“Now the LORD called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of the livestock—of the herd and of the flock. If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD. Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He shall kill the bull before the LORD; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting. And he shall skin the burnt offering and cut it into its pieces. The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay the wood in order on the fire. Then the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat in order on the wood that is on the fire upon the altar; but he shall wash its entrails and its legs with water. And the priest shall burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.’”
This evening, I would like to answer the following question, “What is the gospel?” It has been three days since I came to Seoul, and today I spent some time window shopping. Perhaps that’s why my sight is a bit blurry now seeing all that stuff.
When I was a little kid, I heard that you had to pay to look at the skyscrapers in Seoul, so I didn’t stand in front of any tall buildings. Of course, someone was just pulling my legs, but as a clueless kid I took it seriously. So I didn’t look up at any tall buildings. I was afraid that if I did, someone would come and demand money from me, saying, “Up to what floor did you look? Do you have any idea how much it costs to look at just one floor?” Soon, I found out that you didn’t actually have to pay any money to look at the skyscrapers. So I looked up at what was then the tallest building in Seoul, known back then as the Building 63 for the number of floors it had, and I counted every floor all the way to the top. I got dizzy trying to count all the floors. But nevertheless, in my heart, it was clear that the Lord had blotted out all my sins. This evening I would like us to focus our minds and hearts on God, and consider together what the true gospel really is.
In these end times we find many people who believe in Jesus as their Savior. And we also know that many of them preach only the way of the Cross of Jesus for salvation. As a result, countless people claim they have become sinless with this faith. The problem, however, is that their sins still remain intact in their hearts despite believing in Jesus as their Savior. Many Christians are of the belief that although they have passed their original sin to Jesus by just believing in Him as their Savior, their personal sins still remain intact in their hearts. The greatest problem facing today’s Christians is that even though they all believe in Jesus, their hearts still remain sinful. So the question, ‘Is it right and proper for Christians to have a sinful heart even as they believe in Jesus?’ No, of course not. If anyone of them still has sin remaining in their hearts even after believing in Jesus, then it is clear evidence that this person’s faith in Jesus is very wrong. I can testify about this serious situation based solely on the Scripture. Today at this hour, I would like to address the issue of why all these people misunderstand and believe in Jesus incorrectly. So, to this end, I will also explain what the true gospel is all about.
I’m sure you all know that there are also other catch phrases used by Christians as much as the word, the gospel. There probably isn’t anyone among you who does not know the meaning of this word, the gospel. So then, what is the gospel? Many churches and pastors in this world regularly hold revival meetings and advertise them with free abandon. The Lord indeed commanded us to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth. So, at times Christian leaders hold revival meetings with the stated goal of transforming their respective cities into holiness.
They call for the sanctification of the city, urging their followers to evangelize all its citizens. I once saw a banner advertising such a revival meeting that read, “Let’s Usher in the Season of Christ to This City!” Practically all Christian leaders nowadays are urging their followers to preach the gospel of Christ, and to expand the Kingdom of Christ to the ends of the world, and to bring about the green season of Christ, etc. all to convert non-believers into believers. The big question, however, is whether or not those who are saying these things really know what it means to preach ‘the gospel’ as the servants of God had preached it before. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of people that are preaching the gospel with a clear understanding of its true meaning. Although there are many Christians today, few of them actually know the meaning of the word ‘the gospel’ when they use it.
When we turn to Matthew 7:21, we see Jesus saying, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” What did Jesus mean here by saying, “he who does the will of My Father”? There is something that God the Father did by sending His Son to this earth, and none other than this is ‘the gospel.’ The work the Lord did to save mankind from their sins is - the gospel, but few people actually know and believe in this work properly. Who, then, are those who do the will of God the Father? They are the ones who believe with their hearts that God the Father has blotted out all the sins of everyone in this world once and for all by sending His Son to this earth, and who in turn, preach this gospel. Having planned His will, God the Father has saved mankind from their sins by sending His Son along with the Holy Spirit. He has through this given our hearts the conviction of our salvation. Whoever believes in and spreads ‘this salvation’ is the one who does the will of God the Father. The will of the Father is for human beings to believe in Jesus as their Savior - and for their hearts to become sinless. Sadly, many people are totally oblivious to this fact. It is therefore extremely important for us to first understand the etymological origin of the true gospel.
The Word “Gospel” Is “Euangelion” in Greek
This word means “good news.” It is also closely related to the word “dunamis,” which means dynamite. When we turn to the Old Testament, we see people of Israel waging many wars. Israel was repeatedly invaded by its neighboring countries. In one of those instances, Syria invaded Samaria with its massive army and besieged the city. Because the invading Syrian army was so powerful, the Israelites couldn’t dare to open the city gate to meet the Syrian army in an open field. Instead, they were held up in the city, began running out of food and trembling in fear. The situation inside the city was getting desperate day by day, and eventually a great famine broke out. Surrounded by the Syrian army, they cut off all their supplies, and unless this army withdrew, there was no way for the people in the city to replenish their dwindling supplies.
When we turn to 2 Kings 6:24-33 and 7:1-20 in the Old Testament, we read about the four lepers at the entrance of the gate of Samaria at the time. Even as war broke out in their homeland, these lepers couldn’t get into the city for protection. They were beggars, shut out from the city and surviving on scraps.
These four lepers being isolated from the rest of their countrymen and through this war, were also visited by this famine. Having run out of food completely, they thought it was pointless for them to stay where they were, since they would all starve to death anyways. So, thinking that they were going to die either by starvation or by the hands of the Syrians, they decided to surrender to the Syrian army and take their chances. They gingerly went to camp of the Syrians, hoping that their lives would be spared and they would at least get some food. However, when they arrived at the enemy camp, they saw that the Syrians had all fled and no one was there. So the lepers went into the camp and filled their hungry stomachs first, but it soon dawned on them that if they did not take this wonderful news back to Samaria quickly, they would be punished. So they went back and brought the good news to Samaria.
The people inside the city, starving and trembling in fear being surrounded by the enemy and not knowing when they would die, were overjoyed to hear the good news brought by these lepers; and upon hearing this news went out and took into their hands everything the Syrians had left behind when they fled, and the famine was over. This is ‘the gospel’, the good news and the dynamite the Bible speaks of.
All the people living on this earth have sins in their hearts, and they are facing certain death for these sins. Yet, by sending His Son to this earth, God has blotted out all the sins of the people with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. So how could this be anything but good news? That is why the gospel is called Good News. The gospel power is like dynamite. As human beings, all of us were sinful in God’s sight, and therefore all of us had to be cast into hell as the condemnation for our sins; however, God the Father has blotted out all our iniquities, each and every one of them, by sending His Son to this earth. None other than that this is ‘the gospel’ and the Good News.
With the massive Syrian army besieging Samaria, everyone in that city was starving to death, but God brought the noise of a great heavenly army to the Syrians, and upon hearing this, they became extremely afraid, submitted to this fear, and fled. This was all God’s work, for the Bible says, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). God had brought the ear-deafening noise of the heavenly army over the battlefield. He had made the Syrians hear the noise of a great army with chariots and horses, provoking such a great fear in them that they fled on their own, leaving everything behind. When the Syrians heard the noise of many chariots and horses nearing them, it was so great that they thought to themselves, “Israel must have formed an alliance with other countries to attack us!” So they scrambled and fled for their lives, abandoning all their belongings behind in the camp.
At that time, the people of Samaria were facing certain death from starvation, but thanks to the special work of God, they put on His grace of new life to live again. How did this come about? It came about by God’s amazing noise. God had caused the Syrians to become so fearful upon hearing this noise that they abandoned their siege and fled to their country. Thanks to God, the people of Samaria had won the war without fighting even a single battle. This was all God’s work, and the victory in this war was a blessing for the people living in Samaria. They had all been saved from their certain deaths, from the famine, the misery, and the curses that were ravaging them. None other than this is - the gospel.
What is the gospel? It is “euangelion” in Greek, and its meaning is “dynamite.” The gospel has explosive power, like a dynamite that can implode a whole building leaving a pile of rubble. That is how powerful the gospel is. “Some of you might be thinking, “Who doesn’t know about dynamites actual use? What’s so new here? You are not the only one who knows this. I know it too.” But, there is a purpose behind my discussion of dynamite.
My point is this, although there are countless people in this world committing innumerable sins, when Jesus came to this earth, He blew away all these sins of the world by being baptized by John the Baptist and shedding His blood on the Cross. The problem is, despite this fact, many people still have sins in their hearts even as they believe in Jesus. What does this problem suggest? It shows that many Christians do not know the gospel power of the water and the Spirit even as they profess to believe in Jesus as their Savior. What is so tragic about this is that even though the word “the gospel” is heard often enough these days, few people actually know the meaning of it.
Today’s sermon is focused on explaining what the gospel actually is. If there is any sin left in your heart even as you profess to believe in Jesus as your Savior, then this can only mean that the gospel you believe in now is not the God-given gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Scripture includes both New and Old Testaments and is the measuring rod of salvation. It is the basis for our remission of sins. In other words, what the Scripture says God has done to save us from our sins is the basis of our salvation. The work of salvation God has done to deliver us from our sins is all written in His Word, that is, the Scripture, and therefore we can find out how our salvation has been fulfilled by turning to the Bible. Let’s then look at the Scripture carefully step by step.
I have a funny story to tell you, so before delving in, allow me to spend just a few minutes to tell you about it.
A Parable about Knowledge
A young man from the countryside went to a big city to pursue his education, and upon getting a doctoral degree in philosophy, he returned triumphantly to his hometown. He had left his hometown as a young man, but by the time he was done with his graduate studies, he was already in his mid-30s. Not surprisingly, many of the people whom he knew back in the days when he was a young adult had aged also, with some of them even showing gray hair. To get to his hometown, there was a river that had to be crossed by using a boat. The boat owner was an elderly man whom this man knew from his childhood. So he greeted him warmly, and when asked about what he had been up to all these years, he told the elderly man that he had gone out to a city to study, and that he was on his way back home after completing his studies and getting a PhD in philosophy. The elderly man congratulated him, and then offered to take him across the river in his boat.
The young PhD got in the boat, and the elderly man began to row. While rowing, the elderly man thought to himself, “It’s wonderful that a young man from our village went out to a big city and is now returning with a PhD. This should be celebrated by the whole town.” Then the newly minted PhD said to him, “Do you know about philosophy?” “No, I don’t know anything about philosophy,” said the elderly man. The young PhD then said, “If you don’t know philosophy, your life is one-quarter dead.” Hearing this, the elderly man was taken aback and became somewhat offended. So he thought to himself, “What nonsense is this? So this guy has a PhD in philosophy, but that doesn’t give him the right to insult me like this.” Despite feeling slighted, however, the elderly man kept his cool and didn’t show his displeasure.
After a while, the young PhD asked again, “Are you knowledgeable about literature?” The elderly man had done nothing else but rowed a boat all his life, so of course he wouldn’t know a thing about literature. The young man then said, “It’s really sad to live in such a wonderful environment and not know anything about literature. If you are not knowledgeable of literature, your life is as good as half dead.” Hearing this, the elderly man got really upset and thought to himself, “What a jerk! I saw you when you were just a kid peeing and pooping in your pants. Now are you telling me that I am as good as half dead if I don’t know anything about literature? Such an arrogant little one!” The young man was full of himself, acting very arrogantly just because he had a PhD. But, the elderly man still put up with the insults, even though by now he had no more good will towards the young man.
Swallowing the insults silently by himself, the elderly man kept on rowing the boat. The young man then asked another question, saying, “What about astronomy? Are you knowledgeable of astronomy?” The elderly man said, “No, I don’t know anything about astronomy. Since you are well-educated, you seem to enjoy boasting about your knowledge. But I know nothing about literature, nothing about philosophy, and nothing about astronomy either. I know nothing, so stop asking me these questions.” “What a pity that you don’t know anything about astronomy. Your life is as good as three-quarters dead,” said the young PhD. ‘This time, the elderly man got really upset, and began rowing erratically in anger, thinking, “That’s it! I should just beat him up with my paddle. I can’t stand it anymore! This guy is taking me for a fool.”
Suddenly, there was a loud noise and the boat stopped dead. It had hit a shoal, and water was gushing in through a crack. At that point, the elderly man asked the young PhD, “Do you know how to swim?” “No, I don’t know how to swim,” answered the young man. “Oh yeah? Well, then your life might as well be completely over. You are on you own. I am out of here!”
There is a lesson in this story. What use is it for us to know everything about secular philosophy, literature, and astronomy, if we are drowning? Everything will be over if we die. If you don’t know how to swim, then chances are you will drown if you fall into a river. No matter how much you might have learnt about philosophy, literature, and astronomy, what could you do with this knowledge when you are trying to cross a river? You need a boat to cross a rough river, and if you happen to fall into the river, you need to know how to swim to survive.
Many modern Christians are like the young PhD in this story. They boats are their education, but even if they earn a PhD in theology, philosophy, or literature, what use is it to them if they do not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit and therefore cannot believe in this gospel? They will just remain as sinners despite believing in Jesus. They will not be able to escape from their sins even though they believe in Jesus. That is precisely why they are trying so hard to be washed from their personal sins through their own efforts, but all in vain.
The many pastors and theologians active in today’s Christian communities are incapable of preaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit that has the power to wash away all their sins, and all the sins of their many followers. Because they do not know the gospel of the water and the Spirit that holds the righteousness of God, they cannot solve the problem of sin for their congregations with the dynamite power of this gospel. It doesn’t matter how well-educated these pastors might be. Even if they have a doctorate degree in theology, literature, philosophy, or astronomy, if they cannot declare to their congregation that the Lord has taken care of all their sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then they are completely useless to sinners. Those who attend a church led by such people are highly likely to end up in hell, for they still have sins in their hearts even as they believe in Jesus. Although these Christians do believe in Jesus, their faith is completely wrong. Even if they attend church faithfully, volunteer their services, respect their pastors, and make a lot of church donations, it’s all totally useless.
It’s absolutely important for you to attend a church where the gospel of the water and the Spirit is taught clearly, even if it’s led by a pastor who might not be so knowledgeable in secular affairs. Sadly, however, there are so many churches in this age and time that simply cannot teach the remission of sins properly through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. What use is it for there to be 100 million churches in this world, if few of them are actually teaching the gospel of the water and the Spirit? This is akin to having countless doctors, but none of them can actually heal the sick. What’s the point of having so many doctors then? It is therefore absolutely indispensable for us to learn about the gospel of the water and the Spirit, preach this gospel to all those who are spiritually ill, and thereby blot out their sins perfectly.
In the old days, when the Korean War broke out, it generated so much dislocation that every major city in Korea was dotted with shanty-towns filled with refugees. Many foreign aid workers came to Korea to assist the downtrodden nation. Some of these foreigners with their flights arriving late in the night were surprised to see many high-rise buildings. They had heard so much about how abjectly poor Korea was and how everyone there was starving, so they wondered why such a poor country had built so many skyscrapers. But, when they woke up the next morning and came out of the hotel, they saw that what they had thought were high-rise buildings were actually shanty-towns up in the hills. The lights they had seen from the plane were actually coming from these shanty-towns, not from any skyscrapers. In the old days, when Korea was poor, shanty-towns had sprung up on the hills, so that’s how it looked in the night.
Now there are so many skyscrapers dotting the skyline in Korea that foreigners call it the new Jerusalem. Protestantism has boomed in Korea, so much so that its leaders now claim that Korea has the responsibility to evangelize the world. There are many church buildings all over the world these days, but since the gospel of the water and the Spirit is not being preached there, they are completely and utterly useless. Around the world are found myriad of Christians professing to believe in Jesus as their Savior, but the vast majority of them still have sins in their hearts even though they are very devout and attend every morning prayer service faithfully. Of the many Christians and the many nations on this earth, it’s said that Korea has the most zealous of believers. It’s also said that no one attends morning prayer services more diligently than Korean Christians.
Korea is the only country where churches pray publicly over the thanksgiving donations and tithes offered by the congregation. In Korea, it’s common for a pastor to announce publicly during the worship service which member gave what offering for what reason, and then pray specifically for each of these givers in public. While it’s laudable for the believers to thank God, it’s very time-consuming to mention everyone making a thanksgiving offering like this. How is the pastor then going to find the time to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit? The point I am trying to make here is that every church and every pastor ought to preach the gospel of the water and the Spirit to the congregation first and foremost, but sadly, this is not happening. I mentioned a few things about churches in Korea to just emphasize this point.
As mentioned, Korean Christians are extremely diligent when it comes attending morning prayer meetings. They are also very prone to cry easily while worshiping God. It is no exaggeration to say that among all the Christians around the world, Korean Christians are the biggest crybabies. They could easily cry a river during the worship service. Why, then, do these Christians still have their sins remaining intact in their hearts, unable to receive the remission of sins, when they have cried so much during the worship service and offered prayers of repentance so piously? If you are such a Christian, what’s the point of attending church? You might have learned under a great pastor, but what benefit does this bring to you if your sins still remain in your heart?
Is such a spiritual phenomenon unique to Korea, or is it something that is happening around the whole world? It is a worldwide phenomenon. The spiritual decay that is plaguing the Christian community in Korea today is also happening around the world, which is the evidence showing that Satan is deceiving many people with his lies. None of us should allow ourselves to succumb to the false beliefs that Satan is offering, nor should we ever be deceived by him. To ensure this, I urge you to find out from the written Word that the righteousness of God is indeed revealed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and I hope and pray that with this discovery, you will receive the many blessings God is offering you.
It is ok for us not be knowledgeable of philosophy. Who cares if we are ignorant of philosophy? We are still able to think clearly and argue for our position effectively. What does it matter if we are not well-versed in literature? While we may not be able to express our thoughts as well as novelists and poets, all of us can still appreciate literature when we come across a compelling story or a beautiful poem. Even though you may not be gifted to express your thoughts as beautifully as a Wordsmith, this should not pose an obstacle for you to carry on with your life. You don’t need to go to college to appreciate literature or ponder philosophically about life. You can learn about them while tilling the fields. Although work is hard on everyone, it is not only a means of making a living, but also a way to get a sense of fulfillment to your life and appreciate its beauty.
To your life, labor is much more profoundly meaningful than any literature or philosophy you can learn in school. Even if you can’t express your thoughts in writing, it does not mean that you are ignorant of literature. What about astronomy then? Do you consider yourself completely clueless when it comes to astronomy? I’m sure that when we were kids, many of us looked up the sky on a summer night and counted the stars until we fell asleep. Most of us probably know at least a couple of constellations, such as the Big Dipper. So we are not entirely ignorant of astronomy either. Besides, no one needs to be an expert in astronomy to carry on with life. After all, the young PhD in the story I told you, after boasting so much about his knowledge and insulting the elderly man for his ignorance, saw absolutely no use for literature and philosophy when the boat was sinking and he was about to drown.
What would have happened to this man if the elderly man didn’t save him? He would have drowned. Just as you must know how to swim in order to survive in the water, for us to reach our salvation, we must know the gospel of the righteousness of God that is revealed in the God-spoken Word, the gospel of the water and the Spirit. And we must believe in this gospel. All that we have to do is turn to both Testaments in the Bible, find out exactly how God has set the remission of sins and what His righteousness is, and believe in the Scripture as it is. We can reach our salvation if we know and believe in what the Scripture says about the righteousness of salvation through which God has saved us from the sins of the world, and how God has set the laws of salvation. If we are drowning, all that matters is that we get out of the danger in anyway possible regardless of how we do it, even if we have to resort to the doggy paddle style. Some people might look down on the doggy paddle style of swimming and say that it’s not elegant enough, but that’s a luxury afforded only to those who are not about to drown.
Let’s Turn to Today’s Scripture Reading from Leviticus 1:1-9
Let’s now examine the statues and law of salvation established by God. The word “Levi” means “unity.” Among the twelve sons of Jacob was found a son called Levi, and this name meant unity. The Scripture says that those who have been washed from all their sins by uniting with the righteousness of God - are His people. The Book of Leviticus records the method by which God has blotted out the sins of mankind.
It’s written in Leviticus 1:1-4: “Now the Lord called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tabernacle of meeting, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: “When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of the livestock—of the herd and of the flock. If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord. Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.”’” Having summoned Moses, God began telling him about the requirements of the sacrificial system that the Israelites were obligated to follow. The Book of Leviticus records the Law of God that God told Moses when He called him up to Mount Sinai.
God gave the people of Israel no fewer than 613 statutes and commandments. This number of the commandments has been verified by biblical scholars. But, can any human being really observe all these 613 commandments of God perfectly? If this is not possible, then what is the purpose for which God gave the Law? God gave the Law to mankind so that through it, all people would realize their sins, and made it known to them that they must go to Jesus Christ to be remitted from their sins.
In Exodus chapter 25 God spoke to the people of Israel through Moses to build the Tabernacle for His dwelling. After commanding Moses to build His Tabernacle, God told the people of Israel to come to Him and to receive the remission of sins by faith through the sacrificial system which He was instituting for them. How the people of Israel were to approach God, what kind of sacrifice they were to offer to Him, and how they were to receive the remission of sins by faith are all addressed in the Book of Leviticus.
Leviticus 1:4 says, “Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.” It’s written clearly here that when a sinner laid his hand on the head of his sacrificial animal, his sins would be passed on this animal, and this is what was meant by atonement. It meant that if a sinner laid his hands on a sacrificial animal as specified by God, then his sins would be passed on to this sacrificial animal. In other words, when the people of Israel offered a sacrifice according to the requirements of the God-established sacrificial system, their sins were passed on to the sacrificial animal. Their sins were removed from them and placed on their sacrificial animal - such as a sheep or a bull.
When the people of Israel broke any of the God-established Laws, they committed a sin, but when they laid their hands on the head of their sacrificial animal, all their sins were passed on to this animal. This was the law of salvation that God had established in the age of the Old Testament. It was the statute God had set in order to save human beings from their sins. It was God’s set rule. Therefore, anyone during the age of the Old Testament could receive the remission of sins by believing in the statutes set by God.
Even for the priests, who were the leaders of the people of Israel in the days of the Old Testament, if they failed to live according to the Law of God and sinned against Him, they had to bring an unblemished bull, sheep, or goat, pass their sins this animal by laying their hands on its head, and then sacrifice that animal. Whoever sought to receive the remission of sins had to admit his sins and confess them first. When the person who sinned against God then put his hands on the head of his sacrificial animal and confessed his sins over it, saying, “Lord, I have committed such and such sins. I have worshiped other gods,” this person’s sins were passed on to the sacrificial animal, and so, he did not have to be put to death. The sacrificial animal, on the other hand, had to be killed in the sinner’s place. The person then cut the animal’s throat and gave the blood to priest. Then the priest put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and poured the rest of the blood out on the ground at the base of the altar of burnt offering.
After sprinkling the blood on the four corners of the altar, the priest then cut the animal into pieces, put them on the altar along with its head and fat, and offered them to God by burning it. This was called a burnt offering. The Scripture says that the scent of the burning flesh of the sacrificial animal was a sweet aroma that pleased God. This was the law of salvation that God had established for sinners in order to remit away their sins. To receive the remission of sins, everyone had to offer a sacrificial animal to God for his sins without fail, and this sacrifice had to be offered according to these God-established rules.
When one sinned against another person, how was the washing of this sin obtained? It was obtained through the sacrificial system established by God, who, having set His law of salvation on His own, instituted it so that whoever offered a just sacrifice according to the Law of God could receive the remission of sins. This was the great mercy of God reserved for human beings. God had allowed anyone to receive the remission of sins if they offered a sacrifice by faith according to the requirements of the God-established sacrificial system.
The Remission of Sins for the Priests
How did God promise to blot out the sins of the priests when they sinned? Let’s turn to Leviticus 4:1-4 here: “Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments of the Lord in anything which ought not to be done, and does any of them, if the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer to the Lord for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering. He shall bring the bull to the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord, lay his hand on the bull’s head, and kill the bull before the Lord.” God said here that if a priest sinned, he had to bring a young bull without blemish. When the priest brought an unblemished bull and sacrificed it in the Tabernacle, it was absolutely indispensable for him to lay his hands on the bull’s head first. God commanded clearly here that the priest should lay his hands on the head of the animal and offer it to God.
The priests were only Aaron’s descendants, and if any of them sinned and brought guilt on the people, God commanded that he had to offer a sacrificial animal to Him for his sins and thereby pay of the wages of these sins, and when he did so, he had to offer without fail an unblemished bull according to the God-established rules. And God also said that the priest had to pass his sins to the sacrificial animal by laying his hands on its head without fail. Only then was the wages of sins paid with the death of this sacrificial animal. So we can see clearly from this that God’s law of salvation was built upon righteous and just principles.
For a priest to receive the remission of sins, the first thing he did was to lay his hands on the head of a bull. This was done to pass all his sins to that sacrificial animal. In the Scripture, the laying on of hands has the following spiritual meanings: “to be passed on,” “to be transferred,” and “to be buried.” Even today, if you allow someone possessed by a demon to lay his hands on your head and pray over you, the demons in him or her will be passed on to you. This happens often in Charismatic denominations and at so-called prayer centers which is nothing more than a cult. A long time ago, Brother Bochun Kim once went to such a prayer center, and whenever its director laid his hands on Brother Kim’s head, his eyes lit up. This constitutes the evidence showing that the director was demon-possessed. Why would Brother Kim’s eyes be lit up like that? Is he a robot? There is something wrong going on if a human being’s eyes are lit up. This is the proof that the director of this establishment was demon-possessed, and that the evil spirit had passed on to the brother on whose head the director had laid his hand on to.
For a priest to be saved from his sins, he had to first bring an unblemished sacrificial animal as set by God, and then pass his sins to this sacrificial animal by laying his hand on its head. Secondly, the priest then had to draw the blood of this sacrificial animal, put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour the rest out on the ground.
He prayed as follows, “Lord, I have sinned and brought guilt to the people of Israel. So I am now laying my hands on this sacrificial animal and passing my sins to it. Even though I must die for my sins according to Your Law, You have prepared a sacrificial offering to bear my sins. Thank You for this sacrifice Lord. Instead of me dying, I have now brought an unblemished bull and passed my sins to it by laying my hands on its head, all according to the statutes You have established so that I would receive the remission of sins. And now here is the blood of the animal that died in my place.” After this, the priest cut the flesh of the sacrificial animal into pieces, put them on the altar of burnt offering, and offered it to God by burning it according to the requirements of the sacrificial system specified by God. With this, the priest finished giving his sacrificial offering for the remission of his sins.
On the tenth day of the seventh month, when the high priest offered the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement for the people, he sacrificed a bull for the sins of his household first of all according to the requirements of the God-established sacrificial system. For this sacrifice, the high priest put the blood of the sacrificial animal on the horns of the altar of incense inside the Holy Place, and then sprinkled the remaining blood on the Ark of the Testimony, which is also known as the mercy seat. The number Seven here was a number set by God. On this day the high priest could confirm before God that his sins and his household’s sins had disappeared, saying to God, “Lord, even though I had to die for my sins, this sacrificial animal bore my sins, shed its blood, and died in my place. Look at this blood Lord.”
In likeness, the offerings that we give to God must be given according to the requirements of the sacrificial system as specified by God. There is no other way. Our remission of sins is fulfilled according to how God has set it for us sinners. The priests could confirm that there was no more sin in their hearts when they could say to God, “Lord, I have made my offering according to Your rules. This animal died in my place. Look at its blood.” That’s how the priests could have the conviction of their hearts that they had received the remission of sins.
My fellow believers, your remission of sins does not depend on just how you feel on any given day, but rather, your salvation is completed when it reaches your knowledge, your conscience, the righteousness of God, His justice, and His merciful love. The remission of sins is not something that’s just emotional. Nor is it something that is felt just in your consciences. What is even more important than your own emotions and consciences is the fulfillment of the just love of God, from which the remission of sins is obtained. Receiving the remission of sins is not an emotional affair. Rather, the true remission of sins is received into your heart.
No remission of sins is viable if your conscience still remains guilt-ridden. What would happen to your heart if it remained like this? If you have any sin in your heart, then you will be demanded to pay this sin’s wages. In other words, you will still have to come up with some sort of sacrifice for your sin. In contrast, if the wages of your sins has been paid off by someone else’ sacrifice, then your conscience would be clear and your heart will be cleansed from your sins. That is why God commanded that if a priest sinned, he had to bring an unblemished bull, lay his hands on its head, cut its throat and draw its blood, and sprinkle this blood before God’s Holy Place seven times. This implies that God can say that we are sinless only if we have a sacrificial offering for our sins, as well as the evidence showing to God that this sacrificial offering had actually died in our place.
The Bible says that the priest also had to put the blood of the sacrificial animal on the horns of the altar of incense. Every priest offers interceding prayers for his people. It’s written, “And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of sweet incense before the Lord, which is in the tabernacle of meeting; and he shall pour the remaining blood of the bull at the base of the altar of the burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of meeting” (Leviticus 4:7). That the priest put the blood of the sacrifice on the horns of the altar of incense implies that the priests prayed for the people of Israel on their behalf. This altar of incense is actually an altar of prayer. God commanded the priests to put the blood of the sacrifice on the horns of this altar of prayer. This implies that when we pray to God, it’s absolutely indispensable for us to have the conviction of faith that because we passed our sins to our sacrificial offering, this offering shed its blood and died. Only then can we come before God and pray to Him.
We can come into God’s presence and ask for His help only if we have the conviction that our sins were actually passed on to our sacrificial offering and this animal died in our place. Otherwise our hearts cannot approach the holy God. Without this conviction, we cannot pray to God properly. We will be stuck at the opening of our prayer, calling on the Father but not knowing what to say anymore in our prayer. So, because the priest was someone who prayed on behalf of the people as their representative, and if the priest sinned and brought guilt to the people, he had to first bring a sacrificial offering to God as the price for his sin, lay his hands on the head of this sacrificial animal, draw its blood, and offer this blood to God. As I have already mentioned numerous times before, all of this was set by God which are His rules. It is by believing according to God’s statutes that we have received the remission of sins.
It’s written in Leviticus 4:11-12, “But the bull’s hide and all its flesh, with its head and legs, its entrails and offal—the whole bull he shall carry outside the camp to a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire; where the ashes are poured out it shall be burned.” God said here that the sacrificial animal should now be skinned, it’s flesh be cut into pieces, all the unclean parts such as its entrails should be removed, and these parts should then be taken outside the camp and burnt. The place where the unclean parts were burnt was located north of the Tabernacle. The unclean parts of the sacrificial animal were taken there to be burnt, while its fat was removed and put on the altar of burnt offering and burnt there. With the fat of the sacrificial animal burning with smoke, God said, “Yes, this sacrificial animal has died in your place. The fat here refers to the Holy Spirit. And the fat of the sacrificial offering implies that thanks to the Holy Spirit we have received the remission of sins by offering our sacrifice to God according to the requirements of the sacrificial system as specified by the Word of God and as commanded by Him, and by faith.
Sadly, many ministers in today’s Christian communities are trying to teach without even knowing how Jesus Christ has taken care of their sins. Such efforts do not stem from faith in the righteousness of God, but rather, from the delusional beliefs of their own making.
The Remission of Sins for the Whole Congregation
The sacrificial system instituted by God also had a provision for the whole congregation of Israel, so that when the people of Israel sinned collectively, they could be washed from this sin as well. Let’s turn to Leviticus 4:13-21, “Now if the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally, and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done something against any of the commandments of the Lord in anything which should not be done, and are guilty; when the sin which they have committed becomes known, then the assembly shall offer a young bull for the sin, and bring it before the tabernacle of meeting. And the elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before the Lord. Then the bull shall be killed before the Lord. The anointed priest shall bring some of the bull’s blood to the tabernacle of meeting. Then the priest shall dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, in front of the veil. And he shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar which is before the Lord, which is in the tabernacle of meeting; and he shall pour the remaining blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. He shall take all the fat from it and burn it on the altar. And he shall do with the bull as he did with the bull as a sin offering; thus he shall do with it. So the priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them. Then he shall carry the bull outside the camp, and burn it as he burned the first bull. It is a sin offering for the assembly.”
When the whole congregation of Israel sinned, how were they able to receive the remission of sins? The sacrificial system had a provision for collective sins as well—that is, God had instituted a specific way for the all of Israel to receive the remission of sins when they sinned collectively as a group. It’s written here that when the whole congregation of Israel sinned against God, the assembly should offer a young bull for this sin, and bring the bull before the Tabernacle of the Meeting. The elders of the congregations should then lay their hands on the head of the bull before the LORD, and the bull should then be killed before Him.
First of all, when a priest sinned, he personally put his hands on the head of his sacrificial offering. In contrast, when the whole congregation sinned, rather than each and every one of the congregation laying their hands on the head of the sacrificial animal, a number of elders stepped in as their representative, passed the congregation’s sins by laying their hands on the head of the animal, and sacrificed it to God according to the same requirements of the sacrificial system that the priests had to follow. That is how the whole congregation of Israel received the remission for their collective sins.
Laying their hands on the head of the sacrificial animal, the elders confessed the sins of the congregation over it, saying, “Lord, we have together sinned. We have committed idolatry, we have harmed others, and we have done these things collectively.” What happened when the elders lifted their hands off from the head of the sacrificial after this? What did I say the laying on of hands means? It means “to be passed on” or “to be transferred,” and accordingly, the sins of the whole congregation were passed on to the animal. Where, then, did the sins of the congregation rest once the elders laid their hands on the head of the sacrificial animal and lifted them off? They were all passed on to the bull and rested on its head. The congregation then had to deliver the bull that had accepted their sins like this, and offer it to God formally as their sacrifice.
The blood of this animal had to be drawn into a vessel without fail. When this blood of the sacrifice was offered to God, the whole congregation received the remission of sins. This sacrifice had to be ministered in the same way as the sacrifice that was offered by the priests when they sinned. Just as they had done for themselves, the priests had to offer the sacrifice to God by sprinkling its blood, and then burning its fat and flesh for the whole congregation for the remission of their sins. The elders of the congregation had to lay their hands on the sacrificial animal first of all; and then the priest had to cut the throat of the animal and draw its blood, sprinkle this blood on the mercy seat seven times, put this blood of the sacrifice on the horns of the altar, and pour the rest out on the ground. When the priest dipped his finger into the blood of the sacrifice, sprinkled it seven times before the mercy seat, and poured the rest of the blood on the ground at the base of the altar of burnt offering in the Tabernacle of Meeting, atonement was made for the whole congregation and their sins were forgiven.
When the priest himself sinned, he himself had to lay his hands on the sacrificial animal, draw its blood himself, sprinkle the blood himself, and burn the flesh of the sacrifice himself—the priest had to do everything by himself. In contrast, when the whole congregation sinned, the elders to the congregation came out and passed their sins by laying their hands on the sacrificial animal for them, and then the priests took over and ministered the rest of the sacrificial procedure. All the subsequent sacrificial rituals were performed by the priests, from the drawing the blood of the animal to sprinkling it on the mercy seat, putting it on the horns of the altar of incenses, removing the kidneys and the fat, and burning them on the altar of burnt offering. When the priests ministered the sacrifice on behalf of the congregation like this, the congregation received the remission of sins by faith.
The Remission of Sins for the Rulers
The sacrificial system had another provision specifically set aside for the rulers to receive the remission of sins. It’s written here in Leviticus 4:22-24, “When a ruler has sinned, and done something unintentionally against any of the commandments of the Lord his God in anything which should not be done, and is guilty, or if his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge, he shall bring as his offering a kid of the goats, a male without blemish. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the goat, and kill it at the place where they kill the burnt offering before the Lord. It is a sin offering.” Who were the rulers? The nation of Israel was composed of twelve tribes descending from the twelve sons of Jacob. The representative of each of these twelve tribes was a ruler. The Bible says here that when a ruler sinned against God, he had to offer a male goat. For this particular sacrifice, the animal used was a male goat rather than a bull.
The Bible says that when a ruler sinned, he should lay his hands on the head of the sacrificial male goat, as it’s written, “He shall lay his hand on the head of the goat, and kill it at the place where they kill the burnt offering before the Lord. It is a sin offering” (Leviticus 4:24). When the ruler brought an unblemished male goat, laid his hands on its head, and killed it, this ruler’s sins were washed away by being passed on to the goat. And as the priests took over from then on and ministered the sacrifice, the ruler’s sins were blotted out.
The Scripture says in Leviticus 4:25-26, “The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering. And he shall burn all its fat on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of the peace offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.” As it’s written here, although the ruler himself laid his hands on the sacrificial animal and killed it to take its blood, the rest of the sacrificial procedure was ministered by the priests. But in contrast, when the priests sinned they themselves had to lay their own hands on their sacrificial animal. As happened with the elders of the congregation, once the ruler passed his sins to the sacrificial animal by laying his hands on its head and killed that animal, the priests then took over the rest of the rituals. This is how the people of the Old Testament received the remission of sins.
Sacrifices for the Common People
Let’s now look at how the common people washed away their sins when they committed them. It’s written in Leviticus 4:27-30, “If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally by doing something against any of the commandments of the Lord in anything which ought not to be done, and is guilty, or if his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge, then he shall bring as his offering a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering. Then the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour all the remaining blood at the base of the altar.”
When the common people sinned, how did they wash away their sins? These were neither rulers, nor priests, nor the representatives of the congregation, nor its elders; instead, they were just regular folk. How and with what kind of sacrifice did the common people of Israel receive the remission of sins when they sinned against God? It’s written, “If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally by doing something against any of the commandments of the Lord in anything which ought not to be done, and is guilty, or if his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge.” As we carry on with our lives, do we not all sin? Of course we do. Although we might have thought that we were doing the right thing at the time, with the passing of time, it may dawn upon us that we were actually sinning in God’s sight. And like this, there are many sins that people commit unintentionally.
As I said in the morning service that the human heart is full of sins by nature, no one can help but sin unintentionally even if they try not to, for everyone was born with and is living in this world in a sinful state. Just as a pear tree bears pears and a persimmon tree bears persimmons, because all human beings were born in this world as sinners, they cannot help but commit all kinds of sins. As Adam’s descendant, everyone was conceived in sin and born in iniquities from the womb of the mothers, and consequently, all human beings sin in their lives without even realizing this. That’s why people commit so many sins and transgressions.
What did God say the common people of Israel should do when they realized that they broke any of the commandments of the God-given Law prescribing and proscribing what they should and should not do? God said, “If his sin which he has committed comes to his knowledge, then he shall bring as his offering a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering at the place of the burnt offering.” In fact, the Bible provides a more detailed description of the sacrifice offered by the common people to be washed from their sins.
When one of the common people sinned and he realized that he had failed to live according to the commandments of God, that his acts had actually caused him to go astray, that what he thought was a good thing but actually constituted a sin, that he had broken the Law of God, and that he was therefore a sinner, he had to first of all bring a female goat without blemish to the priests. In offering this female goat as his sacrificial offering to God, this person had to pass his sins to the animal by laying his hands on its head just as the priests and the elders had to do. Can anyone recall what the laying on of hands means? It is God’s law by which the people of Israel could pass their sins to the head of their sacrificial animal. It means “to be passed on.”
Leviticus 1:4 says, “Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.” If by chance, any of the common people sinned against God offered a sacrificial animal to Him without laying his hand on its head first, then this person could never be remitted from his sins even if such sacrificial animals’ blood flowed like a thousand rivers. It was an absolute must for every sinner to bring a sacrificial offering for his sins, and to pass these sins to the animal by laying his hands on its head. Before handing the sacrificial animal over to the priest, it was absolutely necessary for the sinner to pass his sins to that sacrificial animal by laying his hands on its head according to the requirements of the God-established sacrificial system. The priests then had to draw the blood of this sacrificial animal and minister the rest of the rituals, and only then the sinner could receive the remission of sins from God and return to his home in peace.
The laying on of hands was done by the common people themselves, while the sacrificial animal was killed by the priests at the altar of burnt offering. The animal was sacrificed for the sinner by dying for his sins. It was this sacrificial animal that bore the sinner’s sins and died in his place. In the Book of Leviticus of the Old Testament it appears that the primary purpose for which the people of Israel raised livestock was to use them as sacrificial animals for their sins. It’s written that if someone slaughtered a goat or a sheep in another town, he should be condemned for the bloodshed as a murderer. Among the clean animals such as sheep and goats, the unblemished animals were all used by the people of Israel to receive the remission of their sins. They offered these animals to God as the propitiation for their sins. They passed their sins to these sacrificial animals by laying their hands on them, and the animals were then killed and condemned before God without fail. God had allowed the people of Israel to use their livestock such as sheep and goats to solve the problem of their sins.
Re-examining the Laying on of Hands
The laying on of hands is extremely important, and so let’s examine it again to make sure that we really know how the people of Israel passed their sins to their sacrificial animal by laying their hands on its head. Leviticus 1:4 says, “Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.” God commanded Moses and the people of Israel to lay their hands on their sacrificial offerings, saying, “You must lay your hands on the sacrificial animal without fail. Unless you lay your hands on the head of the sacrificial animal, it will be completely ineffective for the remission of your sins. Remember this always.” This was the God-established statute of the sacrificial system through which the people of Israel could receive the remission of sins.
To recap, when any of the common people sinned, they had to lay their hands on their sacrificial offerings and deliver it to the priests. The priests then had to put the blood of the animal on the horns of the altar of burnt offering for them. For the priests, the rulers, and the congregation alike, the blood was put on the horns of the altar of incense. This was done because it was the leaders’ duty to pray to God. That’s why the blood of the sacrifice was put on the altar of incense. Whoever was a priest had the duty to pray for the people. For these priests to pray to God, it was absolutely indispensable for them to have the conviction of the remission of their own sins before God. In this present age, we are the actual priests. So for us to pray to our God, we must also have in our hearts the full conviction that we have received the remission of sins. We can pray only if we know and are convinced with a clear conscience how our sins were addressed before God. None of us should say that all our sins were taken care of solely on Jesus’ Cross. For our sins to be blotted out, we must believe without fail that John had indeed laid his hands on Jesus before He was condemned on the Cross. Only then are we qualified to pray to God unhesitatingly with a clear conscience.
God commanded that the high priest should make atonement upon the horns of the altar of incense. The altar of incense is where the high priest prayed to God, and it was upon the horns of this altar that God commanded the high priest to make atonement. This was done on the tenth day of the seventh month, the Day of Atonement, and once it was done, all the yearly sins of the people of Israel were blotted out once and for all, and therefore they could come to the presence of God with a clear conscience. The remission of our sins is not something that we receive on a daily basis. While the sacrificial system enabled the people of Israel to receive the remission of their daily sins, when we turn to Leviticus chapter 16, we see that it also had a provision for the remission of their yearly sins. This sacrifice of the Day of Atonement was the shadow of the everlasting remission of sins to come for all of us. Just as the people of Israel received the remission of their yearly sins through the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement in the age of the Old Testament, Jesus Christ gave ‘one everlasting sacrifice’ for us in this age of the New Testament. And just as the people of Israel laid their hands on their sacrificial animals in the Old Testament, so did John the Baptist lay his hands on the head of Jesus just before baptizing Him. This is the principle of the sacrificial system established by God.
It’s written in Leviticus 4:30-31, “Then the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and pour all the remaining blood at the base of the altar. He shall remove all its fat, as fat is removed from the sacrifice of the peace offering; and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a sweet aroma to the Lord. So the priest shall make atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.” When one of the common people handed over his sacrificial animal to the priest after laying his hand on its head, the priest then killed it and drew its blood and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering. The altar of burnt offering is where the sacrificial animal was offered to God by burning it. Put differently, it is the place of the judgment of sinners.
The Four Horns of the Altar of Burnt Offering
The horns of the burnt offering are symbolic of the Book of Deeds appearing in Revelation. The Kingdom of Heaven has the Book of Deeds, while the human heart has the Book of conscience. So, whenever you commit any sin, it is recorded in two places without fail, that is, one place being the tablet of your heart, and the other place being God’s Book of Deeds. Therefore, the remission of sins must be received at both places, before God and before yourself. Only if you have the full conviction that you have made atonement at both these places can you receive the perfect remission of sins. If you otherwise just arbitrarily say on your own that you have received the remission of sins, then you have not really received it. That is why the priest put the blood of the sacrifice on the horns of the altar of burnt offering.
Revelation 20:12 says, “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.” When we finally stand before God and His White Throne of Judgment, there will be two books: the Book of Life, and the Book of Deeds. Those who have received the remission of sins, those who have become righteous by faith while living on this earth now, and those whose hearts are completely sinless both before God, including their conscience will see their names written in the Book of Life. In contrast, those whose hearts remain sinful even after believing in Jesus still have not received the remission of sins, and therefore, they will see their names written in the Book of Deeds instead. All the sins committed by them are recorded in the Book of Deeds. No sinner can therefore claim to be righteous when standing before God. While such Christian sinners may claim to be righteous according to their denominational doctrines, when standing before God or praying to Him, they can never say that they are righteous.
In contrast, those who have become righteous by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit can as say with boldness when they stand before God the Father, “Father, I have come to Your presence now. You have blotted out all my sins. Hallelujah. Thank You, Lord. Just as You had blotted out the yearly sins of the people of Israel once and for all, so have You have blotted out all the everlasting sins of this world once and for all by being baptized. I believe in this righteousness of Yours. I believe in the remission of my sins exactly as You have decreed it. By being baptized by John the Baptist, You bore all my sins once and for all.” When we pray to God, we can also boldly call Him our Father in our prayer.
Even though we have many shortcomings, we are joyful by the fact that Jesus Christ has blotted out all the sins of this world once and for all with His baptism and the shedding of His blood, and being fully convinced and joyful of what God has done for us, we can pray to Him boldly. When the righteous pray, they pray for all things with the assurance of their salvation and the remission of their sins, whether they are praying for themselves, for others, or for any other cause. This is true for everyone who has received the true remission of sins from God by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
My fellow believers, God commanded the people of Israel to put the blood of the sacrificial animal on the horns of the altar of burnt offering. These horns of the altar of burnt offering symbolize the Book of Judgment. Because everyone’s sins are written in the Book of Judgment, God commanded the people of the Old Testament to put the blood of the sacrifice on the horns of altar of burnt offering, so that He may approve those who put the blood of the sacrifice on these horns by faith as being sinless. The Old Testament says that the life of the flesh is found in the blood, as it’s written, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11).
Verse 14 also says, “For it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.’” God says clearly here that the life of the flesh is in the blood. That is why whoever was a sinner in God’s sight had to bring a sacrificial animal as specified by God and pass his sins to it by laying his hands on its head. The priest could then minister the sacrifice on behalf of the sinner to wash away his sins, drawing the blood of the sacrificial animal and putting it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering in the sinner’s place.
Putting the blood of the sacrifice on the horns of the altar of burnt offering was akin to putting it by faith on the Book of Deeds written in Revelation, demonstrating that the wages of sin was paid in full. The sinner could then say to God, “Lord, look at this blood. With the laying of my hands on this sacrificial animal and the shedding of its blood, all the wages of my sins has been paid, just as Your Law declares that the wages of sin is death.” It’s for this reason that the blood of the sacrifice was put on the horns of the altar of burnt offering for the common people.
Since the sacrificial animal accepted the sinner’s iniquities through the laying on of his hands and shed its blood to death in his place, from then on, God could no longer condemn him for his sins. That’s precisely why we say that God is the God of justice. Although God is strict, He has made it possible for us to say that He is also the just and righteous God of mercy. That’s because God loves everyone. By right, God had to destroy everyone who had any sin at all. God could not help but destroy everyone who was sinful.
However, through His just sacrificial system, God could wash away everyone’s sins. Although people may tolerate another person’s sins in their humane way, because God is holy, He cannot just skirt over or excuse a sinner. The holy God must therefore destroy anyone who has any sin. Yet, because God loved mankind so much, He established a way for them to pass their sins to a sacrificial animal and let this animal be condemned in their place, thereby delivering those who walked by faith from their sins. In short, God had saved sinners through His just and righteous law.
That is why God commanded in the age of the Old Testament that after the blood of the sacrifice was put on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, the rest of the blood should be poured out at the base of the altar. The ground of the Tabernacle was composed of sand and dirt. In the Bible, dirt sometimes refers to the human heart. The phrase “from dust to dust” is often used to describe life. The priest poured the blood of the sacrifice on the ground of the Tabernacle. Can you imagine just how bloody the ground of the Tabernacle must have been in the days of the Old Testament? The blood of all those sacrificial animals must have flowed like a river and not to mention the smell.
The court of the Tabernacle where the altar of burnt offering was located was not exactly a beautiful place. It was filled with the smell of blood, thick smoke, and burning flesh, all resulting from countless sacrificial animals being killed and burnt to bear the condemnation of sin. To the north of the tabernacle, the priests were burning filthy parts like animal skin and offal, while on the altar of burnt offering, they were burning fat, kidneys, and pieces of flesh. So the place must have been filled with the smell of burning flesh and smoke. The fact that sacrificial animals were burnt like this means the condemnation of sin. The animals that were set aside for such sacrifices were all burnt by fire invariably.
When one looked at the blood of the sacrifice in the Tabernacle, one could see that a sacrificial animal was killed in someone’s place. A sinner had laid his hands on a certain sacrificial animal, and that animal had then shed its blood and died in the sinner’s place. The priests ministering in the Tabernacle performed the rest of the sacrificial rituals on behalf of sinners. The sinner, however, had to lay his hands on the head of the sacrificial animal without fail. Whoever sinned had to offer one of four sacrifices, depending on whether he sinned as one of the common people, part of the whole congregation, a ruler, or a priest. Only in the case of the whole congregation sinning did the elders lay their hands on the sacrificial animal as their representatives; for the rest, they who sinned had to personally pass their sins to the sacrificial animal by laying their hands on its head.
What does this all mean? We believe in every Word of God, and God is telling us to agree wholeheartedly with the righteous work Jesus Christ achieved when He came to this earth, and to believe in it with our whole hearts. Although Jesus died on the Cross, His death would have been completely meaningless if He had not been baptized by John the Baptist. In the age of the Old Testament God could save sinners from their iniquities when they laid their hands on unblemished sacrificial animals in the Tabernacle, and these animals shed their blood and were burnt. The laying of the hands of the sinners on the sacrificial animal was not in vain. Therefore, before Jesus Christ was crucified, it was imperative that He receive baptism from John the Baptist, which was equivalent to the laying on of hands in the Old Testament. God did not accept any sacrificial offering if there was no laying on hands. The Scripture says that God accepted the offering in pleasure only if it came with the laying on of hands.
The Old Testament therefore says that priests would make atonement for the sinner, and the sinner would in turn be forgiven. It’s absolutely important for us to remember here that the condemnation of sin is not done by us, but it’s done personally by our high priest on our behalf. The one thing we have to do as sinners is to pass our sins to the sacrificial offering without fail through the laying on of hands. The rest was taken care of by the high priest ministering for sinners. It’s very important to remember this.
We sin because we are weak, but we can still believe in Jesus and the statutes found in the Word of God, and we can consent to the sacrificial system of God. These are the things that we can all do despite our many shortcomings. That God paid off the wages of ours sins by sacrificing Himself, that the Lord was personally baptized by John the Baptist, that He was crucified and shed His blood on the Cross, and that He rose from the dead again—these are the things that the Lord Himself did for us. As sinners, all that we can do is just pass our sins to the sacrificial offering by laying our hands on it. We do not have the prerogative to kill this sacrificial offering or to shed its blood.
Just as the Bible says that “the wages of sin is death,” every sinner had to be put to death. That’s why the Scripture says, “So the priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.” Just how important is the role of the priest then? Without the high priest playing his role, sinners could not receive the remission of sins. They were all doomed to destruction without the high priest fulfilling his role.
For this reason, God called Aaron, Moses’ brother, and made him the high priest. When God delivered the people of Israel from Egypt, Aaron played the role of a spokesman for his brother Moses. Moses received the Law from God and spoke to the people of Israel on His behalf, while Aaron ministered as the priest to blot out their sins. Only Aaron and his descendants could become these high priests. It’s absolutely important for us to grasp clearly here that only the descendants of Aaron could minister as the high priest. Today, we got through to the sacrifices offered by the common people.