The Old Testament is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.
So how did all of the Old Testament sacrifices bring us to Christ? Why did they slaughter so many animals and go through ceremonial burnings and disposals? Was all of this just in order to do what God had commanded them to do in the ceremonial laws? Yet, God later rejected even these very ceremonies. Why?
“When Christ came into the world he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired, but a body hast thou prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God’ as it is written of me in the roll of the book.” When he said above, ‘Thou hast neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘Lo, I have come to do thy will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:5-10 RSV, quoting from Psalm 40:6-8.)
So what did all of the sacrificial laws and ordinances foreshadow? Answer: The ritual, ceremonial law was only types and shadows to bring us to understand the sacrifice of Christ.
What sacrifices does God require of us?
Are we still to offer sacrifices to God? What could we possibly give to God Who is the Creator and Giver of all things? The answer is that He has graciously provided us with the sacrifice that pleases Him most, our bodies. He has given us our bodies for a sacrifice.
Romans 12:1: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (RSV)
So how do we “sacrifice” our bodies? We present our bodies through an exercise of our will, as exemplified by Christ: “Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God.” It is by submitting our will to His will in sacrificing our fleshly bodies that we are sanctified, even as Christ made possible: “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
This means that we are to crucify the lusts of the flesh and bring them into subjection to the will of God:
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)
To crucify is to kill, deaden, mortify, the Flesh. “For if you live according to the Flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death, [mortify], the deeds of the body, you will live,” Romans 8:13 RSV. It is a matter of Life and Death.
We find specific similar instructions in Colossians 3:5-10: “Put to death, [mortify], therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie one to another, seeing that you have put off the old nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator,” RSV. We are to put to death the old nature of sin.
How do we live this out in our earthly walk with God?
Answer: Romans 12:1-2: By a LIVING sacrifice: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies, a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” KJV. We are to put on the new nature of Christ.
Jesus said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it,” Matthew 16:24-25. The cross means “death.” We are to daily deny our flesh; that is the daily “cross” we are to bear.
Yes, it is a conundrum,
A conundrum is a kind of riddle in which some odd resemblance is proposed for discovery between things quite unlike, in this case, between Life, and Death. For John 3:16 promises us eternal Life in exchange for the old carnal nature: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” See also John 6:54; 10:28; 12:25; 17:2-3; Romans 6:23; I Timothy 6:12, 19. IJohn 1:2; 2:25; 5:11, 13, 20, and many other references. We gain eternal Life by submitting to the ‘death’ of our unholy nature.
So the question is:
Are you ready and willing to trade this body of death, the unholy desires, appetites, lusts, and practices for the beauty, power, and glory of Eternal Life? This is what Jesus came to offer us in His glorious Body. Through His death, He purchased Life for every man. He offers us eternal life in His resurrected Body. What a Savior!