This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
This verse is probably my oldest son’s favorite verse in Scripture. He memorized it years ago in an AWANA program and has never forgotten it. Yesterday was a day of reflection for me on the wonder of God’s atonement for our sin. It is probably the one day that most Jews still observe (see this story for example) regardless of their level of committment otherwise which is interesting. I also decided to observe the fasting period of Yom Kippur and spent it as a time to focus on the awesome nature of God and the amazing mercy He has shown to me, and I spent time in prayer for those who do not yet know His mercy and atoning sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin.
Hebrews 10 says this so well:
1For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.5Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
6in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
7Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'”
The offerings of bulls and goats never accomplished salvation. They didn’t “buy” forgiveness. Christ’s sacrifice in their stead was effective because He had done God’s will; which they could never do, and because He was not just a man, for that would have left Him unable to offer Himself for anyone else:
No man can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for him-the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough-
that he should live on forever
and not see decay. (Psalm 49:7-9)
Hebrews goes on to explain the uniqueness of Christ’s sacrifice for all men in this way:
12But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.15And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
17then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Notice that Christ’s sacrifice didn’t “do away” with the Law. By the power of the Holy Spirit in us, that Law is now written on our heart when we belong to Him. In these days leading up to the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, a reminder of the day that is coming when the dwelling of God will be with man forever (Revelation 21:3); let us remember the mighty works of God and His mighty power to save and make atonement for us.