God set the precedent. Adam and Eve had tried to sew fig leaves together for clothes, but God did one better. He made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. He killed an animal to cover their shame and nakedness. The animal didn’t do anything, but it died for Adam’s benefit. What followed were generations of animal sacrifices, usually from the flock. From Adam and Eve’s second son Abel to Noah after the flood. Abraham seemed to understand the gist of Heb 10 for he was prepared to willingly offer a human sacrifice, but God stopped him and again substituted an animal. Abraham passed the tradition on to Isaac, and Isaac to Jacob, then Jacob to all his children.
Then God set the standard. He regulated the sacrifices. For every sin or reminder of sin there was a sacrifice. It was always an animal. There were morning and evening sacrifices; there were holidays with annual sacrifices. There seemed to be no end, especially when God got a permanent building and the scale and ceremony of everything was amped up. Day after day, year after year. At one point the temple was destroyed, but they rebuilt it and it all started again; day after day, year after year. Why?
Why would God first exemplify then mandate the sacrifice of animals for humans? Wasn’t enough, enough? Think of all the animals (probably millions); think of all the blood. Why couldn’t God be appeased? Heb 10 tells us. The sacrifices were a reminder of the fact that sin had not been taken care of yet. The animal sacrifices just weren’t cutting it. So what would? The writer of Hebrews gives us a hint when he says that when Jesus came God prepared for him a body. You see the sacrifice had to be human. It couldn’t be an animal because animals hadn’t sinned. It was man’s sin that had brought death (Rom 5:12); therefore, it would have to be a man who paid the price, but a problem still existed though, because it couldn’t be just any man who would die. No, it had to be a perfect man. That is why neither Isaac nor anyone else who preceded or followed him wasn’t good enough. Now where to find a perfect man. Again the author of Hebrews assists us. It would have to be someone who could sit down at the right hand of God; in other words, it would have to be God himself. So if the sacrifice had to be a man, and had to be God, it would appear that we need a God-man. God had this under control too.
God’s spirit entered the womb of Mary a virgin and conceived in her a son. Because he was conceived of God’s Spirit he would be 100% God, and because he was conceived in Mary, he would be 100% man. Because he was not conceived by a man, he would not have the sin nature passed on to him; therefore, God had created the perfect God-man to take the penalty and end the animal slaughter of centuries. His name was Jesus. He grew just like everyone else, but when he became a man he preached and taught for three years before he irritated the religious status quo badly enough to move them to want to kill him. They had him illegally tried; they had him illegally judged. They beat him and then asked the Romans to kill him for them. He suffered more and worse than any animal had before and than all the animals combined. He carried the weight of our sin upon himself receiving our whipping, thorns, and mocking; carrying our cross and receiving our nails through his hands and feet. He suffered for the better part of a day and when he was good and ready, he died.
And then the writer of Hebrews tells us the best part of it all; you see after he died, he sat down. That’s right, while on the cross he said, It is finished, and then he sat down. The sacrifices were over. His was once and for all. No one would ever need to sacrifice anything ever again, for the work of this lamb had taken care of it all. You couldn’t do enough to pay for your own sin, and you don’t need to. Jesus took it all for you on that cross, and not just the sins you committed before, but the sins to come as well. He took it all. For you.