Humanity’s ONLY Acceptable Sacrifice

Posted on September 3, 2021


By David Ettinger

Instruction Needed
The Israelites were on the brink of entering the Promised Land, and they needed some brushing up on what the Lord would require of them in their new home.

Because of national rebellion 38 years previous, that entire generation of Israelites died in the desert (Numbers 14:26-35), and this new, younger generation would be the ones to conquer and inhabit Canaan. As such, they needed instruction concerning the offerings appropriate for finding a right standing before God.

Numbers Chapters 28 and 29 outline the instruction the young Israelites received, which concerned the procedure for “offerings” ­– primarily burnt animal sacrifices.

Atonement for Sin
One word, which occurs four times, and one phrase, which occurs 17 times, stands out.

The singular word is “atonement” (28:22, 30; 29:5, 11), which theologically means, “the doctrine concerning the reconciliation of God and humanity.” In Old Testament times, atonement was made through animal sacrifices. The key verse regarding animal sacrifices as atonement for sin is Leviticus 17:11: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I [God] have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”

In other words, human beings sin. This sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2) – that is, breaks our fellowship with God. To repair the damage, God requires a blood sacrifice. In the time of the Israelites God accepted the blood of slain animals.

However, a single animal sacrifice could never do the job because people sin every day. Therefore, shed blood is required every day. The problem with animal sacrifices is that there is nothing about these creatures which qualify them to take away the sins of men and women; they are but a substitute. Therefore, God in His grace granted animal sacrifices, but it was only sufficient for a day.

This is why a “continual,” or “regular,” sacrifice was required.

Continual Sacrifices
This brings us to the phrase which is mentioned 17 times: “continual burnt offering” (NASB, KJV) or “regular burnt offering” (ESV, NIV). We first encounter the phrase “continual burnt offering” in Exodus (29:42): “It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the doorway of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there.”

In this instance, the sinful Israelites could not even come into God’s presence without there first being a sacrifice of their behalf. They could not come before a holy God in their sin. Not until the blood of an animal was shed – and their sin atoned for – could they come before Him.

The term “continual burnt offering” does not occur again until Numbers 28 and 29, where, as mentioned above, it is stated 17 times. Over and over again the Israelites were told that their sacrifices requiring blood (as opposed to “drink offerings”) were to be continual, that is, be made on a regular, daily basis.

It has been estimated that the Israelites – since their departure from Egypt to the termination of the sacrificial system in A.D. 70 (roughly 1,500 years) – sacrificed more than 1 million animals to atone for their sins. How weary and tiresome this endless shedding of blood must have been!

But oh how necessary it was! The shedding of these innocent creatures’ blood was a stark illustration of just how much God hates sin. The continual sacrificial system should have moved the hearts of the Israelites to holy living, to show God their love for Him by turning away from sin.

Alas, the Israelites (collectively) never even came close, nor, as it turned out, even tried.

Our Perpetual Sacrifice
But before you start pointing fingers at the Israelites, remember that every one of us – regardless of religion, skin color, or culture – is a sinner. Our sin is always before us. Therefore, we, too, require a blood sacrifice.

Because Israel’s sacrificial system was imperfect and insufficient, God replaced their “continual” or “regular” implementation with a permanent, perpetual (ceaseless, lasting forever) sacrifice. His chosen sacrifice was none other than His Son, Jesus Christ, who led a perfect, sinless, life (1 Peter 2:22; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5) and therefore is solely qualified to provide atonement for the sins of humanity (John 1:29; Romans 5:8; 6:23; 1 Peter 3:18).


When individuals accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, their sins are forgiven once and for all. His blood is “credited” to them. They no longer require blood shed for them day after day for the rest of their lives. They can live their lives knowing that fellowship with God has been restored, and they can rejoice in the light and wonder of it for the rest of their mortal lives and right into eternity.

Have you given your life to Christ that He may restore your lost relationship with God and save your soul from the horror of eternal damnation?

If not, resolve to do so today, “that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19)!