Christ's Sacrifice Once for All

The message in today’s reading of Hebrews 10 is ‘Christ’s sacrifice once for all’. It is hard for us to grasp the emotional feeling associated with that message because we are not accustomed to the taking of any life. The world we live in is very different from the world that Paul lived in. In his world, animal sacrifice was a common way of life, an every day occurrence.

When we commit a sin, we petition God in prayer to forgive us. In Paul’s world, God required animal sacrifices to provide a temporary covering of sins and to foreshadow the perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ; Leviticus 4:27-31, “If any of the common people sin by violating one of the Lord’s commands, they must bring as an offering for their sin a female goat with no defects. They must lay a hand on the head of the sin offering and slaughter it at the place where burnt offerings are slaughtered. Then the priest will dip his finger in the blood
and put it on the horns of the altar for burnt offerings. He will pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. Then he must remove all the goat’s fat, just as he does with the fat of the peace offering. He will burn the fat on the altar, and it will be a pleasing aroma to the Lord. Through this process, the priest will purify the people, making them right with the Lord, and they will be forgiven.

Leviticus 5:7-10. “But if you cannot afford to bring a sheep, you may bring to the Lord two turtledoves or two young pigeons as the penalty for your sin. One of the birds will be for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering. You must bring them to the priest, who will present the first bird as the sin offering. He will wring its neck but without severing its head from the body. Then he will sprinkle some of the blood of the sin offering against the sides of the altar, and the rest of the blood will be drained out at the base of the altar.
This is an offering for sin. The priest will then prepare the second bird as a burnt offering, following all the procedures that have been prescribed. Through this process the priest will purify you from your sin, making you right with the Lord, and you will be forgiven.”

It’s hard for our minds to wrap around the idea of taking a life in order for us to ‘make us right with God’. In fact, the world we live in, wouldn’t accept that. The judicial courts would be backed up with law suits from animal rights activist groups. And that’s why I said earlier that it’s hard for us to feel the emotional impact of today’s message in Hebrews 10. Animal sacrifice is an important theme found throughout Scripture because “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” as we see in yesterday’s reading of Hebrews 9:18-22.
“….the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal. For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool. Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.” And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.

Could you imagine that happening today “Moses sprinkled the blood of the calves and goats on the book and all the people” This is another reason why it’s hard for us to relate to the emotional feeling associated with Paul’s message in today’s reading of Hebrews 10. With what we know about blood born pathogens, If Moses tried that today, we would all be dodging those blood drops. We live in a different world.

When Adam and Eve sinned, animals were killed by God to provide clothing for them (Genesis 3:21). Cain and Abel brought sacrifices to the Lord. Cain's was unacceptable because he brought fruit, while Abel's was acceptable because it was the “firstborn of his flock” (Genesis 4:4-5).
After the flood receded, Noah sacrificed animals to God as recorded in Genesis 8:20-22 “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting & harvest, cold & heat, summer & winter, day &night."

God commanded the nation of Israel to perform numerous sacrifices according to certain procedures prescribed by God. First, the animal had to be spotless. Second, the person offering the sacrifice had to identify with the animal. Third, the person offering the animal had to inflict death upon it.
When done in faith, this sacrifice provided a temporary covering of sins.

Another sacrifice called for on the Day of Atonement, described in Leviticus 16, demonstrates forgiveness and the removal of sin. The high priest was to take two male goats for a sin offering. One of the goats was sacrificed as a sin offering for the people of Israel, while the other goat was released into the wilderness. The sin offering provided forgiveness, while the other goat provided the removal-of-sin.

Why, then, do we no longer offer animal sacrifices today?
Animal sacrifices have ended because Jesus Christ was the ultimate and perfect sacrifice. John the Baptist recognized this when he saw Jesus coming to be baptized and said, “Look, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

You may be asking yourself, why animals? What did they do wrong? That is the point—since the animals did no wrong, they died in place of the one performing the sacrifice. Jesus Christ also did no wrong but willingly gave himself to die for the sins of mankind. Jesus Christ took our sin upon himself and died in our place. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Through faith in what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross, we can-receive-forgiveness. Animal sacrifices were commanded by God so that the individual could experience forgiveness of sin.

The animal served as a substitute—that is, the animal died in place of the sinner, but only temporarily, which is why the sacrifices needed to be offered over and over. Animal sacrifices have stopped with Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ was the ultimate sacrificial substitute once for all time is now the only mediator between God and humanity.
Animal sacrifices foreshadowed Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. The only basis on which an animal sacrifice could provide forgiveness of sins is Christ who would sacrifice himself for our sins, providing the forgiveness that animal sacrifices could only illustrate and foreshadow.

Our reading this morning in Hebrews 10:1 states – “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.”

The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year,
but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared.

But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God,
Hebrews 10:5-7
“….Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.”

Look what Jesus says here: First, he said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them”
(though they are required by the law of Moses). Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.”
He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect.
For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins.
But our High Priest, Jesus Christ, offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.

And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. Verses 15 – 18 of today’s reading:
“15 Whereof the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
16 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;
17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”

God made a new covenant with His people on that day: He said
“I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.
“I will never again remember
their sins and lawless deeds.”
And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.

Paul tells us that by his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Paul tells us to hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. That we should think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Paul tells us that if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. Paul tells the Hebrews that anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Then he says v-29 of today’s reading;
“Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant,
which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us.”

Paul tells his listeners in today’s reading of v32-34 “Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering.
33 Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. 34 You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.”

The words Paul spoke to the people in Hebrews 10 are just as much for us today as it was for them some 2,000 years ago.
He wanted to enlighten them about the wonders of Christ. He wanted to bring them out of the darkness and into the light. He wants the same thing for us.

Speaking to the brethren at Rome, he said, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people: That ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

What love our God hath shown toward us in that he has called us out of the darkness of this world into his marvelous light. That we also, are counted as a chosen generation, a holy nation, a peculiar people, if we but hold fast to the light of the truth in Christ Jesus, to which we have been called.

Paul states that God called him out to be an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Romans 13:11-14) “This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. 13 Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.”

Paul was faithful to the calling and he rejoiced to do God’s bidding. Like Paul, we have been called out of the darkness of the world to serve God in the light of truth.
Ours is a high and holy calling and we should have an eagerness to do Gods bidding just as Paul did.
Faithfulness to God and obedience to God are qualities that should shine forth from us as a beacon in the night.

God has delivered us from the power of darkness. Paul exhorts us, in Colossians 2, to be faithful; he says “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.

He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things of the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory.

Brethren and sisters, through the knowledge and belief of the gospel message concerning God’s glorious kingdom and the things concerning his only begotten son, we are given the chance to attain everlasting life with God.