Read the laws regarding sacrifice here (Exodus chapters 23-30)
God instructed Moses and Aaron to build a Tabernacle: a holy place where God would live in the midst of His people and where the people could meet with God.
The Tabernacle had an outer courtyard with an altar. In it, there was a tent which was divided into two parts by a curtain. The outer room was the Holy Place, and the inner room was called the Holy of Holies. Everything in the Tabernacle is a symbol of God’s covenant with His people.
Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle." (Exodus 40:34-35)
God chose to dwell among His people! Imagine the glory and the power of God in front of your eyes!
Only priests were allowed into the first part of the tent. But they could enter only after purification through washing, the shedding of blood and anointment with oil. This is the meaning of the word ‘Messiah’, the one anointed by God to do the work of God.
Drawing near to God
God's design for the Tabernacle clearly reveals How He wants us to approach Him. This is a serious matter. We draw near to God on His terms, not our terms. Only He knows how to deal with human sin.
Entering. We enter into God's presence through prayer as seek God with all our hearts and draw near to Him.
Sacrifice and confession of sin are represented by the bronze altar where sacrifices for sin were made. As we confess our sins in humility and look with faith to the sacrifices God has prepared for us, we connect with His grace and atonement.
Cleansing and forgiveness are represented by the bronze laver or basin. We receive His forgiveness and cleansing by faith with thankfulness.
Worship is the next step. As the priests tended the lamps, the table, and the altar of incense, we offer regular thanksgiving and praise to God in the Holy Place, as a sweet fragrance before Him.
Encounter with God in the Holy of Holies is the ultimate goal. We hear this in Moses' plea, "Show me your glory" (Exodus 33:18)
'Atonement' means the reconciliation between sinful mankind and the holy God. It is the action to amend our sins and the broken relationship with God.
Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would pass through the curtain and enter the Holy of Holies on behalf of people. But before entering, he must make sacrifices and burnt offerings for the sins of both himself and all the people of Israel (even the High Priest was a sinner!) (Leviticus chapter 1):
The animal must be without defect (verse 3). We must give our very best to God. Sin is costly.
Offerer lays his hand on head of animal (verse 4). Laying on of hands is accompanied by confession of sin (as in Leviticus 16:21), and involves passing one's sins to the animal that God has accepted as a substitute. This is Substitutionary Atonement. The animal dies for our sins.
Offerer slaughters the animal (verse 5). The priest doesn't do the killing here; it is at the hands of the sinner himself -- a graphic reminder of the brutal concequences of our sin and rebellion against God.
Priest collects the blood and sprinkles it against the altar (verse 5). While the animal is being killed by slitting its throat, a priest holds a basin to collect the blood and sprinkles it against the altar to make atonement.
"For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life." (Leviticus 17:11)
This was the only way that the sin of all the people could be removed and they could have their relationship with the Lord restored.
Listen to God and Pray... 1. What is God's attitude towards sin? What is your attitude?
2. According to God's Word, what would qualify you to come into the presence of God himself?
3. What have you learned about God's character and what He wants in our hearts and lives?
4. How would you respond to God?
5. Who will you share this story with?