The most common old covenant expression of the means of atonement was the sacrifice and offering up of the blood of a victim. To appreciate the concept of sacrifice it must be understood that God provided for the sacrifice, while man performed the rite.
Man is not to be viewed as attempting to do something “on his own” to obtain forgiveness. The sacrifice took place at the initiative of God and was to be seen as God’s gracious provision for sin. “I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls” (Leviticus 17:11). In the account of Abraham’s willingness to offer up his son Isaac, God provided the sacrifice (Genesis 22:9–14).
In Genesis 15:17–21 God called Abraham to arrange the covenant sacrifice. Far from being something man did to satisfy God, the sacrifice was an act of God for man.
In a sacrifice the shedding of blood was the central act. Life was in the blood (Leviticus 17:11); in the pouring out of the blood, life was given up; that is, death occurred. Elsewhere blood may be a symbol for life, but in the sacrificial motif it symbolized death. Some scholars have argued that in the pouring forth of the blood, life was made available to the people.
It was the life of the flesh, however, that was in the blood, and the flesh was sacrificed. In the new covenant, it is by virtue of the resurrection that the life of the Messiah Jesus is made available to believers.
Jesus made the sacrifice for us through the shedding of His blood on the cross. Jesus died for us. it is the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from the penalty of death. Jesus gives us life. Jesus is life.
- 1 John 1:7 —but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
- Romans 5:9 —Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
- Revelation 5:9 —And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
- Ephesians 2:13 —But now in the Messiah Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah.
- 1 Peter 1:18–19 —knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of the Messiah.
- Revelation 7:14 —I said to him, “My Master, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.