I am personally inspired by Abraham’s faith and obedience to the Lord. More specifically when he was tested by the Lord in Genesis 22 to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice onto the lord. Abraham’s response to his son’s question, “look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” would later after thousands of years be a reality for God himself. This was Abraham’s response “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering”. God took a charge on himself to give his son as a freewill offering to provide atonement for the world. Interestingly, Abraham had another son, Ishmael but the scripture records the Angel of YHWH speaking to Abraham as though Abraham had only one son, Genesis 22:12 “And He [The Angel of YHWH] said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me”. The Angel of YHWH recognised that Isaac was dearly beloved by his father Abraham. Nevertheless, Abraham found it fitting to offer up his esteemed son in obedience to God. Essentially Abraham’s love for his son although great fell pale in comparison to his love for God.
Besides all this, one thing that remained certain about this story was that, it was a foreshadowing of what God was also going to do many years from then with His only begotten Son Jesus.
To help us grasp a deeper understanding of Christ sacrifice on the cross and how eternal life flows from it, this Part 3 has been divided into four sub-headings. 1. The Passover lamb 2. The perfect atonement sacrifice, 3. A new covenant for the people, and 4. Resurrection and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.
1. The Passover lamb
What does Passover mean? We read in Exodus of the cry made out by the Israelites to God for deliverance out of slavery and ill treatment of the Egyptians. Consequently, Moses received a call from God to be his spokesman to Pharaoh who was ruler over Egypt. God through Moses performed various signs and wonders to convince Pharaoh that the Israelites were God’s people, who God had appointed to go out into the wilderness, that they may offer sacrifices and serve the Lord their God. Pharaoh hardened his heart in unbelief and refused to let the people go until God finally decided to kill all the firstborns of all living beings in the land of Egypt including the animals. To spare the Israelites from the judgement God about to perform in Egypt, God gave the Israelites this instruction in Exodus 12:21-24 “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever.”
In this passage we find the meaning of the Passover just as the name suggest. That is, God will pass over and spare those who have the blood of the lamb on their doorposts when he brings a judgement of death on the land. A judgement that will similarly be executed by God at the end of the ages when he brings all the deeds done by mankind into account. In like manner Jesus Christ is portrayed as the Passover lamb by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”. Meaning Christ provides security for those covered by His blood when God at the end of the ages brings judgement on the ungodly.
When God passed over the children of Israel and struck the Egyptians, he also gave them an ordinance to follow year after year in remembrance of the Passover. An ordinance requiring that a lamb/goat without blemish be killed for each household, roasted over fire and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Thus accordingly Paul writes to the Corinthians “let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Sincerity and truth that requires God’s people of necessity to live holy and blameless without spot. As also the scripture notes further in 2 Timothy 2:19 that “the solid foundation of God has stood having this as its seal: “The Lord knew those who were his” and “Let everyone who takes the name of Christ depart from iniquity”.
2. The perfect atonement sacrifice
Long after the system of atonement sacrifices had been initiated, John the Baptist in John 1:29 seeing Jesus approaching him at the Jordan river testified saying “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”. Being a Jew who was accustomed to the killing of animals for sins, he ought to have known that Jesus was a human and not a lamb, even more so he had to have known that every offering for sin resulted in the death of the lamb. Was John the Baptist confused in his acclamation that Jesus was “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”?
To understand what John meant, we ought to go back into the scriptures, specifically Leviticus. But before we do that let us define the word ‘atonement’. It is derived from the Hebrew word ‘kâphar’ which means ‘to cover over’ and can be used either literally or metaphorically of living beings or material objects. When used in reference to sin, it serves to demonstrate that the blood which is the life of the animal, (see Leviticus 17:10-14) is covering over the transgressions of the person. In effect the blood or life of the animal provides cover for the one who has broken God law. Thus the sinner’s iniquity is forgiven by God because a substitute is given in place for the judgement of death on that sinner. By so doing, God’s justice and love are both demonstrated. Justice because there has to be judgement for sin and love because the transgressor is not made to pay it with their own life.
To understand exactly how the process of atonement worked and how it was carried out, I encourage the reader to read and grasp a basic understanding of Leviticus 1, 4, and 16, which speak of the burnt offerings, the sin offerings and the Day of Atonement respectively.
Conversely, here is a summary. Inside the camp ground were many things but for our purposes our focus is on the tabernacle of meeting and the altar of sacrifice i.e. an altar on which animals and grains were burnt. The tabernacle of meeting had two rooms separated by a veil. There was only one entrance into the tabernacle. A priest entering the tabernacle will immediately find himself in the front room i.e. the first room. In this front room is found three things, they are the lampstand to the left, the table for the showbread to the right, and the altar for burning incense up ahead just before the veil that leads into the back room i.e. the second room. The front room was called the sanctuary and the back room was the holy of holies. No one was allowed to go into the holy of holies except the high priest, who was only allowed to go in there once every year on the Day of atonement with blood. No one was allowed to come into the sanctuary, i.e. the front room except the priests (Aaron’s sons) and Aaron himself who was the high priest at Moses’ time. In the holy of holies was the Ark of the Covenant, this was a representation of God’s throne in Heaven. On the Ark were two Cherubim and in the Ark were three things, the stone tablets of the covenant, Aaron’s staff that budded and a golden pot of manna.
Now outside the camp ground was a designated area where the ashes of burnt sacrifices were deposited. Also outside the camp was another alter for burning sacrifices. Thus there were two altars of sacrifice, one inside the camp and another outside the camp.
The main difference between burnt offerings and sin offerings laid in were the body of the sacrificed animal was burnt. With the burnt offerings, the whole animal including its intestines and fat was burnt on the altar inside the camp. The sin offering on the other hand, only had the fats and the kidneys of the animal being burnt inside the camp on the altar, but the body of the animal however was burnt on the altar outside the camp. On the Day of Atonement, the procedures to be followed were that of the sin offering, i.e. fats and kidneys burnt inside the camp and the body burnt outside the camp. See Leviticus 16 for an in-depth explanation of the whole procedures the High priest follows in making atonement for the people. The High priest makes atonement for himself and his household first and afterward he make atonement for everyone else.
In the system of the things that were done, we can learn the following about Jesus Christ. 1. He was a better high priest, 2. He offered better things to God, and 3. He reformed the system itself. Let’s explore each of these.
2a. Christ was a better high priest
Hebrews 7:26-28, “For this kind of High Priest has been appropriate for us, blameless, innocent, and pure, having been separate from sinners, having become superior to the heavenly beings. He has no daily necessity, (like the high priests who first offer sacrifices for their own sin, and only afterward for the people). But He did this in totality, offering up Himself.”
In this we learn that Jesus unlike the previous high priests, had no need to offer sacrifices for his own sins first. Jesus was a perfect high priest because he was without sin and he only had to offer the sacrifice once. Once because that sacrifice had the power to remain continuously without renewal. This is also why….
2b. Christ had better things to offer as High priest
Hebrews 8:1-6 “Now this is the primary thing being said: We have this kind of High Priest who is seated at the right side of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, an officer of the holy things and of the true Tabernacle which the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Thus it was necessity for this one also to have something to offer. For if indeed He was on earth, He would not be a priest, of the priests who offer sacrifices according to the Law. Those [priests] perform service of the heavenly dominion using symbol and similitude, according to what Moses was told when [he was] about to make the Tabernacle: “For see,” He says, “you should do everything according to the model, the one shown to you in the mountain.” Yet now He has taken up a more excellent service, being administrator of a better covenant founded on better promises.”
For with a better covenant and better promises the writer explains writes further in Hebrews 9:23-26 “It was indeed necessary then for the examples of things in the heavens to be cleansed by these, yet the heavenly dominions with better sacrifices than these. For the Anointed one did not enter the holy of holies made by [human] hands, [which] represents the true [holy of holies], but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us, not so that He may offer Himself repeatedly, like the high priest enters the holy of holies once a year with the blood of others, (since that would have required Him to suffer repeatedly since the casting down of the world). Yet now, once, at the completion of the ages, He [Christ] has been manifest for the cancelling of sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
In this saying we are taught that the system of things that were done by Aaron and the High priests that followed after him, were a shadow of the true things which are in heaven. That the things in heaven are much better than those on earth, in that while the high priest entered the holy of holies to offer blood on the ark, Christ has entered into the actual presence of God in Heaven to offer something better – His own blood which is much more precious than that of bulls and goats. Additionally, the high priest had to make an offering of blood year after year repeatedly whereas Christ has appeared before God once having died to offer a better sacrifice able to atone for sin once and for all.
Further in Hebrews 10:5-10 it says “coming into the world He [Christ] says: “Sacrifices and offerings you [God] did not desire, but a body you fit to Me. In burnt offerings and [offerings] for sin, you have no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Look! I am coming! In the volume of the scroll it has been written about me, the one to do your will, O God!’” At first saying, “Sacrifices and offerings” and “In burnt offerings and [offerings] for sin,” “You did not desire” and “You have no pleasure,” (which are offered according to the Law), He [Christ] then said, “Look! I am coming, … the one to do Your will, O God!” He [thus] abolishes the first so that He may establish the second, by that “will” we are [in a state of] having been set apart through the offering of the “body” of Jesus the Anointed, once. And indeed every high priest has repeatedly stood, according to the Day, officiating and offering the same sacrifices many times, which are unable to remove sins. Yet He, offering one sacrifice over sins, seated Himself at the right side of God unto the materialization, the remainder being received when His enemies should be placed under His feet. For by one offering He has perfected unto the materialization the ones being set apart.”
By offering just one sacrifice Christ has changed the order of the services and ushered in a new system. Thus Christ introduced a better reformed system with himself as the chief priest.
2c. The system of services have been reformed to a new system.
Hebrews 9:6-10 “And these things having been constructed like this, indeed the priests constantly [enter] into the front room performing the divine service. But only the high priest went into the second room, once a year, never without blood, which he offered for himself and the peoples’ ignorant failures. Concerning this the holy Breath illustrates that the path of the holy things was not yet to have been made visible with the first tabernacle still having standing. This was an allegory until the time which has come. According to this, both offerings and sacrifices are offered, yet being unable to complete according to conscience the one offering the divine service, which [concerned] only with foods and drinks and various washing [rituals], and ordinances of the flesh being laid upon [us] until the time of thorough straightening.”
In saying this, we learn that the system of services performed by the priests and High priest were a foreshadowing of the system to come. A better system whereby Christ himself who is a better high priest will offer better sacrifices before God. Explaining to us that those things that were done were not able to make those who offered them clean or pure according to conscience. The writer later tells us that the things that were done only went as far as purifying their bodies and not their conscience. Therefore there was something that was still lacking. Nevertheless God had still chosen the old system as a teaching instrument and reminder of the better things He (God) had planned to bring later.
Thus further in Hebrews 9:11-14 “But the Anointed, High Priest of the impending good things, having arrived through the greater and more complete tabernacle not hand-built, (that is not of this creation), not even by the blood of goats and bulls, but by His own blood He went once into the holy of holies, securing permanent redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and ashes of a heifer, sprinkling those having been polluted, consecrates for purification of the flesh, how much greater the blood of the Anointed, Who offered Himself flawless to God through the permanent Breath, will cleanse your conscience from dead acts unto what is to be divine service to the living God!”
There is a very important point here, and that is, the blood of Christ is able to purify one’s body as well as conscience to the effect that one’s conscience is able to apprehend and differentiate between what is just and unjust, good and evil.
To this end the writer argues further in Hebrews 10:1-4 “For the Law, having a similitude of the impending good things, but not the exact representation of the procedure, those same sacrifices which they are offering accordingly each year are not able to perfect the worshippers unto the materialization. Otherwise, would they not have ceased offering? Because no one offering divine service, having been once cleansed, would still have conscience of sins. But in them is a reminder of sins, according to each year. For the blood of bulls and goats is unable to remove sins.”
In saying that “sacrifices which they are offering accordingly each year are not able to perfect the worshippers”, explaining that all the sacrifices that were made in the system of the earthly service, that is, the offering of bulls and goats could by no means purify those offering it permanently so that they may cease offering it. And even much less, those sacrifices could not cleanse those offering it both outwardly and inwardly, of body and conscience. They merely served as a reminder of sin year after year. The only thing that can purify permanently once and for all, both inwardly and outwardly, of body and conscience is the blood of Christ, as the scripture also indicates in Hebrews 10:12-18 “He, offering one sacrifice over sins, seated Himself at the right side of God unto the materialization, the remainder being received when His enemies should be placed under His feet. For by one offering [Christ] has perfected unto the materialization the ones being set apart. For after what was to have been proclaimed, “This is the covenant I will be covenanting with the house of Israel after these days,’ the Lord says, ‘I will ingrain My laws into their thinking, and I will engrave them on their hearts. … and their sins and their unlawful deeds I should by no means continue recalling,” the holy Breath is also testifying to us – wherever there is remission from these, there is no longer offering over sin.
With this, we have a conclusion in Hebrews 9:15 that “through this [blood] He [Christ] is Mediator of the New Covenant, [His] death having produced redemption from transgressions for those covered by the former covenant, [so that] those who have been called may receive the promise of the permanent inheritance”. Meaning that those who have lived faithfully to God whether dead or alive under the old covenant have been redeemed from transgressions through the blood of Christ so that they also may receive the promise of the permanent inheritance of the land.
Having now discussed subheading 1. The Passover lamb 2. The perfect atonement sacrifice, we turn to subheading 3.
3. A new covenant for the people
Hebrews 8:8-13 “Look! Days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will complete a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not corresponding to the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, since they did not remain in My covenant, and I ignored them,’ says the Lord.” Because this is the covenant I will be covenanting with the house of Israel after these days,’ the Lord says, ‘I will be ingraining my laws into their thinking, and I will engrave them on their hearts. And I shall be God for them, and they shall be for me a people. And by no means should each [have to] instruct his neighbour or each his brother, saying “Get acquainted with the Master!” For all of them will have come to know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their wrongdoings, and their sins and their unlawful deeds I should by no means continue recalling.” In saying “new,” He has made the former obsolete. And whatever is becoming obsolete and wearing out is close to disappearing.”
The new covenant God was to make with his people is not one having the likeness of the old which was written on tablets of stone of which the people had to be taught. This new covenant would see God ingraining his laws into his people’s thinking and on their hearts. Thus it was fitting that Christ’ blood cleanse them of both their bodies and consciences.
Covenants are made with something more than a mere agreement, that is, there is of necessity that the covenant be inaugurated by blood. The first covenant was inaugurated by blood and thus it is also necessary that the second be made by blood. Following this argument we find in Hebrews 9:19-23 “For every instruction under Moses having been spoken to all the people according to the Law, [and] having taken the blood of bulls and goats with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, he sprinkled both the scroll itself and all the people saying: “This is the blood of the covenant God enjoins towards you.” And the tabernacle also, and all the instruments of the administration, he likewise sprinkled with blood. And virtually everything is cleansed with blood according to the Law. And without bloodshed there is no deliverance. It was indeed necessary then for the examples of things in the heavens to be cleansed by these, yet the heavenly dominions with better sacrifices than these.”
With this we learn two things: Firstly, the old covenant was officiated by blood and likewise the second. For this reason the Master Jesus after supper with his disciples, also took the cup and said “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (see Luke 22:17-20).
Secondly, that the things on earth which are an imitation of the Heavenly have of necessity to be purified by blood. Meaning that the things in Heaven are holy and forever pure, therefore it is fitting that any imitations of things in Heaven also be purified and made Holy. Thus they were imitations of what was to come, that is, Christ who has now entered into the holy of holiest not the earthly one but the true one in Heaven – in the presence of God, with his own blood to put away sin. Consequently Hebrews 9:28 says “likewise the Anointed one also having been offered once, to carry the sins of the many, shall be seen a second [time] by those awaiting Him separated from sin for the deliverance.”
What deliverance you may ask. The deliverance from all things dark and impure. Sin, death, decay, oppression, pain, poverty, sickness, hunger, etc.
4. The resurrection and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ
Romans 3:21-25 “Yet now, apart from the Law, God’s justice has been made apparent, (having been reported under the Law and the Prophets), – the justice of God, through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all the trusting ones. For there is no distinction, for all sinned and lack the glory of God. Being justified freely by His grace, through the release that is in Christ Jesus, (Whom God previously placed as the “atonement-seat,” through the trust in His blood as a token of His justice, through the excusing of sins previously committed by the tolerance of God), [with a view] toward displaying His justice in the present era, in order for Him to be [both] just, and the one justifying the [trusting one] on the basis of Jesus’ faithfulness.”
Meaning that all have been confined under sin and God demonstrates his justice toward us through our faith and trust in Christ who has offered himself as our atonement. Thus God is able to forbear or in other words pardon our sin on the basis that Jesus was faithful. How faith and salvation are realized in a person’s life is something needing a separate teaching on its own. In the meantime, here are just a few examples of conversions in scripture, Acts 2:36-47 (the Jews at Jerusalem for Pentecost), Acts 8:26-39 (the Ethiopian eunuch), Acts 10:34-48 (Cornelius and family), Acts 9:17-18 and 22:14-16 (Paul’s conversion). All these examples have three crucial elements in the following order, 1) faith through the message of who Jesus Christ is, his death, his resurrection and his Kingdom to come, 2) repentance towards God, and 3) Water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.
The focus in this sub-heading is on the Holy Breath, which God gives to each individual after trust, repentance and baptism into His Son’s name, in accord with Acts 2:38-39 “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Breath. For this promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
The Holy Breath of God does many things in a Christian’s life but for our purposes, we focus on its function in the regeneration of a person’s heart and conscience, as well as its role in the resurrection. One passage that draws this out is Romans 8:1-11 “nothing is now condemning to those in Christ Jesus. They are not walking according to flesh, but according to the Breath. For the law of the “Breath of life” in Christ Jesus has freed me from the law of sin and death. For the inadequacy of the Law, in which it was weak because of [our] flesh, God, sending His own Son in the form of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh so that the justice of the Law may be filled up in us – the ones not walking according to flesh but according to the Breath. For those being in accord with flesh are inclined from the flesh. But those [being] in accord with the Breath [are inclined from] the Breath. For the inclination of the flesh [leads to] death, but the inclination of the Breath [leads to] life and peace. This is because the inclination of the flesh is hostility unto God, for it is not in subjection to God’s Law, neither is it able [to be]. So those in flesh are not able to please God. However, you are not in flesh but in the Breath if indeed the Breath of God is residing among you. Yet if anyone does not share the Breath of Christ he is not Christ’s. But if Christ [is] among you, indeed the body is dead through sin, yet the Breath is life through justice. And if the Breath of the One who aroused Jesus from among the dead is residing among you, the One who aroused Jesus from among the dead will also bring to life your dying bodies through His Breath residing among you.”
Just before this passage, Paul asks us a rhetorical question after he considers the corrupt nature of our minds that knowing what is good, we somehow always seem to be inclined towards evil which has its end with us in judgement of God’s punishment of death. Accordingly Paul said in Romans 7:24 “What a miserable man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” This is a question everyone ought to be asking themselves while also acknowledging that the answer is Jesus Christ. This is why Paul continued by writing “nothing is now condemning to those in Christ Jesus. They are not walking according to flesh, but according to the Breath.” Acknowledging that liberation from sin and the curse of death comes only through Jesus Christ. Liberation from sin because we are now being regenerated and led by the Holy breath only if we are submitted to it, and liberation from death because the same breath will resurrect our bodies to life if we are indeed Christ’s.
There is much more to be said about the Holy Breath. Things that require a whole topical teaching on its own. This Part 3 of the series has focused on the Son of God and how eternal life is given through him, looking at the Passover, the atonement, and the new covenant found in his blood. The Passover, the atonement, and the new covenant all point towards the fulfilment of the promises contained in the covenants God made previously with the Patriarchs. Promises that will see them resurrected to eternal life for an inheritance of the land forever. We also will partake in these promises on the condition that we are found within the new covenant initiated through Christ’ blood.
There is one other aspect that has of necessity to be addressed and that is Christ as judge and king in the age to come. A kingdom occasioned in according to what God his Father has promised him in Psalm 2:7-9 “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. You shall shepherd them with a rod of iron”. This we discuss further in Part 4 ‘The Son of God is King and Judge’.
1. The Passover lamb
– Israel Egypt Passover
– Killing the first born sons (Exo. 12:12-14)
– 1 Pet 1:19 (Jesus as Lamb without spot or blemish)
– Rev 5:6 (the lamb that has been slain)
– 1 Corinthians 5:7-8
2. The son of man as the perfect sacrifice (atonement)
– The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of men (John 1:29,36)
– A better High priest
– Day of atonement, first for himself and family, then for everyone (lev 16); Hebrews 7:26-28
– Life is in the blood – Leviticus 17:10-14
– Offering better things Hebrews 8:1-6; 9:23-26; 10:5-10
– Services reformed from the old to new Hebrews 9:6-10
– The blood able to perfect forever (Hebrews 9:11-14; 10:1-4, 11-18
3. A new covenant for the people
– A new covenant promised and delivered Hebrews 8:7-13, 9:15-17
– Covenant established through blood, Hebrews 9:18-21, Luke 22:17-20
– All things purified by blood Hebrews 9:22-23.
4. The resurrection and eternal life through faith
– Resurrection and eternal life through the blood of Christ (Romans 3:21-25)
– example conversions in scripture see Acts 2:36-47 (the Jews at Jerusalem for Pentecost), Acts 8:26-39 (the Ethiopian eunuch), Acts 10:34-48 (Cornelius and family), Acts 9:17-8, 22:14-16 (Paul’s conversion)
– Resurrection and eternal life through the Breath – (Romans 8:1-11).