New Commands and a New Covenant

Series: Preacher: Date: October 7, 2012 Scripture Reference: Exodus 19, 20; 24-25; 32-34; 40

Exodus 20:1 – And God spoke all these words:

2 – I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 – You shall have no other gods before Me.

4 – You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

5 – You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me,

6 – but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.

7 – You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God,  for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.

8 – Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

9 – Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

10 – But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.

11 – For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 – Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 – You shall not murder.

14 – You shall not commit adultery.

15 – You shall not steal.

16 – You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 – You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.  You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Whenever I phone my mom during the summer months she almost always turns our conversation to her garden. She’ll excitedly tell me how it’s doing—how much she picked that morning, etc. Tomorrow, mom will be 83 and she still loves to putter around in that little plot of ground in her backyard. It’s not huge—just about 10 by 20 feet but in that small space she raises squash, zucchini, okra, tomatoes, bell peppers, and more. Mom has help from her amazing church family when it comes to planting and weeding—and she needs it at her age. One man comes every spring to plow the garden. A woman comes to help her plant and throughout the year others come to help weed. They do this because they love her and they know she loves to go out in the backyard every day and do a little weeding and harvest some produce.

How many of you have a garden? If you raised your hand you know there is a special joy to be found in working outside like that…whether you’re raising vegetables or flowers or just keeping your lawn looking good. In my opinion we get this special joy when we get our fingers dirty working in the earth because doing this kind of work is one way we co-labor with the Creator of this earth. I think this special joy we feel as we garden is an echo of the joy the first humans felt in the first garden—as they walked the pathways of the Eden with God Himself. Can you imagine the pleasure they had hearing God give them tips on what to plant where and how best to cultivate, etc.?

I bring this all up because five weeks ago when we began our study of The Story, we learned that God’s story—the Bible—BEGAN in this very special garden—a garden Adam and Eve had to leave when they sinned. Well, in our reading this week we see that the NEXT part of God’s plan to redeem mankind was to bring His chosen people back to a “garden” of sorts—His promised land. Let’s review a bit.

A word of warning though: we don’t have a “cool” youth video—so you’ll be force to just listen!

Two weeks ago—the week leading up to Pastor Kevin’s excellent sermon last Sunday—we read about the life of Moses, and we learned that because of his mother’s creativity in basket weaving,  and because of the providential care of God…baby Moses was protected from the Egyptians who were killing Hebrew infants. We learned that God orchestrated things so that Moses was raised as the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter—receiving the best education available in the world at that time. When Moses was older he found out that he was an Israelite by birth and then when he went to visit his people he saw an Egyptian man mistreating one of the Hebrew slaves. Moses became so angry that he took the Egyptian’s life. When he learned that what he had done had been seen he fled…and for the next 40 years he was on the run living his life in obscurity as a shepherd. One day God called Moses…spoke to him…in a burning bush that was not consumed, and said, “Moses, you are going to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt.” Moses basically said, “No—God—You have the wrong guy.” God said, “No I have the RIGHT guy.” And He empowered Moses to do incredible things…like calling down plagues on Egypt…plagues that eventually convinced the Pharaoh to let the Hebrew people go…which they did—millions of them—but when they reached the Red Sea the Pharaoh changed his mind. Remember? He decided he had been foolish to free his entire slave labor force so he sent his chariots to force them to come back. When the chariots were about to catch the Hebrews God miraculously parted the Red sea and they escaped and as soon as they were in the clear God let the waters come back together…drowning the pursuing army of the Pharaoh.

This week we pick up the story in the book of Exodus chapter 19. Three months have passed since that miracle at the Red Sea….and the Israelites are camped at the foot of Mt. Sinai. In Exodus 19:4-6 God says, “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now, if you obey Me fully and keep My covenant, then out of all nations you will be My treasured possession. Although the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” God was basically saying to His people, “I want to take the next step in My plan to save mankind from their sins and you’re going to be a big part of that. I’m going to give you some guidelines to live by and I want to come down and dwell with you to prepare you for this task.”

Now—please note. Chapter 5 in The Story  is a very important transitional point in the Bible.  You see, at this point God is not going to just interact with certain individuals or just talk to a few people…like He did with Abraham and Jacob and Moses. No—now He will begin to come down and share life WITH His chosen people GROUP—the Hebrews. Frazee writes, “Although God had continued to interact with His people after He expelled Adam and Eve from the garden, it was always at a distance. This time, however, He so wanted His people to get it right that He decided to come down personally and dwell with them again. Remember—His desire for intimate relationship with us is the heartbeat of the Upper Story.”

Well, in chapter 5 God says that for Him to do this—in order for Him to come down and dwell with them and work through them—some things had to be worked out. They have to construct a place for Him to dwell—the Tabernacle like the model our children put in the foyer this morning. And a system of sacrifices had to be set up to pay for the people’s sin. One more thing—the Hebrew people would have to obey God’s laws—His commandments for living. Let me put it this way. He has promised to take care of the Israelites…and He wants them to make some serious commitments as well. So He invites Moses to come up to Mt. Sinai where He verbalizes these laws that we refer to as “The Ten Commandments” along with some other guidelines of importance. After God does this Moses comes back down from the mountain and shares the commandments that God has said to both him and Aaron with the people—and then this huge throng of Israelites reply in one voice, “Everything the Lord says…everything that He has said, we will do.” (Exodus 24:3) Moses goes back up the mountain so God can give him His commands written on stone tablets.  This time, Moses takes Joshua with him and leaves Aaron behind to watch over the people until he returns.

Well, Moses is gone a long time—forty days—eight entire chapters—and the people grew impatient. They wondered where Moses was and if he was returning. They began to doubt God’s plan. In Exodus 32 we read that the Israelites got so impatient that they said to Aaron, “Make us a god in some form…some image we can worship.” And Aaron, the brother of Moses, says, “Have every man and woman bring me your golden earrings and we’ll melt down the gold.”

They did that and then Aaron fashioned a mold that was in the shape of a young cow and he poured the gold into the mold. When he was finished he showed them his handiwork and said,

“This is your god. This is your god who brought you out of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:4) I don’t know about you but I’m shocked that Aaron would do this. After all, he was Moses’ spokesman. Aaron had a front row seat for every plague. He was there for every miracle. He heard God speak on the mountain so in my mind he’s the last person who should give in to such a blatant sin. And what about the Hebrews! They had seen the Red Sea parted. They had heard God’s commands…and they had just responded by promising, “Everything the Lord says, we will do.” How could they do what they did? How could they worship a golden idol?!

But—before you begin to point a finger in their direction let me say that we would be wise to be careful with our criticism…because if we were honest we’d have to confess that there have been times we honored the Lord with our lips…but denied Him with our lifestyle. We have all broken our promises to God at one time or another. Like foolish sheep we have all gone astray. If we were honest we would confess that we have worshiped our own idols.  They may not be shaped like cows but they are just as foolish: the idol of money, career…we have even been known to put our hobbies above God.

Now—if you engineering minds out there are wondering how you would get a big golden cow out of a few earrings remember—conservative estimates put the number of Israelites at over two million. And when they fled Egypt, many of the Egyptians gave them their gold and said, “Just be on your way. We’re tired of these plagues. Take the gold and go.” So—there was a lot of gold for Aaron to work with…more than enough to sculpt a whole heard of cows.

About this time Moses was heading down the mountain and he began to hear music and drums. It sounded like the people were partying like it’s 1999…or to be more accurate…it sounded like they were partying like it’s 1446B.C. but “partying” is putting it mildly. This was Woodstock on steroids…there was sin in the camp big time. Frazee calls this “mad cow worship” and that’s a pretty good term. I think drunken idol-worshiping orgy would be another accurate phrase to describe the behavior of the Hebrews. Moses gets further down the mountain and sees the golden calf and the wild party and in a fit of rage, he takes the two stone tablets on which God had written the Ten Commandments…and he throws them down on the ground and smashes them.

Then Moses askes his brother what was going on…what he had done and Aaron says,

‘You know how evil these people can be, Moses. I mean, they wanted to worship an image of God, so I had them collect their gold…They gave me their gold and I threw it in the fire…and out came this calf!”  Is that a lame excuse or what? It’s worse that a six-year-old who says his dog ate his homework. But please note the sad irony. While God was writing out the Ten Commandments and delivering them to Moses, the Israelites were breaking the first two commandments: “You will have no other God’s before Me.” And “You will not worship or make any graven image.”

Well, the Bible says that Moses melted that golden cow back down and poured it into their water supply and then he made every person drink this hot metallic water. This was the ancient equivalent of your mom washing your mouth out with soap in the hopes that you would never repeat your sinful behavior. But that’s nothing compared to what happened next. Moses looked at the Hebrews and said, “Who is on my side? Who’s on God’s side?” All the Levites—the tribe of Levi—came running to Moses’ side. But others didn’t. They ignored Moses anger and continued their idolatry and partying. In Exodus 32:27-28 Moses said to the Levites, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel says, ‘Each man is to strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.” The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand people died. By the way, the Levites will end up becoming the tribe that God designates as priests and spiritual leaders—partly because of their obedience to Moses here. Now—killing 3000 people may sound harsh…and that’s because we still don’t understand the seriousness of sin. These people had turned their backs on God. They had rejected Him. They had committed adultery against Him and because of that they are among the first to learn that the wages of sin is always death. That’s what death pays—death. It’s not what it promises. Like satan in the garden, sin promises life and joy—but that’s not what it gives us. It gives us death. It kills joy. It kills relationships. It kills us. After this Moses went back up the mountain and God gave him a replacement set of commandments.

Now—why these rules? Why these commandments? Why go to the trouble of getting God to make a second copy? What is so important about this part of the 5th chapter of The Story?  I want to point out two things.

(1)  First, the commandments are important because they show us what GOD is like.

One reason the Ten Commandments were given in the first place was to reveal God=s nature. For example, God commanded the Israelites to worship only Him because of the fact that “all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.” (Psalm 96:5). He instructed His people not to murder because, as Acts 3:15 tells us, He is the Author, Preserver, and Governor of life (Acts 3:15). God forbade lying because He is a God of truth Who “does not lie.” (Titus 1:2)

In fact, God is the SOURCE of all truth. As, Deuteronomy 32:4 says, “He is the Rock, His works are perfect and all His ways are just. A faithful God Who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”

It is God’s nature and character that defines truth. This means He defines what is right for all people, for all times, for all places. Truth is not something He decides; it is something He is. As TRUTH He gave these laws that are true. And He gives them because the truth is HE LOVES US and wants to PROTECT US.

You know, the very word “commandment” has a negative connotation because when independent-minded humans like you and me think of rules and regulations…we tend to think of burdens. People think that God’s laws are restrictive limits to our freedom. The late Ron Mehl wrote, “When many of us hear, ‘THE TEN COMMANDMENTS’ we hear the clank of chains and the rattle of padlocks. We hear God saying, ‘You mess with Me, you step out of bounds, and I’ll fry you like a bug landing on a transformer.’” And this view…this opinion…of the Ten Commandments plays right into satan’s master plan–the one he’s had from the beginning. You see…satan has always wanted mankind to believe that God is a prude…that He is THE cosmic killjoy….a harsh old grandfather with a long, gray beard and bushy eyebrows….Who doesn’t want anyone to have any fun….EVER! Mehl points out that Satan first employed this strategy in the Garden of Eden when he spoke to Eve and said in essence, “Has God REALLY forbidden you this lovely fruit? Oh my. What a pity. What a shame. You realize of course, Eve, that He knows if you ever tasted from this tree, you’d be like a god.  Nothing could hold you back. God wants to keep you from the truly best part of life! Listen Eve, true freedom means freedom FROM confining restrictions such as these.”

Well….was satan right?  Are these 17 verses from Exodus 20 harsh and negative…narrow and legalistic…cold and confining?  No! In fact they are just the opposite…God’s laws bring freedom…not confinement. They are not cold and harsh. To the contrary, they are warm and loving. God gave us commands like, “Do not steal” and “Do not covet” and “Do not commit adultery,” because He wants to protect us. He didn’t throw His precepts into the Bible just because He liked the way they sounded; He didn’t concoct those rules to throw His weight around;  No…God gave those commands because He loves us and He knows some things that we don=t. For example: He knows that sexual immorality is a path, not to pleasure and fulfillment but to emptiness and frustration.

Moses reminded the people of the true nature of God’s law in Deuteronomy 10:13 when he told them that God gave His commandments, “…for their own good.” Bill Hybels writes:

The Lord tells us specifically that His commands are never burdensome. By this, He doesn’t necessarily mean they’re easy to keep. Rather, He’s telling us that they’re never foolish. They are never unnecessary or purely arbitrary. He doesn’t force us to observe meaningless formalities, nor does He impose rules that have no value. On the contrary, every guideline, every law, every imperative in the Bible was crafted in infinite wisdom. They were given not only to honor God, but to benefit us as well.

In Jeremiah 29:11 God says to you and me, “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” And later in chapter 32 God says that His desire is, “…that people will always fear HimCbut for their own good and for the good of their children after them.” So God’s law is not negative in nature….it=s purpose is not to burden us but to protect us.  The Ten Commandments are given for our own good because God is good and He loves us.

Josh McDowell tells of a young man named Greg. Greg lived down the block from a family who had an in-ground swimming pool in their back yard. He had never gone swimming in their pool. He barely knew the people, and a high wooden fence enclosed the pool. One dark evening when Greg knew his neighbors were away, he and his girlfriend snuck behind the house, scaled the fence, and entered the pool area to go for a swim. Greg threw off his shoes, climbed the ladder and, while his girlfriend was still taking her shoes and socks off, he leapt off the end of the diving board. Greg heard his girlfriend scream just before he lost consciousness. You see, the pool held only a few feet of water.  In the dark Greg apparently didn’t notice this. His dive ended with a shallow splat of water and a sickening crunch of bones. Greg’s late-night dive paralyzed him from the neck down for the rest of his life. Greg ignored the fence that his neighbors had erected around the pool. He probably assumed it was there only to keep him and his girlfriend from having fun. In reality it was meant for his protection, and his disregard of that boundary cost him dearly. Similarly, God’s laws are given to protect us…and when we ignore His moral boundaries the cost can be just as devastating.

In my library I have an old book by Dr. S. I. McMillen entitled, NONE OF THESE DISEASES. In this classic book, McMillen shows how over two dozen divine commands or standards recorded in Scripture served to prevent such disorders as: heart disease, cervical cancer, and arthritis….long before the advent of modern medicine. McMillen wrote in the preface: “After God led the Israelites out of Egypt, He promised His people that if they would obey His statutes, He would put ‘none of these diseases’ upon them. God guaranteed a freedom from disease that modern medicine cannot duplicate.” Listen: God’s commands are like an umbrella. When you put up an umbrella it shields you from the rain. But if you choose to move out of the umbrella during a storm you are bound to get wet.

So the nature of the Ten Commandments is not harsh or unloving. I think that the Ten Commandments would be best compared to a love letter…..a tender, heartfelt message written in stone by the finger of God. To coin Ron Mehl’s phrase…they are ten(DER) commandments because that’s what God is like. He is tender and loving. That’s His nature. In fact, this set of laws is one of the most powerful expressions of God’s love in all of Scripture.

Even the context of the Decalogue shows this truth. Listen to the things God said immediately prior to the giving of His law. Exodus 19:3-6 says, “And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” In essence God told Moses, “Before you give the people these commands…before anything else, will you please remind them that I bore them on eagles= wings? Remind them that I cared for them in their Egyptian bondage—as a mother eagle cares for her offspring. Remind them that I heard their cries and freed them from slavery…make sure they remember that when the Egyptian army attacked, I parted the Red Sea I made a way when there was no way. Make sure you remind them of My loving care Moses.” So these ten laws sprang from the tender love of God for His people.

Centuries later God reminded the prophet Hosea of His true feelings for them. He said, “When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your fathers, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree.” (Hosea 9:10) In other words the mere sight of the Hebrew people brought pleasure to God’s heart. And His love for them—and for you and me…for we TOO are His peopleCHis love was what prompted God to give us these laws.

So, the Ten Commandments are important because they show what God is like. They show us He is a God of LOVE!

(2)  But another reason they are vital is because they show what WE are like.

Let’s do a quick overview of the Ten Commandments so you can see what I’m getting at. The first four laws are vertical in nature in that they refer to the way to relate to God…the way we revere, respect, and love Him. Glance at Exodus 20:1-17 and you’ll see what I mean:

  • LAW #1 – God and God alone is God.
  • LAW #2 – It is wrong to worship anything material as God.
  • LAW #3 – God’s day is to be cherished and honored.
  • LAW #4 – God’s name is not to be used recklessly.

And then the second section…the last six commandments are horizontal in nature in that they regulate how people are to love, and respect each other.

  • LAW #5 – Father and mother are to be honored.
  • LAW #6 – Human life is sacred.
  • LAW #7 – Sexual purity and fidelity is demanded.
  • LAW #8 – The rights of property are to be observed…
  • LAW #9 – False and slanderous speaking about others is condemned.
  • LAW #10 – The desire to possess that which is not ours is wrong.

Later in The Story Jesus summarized these ten laws. In Matthew 22 He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So, these Ten Commandments were to help the Hebrews see that to accomplish the task set before them they would need both a proper horizontal relationship with each other and a proper vertical relationship with God. But as I inferred, these laws weren’t just for the Hebrew people. They were for the benefit of ALL people. In fact, for more than 30 centuries God’s writing that day on Mt. Sinai has formed the bedrock of ethical life for all mankind. You see, God’s written laws show us that we are fallen beings who NEED a written standard to follow. I think this is why God Himself wrote them!

By the way, this is one of the few times in the Story that we see God writing anything! And He wrote these laws on STONE instead of papyrus because He knew that as fallen, forgetful beings we need things written and preserved.  And we do! We need God’s law. We need it written down! You see, without God’s written guidance we lose the ability to discern the difference between right and wrong. Truth becomes a matter of taste. Morality is replaced by individual preference. And the sad state of our culture indicates that this is exactly what happens when God’s laws are ignored. A survey conducted by James Patterson and Peter Kim a few years back showed that:

  • 74% of Americans admit that they will steal from those who won’t miss it, and 64% will lie for convenience as long as no one is hurt.
  • 93% of those surveyed said that they alone decide moral issues, basing their decisions on their own experience or whims.
  • 84% say they would break the rules of their own religion. And 81% have a violated a law they felt to be inappropriate.

Without a holy standard we try to define what is true and right on our own…and that can be a very dangerous thing. I read a story a few years back about Chi Chi Rodriguez—the famous golfer.  He was driving down the street with a friend, going a lot faster than he should have been.

A light changed from yellow to red up ahead of him and he zoomed right through it….didn’t even slow down. His friend almost had a coronary.  He looked over at Chi Chi and sputtered, “Chi Chi, what in the world are you doing?  You went right through a red light!  Don’t you stop for red lights?” “My brother taught me to drive,” Chi Chi replied, “and he doesn’t stop for red lights. So I don’t stop at red lights.” And sure enough, a little farther down the road the pro golfer approached another intersection and blasted right through the red light. His friend was a nervous wreck by then and said, “C’mon, man! You’re gonna get us killed. What in the world are you thinking of?”  Chi Chi repeated, “My brother taught me to drive, and he doesn’t stop for red lights. So I don’t stop at red lights.” Driving a little farther, they came to an intersection with a GREEN light. This time Chi Chi put on his brakes and stopped, nervously looking both ways. “Why are you stopping now?” his friend asked.  “This is a GREEN light.” Chi Chi replied, “I know, but, my brother might be coming!” As Chi Chi inferred….today’s society can be a very dangerous one in which to live…for it is one in which more and more people ignore God’s standards and decide on their own what is right. In his book, Right From Wrong, Josh McDowell writes,  “Our children seldom hear the words ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ from Hollywood, Nashville, and Madison Avenue; instead they are bombarded with thousands of hours of sounds and images that glamorize immorality and mock Biblical values.”

So, one purpose of these commands is to give us the necessary guidance for life—but there was more to it than that. Ironically, God also gave us these laws to show us that we can’t keep them. The law was to show us that as sinners we need a Redeemer, someone Who could do what we can’t on our own…Someone Who would live a perfect life—a sinless life—a life where HE would obey every single law of God absolutely perfectly…which would make Him qualified to pay the price for our sin…and you know Who I’m talking about. I’m referring to Jesus.

Of course, you and I can see this easier than the Hebrews because we look at the story from the perspective of the cross. Galatians 5:4-5 refers to this perspective that we now have. Paul writes: “But when the FULNESS OF TIME came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law…that we might receive adoption as sons.” Now I want you to focus in on that phrase, “…THE FULNESS OF TIME” In these four words I believe God used Paul to remind us that before Jesus would come into the world—which was God’s UPPER STORY plan from the very beginning of time—before Jesus could come, something had to happen to sinful humanity to get us to the point where we could understand the purpose of His coming.  We had learn Who God is and who we are….so that mankind could come to that level of maturity that would allow us to comprehend God’s love as expressed in sending Jesus. Think of humanity as a green “apple.” Well Jesus came into the world when we were red or  “ripe.” He was born at the first possible moment that we could understand His coming. And this “ripening” process began with the Scriptures recorded in Exodus 20. You see, Christianity did not come into the world without ROOTS and FOUNDATIONS. Remember in Matthew 5:17 Jesus said, “I am not come to destroy the law—but to FULFILL it.” In other words Jesus came to show the law’s true purpose. And the law that Jesus came to fulfill began with these ten basic principles for life. So the Ten Commandments were given to prepare mankind for Jesus’ coming. In Galatians 3:24 Paul writes, “The law has become OUR TUTOR to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.

You know…in the Greek-speaking world of Paul’s day, there was a type of household servant called the paidagogos. This person was in charge of the child’s moral welfare. It was his duty to oversee the child’s character development. One of a paidagogos’ responsibilities was to take the child to school each day. He was not the child’s teacher, but he was responsible to see that the child was, in fact, under the teacher’s care. And in this New Testament text, Paul borrows this picture from his culture and says in effect, that the law has the same function.  It is our “tutor” our “paidagogos.” So, the commandments in the Bible are designed not only to say, “Do this,” and “Don’t do that,” but to lead us to the person of God Himself. For as we attempt to obey God’s law we see both God’s perfect love….and our sin. The law leads us to realize how far we fall short. Like a “paidagogos” the law leads us to “school” where we see our need for Christ.

Even the tabernacle that the Hebrews built was meant to teach them this truth. You see, in that Tabernacle burdensome sacrifices would be required. Innocent animals would be set aside and designated as “pure.” They would be sacrificed to take the punishment for the sins of the people. This would go on day after day, year after year. Instead of the sinful person dying for his or her sin, the lamb would perish. This was to help teach the people that in the same way that they could not obey the law on their own, they could not get rid of their sin on their own.  But even this sacrificial system did not work…not really. Like the law, it’s purpose was to teach—to prepare the way for the One Perfect Sacrifice, Jesus. As Hebrews says, The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this Priest, JESUS, had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. Unlike the other high priests, He does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself….For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”(Hebrews 10, 7)


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