So now we come to the point where all the sacrifices God has described in preceding chapters begin to take place. And, as Leviticus 8 describes one sacrifice after another offered during the ordination of Aaron and his sons, this was my thought: The sanctuary system was devised so that the Israelites would know that dealing with sin involves sacrifice.
Duh! As if this was any sort of a novel thought. But it struck me in a new way. You see, because of the sanctuary system, I think we view God as a Deity who requires sacrifice in order to forgive sin. And when we start from that idea, we naturally end up assuming that Christ’s death on the cross was The Ultimate Sacrifice that God required in order to forgive us "once and for all."
But I don’t think it’s that way at all. What if God was trying to help the Israelites understand that the relationship between sin and sacrifice involved God’s sacrifice? That to truly love and be loved requires vulnerability and, sometimes, hurt. I once read a statement about how the cross helped us understand the pain God had been feeling ever since the beginning of sin. And I think the sanctuary system was the first step in that understanding.
In dealing with the problem of sin, nobody has ever sacrificed more than God. He has borne the brunt of the pain and cost in the cause of our redemption. As the Israelites brought their sacrifices to the sanctuary, they were supposed to reflect on all the sacrifices God was making for them.