Part 1 – Part 2
When the Israelites arrived at the wilderness of Sinai, Exodus 19:1-6 tells how later Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You yourselves 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, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” This is God’s Contract with the Israelites through Moses, known as the Mosaic Covenant. Exodus 19 to chapter 24.
Three times the Israelites answered that they would be an obedient people, Exodus 19:8 & 24:3, 7. And in chapter 24 verse 5, offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. Yes, once again they erected an altar to offer sacrifices to God. Indeed, it was no longer like the way the people of that area as in Genesis 14 with Abraham, but Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Exodus 24:8.
Yes, God made a contract with Moses & Israel, and that too is a blood covenant!
Even in Leviticus chapters 1 to 5, we can see there how God taught Moses and Israel the sacrifices they had to make to keep their covenant with God. Starting from…
- burnt offering in chapter 1,
- grain offering in chapter 2,
- peace offering in chapter 3,
- sin offering in chapter 4,
- guilt offering in chapter 5.
As far as Samuel, Saul, and David, the sacrifices on the altar continued on. Even Solomon was the king who offered so many animal sacrifices at the dedication of the temple, 1 Kings 8:63, Solomon offered 22,000 (twenty-two thousand) bulls and 120,000 (one hundred and twenty thousand) goats as a peace offering. In this way the king and all Israel dedicated the temple of the LORD. Over 7 days this was held, verse 65.
The contract with God is always full of the rancid smell of the blood of animals sacrifices, especially in the Old Testament. Just like in Hebrews 9:22 (b), one of the books in the New Testament, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. These words came out of what was witnessed occurred in Old Testament worship, as under the law almost everything is purified with blood, Hebrews 9:22 (a).
Sin is a serious matter before the Most Holy God. No one could come to meet Him and would still be alive and the Israelites of the Old Testament understood this very well. Because the holiness of God will definitely burn everything out which is found wrong before Him. There must be bloodshed in the place of the people who would come before Him. That’s why there was always a sacrificial altar erected in the Old Testament when they came to Him.
Mineral water in a plastic cup
Think about this if you are wondering why God is so serious about sin and holiness. The following is a simple illustration. Normally we have a very clean and healthy culture and habits, we will not drink from the same mineral water cup that other people have used. Or if we would still drink it, we will immediately replace the straw with a new one. Especially in the Covid-19 era like now, we would not even touch the used cup. If we feel so clean to drink from someone else’s cup (as we would not accept someone’s dirty bug at all), why do we think that the Most Holy God can just forgive our sins (even though they are small and insignificant), and accept us immediately without the shedding of Christ’s blood for us?
So the Covenant with God is a blood contract because the God who relates with us is the Holy God and we are only sinful humans. The blood is to protect us from the fierce wrath of God that comes out of His Holiness against the sin in us. Both the blood of the sacrifice on the altar, and the circumcision that began with Abraham, are all symbols of Jesus who came to shed His blood on the Cross for us.
Kaphar, atonement or forgiveness of sin
Interestingly the Hebrew word used in Leviticus for atonement for sins is Kaphar. It is found in Leviticus 4:20, Thus shall he do with the bull. As he did with the bull of the sin offering, so shall he do with this. And the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven. The word for atonement here in Hebrew is kaphar. And this word actually only means covering, not taking away or removing sins.
Of course, for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrew 10:4. All animal sacrifices in the Old Testament were only to cover sin until He came to take away sins once and for all.
Hebrew 10:10-12, and by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. The word to take away sins in verse 11 here is periaireo, the Greek word (the original language of the New Testament) which means to remove and not just cover sins. Because only Him, Jesus, after offering only one sacrifice, which is Himself, has taken away that sin once and for all.
Notice what Hebrew would say in chapter 9.
Hebrew 9, The Passion
Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things, we cannot now speak in detail.
These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people.
By this, the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
Redemption Through the Blood of Christ
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying,
“This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.”
And in the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law, almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.
Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Even in the New Testament, God’s Contract with us is sealed with blood. This time, it is no longer with the blood of animals on an altar of sacrifice, no longer with the circumcision of our external bodies, but with His own blood on the Cross. And His blood is no longer just covering our sins, but washing, removing them away. His Blood brings forgiveness of sins, He reconciles our lives with our Father in Heaven. He came to be a ransom for many, Matthew 20:28.
2 Corinthians 5:21, For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
As David said in Psalm 32:1 or Romans 4:7, Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. We know now that because of Jesus, our sins are not just covered up, but removed!
This is the new contract, the New Covenant which was sealed with the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ Himself who died on the Cross and rose on the third day, now sits at the right hand of God the Father.