I have heard many people say, that the God of the Old Testament was a God of wrath and anger, vastly different then the God portrayed in the New Testament. However this is not true and this passage of scripture supports that. God dealt with the people who lived before Christ in restraint, patience and tolerance looking forward to the time when Jesus would do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.
God presented Jesus as the propitiation for our sins. Another way to put that is that God showed His mercy to the sinner by atoning for our sins with His blood shed on the cross. The Jew was familiar with the sacrificial system because the Law required that nearly everything be cleansed in blood. ( Hebrews 9:22 ) But the reality was, that the blood of animals was never able to take away sin. ( Hebrews 10:4 )
Why was there a need for a different sacrifice other than animals? First because the sacrifices prescribed in the Law was a type and a shadow of the things to come ( Colossians 2:17 ). One way to look at this is like writing a check to pay for groceries. The check itself isn't worth anything, but when the amount is filled out and the check is signed, then the check is the promise of payment. The check can be cashed in for the value assigned to it. However, it is only good if there is money in the bank to cover it. In the same way, the sacrificial system was like the check in this example. It was only as valuable as the reality was to back it up. Jesus was that reality and the real sacrifice for sin. The blood of the bulls and goats served as a token for the real sacrifice that Jesus would pay. It was the type and shadow and vague representation of what was to come.
If the blood of animals wasn't able to pay for sin, why was Jesus' blood able to do it? First because Jesus was sinless His blood was able to justify us ( Romans 5:9 ). Justified means, just as if I'd never sinned. So Jesus' blood restores us to a state before sin corrupted it. Secondly because Jesus' blood made peace between us and God ( Colossians 1:20 ). By His blood He reconciled all things back to Himself thus making peace. And lastly, Jesus' blood brings about the forgiveness of sin ( Hebrews 10:18 ). So since there was peace between us and God, we were restored to a state before sin corrupted us and we were completely forgiven once for all, The blood literally appeased God and reconciled us to Him through Faith. Animal blood was never able to do this.
By sending Jesus as our sacrifice of atonement or propitiation for sin, God demonstrated his justice and righteousness. Because by His forbearance he left the sins committed before Jesus' sacrifice unpunished. There was complete remission of sin for all of those people who lived before Christ. The Greek work for remission is 'aphesis' which literally means, deliverance, freedom; liberty; release from bondage; forgiveness; pardon of sins, letting them go as if they had not been committed; remission of penalty. So even though these sins were an offense to Him, in his restraint and in the face of provocation he completely passed over and ignored these sins without punishment looking forward to the time when Jesus would pay for them.
To me, this sounds exactly like the God written about in the New Testament. Forgiving, loving, patient and willing to do whatever it takes to bridge the gap between us. Today I praise God that He sent Jesus to be my Savior. I thank God for the Bible, so we have the means to read, understand and know Him. And I thank Him for redeeming me fully, completely and eternally!