In the period of the TaNaKH (the Old Testament), the sacrificial system was given, among other reasons, as the “vindication markers” of the faith of an individual (“faith acted out in faithfulness”). Obedience played a big role in demonstrating true and lasting covenant faith. Individuals wishing to approach HaShem’s (God's) sanctuary were required to bring some sort of atonement for the sin they carried. Often, the blood of the animals served this very purpose. Surely the animals themselves did not bring about lasting spiritual atonement (a permanent forgiving of sin of the conscience), yet God saw fit to allow his perfect plan of Salvation, tied into the eventual coming of his Son Yeshua (Jesus), to be “acted out” as it were through the Temple rituals.
The historical sacrificial system was effective in covering sin (sanctifying of the flesh; restoration of ritual purity) as well as cleansing (wiping) the Sanctuary, but ultimately it proved to be a mere “shadow” pointing to the True Body of Sacrifice found only in the Perfect Lamb of Sacrifice! The sacrificial system was not designed to accomplish for the individual the “goal” of purging the conscience. Even though it was a “limited” solution, it was authentically God’s solution. No Jew living in that time period was able to circumvent this system, and remain officially within the community. If we take HaShem seriously, them we will accept his provision—no matter what means, or how limited that provision is! This is our first lesson in “Torah logic.”
The older idea that “atonement” was only a “temporary fix” for sins for those who lived in the time before the coming of our Messiah must be abandoned. The idea of atonement as portrayed in the Scriptures encompasses both a temporal aspect as well as an eternal one.
To be sure, Yeshua himself stated emphatically that he was THE way, and that NO man can come unto the Father except through HIM.
The sacrifices, performed with a genuine heart of repentance, afforded real-life forgiveness, but only to the purification of the flesh. However, the mortal blood of the animals in and of themselves—and by themselves—could not even take away sin; only the eternal blood of the Perfect Sacrifice—to which the animals pointed—could purify both flesh and soul.
Thus you could say that the blood of the animals ritually “washed, wiped clean” the participants as well as the Holy Place where God “manifestly dwelt.” The objective faith of the individual still remained dependent upon God’s Promised Word to Come, namely Yeshua himself, yet his obedience was demonstrated by adherence to explicit Torah commands where sacrifices were concerned. What is more, the salvation of the eternal soul of an individual was always dependent upon a circumcised heart, exactly as it is today.
In summary then, the sacrificial system was not designed to bring the participant to the goal, namely a purged conscience and salvation of the individual. Sacrifices were for dealing with sin in the flesh, for restoration of ritual purity. Only genuine faith in the Promised One could move God’s heart to reckon to one’s account “righteousness” as was done for Avraham (Abraham). The Torah was weak in that it could not bring to the goal of salvation the heart of an individual. Only the Spirit’s supernatural work could—and always will be able to—do that.
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