The Sacrificial System was designed by God. In Leviticus, Chapters 1 through 7, he tells us the different types of sacrifices and how each is to be performed. Throughout the Torah, God tells us other aspects of the sacrifices, and unless someone reads the first 7 chapters of Leviticus, as well as the places in Numbers where God reviews how sacrifices are to be made, you cannot fully understand how forgiveness of sin is accomplished.
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To understand why a sacrifice isn’t enough, we first need to understand the different sacrifices.
There are 4 main types of sacrifice: a sacrifice for sin, one for guilt, one that is a wholly burned sacrifice, and the Fellowship, or Thanksgiving sacrifice. I am not going to do a treatise on these today, but suffice it to say that these are the main types, and the only one of these where the person bringing the sacrifice gets to eat of it is the Thanksgiving sacrifice.
In fact, that is how the archaeologists knew they had found the place in Shiloh where the Tent of Meeting Moses constructed had been kept. I was told this by the guide who took us to Shiloh when I was there in 2016: they found a high spot that was devoid of any relics, but all around it there were hundreds of broken shards of plates. That indicated this is where the Sanctuary was because when you brought the Thanksgiving sacrifice you were required to eat of it there, in front of the altar and because the food was holy, the plates used became holy. As such, they were not allowed to be used with the common foods again, so the people broke them after eating the holy food.
The sin and guilt sacrifices required more than just a single animal sacrifice. There are a few places in the Torah where we are told that forgiveness comes from the sin offering, but there is also the requirement for a burnt offering and a Thanksgiving offering, which is the final act and represents communion with God, sort of like inviting him to dinner. That is why it is eaten by the Cohen and the one offering it, at the front of the Sanctuary to represent it is done in God’s presence.
The forgiveness of sin is a 5 step process:
- You must commit a sin. After all, what’s to be forgiven if you’ve done nothing wrong?
- You must acknowledge you have sinned. I have known of too many people who are sinning and refuse to admit it. You can never be forgiven of a sin if you don’t ask, and if you tell yourself you haven’t sinned, well, obviously you won’t feel any need to ask for forgiveness.
- You must repent of that sin and do T’shuvah, which means to turn away from the desire to sin. I have known too many people who sin, know that they are sinning, but make excuses. It is as I have often said: I used to be a sinner who rationalized my sins, but now I am a sinner who regrets my sins. God will not forgive a sinner who doesn’t repent of their sins.
- You bring a sacrifice to the place where God put his name, which was the temple in Jerusalem, place your hands upon the sacrifice and confess your sins, which by doing so transfers them onto the animal, which is then ritually slaughtered and by the shedding of that innocent blood you are then cleansed of your sin.
- You ask for forgiveness. That’s right- you still need to ask to be forgiven, by reason of the innocent blood that was shed on your behalf.
When Yeshua sacrificed himself, he didn’t do away with this process, but he did change it somewhat: Yeshua’s sacrifice replaced the 4th step, which is the need to bring an animal to be sacrificed on the altar at the temple. And good thing that he did, too, because the temple was destroyed in 73 AD and from that point on, without Yeshua we would have no means to be forgiven of our sins.
So you see, to be forgiven of sin requires more than just a sacrifice. We must first and foremost acknowledge and repent of the sin, we must also do T’shuvah, which was represented by the burnt offering, and then we must ask forgiveness, now not by means of a animal sacrifice but through the shed blood of the Messiah, Yeshua.
We can’t perform the burnt or Thanksgiving sacrifices, but that is not a sin because it isn’t our fault: there is no temple to bring the sacrifice to. But, then again, Yeshua’s sacrifice is not just for sin but is also a thanksgiving sacrifice because when we accept him as our Messiah we can come back into communion with God.
To be forgiven of sin is more than just believing in Yeshua or asking to be forgiven: you must also repent in your heart, do T’shuvah in your heart and actions, and rededicate yourself to obeying God with each and every sin you ask forgiveness from.
The animal sacrifice is just one part of the process of being forgiven for the sins we commit. The sacrifice Yeshua made is of no use to anyone if it isn’t accompanied with confession of one’s sins, repentance, and a heartfelt and honest rededication to obeying God’s instructions for how we are to worship him and treat each other.
And those instructions aren’t in the New Covenant, they are in the Torah.
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That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!