Honestly, the journey we will take this year concerning the sacrificial system of the Old Law and how it is a shadow of the magnificent and sufficient work of Christ, is one I need to travel. In preparation, I have been reading through Hebrews, a letter written to those very familiar with the old covenant. As I was reading this past week, something caught my attention. There was a special day each year, commanded by God and thus observed by Israel, called, the Day of Atonement. What caught my attention was Hebrews 9:7 which says, “But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance…” Did you catch that? The offering was for both the people and the high priest. The regiment in which the high priest would need to follow to prepare himself for this offering is more clearly revealed in Leviticus 16. What is also found in that chapter is the attitude Israel was to have during it, saying, “you shall afflict your souls” (Leviticus 16:29). This was to be a very somber day, for the sins of all were being acknowledged.
But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater
and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.
This would happen year after year or as Exodus 30:10 would say, “throughout your generations.” The high priest would enter the Holy of Holies with the blood of sacrificed animals. The blood of these sacrifices could not atone for sin (Hebrews 10:4). Instead, the arduous process would be instrumental in pointing man to Christ, who is “the propitiation (atoning sacrifice, NIV) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1st John 2:2). As one author put it, “The shadows have given way to the perfect and abiding reality.” It is Christ who “by the two-fold act of slaying the victim and presenting its blood in the Holy of Holies” [F. F. Bruce] “offered Himself without spot to God” (Hebrews 9:14). In doing so, He became “Mediator of the new covenant by means of death…that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15).
One final thought as I seeking to place myself there, in that time, as one of them who knew very well the old covenant and sacrificial system. For many of them, they would remember not just this Day of Atonement, but the many other sacrifices they were obligated to do, some of which we will consider this year. The writer makes a critical statement about Christ’s sacrifice. He says, “He entered the Most Holy Place once for all” (Hebrews 9:12). The magnificent work of atonement is done! Christ is sufficient for all! Praise be to God!