I live under the new agreement (aka covenant) that Jesus has initiated. This agreement was sealed by the blood of His sacrifice on the cross. My penalty has been fully paid for.
I have the perfect sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah in my life. This is in contrast with the imperfect sacrifices that were offered under the Old Agreement. Our Master’s superior priesthood belongs to a better order — Melchizedek’s and not Aaron’s.
It functions based on a better agreement — the New Agreement — and in a better sanctuary, in heaven. But all of this depends on the better sacrifice that Jesus made for all of us.
Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the reality itself of those things, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year. Otherwise, wouldn’t they have stopped being offered, since the worshipers, purified once and for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. | Hebrews 10:1-4
Why were the Old Agreement sacrifices inferior? After all, they were ordained by the Master; and they were in force for hundreds of years. While it is true that at times the Jewish people permitted these sacrifices to become empty rituals, it is also true that many sincere people brought their offerings to God and were blessed.
The very nature of the Old Agreement sacrifices made them inferior. The Law was only “a shadow of good things to come” and not the reality itself. The sacrificial system was a type or picture of the work our Master Jesus would accomplish on the cross. This meant that the system was temporary, and therefore could accomplish nothing permanent. The very repetition of the sacrifices day after day, and the Day of Atonement year after year, pointed out the entire system’s weakness.
Animal sacrifices could never completely deal with human guilt. God did promise forgiveness to believing worshipers, but this was a judicial forgiveness and not the removal of guilt from people’s hearts. People lacked that inward witness of full and final forgiveness. They could not claim, “I have no more consciousness of sins.” If those worshipers had been “once purged [from guilt of sin]” they would never again have had to offer another sacrifice.
So the annual Day of Atonement did not accomplish “remission of sin” but only “reminder of sin.” The annual repetition of the ceremony was evidence that the previous year’s sacrifices had not done the job. True, the nation’s sins were covered; but they were not cleansed. Nor did the people have God’s inward witness of forgiveness and acceptance.
Yes, there was a desperate need for a better sacrifice because the blood of bulls and of goats could not take away sins. It could cover sin and postpone judgment; but it could never affect a once-and-for-all redemption. Only the better sacrifice of the Son of God could do that.
Now that is some very good news. Jesus has made the permanent sacrifice to fully and completely redeem us all.
- Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (Heb 10:1–39). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
- Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 313). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.