Few places in the Old Testament point to the necessity of Jesus as clearly as passages outlining sacrificial practices. Ezekiel 46 covers new sacrificial practices that will take place in the new city and new temple that Ezekiel sees in his vision from God. More specifically, Ezekiel 46:13-15 highlights some of the guidelines that make absolutely clear the insufficient nature of Old Testament sacrifices:
13 “You shall provide a lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering to the Lord daily; morning by morning you shall provide it. 14 And you shall provide a grain offering with it morning by morning, one sixth of an ephah, and one third of a hin of oil to moisten the flour, as a grain offering to the Lord. This is a perpetual statute. 15 Thus the lamb and the meal offering and the oil shall be provided, morning by morning, for a regular burnt offering.
A few things stood out to me as I read this morning:
Morning by morning
The sacrifice of a lamb was supposed to take place every single day.
Think about that.
On top of all the special feasts and celebration days where multiple animals were sacrificed (see Ezekiel 46:1-11), each year 365 1-year-old lambs were sacrificed.
Every day, the priest would wake up, go out to the field, retrieve a one year old lamb, bring it back to the temple, slit its throat, prepare it, and grill it.
If that doesn’t make you yearn for a sufficient sacrifice for sins, I don’t know what will. I have such a hard time with routine that I am constantly finding new ways to drive to work. I can’t imagine what this must have been like, but it sure makes me thankful for Romans 6:10:
For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
So sufficient was the death of Christ that He needed only to die once in payment for the nearly innumerable sins of God’s people. What a gift!
A Lamb a Year Old
Not only did the priest need to slaughter one lamb each day. That lamb needed to be one year old. This means that lambs were being born every day in order that the following year, they might be killed in sacrifice to God.
They lived to die.
In the same way that Christ came into the world to die for sinners, these lambs were born to become a sacrifice. This is a simple reminder that the main reason Jesus came into the world was not to provide an answer to the question “What Would Jesus Do?” He did not come into the world to show people how to live in such a way that they might be acceptable to God. He came to die in such a way to make acceptable to God those who could never do so on their own, regardless of what type of example they had to follow. Jesus came to die. As Tim Keller often says,
Jesus came and lived the life we couldn’t live to die the death we should have died
A Lamb… Without Blemish
This one boggles my mind.
Not only were they required to sacrifice a lamb every day, and not only was that lamb supposed to be a year old, but that lamb was supposed to be without blemish.
News Flash: No lamb is without blemish!
There will always be some spot or wound or defect or abnormality. The fact is that each lamb sacrificed was simply deemed “good enough”, meaning that there was not a glaring issue with the animal. It wasn’t currently bleeding or lame or deformed.
Think about it this way:
On any given day, you leave your house dressed and cleaned and generally free of any noticeable issues. I left that way this morning, and you likely did as well. But, you know that there’s a pimple on your shoulder that can only be seen if your shirt is off. You know that your left leg is longer than your right. You know that you have several ingrown hairs from shaving. But no one else sees them. In other words, you are less that “without blemish” even if you appear otherwise. We all are.
It’s even less likely that a dirty, smelly animal living in a field with other dirty, smelly animals is anywhere near “without blemish.”
But Jesus was without blemish. Not physically, for we know that he was beaten beyond any human semblance (Isaiah 52:14). He was without sin and perfect in every emotion, thought, word, and deed. Yet He died a sinner’s death. He died a sinner, the worst sinner imaginable, so that we who lived as sinners in every emotion, thought, word, and deed might die spotless and without blemish in God’s eyes, clothed in the righteousness of God and adopted as His children.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God…and to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21, John 1:12