Worship life in Old Testament times partially resembled ours today and partially looked very different. When people gathered in their synagogues on the Sabbath, they sang, prayed, gave offerings, and listened to Scripture read and explained just as we do.
But the personal worship at the tabernacle and later temple has no parallel today. What a vivid, unforgettable experience God designed for the animal sacrifices that he expected! Some were “whole” offerings or “burnt” offerings—these signified total dedication to the Lord. And some were “sin” offerings or “guilt” offerings, designed to show God’s holy hatred for evil and to proclaim in graphic detail his mercy message that only the blood of an innocent victim was an acceptable substitute for that of the sinner.
“These are the regulations for the guilt offering, which is most holy: The guilt offering is to be slaughtered in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered, and its blood is to be sprinkled against the altar on all sides” (Leviticus 7:1,2). The worshiper was right there as the animal was killed. How could you ever forget the sight of the priest’s knife plunging into the animal’s neck, blood pouring from its carotid artery, the basin filling, the animal slumping to the ground lifeless?
Its blood sprinkled on the great altar took away your sinful guilt before God. A substitute died so that you might live.
Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.
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