|Year Of The Ox
(A Lunar New Year Tract)
PDF Print Version
The ox features much in the Bible. It is an animal known for its strength, its usefulness on the farm, and its value as property. Together with the sheep, the goat, the pigeon, and the dove, it was used as sacrifice in the burnt offering to God.1
The burnt offering was meant to atone (i.e. to make up) for the sins of the people against God. The animal that was sacrificed had to be a male, without blemish, and offered up voluntarily.2 This ancient system of worship was instituted by God when the first pair of human beings - Adam and Eve - sinned against Him.3 As it passed down the human race, the significance, purpose, and requirements of the sacrifice were lost or distorted. Many cultures in the world practise the offering of animal sacrifices to appease the spirits or deities, without realizing that the one true God alone is to be worshipped, in the way He has prescribed.4
What did the original burnt offering indicate? First, it showed that we have sinned against God and, therefore, need atonement for our sins. We sin in our thoughts, words, and deeds. We have failed to do what God requires of us - e.g. to act justly, to show mercy, to worship the true God alone, etc. We have also failed to avoid what God forbids us to do, e.g. not to lie, not to hate, not to steal, not to worship idols, etc. These sinful actions flow from a sinful nature which we have inherited from our parents. We have the twin problems of having a sinful nature which we cannot change, and being guilty of sins which we cannot make up for.
Second, the burnt offering showed that only a perfect sacrifice which is acceptable to God can atone for our sins. The sacrifice used for the burnt offering had to be without blemish, but it was only an animal and could hardly make up for our sins. The sacrifice of the animal was only a symbolic act to show that someone God has appointed would come to be the perfect and acceptable sacrifice for sinners. The blood of the animal was shed in order to show that the life of that person would be laid down as a substitute for those who believe in him.
Third, the burnt offering showed that the perfect sacrifice we needed would be provided by God, in the person of Jesus Christ. Since the burnt offering could not really atone for sin, it had to be repeated ever so often. This was carried out until the fullness of the time had come, when the Son of God came to the world by taking upon Himself perfect human nature.5 Jesus Christ, the appointed Saviour, is truly God and truly Man, in one person. He came to lay down His life as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”.6 By His death on the cross, He paid for the sins of those who believe in Him.7 He rose from death, ascended to heaven, and promised to return to judge the world.
While waiting for the day of judgement to arrive, the message of salvation in Jesus Christ is proclaimed to all. To be saved from God’s judgement, you must repent of your sins and trust in Jesus Christ as your Saviour.
The ox is still the measure of prosperity in some agarian communities. In the urban centres of the world, people seek prosperity by betting on a bullish market. Between these two extremes are found those who seek the prosperity and comfort of the world by various means, while neglecting the welfare of their souls. Are you one of those? “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”8 Seek peace with God today, through faith in Jesus Christ!
1 Lev. 1:2, 14, 15; 2 Lev. 22:18-20; 3 Gen. 3:21; 4:3-4; 4 Acts 17:26-27; Rom. 1:18-23; 5 Gal. 4:4-5;
6 John 1:29; 7 Heb. 9:28; 10:11-14; 8 Matt.16:26