207 – THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF
OUR FAITH 5
Jehovah commanded the sacrifices of the law. “You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you” (Ex. 20:24).If the sacrifices of the Law were a picture of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Jehovah would be the author and finisher of faith. The sacrifices of the Old Testament were part of the Law. “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast not desired, nor hast thou taken pleasure in them” (Heb. 10:8). If the law did not make anything perfect, it is imperfect, useless and weak, as the text says. The law of Jehovah is not a picture of the law of Jesus Christ; neither the sacrifices of the law of Jehovah are pictures of Christ. That which is imperfect cannot be a picture of that which is perfect. We will give a biblical example from the Old Testament. Chapter 21 of the book ofLeviticus deals with laws concerning the person of the priest: what are the necessary requirements in order to minister in the sanctuary. The text says that they should be holy; they will not touch in a prostitute, they will not take a woman rejected by her husband, they will not touch a corpse (not even of a father or mother) so that they may not be defiled, etc. The text goes on: “Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; no man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God” (Lev. 21:17-21). The question we have is the following: Is a blind man a picture of a man who can see? Is a humpbacked a picture of a perfect man? Is a halting a picture of a man who can walk? It is obvious that they are not, for they are imperfect. So, in the same way, the Law, imperfect, cannot be the picture of the law of Christ, that is the law of love(John 13:34; 1 Cor. 9:20-21). The sacrifices of bulls and of goats do not remove anyone’s sin (Heb. 12:2). An imperfect priest cannot be a picture of a perfect one. “Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need there was for another priest to arise…? (Heb. 7:11).
If Jehovah and Jesus were the same person, as some theologians say, in this case, Jesus would be the author of two different sacrifices: one imperfect and one perfect; one useless and another useful; one weak and another strong (Heb. 7:18-19): one that condemns and another that saves. Hence Jesus would show partiality. Jehovah demanded many sacrifices. “The sword of Jehovah is filled with blood, it is sated with fat, with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams, For Jehovah has a sacrifice in Bozrah and a great slaughter in the land of Edom” (Is. 34:6). “For that day belongs to Jehovah God of hosts, a day of vengeance, so as to avenge Himself on His foes; and the sword will devour and be satiated and drink its fill of their blood; for there will be a slaughter for Jehovah God of hosts, in the land of the north by the river Euphrates (Jer. 46:10). “And as for you, son of man, thus says Jehovah God, ‘Speak to every kind of bird and to every beast of the field, ‘Assemble and come, gather from every side to My sacrifice which I am going to sacrifice for you, as a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood” (Ezek. 39:17). This sacrifice refers to Gogue; “Be silent before Jehovah God! For the day of Jehovah is near, for Jehovah has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated His guests” (Zeph. 1:7).In this sacrifice, who is going to die? The inhabitants of Jerusalem will (Zeph. 1:12). Jehovah is so excited about sacrifices that he prophesied the restoration of Israel, which began to take place in 1948, therefore, 50 years ago. This restoration is in Ezek. 37. Jesus, though, came 2,000 years ago, and so the sacrifices of the law are not valid any longer. But Jehovah promises to restore the temple of Solomon, and also the Levitical priesthood and the sacrifices of goats and sheep. This is in Ezek. 43:1-27.
We read in the Old Testament that the sacrifices of the Law pleased Jehovah, who was pleased with the smell of blood. The Israelites brought the animals to the priest for the atonement of sin. The animals were beheaded, and the blood of the young bull was sprinkled on the altar. After that, the young bull was cut in pieces. These pieces were burnt on the fire of the altar. It is the holocaust. The smell of this bloody slaughter that took place everyday was a sweet smell to Jehovah (Lev. 1:1-9). Blood has the smell of a butcher’s shop, but Jehovah loves it. In one only day Solomon offered to Jehovah 22,000 cows in sacrifice, and 20,000 sheep (1 Kings 8:63). The daily job of the priests was very heavy. And this smell of blood was the best perfume to Jehovah. Let us mention a few texts: Lev. 1:9,13,17, 22; 9:12; 3:5,16; 4:31; 6:15-21,28, etc.… Imperfect sacrifices were perfume to Jehovah.
Let us proceed to human sacrifices. They were imperfect and useless, but Jehovah accepted them as perfect. The people of Israel, by Balaam’s counsel, prostituted themselves with Moabite women. The wrath of Jehovah burned, and told Moses. “Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before Jehovah, so that the fierce anger of Jehovah may turn away from Israel” (Num. 25:1-4). We read in the book of Hebrews that God the Father did not accept those sacrifices of the Old Testament. “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast not desired” (Heb. 10:8). Verses 5 and 6 say that God, the Father, did not want them, neither was pleased with them. The only sacrifice accepted by God is that of Christ, the author and finisher of faith (Heb. 10:9-12).
We have more instances of useless sacrifices that were a sweet smell to Jehovah. Saul was dead 35 years already, and the wrath of Jehovah remained fierce and cruel. Seven children of the dead man were hung unto Jehovah, and the fierce wrath was placated, for Jehovah accepts imperfect sacrifices (2 Sam. 21:1-14). What makes this vengeance worse is that the seven sons of Saul had nothing to do with the evil of the father. Jehovah had two pleasures. The first one was the pleasant smell of blood of thousands of sacrifices of oxen, sheep and goats. The second one was when, filled with fury, he killed his own children (Deut. 28:63). Can a father be pleased killing his child in a cruel fashion? For it is written that Jehovah defiled his people to see them sacrifice their children in the fire to Moloch (Ezek. 20:26).
Jesus, who came down from heaven to reveal the love of the Father towards men, has never asked for the sacrifices of another, but offered himself as a sacrifice as a ransom from the hands of Jehovah. This was accomplished through one single sacrifice: “…that [Jesus] might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14).This was the pleasure of Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of faith.
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira