How Sacrifices and Festivals Are Related

What is the connection between sacrifices and God's festivals?

Anyone who reads about God's festivals in the Old Testament will notice that ritual sacrifices were intimately associated with sacred occasions. Why? What is the connection between sacrifices and God's festivals?

First we need to understand that the sacrifices represented Jesus Christ. Notice this explanation in the book of Hebrews, written to Jewish Christians:

"... According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Therefore it was necessary that the copies [that is, the earthly tabernacle and its sacrificial system] of the things in the heavens should be purified with these [animal sacrifices], but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9:22-24).

In ancient Israel a physical tabernacle represented God's presence among His people. But today, through His Spirit, God lives in—He dwells in—His people. Christians, therefore, as individuals (1 Corinthians 6:19) and as the Church, the "body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:12-13), are to be regarded as the "temple" of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

As the Scriptures explain, "Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:11-14).

The lesson here is that the blessings of God's plan of salvation, as pictured by His festivals, are available only to those whom He redeems through Jesus' sacrifice. The necessity for us to have our sins covered by Christ's sacrifice was symbolically represented to ancient Israel—though the Israelites lacked a full understanding of what they were doing—through the ritual sacrifices God required them to make, especially during the sacred festivals.

In an even greater way we should be aware that Christ's sacrifice is the key to our participation in God's great plan. His sacrifice will always be the key to our salvation—and the key to our being able to understand God's plan for our salvation as revealed in His holy festivals. Therefore there remains a vital, though infinitely better, relationship between His eternal sacrifice and God's sacred festivals. This link between sacrifice and festival has never been broken.


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