What Is the Good News of Yeshua? (Part 15)
The God of Israel requires blood for sin because “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (17:11) and “the wages of the sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Inasmuch as sin, disobedience, and violation of God’s commands incur a deathly deficit, the God of Atonement has assessed that that debt can only be paid with life. This is why “it is the blood which makes atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). Yet in order for sinners to be saved from paying with their own lives, the merciful, covenantal Creator provided a remedy whereby the blood from a sinless life could be accepted as payment for another’s sins. And since, among mere men, “there is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10), God allowed for the substitution of blameless, spiritless animals to be that surrogate life. But because of the nature of those “same sacrifices that they continually offer” (Hebrews 10:1), such work could only ever serve as a reminder (Hebrews 10:3) that the problem of sin cannot be solved… not as long as the mediator—who has sin of his own—must use “the blood of others” to make atonement (Hebrews 9:25). For no matter how many innocent animals are slaughtered, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” forever (Hebrews 10:4). And yet, this is not even the biggest problem where it comes to sin…
Because there are some sins for which the God of Atonement did not deem fit to supply a substitutionary animal sacrifice.
For the murderer, the adulterer, and the sexually deviant, that one’s “blood is on him” (Leviticus 20:9). For these sins and many other kinds, the God of Israel offers no counteragent, but instead demands death. Such offenses have exceeded God’s mercy and incurred His promised wrath, leaving the violator with no recourse or appeals. In these cases, only the life and blood of the offender is sufficient payment for his violation. For this one, the sacrificial system has no cure; in God’s evaluation, no offering-payment will suffice. There is, therefore, no forgiveness, no cleansing, no covering of sin, and no atonement.
What, then, can be done? Can we ever truly be saved from sin and death? How can we find a lasting appeasement from God’s wrath—especially when we have crossed that uncrossable line?
The God of Israel gave His people a set of instructions to teach and prepare them to fulfill their unique purpose as His one-and-only, priestly, mediating nation. That Torah made Israel subject to a penal code, as well as a sacrificial system, through which the God of Atonement could legally provide His people a pathway to peace whenever they transgressed His established boundaries between right and wrong. And though it called for the bloody, repeated and extensive taking of innocent life, and furnished no positive outcome for perpetrators of capital crimes, it was nevertheless essential to the covenant with Israel—another door through which God’s people would enter, in furtherance of His plan for the reconciliation of the world. This method and model of requiring blood for life would serve as a divine template for something even greater and more perfect, so that people’s sins—all sins—could finally be taken away.
The deficiency of the sacrificial system is not in its divine design, but in the fault of the priests and the naturally limited effectiveness of their offerings. For while those mediators would have been able “to sympathize with our weaknesses,” and though they were “tempted in all things likewise as we are,” none of them could “remain… apart from sin” (4:15). God’s holy priesthood—those responsible for the work of making atonement—were subject not only to the defilement from their own sins, but to the eventual end that sin’s high price demands: death (Ro. 6:23).
But what if the loving, gracious and merciful God of Israel—the God of Atonement—decided to send Someone better?
Such a priest would not simply need to be good, but perfect—one who could promise life, and not be “hindered by death” (He. 7:23); one who would be “able to save to the very end those coming through Him to God because He is ever living to make intercession for them” (7:25). He would have to be “merciful and faithful” (2:17). He would need to be “pure, innocent, undefiled, separate from the sinners, and become higher than the heavens” themselves (7:26). He would have to have “no daily need… first to offer up sacrifice for His own sins, then for those of the people” (7:27). Rather, this great High Priest—a son of Adam (Luke 3:38), yet separate from Adam’s sin—would need to be able to mediate humanity’s offering not over and over again “through the blood of goats and calves” (Hebrews 9:12), but through the one-of-a-kind blood that would need to be offered only a single time. God would need to send Israel this perfect priest so that He could uniquely bring the greatest of all substitutionary sacrifices for sin. Only in this way could God’s road to reconciliation be paved: with the blood singularly sufficient for paying the whole world’s debt—“once,” forever, and “for all” (9:12).
Is there yet hope of an eternal sacrifice for sins for those who believe? Amen, God’s perfect love—and endless atonement—comes.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!