The Jewish Encyclopaedia
tells us about the sacrificial lamb:
The sacrifice which the Israelites offered at the command of God, during the night before the Exodus from Egypt, and which they ate with special ceremonies according to divine direction. The blood of this sacrifice sprinkled on the door-posts of the Israelites was to be a sign to the angel of death, when passing through the land to slay the first-born of the Egyptians that night that he should pass by the houses of the Israelites (Ex. xii. 1-23). This is called in the Mishnah the “Egyptian Passover sacrifice” (“Pesaḥ Miẓrayim”; Pes. ix. 5). It was ordained, furthermore (Ex. xii. 24-27), that this observance should be repeated annually for all time.
Have you ever wondered how many animals without blemish have to be killed each year at this special feast in the Jewish Calender?
Josephus records that, when he lived in the middle of the first century, the Romans took a census of all of the lambs that were killed in Jerusalem for Passover one year. They tallied 256,000 lambs killed for just one Passover observance—more than a quarter million lambs died to illustrate a lesson!
That is an approximation for just one year in Jerusalem. Remember won’t you that after 70AD when Jerusalem Fell – the Jewish Community was dispersed to all corners of the globe – yet when they could they continued this sacrificial obligation – even unto this very day in Orthodox Jewish homes and Synagogues.
No religious act in the Old Testament was complete unless accompanied with sacrifice; the system was designed by God with the intention of awakening a consciousness of sin and uncleanness and of showing the possibility of obtaining the forgiveness of sin and becoming righteous before God.
The presenting to God a gift of a portion of the results of one’s labor implied a surrender of the person to God. But man is unholy and sinful, and is thus unable to surrender himself to the holy God. Therefore, laying the hand upon the head of the animal was a symbol of transferring to the victim of the sacrifice the sinfulness of the offeror. The animal thus took the place of the offeror and became his substitute; and the killing of the animal pointed out the necessity of death of the man whose sin alienates him from God. (Source)
I am not able to calculate the number of animals sacrificially slaughtered under Mosaic Law every year: So kill the Passover, and sanctify yourselves, and prepare your brethren that they may do according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses. My mind cannot work in numbers of such magnitude – can yours?
However my mind can count in singles – in units of ONE.
Christians know Jesus as their Passover Lamb –
He died once and for all,
that sin would be forgiven.
In the Mosaic tradition the sacrifice is ordered to be repeated every year, by all Jews. In the Christian tradition the sacrifice was enacted once for ALL TIME. Jesus Christ does not have to be sacrificed every year.
It just is not possible for the blood of lambs or goats to take away sins. The only Son of God made the eternal sacrifice on our behalf; He took upon Himself the debt/burden of the sin of all humanity, so that we could be reconciled with God.
John W. Ritenbaugh tells us:
Perhaps it would help us to understand why God tells the Israelites in Exodus 12 that keeping Passover should be a family affair. It was not to be done at the Temple or Tabernacle. In His instructions, God specifies that nearly every family should kill its own lamb (Exodus 12:3-4). He desires to make the point to every individual that he is responsible for the death of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ!
However, consider this: The overwhelming majority of those Israelite families were not rich. Most of them had only small flocks and herds, so they had just a few sheep and very few lambs. In most cases, they lived with their animals, and whenever they put a lamb to death on Passover, it was quite likely the family pet! They killed something very close to them, a living thing to which they had emotional attachments. Millions of beloved pets died over centuries! Perhaps this can provide us more insight to see that nothing is too great a price for God to pay for us.
Sacrifices, as such, had no power in themselves to heal the rupture between God and man, because an animal cannot make an adequate satisfaction for the sin and guilt of man. When Jesus Christ, the sinless and righteous God-man, voluntarily offered Himself on the Cross, He fulfilled the Law of sacrifices and ordinances; and the typical meaning of each sacrifice and offering was brought out in full.
We are free – no longer do we need to make
perpetual sacrifices to alleviate our sinfulness.
Thank You Lord Jesus, for taking upon yourself my sin. I am your child; I bow to your instruction and follow you as my eternal shepherd. AMEN.