Let’s look at the last part of Revelation 1:5 where it says, “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” Now, at first glance that sounds very strange. It’s very easy to understand that God loves us, but what about that blood stuff?
We must understand something about the Bible. The New Testament is concealed in the Old Testament and the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament. That means that it is impossible to fully understand one without the other. A perfect example of this is found right here in this verse. I want to explain it so that you can see what I’m talking about. Many times, we pastors will say something from the pulpit, not realizing that not everyone really knows what we’re talking about. Thus the blank looks!
In the Old Testament, the people were required to bring their sacrifices to the priest repeatedly (it could be a young bull, a sheep, a goat, a turtledove or even a pigeon) for the atonement (forgiveness or covering) of their sins. The priest would then take the one who brought the sacrifice and “put his hand on the head of the burnt offering” so that “it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him” (Leviticus 1:4). This signified that they were transferring their guilt and sin to the animal. In other words, the animal was going to die in their place.
The priest would then “kill the bull before the LORD” (Leviticus 1:5a). The method of killing was by cutting the throat while simultaneously collecting the blood into a container. After which “the priests, Aaron's sons” would “bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting” (Leviticus 1:5b). The blood of the animal had to be shed in order for the one who sacrificed the animal to be forgiven.
Now, after looking at all of these things in the Old Testament; what can we learn about them in the New Testament? We will find that Jesus fulfilled them all. First, in the Old Testament, the sacrifice had to be brought to a priest. In the New Testament, we have no priest but Jesus. Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”
Second, in the Old Testament, the sacrifice had to be made repeatedly for the forgiveness of sin. In the New Testament, the sacrifice only had to be made once by Jesus’ giving of Himself. The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 9:12, “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He (Jesus) entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
Third, in the Old Testament, the one who brought the sacrifice placed his hand on the head of the soon to be sacrificed animal to symbolically transfer his sins to the animal and to identify himself with it. In the New Testament, Jesus is the sacrifice for us and we identify ourselves with Him not by the laying on of hands, but by faith. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Fourth, in the Old Testament, the sacrifice had to die and its’ blood had to be shed for forgiveness. In the New Testament, it speaks of Jesus in Hebrews 9:22 when it says that “without the shedding of blood (Jesus’ blood) there is no remission (forgiveness)” of sin. Jesus had to die and His blood had to be shed or there would be no possible way of forgiveness for us.
Fifth, in the Old Testament, the priest would then collect the blood and sprinkle it around the altar. In the New Testament, the writer of Hebrews 12:24 says, “to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling (His blood) that speaks better things…”
In conclusion, there is no need to make animal sacrifices anymore like they did in the Old Testament. We are under the New Testament. That word Testament can be better translated “covenant”. There is no need for an earthly priest to intercede on our behalf anymore. Jesus is our priest. Jesus also became our sacrifice so that by faith in Him, our sins could be permanently forgiven.