The Sacrifice, Atonement – It is finished.



Which brings us on to the subject of the sacrifices. So, let’s look at the Old Testament and how it relates to Yom Kippur as well when you come to the Old Testament the old covenant book of Leviticus, we see that there is a great deal there about offering of sacrifices to cover sin.

The sacrifice always involved the death of an animal the animal offered were generally a bull a goat sheep sometimes birds but the principle was that the animal itself was innocent but it takes the place of the guilty so the offer one who’s offering it offers this innocent animal to cover their sin it’s not that the animal itself has any virtue in itself but it’s kind of symbolic if you like that here is one who is without sin who’s paid the price of one who is with sin

Interesting, if you look through the book of ludicrous there are 68 references to blood so it’s a major part of the whole of God’s program that there should be the offering made with blood and made with blood means that the blood is not just a sprinkling of blood it means the death of the animal to cover sin.

One such reference in Leviticus chapter 4 says:

27 ‘If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally by doing something against any of the commandments of the Lord in anything which ought not to be done, and is guilty, 28 or if his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge, then he shall bring as his offering a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. 29 And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering. 30 Then the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour all the remaining blood at the base of the altar. 31 He shall remove all its fat, as fat is removed from the sacrifice of the peace offering; and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a sweet aroma to the Lord. So the priest shall make atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.

Leviticus 4.27-31

And it says that the animal is to be without blemish and it’s to be offered for his sin which he’s committed. It’s put to death and the animal makes atonement for him so he shall be forgiven.

The principle is pretty clear:

  • Sin causes separation from God, and it causes death.
  • To restore that relationship, God requires repentance and faith in this appointed sacrifice.
  • The sacrifice involves the death of the one sacrificed, the shedding of blood.
  • The one who’s sacrificed is innocent, it is what we call ‘substitutionary’, is taking the place of the guilty.
  • And the Bible says that ‘without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin’.
  • That ‘the life of the flesh is in the blood. It is the blood that makes atonement for your soul’.

Let’s go on to Leviticus 16. Leviticus 16 describes a sacrifice which is to take place on the Day of Atonement and, of course, none of this happens at all today in any form of Judaism. It doesn’t happen today because there’s no Temple, there’s no Priesthood, and there is no Sacrifice.

The closest they get in the Yom Kippur service is to read these passages and to say that if we had the Temple, we would do this, but now we can’t because there is no Temple.

However, when you read the passages, when you read Leviticus, it’s clear that this is the central part of, the whole point of it was the offering of these sacrifices.

Leviticus 16 the high priest would first offer a sacrifice for his own sins, for those of his house, then those of his nation, then, he alone would go into the Holy of Holies – the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle (then in the Temple), once a year to carry out the Yom Kippur sacrifice.

The sacrifice involved the shedding of blood to cover sin. There’d be two goats: one would be sacrificed in the Holy of Holies, the other, the live goat, the scapegoat, would have the sins of the people confessed on it and then be sent out into the wilderness.

And we read in the Book of Leviticus the passage which speaks about it, where it says:

11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.

Leviticus 17.11

It is the blood that makes atonement for your soul.

15 “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. 16 So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness. …

Leviticus 16.15-16

20 “And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat. 21 Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.

Leviticus 16.20-22

Therefore, he confesses the sins of the people over the second goat and sends it out into the wilderness, so it carries away the sins of the people. The first goat pays the price and is sacrificed, dies in the Holy Place, the second goat carries the sins away and, if you think about it, there’s an incredible symbolism there relating to the sacrifice of Jesus: that He dies once for our sins and He carries them away as far as the East is from the West.

Then we have the picture of the High Priest laying his hands upon the goat as it was to carry away their sins into the wilderness, the scapegoat.

So, where does this happen today in the world? The answer is: nowhere.

It doesn’t happen because the only place it could happen was the Temple in Jerusalem.

Once the Temple was destroyed, there was no place to offer the sacrifice; the Priesthood ceased to exist; the sacrifices ceased, and from the year 70, when the Romans destroyed the temple 40 years after the coming of Yeshua / Jesus the Messiah, there has been no sacrifice on Yom Kippur.

Judaism gives this answer to it: one of the leading rabbis of Judaism, Maimonides, in the Mishneh Torah – Laws of Repentance, wrote:

So, is it true that repentance alone atones for all transgressions?

Actually, it’s not.

The Bible makes it clear that not only repentance but also faith in the sacrifice which God has appointed, are required. You have to have ‘both’ and not ‘either / or’: repentance and faith in the sacrifice which God has provided.

Which means that, no matter how hard and no matter how sincerely Jewish people may repent and pray on Yom Kippur, if the sacrifice is not there, there’s no atonement.

From the beginning, when the Temple was destroyed, they decided that atonement could come through good deeds which is the basis of modern Judaism.

And I’ve said that this is probably the basis of nearly all religions. This is a word from a what’s called a midrash – a teaching – from the time it says:

That man, Rabbi Yohannan ben Zakkai became the founder of modern Judaism. He re-established the Jewish faith after the destruction of the Temple in a place called Yavne, in Israel, and he said these words.

There’s another way of gaining ritual atonement, through deeds of loving kindness.

Rabbi Yohannan ben Zakkai

Therefore, basically and from that point onwards, the teaching has been that you can gain atonement through good deeds – ‘mitzvah’ said in Hebrew – and that by doing that, you’ll be atoned, and you’ll be right with God.

The question is: Is that true?

Now, no one doubts the desire of people to do good deeds, and no one says that they’re not doing good deeds. The question is: Are those good deeds enough to bring them atonement and eternal life, and a relationship with God?

We come to the New Covenant, New Covenant teaching in the New Testament, the teaching through Yeshua / Jesus the Messiah and we find several things there.

Firstly, that our good deeds can never atone for our sins. The Bible says: There’s none righteous, no not one. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

There is something which is lacking in everything about our lives. None of us is good enough to get to heaven by our own good deeds.

The New Covenant also tells us that the sacrifice of the Messiah, of Yeshua, of Jesus, replaces all former sacrifices.

Therefore, when Jesus died on the cross and he said, “It is finished!”, he meant that the task of redemption was finished. He paid the price; He’d done everything that was needed to cover our sins. He had taken the sin of the whole world upon Himself, and He’d finished the work which God had sent for Him to do.

It also meant that, from that point onwards, the work of trying to gain redemption through the sacrifices offered in the Temple was finished, it was over.

That was why God then arranged for the veil in the Temple to be torn from top to bottom. And that veil in the Temple was the veil which separated the rest of the Temple from the Most Holy Place – the Holy of Holies – the place into which only the High Priest would go once a year on the Day of Atonement.

When that veil was torn from top to bottom, it meant that everybody who calls on the Name of Jesus can now come into that Most Holy Place through faith in Jesus the Messiah. That is why it is finished.

The Book of Hebrews tells us that Yeshua / Jesus, as our Great High Priest, replaces now the Levitical Priesthood. There is no High Priest, there is no Priesthood in Judaism, and there hasn’t been since the destruction of the Temple.

There are some who would like to restore It but, any attempt to restore the High Priesthood before the coming of Jesus will not be in line with God’s Will.

Jesus is the Great High Priest who has now replaced the Priesthood under the Old Testament. A priest is one who speaks to God on our behalf, who offers the sacrifice Jesus offered, the final sacrifice of Himself through which we can have a relationship with God and now we can have atonement with God through repentance and faith in the Messiah’s sacrifice.

His blood atones for us.

Following this death and resurrection of the Messiah the Temple sacrifices cease to have any value in God’s sight, that’s the teaching of the Book of Hebrews.

It says that if you offer those sacrifices, that it is as though you are trampling underfoot the blood of the Messiah because they no longer are effective for taking away sins.

And, when the temple was destroyed 40 years later as Jesus prophesied it would be, they ceased to be possible and, as we live in this age, it’s the blood of Jesus which cleanses us from all sin.

He is the atoning sacrifice, and the Bible tells us that God was in Christ, God was in Jesus Christ reconciling the world to Himself.

A few quotations from Corinthians now.

This diagram tells you that we had before that a barrier between human beings and God which we couldn’t cross.

When we come to Jesus on the cross, we find that He has now crossed that barrier so that through faith in Jesus from His side, He’s reached out to us and made it possible for us even to swim to America if you want to! Probably not, but to get into the presence of God.

So, through faith in Jesus, we can have that barrier between human beings and God removed, and we can come into a relationship with God.

2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 18 says:

18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,

21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5.18 & 21

So, the Lord had laid on Him the iniquity of us all, as it says in Isaiah that He’s the one who crossed the barrier and we can become the righteousness of God in Him.

1 John chapter 2 verse 2 says:

2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 2.2

Chapter 4 verse 10

10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4.10

Jesus now replaces the Old Covenant – the Old Testament sacrifices – and He is the final sacrifice for sin.

Nothing more is required. The Levitical sacrifices are replaced with the blood of Jesus: He’s the atoning sacrifice.

1 Peter 3 says:

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

1 Peter 3.18

And, if you want the full works of how Jesus came to fulfil it, you go to Hebrews chapter 9 which tells you, first of all, how the Old Testament sacrifices were effective for a time, but once Jesus had come, they were no longer effective and were now done away with.

And how the High Priest would offer the sacrifice of his own sins and then go into the Holy Place to offer the sacrifice for the sins of others. Yet Jesus didn’t need to do that because He was without sin.

It says:

11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9.11-12

and then in verse 22 it says:

22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. … For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Hebrews 9.22-28

So, praise God! We have a Messiah who has entered into the Holy Places Himself, into the presence of God, offering Himself His blood as a sacrifice for the sin of the world.

That is the perfect sacrifice which covers all that has gone before.

And, as I said, the Yom Kippur sacrifice has been absent now for nearly 2,000 years and it’s not been accepted because, even before the Temple was destroyed, it was no longer accepted because Jesus died and paid the price.

Today, in Judaism, you have a day, you have a yom but you have no kippur, you have no atonement because there is no shedding of blood in order to cover sin.

That has now been transformed to Yeshua / Jesus the Messiah.

Therefore, to have atonement you have to have Jesus the Messiah which is why we believe that we should share the Good News of the Gospel with Jewish people and with all others.