The divinely appointed way for the Old Testament sinner to rid himself of sin and guilt was through animal sacrifices. The Israelite sacrificial offerings are detailed in Leviticus 1 through 7. Careful attention was paid to the use and disposal of the blood in the various kinds of sacrifices. Indeed, the role of blood in sacrificial rituals is one of the unifying features in the Israelite sacrifices.
The person who had sinned — and thus had broken the covenant relationship and the law that regulated it — could be restored to full fellowship with God and humanity by bringing an animal sacrifice as a substitute. Sacrifices, with their rites, were the God-appointed means to bring about cleansing from sin and guilt. They were instituted to cleanse the sinner, transferring individual sin and guilt to the sanctuary by sprinkling blood and reinstituting communion and full covenantal fellowship of the penitent with the personal God who is the saving Lord.
How do these concepts, expressed above, help us understand the questions at the end of yesterday’s study?
What prophetic significance was there in the animal sacrifice? (Isaiah 53:4-12, Hebrews 10:4).
The Old Testament animal sacrifices were the divinely ordained means for ridding the sinner of sin and guilt. They changed the sinner’s status from that of guilty and worthy of death to that of forgiven and reestablished in the covenantal God-human relationship. But there was a sense in which the animal sacrifices were prophetic in nature. No animal, after all, was an adequate substitute in atoning for humanity’s sin and guilt. Paul states it in his own language: “It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4, RSV). Thus, an animal sacrifice was meant to be a looking forward to the coming of the divine-human Servant of God, who would die a substitutionary death for the sins of the world. It is through this process that the sinner is forgiven and accepted by the Lord, and the basis of the covenant relationship is established.
|Put yourself in the position of someone who lived in Old Testament times, when they sacrificed animals at the sanctuary. Remembering, too, just how important livestock was to their economy, culture, and whole way of life, what lesson were these sacrifices supposed to teach them about the cost of sin?|