Why did God need an altar of burnt offering in His temple?

Author: BibleAsk Team

The Altar of Burnt Offering

The altar of burnt offering, with its shed blood, represents the great gospel truth of atonement for sin through the vicarious sacrifice of Christ. In God’s government, the shedding of blood was required for forgiveness. This meant that the salvation of man would one day require the death of the Son of God who alone being the Creator could atone for our sin. Animal sacrifices on the Altar of burnt offering only pointed forward to the supreme sacrifice of the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

The prophet Isaiah prophesied of Jesus the Messiah and His ministry saying: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:4-7, 10 also Hebrews 13:10–12; Revelation 5:9).

In the temple, the location of the altar of burnt offering was near to the entrance of the court which meant that the sinner’s first need is to have his sins washed away by the blood of animals that pointed to Christ. “Who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God” that He may ”cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13, 14 also 1 John 1:7; Revelation 7:14). Until the sinner has accomplished that, he must not worship God or even come into His presence. For “without shedding of blood there is no remission (Hebrews 9:22).

Thus, the altar of burnt offering testified to man’s guilt and his need of redemption and reconciliation, and then assured the sinner of his forgiveness and redemption. For God, “has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19 also John 1:29; Romans 5:10). Christ paid the penalty of sin by His death so the sinner can have eternal life by faith (John 1:12). Alleluia!

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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