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Old Testament Animal Sacrifices as Symbols of the Sacrifice of Christ


by Jason Smathers on July 12, 2011

The Jews and some dispensationalists believe the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were sufficient for salvation. However, the truth is, the OT sacrifices were typical and symbolic of the sacrifice of Christ and that they could not remove sin (Heb. 10:4). Jim Brooks compiled an eleven point list of Old Testament evidence proving this. Their points are republished below for your edification:

  1. The protoevangelicum (Gen. 3:15) stated that the ultimate end of Satan would come through a person not an animal. This implies the animal sacrifices to come were a picture of the ultimate sacrifice of the “seed of the woman.”
  2. This also implies that since sin entered through one man (Adam) the forgiveness of sin would also come through one man to come (the seed of the woman).
  3. The sheer number of sacrifices on a daily, weekly and yearly basis for centuries would make one think that these were not enough. This was the argument made in Heb. 10., that the sacrifices were a mere shadow of the reality to come.
  4. Access to the Holy of Holies was forbidden (except once a year, by the priest accompanied with sacrifices) which implies there is a sacrifice to come which will open it to all. This is the argument made in Heb. 9.
  5. Samuel’s chastisement to Saul for his disobedience that obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22) points to the heart more than the action of sacrifice.
  6. In Psa. 51:16 David hints that the sacrifices were not enough, but it was the heart that the Lord was out to change. This suggests the Lord did not need the blood of animals and that, ultimately, they were ineffectual to be the ultimate sacrifice for sin.
  7. Passages which speak about circumcising the heart (Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4) is what the Lord desired more than animals. This was Paul’s argument in Rom. 2:29.
  8. Psa. 69:29-33 hints at the temporariness of the OT cult. David wrote he “will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving (v. 30) which “will please the LORD more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs” (v. 31).
  9. In Isa. 1, God dismissed the whole system and tells the people not to even do it because He is sick of their lukewarm hearts. Also Jer. 6:20.
  10. Isa. 53 is one of the strongest passages on this issue. Here, the language of forgiveness is centered on a Person, who gives Himself as a burnt offering thus bypassing the sacrificial system.
  11. Jeremiah speaks of the blessings of forgiveness in the New Covenant which has no mention of the animal sacrifices (Jer. 31:34).

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