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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Shadows In The Sacrifices

I began a series this past Sunday morning entitled Shadows In The Sacrifices.  We will be preaching through the first ten chapter of Leviticus.  The following is my slightly edited introduction from Sunday morning's message.

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.  Hebrews 10:1

By the time we get to chapter 10 of Hebrews we have been through an extensive discussion of the Old Testament ceremonial law in chapter 8 and 9.  In fact much of the book of Hebrews places in a New Testament context the content of the book of Leviticus.  It culminates in Hebrews 10:1 where we are informed that the law had a shadow of good things to come.  Those Old Testament sacrifices and priests were a shadow of the very image that was yet to come.  Therefore it is appropriate to look for Shadows In The Sacrifices, as we step inside the ancient Tabernacle of Israel and watch the principles of redemption, atonement, and forgiveness played out before our very eyes.

While the setting may be foreign to our experience the themes presented are timeless:  sin, priesthood, sacrifice, death, and blood atonement.  There is an abundance of Gospel preaching in the first 10 chapters of Leviticus.

Shadows by their very nature present only a form and outline of the image the produces the shadow.  Shadows do not provide details or texture.  But you can follow the shadow to the very image that produces the shadow.  Shadows give clues.  Shadows indicate the presence of something real and substantive.  If there are shadows in the sacrifices then we at least know there is something real and substantive in our presence.  If we faithfully follow the shadows to the place where they intersect with the “very image” we shall find ourselves beholding the Saviour!  It is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ casting his shadow through the sacrifices.

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.  For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.  And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.  Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.  But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.  But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.  Hebrews 9:1-12

The Tabernacle, it was the place of sacrifice.  The place where sin was dealt with.  It was a bloody place.  It was a place of suffering where the one who was offering saw the consequences of his sin and the offering suffered the consequences of the sin.  It was here that sinners cried and sacrifices cried out.  It was here that substitution was made, the innocent dying in the place of the guilty.

The Tabernacle, it was the place of priests.  The place where they ministered before God for the people.  The place where they ministered to the people for God.  The Priests were daily reminded of the unending plague of sin and transgression.  It was seen in the streams of blood that ran at their feet.  It was seen in the blood that stained their hands.  It was seen in the carcasses of a thousand sacrifices.  It was seen in the expressions of a multitude of sinners.  It was seen as the sinner laid his trembling hand on the head of his offering.

The Tabernacle, it was the place of restoration.  The sweet smell of incense.  The provocative aroma of fat burning on the fire.  The offering to which the sin had been imputed dying in the sinner’s place.  The sense of relief that flooded the guilty countenance.  The heavy heart of the sinner having come to the altar with a sacrifice made quiet and easy in the promise of forgiveness.

We want to enter the sanctuary where these shadows of Jesus fall.  We want to set our little stool in the corner facing the altar of burnt offering and watch the priest go about their work.  We want to watch the sinners come with the shame of guilt and leave with the promise of forgiveness.  We want to watch the savagery, brutality, and blood flow from the sacrifices.  We want to see the shadow of Jesus.  We come to this sacred place looking for Jesus.  We surely will not be disappointed.

In the first ten chapters of Leviticus we will see the presence of sin, the necessity of sacrifice, and the sweetness of salvation.  It is here in type and shadow.  And in seeing the shadow may we appreciate the reality which cast the shadow back all those years.
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