood of Jesus. It was shed on our behalf.  

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works (Heb 19:10-22).

The shed blood of animals had no power to cleanse the conscience from guilt. Christ was offered, once, to bear the sins of many.  

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?  Heb 9:14

The second covenant is made with Christ’s blood, a better sacrifice than animals. Jesus, our high priest carried his own blood into the heavens and sprinkled it there in the heavenly tabernacle. Its pattern had been replicated on earth (Heb 9:18-28).  

Divine forgiveness: God’s desire – God’s gift

Old Testament sacrifices.

 ‘The life of all flesh is in the blood.’ 

Why blood?  Because it is blood that carries the life of the animal or person in it. Jesus knew his mission was to die for the sins of the people, for you and me. Did he want to die that day as he looked at his mother crying for him? As people spat upon him? No.  Did God enjoy Jesus’ death? No. Nevertheless, Jesus gave His life (blood) as a ransom. 

Jesus’ blood provides us with at-one-ment with God. No greater love has a person than this; that a person lay down their life for their friends. Humanity recognises this. Honour is given to people who lose their life to save another. It is called the supreme sacrifice. Those left behind mourn the loss and the waste it is to them. However, it is not viewed as a waste to the person that was saved from death.  

God supplied a better sacrifice. Furthermore, before Jesus came, the only people who benefitted from the sacrificial offerings were those in the Abrahamic covenant, the nation of Israel.  

However, now, the ‘gospel’ of Jesus – his sacrifice was for the sins of the entire world, not just Israel. The Jews Messiah was present in the covenant with Abraham, the law of Moses and prefigured in the sacrificial service.

The early Israelites  understood these mysteries and the work of faith. They were not in the dark but were knowledgeable worshippers. It was not a mystery religion. God’s message has always been simple and clear. The people of Israel found grace in the wilderness. They knew about grace and understood it. 

Next we will learn about the Assurances of the Gracious Gospel