Jesus the Sin Offering and the Priest

Part of this post is an excerpt from my book He Who Bleeds available on amazon.com

Is God angry, raging and vengeful? Animal sacrifice? What a barbaric custom!  Gruesome, even cruel.  No wonder many Christian theologians separate the angry God of the Old Testament from the loving God of the New Testament.   

Who is Who?

There is a gospel in the Old Testament.  Jesus opened the Old Testament scriptures to the disciples on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection.

Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.  Luke 24:27

What is animal sacrifice?  I mean, what is it all about?   I know it is representative, but who is who?  I mean, who is the animal representing?  Maybe he is representing me, and I should die for my sin, but the innocent animal dies in my place so God can forgive me.  Is this really what is going on?

What if, in the gospel according to the First Covenant, the sacrificial animal takes the representative role of the victim of that sin?  To find the answer we must look into the ceremony of Atonement.

Atonement is a Legal Term

The Hebrew word in the Strong’s concordance is #3722 kaphar[1].  An example of kaphar as a legal term is in Isaiah 28:18 “your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand;” A covenant is a legally binding agreement, like a contract.  Disannulment  brings the contract to a legal end.  Disannulment frees the signers from further contract liability.  Disannulment is atonement, kaphar.

Atonement as referred to in Mosaic Law is the waiving of the required legal punishment.  Sins for which atonement is made are covered.  They are covered from the punishment of the law.  The process of atonement does not negate the need for repentance and restitution.  On the contrary, confession, repentance and making restitution are necessary steps to atonement[2].  According to Leviticus, after these first steps had been accomplished, then the priest shall make an atonement for him.

The Priest is the Acting Intercessor

How did the priest make an atonement for the sinner?  What did the priest do?  

In a case where the sinner confesses and repents to the victim, as long as the victim is satisfied with the repentance, they may declare peace with one another, and the incident is over. Like Jesus said in Matthew 5:25,  Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him.  There is no need for the law to step in and provide an intercessor.   But what if the sinner repents, and still the victim refuses to make peace?  Then there is need for the law to provide an intercessor.  The intercessor acts in the place of the defrauded victim and makes an atonement for the repentant sinner.   

The earthly pattern that God gave Moses for atonement had two parts.  These were two actors, so to speak, in this earthly pre-enactment of the necessary action in the heavens.  The sacrificial animal and the priest both represent the victim of the sin.  The animal loses his life as the victim who has been defrauded of a portion of his life.  The priest, in the place of the victim, makes atonement, in other words, waives the charges against the sinner. 

            Ceremonially, two actors were needed because the animal could lay down his life, but could not intelligently waive the charges.  The priest could waive the charges, but could not die or suffer equal defraudment for every sin he atoned.  So, the priest was required to eat the sin offering[3] to make himself one with the animal who was taking on the position of the victim.  It was imperative upon the priest that he eat the sin offering, and only the priest who offered the sacrifice was allowed to eat it. 

Because the priest representatively becomes the victim of my sin, he has the right to press charges against me or to waive the charges.  

What did he do?  The priest waived the charges in the stead of the victim and atonement was made.

            Jesus was able to be both sin offering and priest.  Jesus was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities[4].  He accepted the weight of pain and grief caused by every sin ever committed bearing it in his own body on the cross.  He is the Victim of all our sin, and He could choose to press charges or to waive the charges against us.  Thank God, he chose to intercede in the proceedings that were against us making atonement for our sins, not pressing the charges.  Only the victim or one who legally stands in the victim’s stead can do that.  Jesus is the True Victim who holds the right to forgive every sin; and he is our High Priest who “ever liveth to make intercession for us”.[5] 

Let’s go back to where we started.  Is this a barbaric picture of animal sacrifice?  Gruesome, even cruel?  Maybe; but who is cruel, God? or the sinner? 

Sin is cruel, and Jesus came to take away sin.

Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29  

[1] 3722  kaphar {kaw-far’} From Strong’s Concordance
Meaning:  1) to cover, purge, make an atonement, make reconciliation, cover over with pitch 1a) to coat or cover with pitch  1b1) to cover over, pacify, propitiate 1b2) to cover over, atone for sin, make atonement for 1b3) to cover over, atone for sin and persons by legal rites 1c1) to be covered over 1c2) to make atonement for 1d) to be covered
Origin:  a primitive root
Usage:  AV – atonement 71, purge 7, reconciliation 4, reconcile 3, forgive 3, purge away 2, pacify 2, atonement…made 2, merciful 2, cleansed 1, disannulled 1, appease 1, put off 1, pardon 1, pitch 1; 102

[2] Leviticus 6:4-7  Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found,  5 Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering.  6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest:  7 And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein.

[3] Leviticus 6:26  The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation.

[4] Hebrews 4:15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

[5] Hebrews 7:25  Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

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Where Earth Meets Heaven, a poem and a painting

Where does Earth meet Heaven?

After a season of illness that kept me weak and bed-ridden for an extended time, I wrote this poem.  The poem came to me because of a vision I received while in prayer one morning.  I saw Jesus walking on water.  Then suddenly the picture flipped.  I saw him upside-down, as it were, walking on water that was up and the sky was down.  I laughed at the thought, but I understood at that point that Heaven, not gravity, held Jesus to Earth.

 

Heaven Holds Me Here

 

Heaven Holds Me Here

The painting I call Where Earth Meets Heaven. It depicts two realms, and shows a man walking in both. It certainly goes with this poem because as we walk in this earth, we are also constantly confronted by the heavenly realm. We walk on earth and in heaven. We are offered the opportunity by God to bring His Kingdom to Earth by our involvement in it. Earth meets Heaven in the place where our feet walk.

My body may be feeble

Holding life by a thread.

As my Savior walked on water

I will rise from my bed.

 

He held to Earth by glory,

No need for gravity,

And when my work is over

I’ll ascend to God as He.

 

My feet daily walk this Earth.

I labor in His field.

Thirty, sixty, a hundred fold

I pray my work will yield.

 

It’s not Earth that holds me down.

Heaven holds me up.

My feet will ever walk this Earth

While Heaven holds me here.

 

Did God Turn His Back on Jesus?

What was going on in Heaven while Jesus was on the cross?

John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. KJV

I see the torn form of our Savior hanging near breathless and contorted crying out, “My God! My God!  Why have you forsaken me?”

Did God turn His back on Jesus as he was hanging on the cross?
Answer: God so loved the world.

God loved the world.  …So what was God doing while Jesus groaned in agony alone.

In John 5:19, Jesus told his disciples, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. “ NKJV

God did not turn His back.  God watched and waited.  God groaned in Heaven to forgive us.  He loved the world.  Jesus labored in his grief and suffering until his suffering reached the height of God’s suffering for all mankind, all His created children.  When the suffering of the Only Begotten Son equaled the suffering of His Father, then Father God called the question, “What say you, Jesus?  What say you?”

-They aren’t worth it!  They will always hurt us and each other!  They hate, steal, murder!-

No, Jesus answers God’s question with,

“Father, forgive them!”

The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do.  Jesus saw the aching heart of Father God.  He chose to be one in His pain.  Jesus forgave the men who drove the nails into his hands, the ones who had lied about him in court, Peter who had denied him three times, his disciples who ran away when soldiers came to arrest Jesus.  He forgives all of us who have betrayed him over and over again.

Jesus does what he sees the Father doing.

Mark 2:3-10-11  “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he said to the paralytic– I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”

 

Devoted to Duty and Called to Compassion

Duty and compassion are products of the heart and emanate from the very Spirit of God touching the spirit of man.

Both duty and compassion must be selfless.

Duty and compassion join in the Cross.

In the Cross, Jesus yielded to the duty to obey His Father.

Jesus’ compassion compelled Him to call out, “Father, forgive them!”

The duty of disciples is to follow their Lord and forgive.

 

The Ashen Altar – A Poem for the Day of Atonement

Let me live in the fire of the Ashen Altar,
Living sacrifice accepted above,
Laying my life down that others may live;
Just like my Lord has done.

“Follow me,” he calls, “in Death is Life.
The Fire has Resurrection power.
Your life laid down shall rise again
And multiply heavenly deeds.”

The title, Upon the Ashen Altar,  refers to the pile of ashes outside the camp of Israel where the ashes from the Altar of Sacrifice were dumped.  On the Day of Atonement each year, the bullock and the goat of Atonement were burned, outside the camp, upon those ashes.
(see Leviticus 4:12 and Leviticus 16:27)

Hebrews 13:10-13
We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.   For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin [on the Day of Atonement], are burned outside the camp.   Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate.   Let us go forth therefore unto him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.