Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the reality itself of those things, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year. Otherwise, wouldn’t they have stopped being offered, since the worshipers, purified once and for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:1-4 CSB
In this next chapter, the author will show that through Christ’s sacrifice being permanent, it will give believers the perseverance to live righteously. As we saw throughout the last chapter, the old rituals of the temple and the constant sacrifices for sin were unable to change the heart of the individual. These acts were simply a “shadow of the good things to come, and not the reality itself of those things.” The author already introduced this contrast of earthly institutions with heavenly realities. He mentioned the sanctuary in the desert where he called it, “a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was warned when he was about to complete the tabernacle” (Hebrews 8:5). A shadow gives a rough shape of an object, but cannot fully distinguish all the details of said object. In the same way, the Law was a preview of the glory of Jesus Christ to come. The Law did, however, show the need of redemption within the individual, through the yearly reminder on the Day of Atonement. Then, in verse 2, the author poses the question that if the sacrifices truly “purified once and for all,” those performing the sacrifices “would no longer have any consciousness of sins.” In other words, if the end goal of purification was fully complete, the individuals would have ceased to sacrifice. Yet, “the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year.” Eventually, Christ would end the need of these yearly sacrifices, and God would “forgive their wrongdoing and [He would] never again remember their sins” (Hebrews 8:12). Finally, in verse 4, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Animal sacrifices were never intended to take away the sins of the individual; they were to point towards Christ in the future. Only a perfect sacrifice could truly take away the sin of the world. John the Baptist pointed to Christ when he saw Him in John 1:29, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” God did not take sin lightly that in order to pay for its penalty it demanded a perfect sacrifice. Believers during the Old Testament knew that an animal sacrifice will never be enough to cleanse them from their sin. For God is not satisfied with a sacrifice that is presented to Him without a broken and a contrite heart. Once you have appropriated the perfect sacrifice of Christ at the cross by trusting Him as Lord and Savior, always be reminded that He desires a life of obedience and dedication to doing His will.
Isaac De Guzman