For the nefesh of the basar is in the dahm: and I have given it to you upon the Mizbe’ach to make kapporah for your nefashot: for it is the dahm that maketh kapporah for the nefesh.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I 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 (Leviticus 17:11).
May I ask a question? When Moshe (Moses) brought the stone tablets down from the mountain did he, at that time, initiate the Biblical ordinance of atonement (Exodus 24:8)? Though the sacrificial system was the foundation of Judaism, it had been established 2500 years earlier to atone for the sin of Adam. After the first couple sinned they tried to hide from G-d. That Adamic nature lies within each of us, but not even a fig leaf could conceal their transgression. So the LORD provided animal skins to cover their shame. G-d performed the priestly rite of animal sacrifice — probably a lamb — to atone for the sin of Adam and Chavah (Eve).
When Kayin (Cain) and Hevel (Abel) offered their sacrifices unto the LORD, the Bible tells us that G-d had regard for Abel’s offering (the firstlings of his flock), but for Cain’s offering of produce, G-d had no regard. We are quite sure that Cain’s basket of fruit contained the finest dates and grain, but Abel’s sacrifice was considered more righteous.
Over 2000 years before Abraham laid his son Yitzhak upon the altar, Abel was deemed righteous by faith.
When father Abraham led Isaac to the top of Mount Moriah he told his servants that he and Isaac would return. Isaac was the fruit of G-d’s promise to Abraham, and he believed that the LORD would provide a substitute sacrifice.
You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God (James 2:22-23).
My brothers, what we learn from the Torah — and recited in the B’rit Chadashah — is that men (long before Moshe received the Law) were saved by faith, and the LORD counted their faith as righteousness apart from the Law. Atonement was required because sinful man cannot keep the Law, and people are disobedient by nature.
Consider the prophets.
Shemu’el (Samuel) wrote in the Tanakh:
Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams (1 Samuel 15:22).
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire — but my ears you have opened — burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require (Psalm 40:6).
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings (Psalm 51:16).
My sacrifice, O G-d, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, G-d, will not despise (Psalm 51:17).
“The multitude of your sacrifices — what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats” (Isaiah 1:11).
For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your G-d and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you (Jeremiah 7:22-23).
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of G-d rather than burnt offerings (Hosea 6:6).
With what shall I come to the LORD and bow myself before the G-d on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d? (Micah 6:6-8)
I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; and I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings (Amos 5:21-22).
According to the Talmud as many as 1.2 million animals were sacrificed in a day at the temple in Yerusalim. And the people continued to sin. They violated the Commandments, disobeyed G-d and were dispersed into captivity. The Law could not save the people of G-d, nor could the annual ritual when the priest would enter the holy veil on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the nation.
The LORD had established from the beginning that atonement was required to cover man’s sin, and without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin — much like a disease (if properly treated) can go into remission.
(Orthodox Jewish Bible) Indeed, according to the Torah, almost everything is metohar (purified) by dahm (blood), and without a kapporah (atonement) by means of shefach dahm (the shedding of blood) there is no selicha (forgiveness).
(NASB) And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22).
The Law could not save us because we are guilty, by nature, through the sin of Adam. The sacrifice of a million lambs on Passover could only cover, not remit, our transgressions.
A greater sacrifice was required. One that not only covered our sins but was a propitiation to blot out the record of our disobedience. My Jewish (and Catholic) brothers, a priest cannot serve as an intercessor between you and the Most High. A priest must first seek intercession for himself. Graciously, the LORD has provided us with that great High Priest who is a priest forever according to the order of Malki Tzedek — Melchizedek — (Psalm 110:4).
The writer of Hebrews explains clearly that Yeshua holds His priesthood forever to make intercession on behalf of those who draw near to G-d.
For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever (Hebrews 7:26-28).
If the first covenant had been faultless, according to the writer of Hebrews, the LORD would not have had to establish a new covenant, or oath. G-d, speaking through the prophet Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah), said that He would effect a new covenant — not like the one that He made with the fathers which they broke. Neither would this covenant be written on stone tablets but, rather, on men’s hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
When Yeshua died upon the cross the holy veil was literally rent. He entered into the holy place not by the blood of goats and rams but by His own precious blood. The Law was only a shadow of His perfect sacrifice wholly acceptable to the LORD. Because it is impossible for bulls and goats to remit sin, He suffered once for the sins of the world. For man and woman to be restored before Adam, and reconciled to G-d, a more perfect sacrifice had to be offered (Romans 5:10). As sin entered the world through the fault of one man so, also, did forgiveness enter through the selfless act of a righteous man (Romans 5:17). What the Law could not do, for the flesh is weak, the chosen Lamb did finish upon the cross (Romans 8:3). Having, then, been justified by faith we have peace with G-d through the One.