The Sanctuary was a visible and interactive teaching tool revealing the plan of salvation, the sacrifices making up a central part of Sanctuary activity. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for offering or sacrifice means the act of bringing something into the presence of God – something brought near.
There were many types of offerings – the burnt offering symbolized total dedication, grain offering, the dedication of material possessions to God, sin and trespass offerings for various types of sins committed, and thanksgiving offerings, to mention a few. The bringing of any offering was an act of approaching God Who had chosen to dwell among His people. Every unblemished sacrificial animal was symbolic of the Savior to come – the One Whose death for all would bring an end to the sacrificial system.
Abraham received an up close and personal understanding of a Savior to come when he was told by God, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of" Genesis 22:2. In reply to Isaacs question about a sacrificial animal, "Abraham said, My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering" (verse 8), and He did. God's people were well acquainted with this story, so they understood the concept of substitution-- the ram, symbolic of Christ, died for Isaac.
The Passover lamb pointed forward to the One who would free us from the bondage of sin. Israel was commanded "And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. . . It is the sacrifice of the LORD'S Passover" Exodus 12:25, 27. So it was when John the Baptist presented Jesus he proclaimed "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" John 1:29.
While the sanctuary sacrificial system came to a close at the cross, we are still asked to sacrifice.
"Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" Hebrews 13:15, 16. And finally, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" Romans 12:1. Come near to your LORD through sacrifice.
Kathryn Irizarry is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.