Posted by: rcottrill | August 10, 2015

No Blood, No Altar Now

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Words: Horatius Bonar (b. Dec. 19, 1808; d. July 31, 1889)
Music: Trentham, by Robert Jackson (b. May ___, 1842; d. July 12, 1914)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Horatius Bonar born, died)
The Cyber Hymnal (Horatius Bonar)
Hymnary.org

Note: Dr. Bonar was a clergyman in the Free Church of Scotland. A thorough-going evangelical in his preaching, he was also an author of note, with many hymns to his credit. His more than six hundred hymns, both soundly doctrinal and devotionaly warm, earned him the title of “the prince of Scottish hymn writers.”

This hymn, which he called “The Finished Sacrifice,” was written in April of 1858. As of this writing, the Cyber Hymnal does not include it among the 10,600 hymns it covers. And it’s unfortunate that few hymn books carry it either. It reminds us of how the Old Testament sacrificial system has been left behind, and points us to the finality of the death of Christ. The tune Trentham is also used with the hymn Breathe on Me, Breath of God.

1) No blood, no altar now,
The sacrifice is o’er!
No flame, no smoke, ascends on high,
The lamb is slain no more.

2) We thank Thee for the blood,
The blood of Christ, Thy Son:
The blood by which our peace is made,
Our victory is won.

Some change comes quickly, other times it’s gradual and more complicated. When a football player suddenly shifts direction and heads the opposite way to avoid an opponent, we say he can “turn on a dime.” But an ocean liner can’t do that. With much churning of the waters, It takes some time to make the sweeping turn required.

In history, it is the same. The terrorist attacks of 2001 seemed to mark a sudden turning point in history. Things have been different every since. On the other hand, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation didn’t instantly give all the slaves full equality with all the citizens of America. It took another century to bring in major civil rights legislation.

There are examples of this in the Bible too. The Israelites spent four decades wandering in the wilderness. Moses told them the purpose: “The Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not” (Deut. 8:2). But it was a painful and difficult process. Time after time they rebelled against God and doubted His promises.

At the other end of the scale is what happened at Passover in AD 30. There was a radical turning point in the history of the world. None greater. It took awhile for the affects to be realized and understood, but the change itself took place in an instant. The Gospel of John records it for us. As the Lord Jesus hung on the cross, “He said, ‘It is finished!’ and bowing His head, He gave up His spirit” (Jn. 19:30).

Think of the before and after. Since the fall, at the dawn of history, animal sacrifices had been offered, to be burned upon an altar. Thousands upon thousands of them. It was a practice ordained by God. And it provided a dramatic picture of the principle of substitution, the innocent dying in place of the guilty. The offerer placed his hand upon the sacrifice (Lev. 1:4), saying in effect, This is me; this animal is dying in my place.

When the sacrifice was offered in faith, God accepted it and forgave the sinner. But it was only of limited and temporary value. A beast couldn’t finally pay for the sins of a human being (Heb. 10:4). The practice, endlessly repeated, merely pointed forward to something far greater yet to come. At Calvary, the Son of God paid the full and final debt of our sin. That is why He is called “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).

He died once and dies no more (Rom. 8:9). He “offered one sacrifice for sins forever” (Heb. 10:12). That was a radical change. No other sacrifice is called for; none is needed. Now, all who put their faith in Christ are forgiven of their sins, and receive the gift of eternal life (Jn. 3:16). “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).

3) We thank Thee for the grace,
Descending from above,
That overflows our widest guilt,
The eternal Father’s love.

4) We thank Thee for the hope,
So glad, and sure, and clear;
It holds the drooping spirit up,
Till the long dawn appear;

5) We thank Thee for the crown
Of glory and of life;
‘Tis no poor with’ring wreath of earth,
Man’s prize in mortal strife.

That is God’s final answer for human sin, for all who will receive it.

Questions:
1) How must believers have felt when they understood that Christ had fulfilled the old sacrificial symbolism?

2) Why would it be difficult for some to leave the animal sacrifices behind?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns (Horatius Bonar born, died)
The Cyber Hymnal (Horatius Bonar)
Hymnary.org


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