In the last issue, we looked at the first promise of salvation God gave to humanity. Today, we will look at the establishment of the sacrificial system and what lessons God intended to teach.
The story of Cain and Abel is one that is known by most, whether Christian or not. By this point in history, it is clearly seen that the sacrificial system had already been established. Abel’s sacrifice was pleasing unto the Lord and accepted, while Cain’s was not. Why? Because God had already set up a type that would keep their eyes fixed on their Redeemer. Abel obeyed the instructions given by God, while Cain created an offering that did not meet the requirements.
There is no direct account in the Bible of what God told Adam and Eve when this institution was established. There is, however, an inference as to when this happened. Shortly after hearing the first promise of redemption, God kills an animal to make coats of skin for them. As you will soon see, there is a lesson to be learned from this act. You will also see how it is inferred that the sacrificial system was set up at this time.
Abel understood the importance of the sacrifice, and in obedience, brought a lamb. On the other hand, Cain brought an offering that was the result of the labors of his hands. Cain had a form of religion, while at the same time, he disobeyed the requirements of God. We must be careful not to enter into the same type of presumptuous worship as Cain. God has given clear instructions on what He requires of us and what pleases Him. We also may please the Lord as Abel did if we will worship in faith and obedience.
So what lessons can we learn from the first dawnings of the sacrificial system? In the account of Cain and Abel, Abel used a lamb of the firstlings of his flock. Many times throughout the Bible, we see a lamb used as a symbol of the Messiah. John the Baptist declared of Christ, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. We will now look at three aspects found in this early account of the sacrificial service. The fourth aspect (the fat) brought to view we will discuss in the future.
A Lamb Without Blemish – Jesus had to be without blemish. Without a single failure. Why? Because He was to take our life of failures and give us His life of perfect obedience and victory. He was to die the death we deserve. In return, He gives us His life, which we don’t deserve. Oh, what love!
Jesus was to come and live a life without sin. To overcome where we failed, and make a way of escape. By His humanity, He lays hold of our hand. By His divinity, He lays hold of the Father.
Jacob saw a representation of Christ on his way to Padanaram. He saw a ladder reaching from heaven to earth and angels of God ascending and descending the ladder. Jesus is that ladder. He bridged the gap that our sins created. He made a way for us to be reunited with Him and the Father. Jesus did all this by becoming the Lamb of God, without blemish or fault.
The Firstling of the Flock – In the account of Cain and Abel, we find that the original Hebrew word used for firstling is “bekowrah.” The meaning behind this word and its use throughout the Bible sheds significant light on this subject. Let’s quickly look at its definition.
“Birthright, primogeniture, right of the firstborn.”BDB Lexicon
Here we see two aspects: the primogeniture (right of succession belonging to the firstborn) and the firstborn itself. The lamb used by Abel was a firstborn. So was Christ the firstborn of the human race?
“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:…And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence.”Colossians 1:15,18
Christ is the firstborn of the dead and the head of the human race. In all things, Christ has preeminence. So what is the birthright that Jesus was to receive? To understand this, we need to look at the original heir of this earth.
Adam was given dominion over the whole earth and every creature in it. Adam was the prince of this world and the head of the human race. So what happened when Adam sinned? He gave this heirship to Satan, who became “the prince of this world.” John 12:31.
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”1 Corinthians 15:22
Jesus is the second Adam. Although we have received an inheritance of death and suffering from Adam, we may receive eternal life from Christ. The earth is His through creation and redemption. The birthright implied in the sacrifice was the heirship of the earth that Christ would wrest from Satan’s hands.
The Coats of Skin – These skins would have come from the first sacrifice that God used to institute the sacrificial system.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they became aware that they were naked. They tried their best to cover themselves, but when the presence of God came into the garden, they were afraid and hid. When asked why they hid, they said it was because they were naked. They were unable to make a covering that was suitable for the presence of God. God, Himself had to make a covering for them.
That covering could only come from one source, Jesus. We can only be seen as righteous in the sight of a holy God by becoming covered by Christ’s righteousness. Let’s look at a couple of verses.
“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.“Revelation 3:18
“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.“Revelation 16:15
Salvation can only come through Jesus. He paid it all. But do you also notice how He also gave a command, “buy of me.” The price is free, but there is a part for us to play. We must ask and seek for these gifts and turn from our rebellion to allegiance to God. God does set requirements of obedience. The whole Bible is full of instructions on what pleases and displeases the Lord. Thankfully we serve a patient and loving God who is willing to take the time to train us in the path of righteousness. We must always remember that God is working for us and wants to see us succeed.
I hope you have received as much of a blessing from this article as I have gained in writing it. Continue to join me next time as we continue our journey into this subject.
Written by Cory Lamming