“Ugh, whatever do you mean? What are these crazy Christians talking about”?
Some of us, who are not Bible scholars, tend to forget about the sacrificial system described in the Old Testament, its efficacy for redemption, and its metamorphoses in the New Testament.
“Oh yeah, now I remember, the sacrifices at the Tabernacle and then later at the Temple. It’s coming back to me now”. But, have you been washed in the blood?
When we think of the sacrificial system described in the Old Testament (OT) Leviticus often comes to mind. The biblical reader remembers struggling through the text in Leviticus (for some of us) reading about all the do’s and don’ts and the different requirements to be met for our iniquities. However, the sacrificial system is actually mentioned earlier in the Bible and mentioned in a way that should have a lot more meaning and resonance for us. If you check your concordance, “sacrifice” is mentioned several times in the Book of Exodus in relationship to the plagues against Egypt and in particular to the final, tenth, Passover sacrifice.
In the book of Exodus Moses asks Pharaoh to let the people go into the wilderness to sacrifice to their God. But Pharaoh will not permit it. Then after nine plagues God describes the tenth plague to Moses, the plague requiring the sacrifice of a lamb, the blood being placed on the lintels, with the resulting freedom for the Israelites. This sacrifice took place; and this sacrifice bought their freedom from Egypt!
Hundreds of years later, in a parallel to the Passover sacrifice, in fact during a Passover festival, our Lord Jesus sacrifices Himself, His blood being shed on the cross, with the resulting freedom for us. This second sacrifice took place; and this sacrifice bought our freedom from sin.
However, there is a major difference between the OT sacrifice and the one described in the New Testament (NT). The OT sacrifices were offered periodically, minimally at least once a year for atonement. The NT sacrifice was offered only once, once for everyone for all time. In the Book of Hebrews it says, “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this Priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time He waits for his enemies to be made His footstool. For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (10:11-14).
That’s a big difference; wouldn’t you say? But if He did this once, two thousand years ago, how does that help me today? His sacrifice helps you today as it has helped all other Christians, from the Apostles down to our present Believers, and on into the future. In Romans chapter 10 we read: “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (10:9-10). So if you believe in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and His resurrection from death, you will be saved; then you will have been washed in the blood of The Lamb.
You do not need the help of the clergy to do this; and you do not have to work for this privilege. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast about it” (Eph 2:8-9). So right where you are, confess your faith in this miraculous sacrifice directly to God from your heart. And as His Word says, you will be saved. May God bless you in this step of faith.