Sacrifices

The Old Testament sacrificial system is confusing to me. Today I am reading in Ezra where the second temple is finished and starting to be used. The small community of post-exilic Israel offers offerings to God. Hundreds of animals are sacrificed. And then the text mentions twelve goats as a sin offering, one for each of the tribes. The sin offering is a small add-on to the main offerings. And it is goats, not lambs.

The great mass of the offerings were not for sin, but for thanksgiving and other modes of worship.

Then came the passover, and the lambs were sacrificed and the week of unleavened bread was celebrated. The passover lamb was not a sacrifice for sin. It was originally to use the blood to mark the doors of Israelites in Egypt, in order to avoid the judgment of God. Subsequently that passover lamb was a reminder of what God had done in delivering them from Egypt. And, in a way, this return from exile was a second exodus, so perhaps the passover celebration takes on additional meaning.

The main thing, though, is that the lamb is not a sin offering.

Jesus died at passover time. Should we view him as our passover lamb? I’ve heard preachers confuse passover with the day of atonement (Yom Kippur) in Easter sermons, saying things like that Jesus was sacrificed for us at the time when the high priest was in the holy of holies. The curtain was ripped to show that we could no all go in there. But Yom Kippur is in the fall and passover is in the spring. The two cannot possibly happen at the same time.

Anyway, all this causes me to ask how we should see the death of Jesus. Of course, he died for our sins. Scripture is clear about this. But, perhaps, the atonement aspect should take a back seat to the deliverance and protection aspect.

I don’t know where I come out on this. I need to do some more thinking and reading. I love having stuff to read and think about.

One thought on “Sacrifices

  1. I am not sure of the sacrifice for intentional sins. It seems many of those sins were met with stoning or maybe banishment. Was Yom Kippur when intentional sins were placed figuratively on the goat and taken outside the city?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *