In the last four chapters we have seen that the sanctuary has three places—the court, the holy place and the most holy place. These three places distinctly represent Christ’s work as the Lamb, the High Priest and the Judge on behalf of the repentant sinner. Of His work of judgment, Christ said, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22).
The first step
The first step the repentant sinner takes is to come to the court with a sacrifice for his sin. “And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” (Leviticus 3:2) The sinner himself kills the offering as God wanted the sinner to always remember that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), that his sin is killing someone else. The laying of his hand upon the head of his offering symbolized the confession of his sin and the transfer of the sin from the sinner to the innocent victim.
Leviticus 16:21, “…shall lay both his hands upon the head … and confess over him all the iniquities”.
Then the priest collects the blood in a basin and takes it to the holy place of the sanctuary and pleads to God on the sinner’s behalf. Why was the blood taken to the sanctuary? The Bible tells us that life is in the blood.
Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”
The sacrifice and the blood of an animal have no value at all. They were just symbols of the reality. The apostle wrote, Hebrews 10:1, 4 “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect…For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”
There is only one sacrifice that had value, which was offered for the sins of the whole world, from Adam’s time to the close of earth’s history. Jesus is, “The Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
That holy and precious blood has eternal value for every sinner. It is called “the blood of the everlasting covenant” Hebrews 13:20
As the repentant sinner brought a sacrifice for his sin in the earthly court, in reality we come to God by faith claiming Christ as our personal sacrificial Lamb. As the sinner placed his hands upon the head of the sacrifice and confessed his sins upon it, we come to the Lamb of God and confess our sins to Him. The word of God says,
1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Yes, from our part we genuinely confess our sins to Him, and from His part the heavenly High Priest does two things—He does “forgive us” and “cleanse us”. This statement can be understood properly only from the light of the sanctuary services. Forgiving and cleansing the sins are not done at the same time as far as the sanctuary service is concerned. One is done at the holy place and the other is done at the most holy place of the sanctuary.