OT and NT

The death of Jesus was a sacrifice to provide the same kind of benefit as the Old Testament animal sacrifices, only once for all and permanent — a one-time event. He was a sinless victim who offered himself for us to redeem our sin.

There is confusion in understanding the New Testament passages about Christ's sacrifical death. The observations and arguments...

About Christ as High Priest...

  1. The book of Hebrews goes to great length describing the Old Testament sacrifical system with its High Priest.
  2. Christ is the High Priest, but not this High Priest, not a Levitical High Priest but, rather, a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
  3. Therefore, the temple sacrifices have no relationship to Christ after all. And there is no mention of Melchizedek offering animal sacrifices.

About Christ as a sacrifice for the sins of the world...

  1. Christ's death was a sacrifice on our behalf, not for himself.
  2. Christ was sacrificed as a Passover sacrifice which is not a sacrifice for sin but, rather, for redemption, to provide freedom from bondage to the enemy.
  3. The Old Testament sacrifices were of this material world; Christ's sacrifice was of heaven, occurring in the spiritual realm.
  4. Christ conquered sin by his sacrifical death.
  5. Animal sacrifices made by humans and the sacrifice Christ made are two different kinds of things. Humans sacrifice for their own sin to restore their relationship with God. Christ sacrificed his life in order to provide a way for all humans of faith to have a relationship with God.
  6. Therefore, the only reason to mention Old Testament sacrifices when discussing Christ's sacrifical death is to prevent those having Jewish roots from misunderstanding Christ's work. This was a big problem in the early Church since it was Jewish and is, therefore, emphasized in the New Testament. We don't have to emphasize it today.

Satan's hope to be like God relies on his ability to inflict pain and suffering on created creatures, then to somehow tap-in and consciously experience this. God does not experience pain and suffering; it is completely outside his conscious awareness. Rather, God hears the cries of those suffering and assists them the best he can. When Christ, as deity, took on human nature and deified it by bringing it into the Godhead, he was able to himself suffer and die and to consciously experience these things just as we do. He snatched these aspects of Satan's kingdom of darkness away by redeeming them, by bringing them into God's kingdom which includes redemption. Satan's kingdom became much smaller after Christ's incarnation and sacrifical death. All of Christ's work in this regard occurred in the spiritual realm, in heaven.

When there is sin, something simply must be done about it; it interferes with our relationship with God. The only proper responses are: (1) admitting it, (2) repenting from it, (3) making restitution for it to those harmed by it, (4) pleading to God for mercy and forgiveness. Old Testament animal sacrifice had these elements for those of faith...

  1. admitting it — taking a valuable animal to the temple to present to the priests for sacrifice was a public way to acknowledge sin. Truly admitting the severity of sin requires death, because sin is so horrific. (But killing animals for food was a familiar activity, so they would not be horrified in killing an animal.)
  2. repenting from it — presumably, in doing step 1 you have plenty of time to reflect on your sin and repent from it.
  3. making restitution for it to those harmed by it — true contrition and repentance requires this.
  4. pleading to God for mercy and forgiveness — the whole point of sacrifice is for God to forgive you.

We don't take Jesus to the temple to sacrifice him; he offered himself as our sacrifice. We, instead, offer up his one-time sacrifice. This is done is a very tangible way during mass but sadly, the Eucharist is rejected by many Protestants.

The sacrificial aspect of redemption is for our benefit, to provide a way for us to interact with Jesus' work. Jesus provides for redemption through the incarnation and deification of human nature and the universe; we participate in this through the sacrificial aspects of Jesus' work. In effect, we present Jesus before God as a sacrifice on our behalf and God pardons our sins. (But we don't sacrifice Jesus over and over again.)

Apparently, we can perform sacrifices by our good works, by our faithful living.

Old Testament animal sacrifices

We are in Satan's kingdom. In Old Testament times Christ had not yet died (nor was born). Satan's goal was to kill Christ, so in creating this world having pain and suffering and sin and death, God promised Satan that forgiveness for sin would require a death; that way, when Christ was born, Satan could kill him pretending he was doing so to allow other people's sins to be forgiven. (Satan didn't realize Christ would rise from the dead and conquer sin, death, and Satan).

God taught Adam and Eve to sacrifice animals (but God doesn't kill) as a form a worship of the true monotheistic God; and they taught Abel, etc. (Adam was not the first human, rather, he was the first human of redemption history. Religion and animal sacrifices to the true monotheistic God began at that time, instituted by God.) The death of the animal really does cause redemption because God honors their worship of him and he blesses them.

Before the fall of humanity at the time of Adam and Eve there was no need for redemption — all were redeemed. (There were modern humans 190,000 years before Adam and Eve.) Satan was waiting for the chance to begin destroying human souls. God had promised him this opportunity; if Adam and Eve chose Satan over God, Satan could set up his kingdom of darkness in a new way among humans. Satan only rules over people who are alive; after death they were placed in Abraham's Bosom for safety (but the wicked suffered there as we see in the account of Lazarus and the rich man).

Did God institute animal sacrifices?

Fundamentalist evangelical Protestants teach that the Old Testament worshippers needed animal sacrifices for two reasons: (1) to teach them of the seriousness of sin (an animal has to be killed to atone for it), and (2) to provide for temporary forgiveness of their sins. But these fundamentalist evangelical Protestants also teach that animal sacrifices did not really do anything; they were merely a type pointing to Christ's sacrifice. None of this makes any sense at all.

My view...

  1. The first modern humans appeared 200,000 years ago.
  2. Adam and Eve appeared about 10,000 B.C. They were the first humans of redemption history, the first monotheists who worshipped the true God.
  3. At the time of the founding of Israel as a monotheistic nation, the peoples all around were not monotheists and practiced animal and human sacrifice.
  4. The Israelites adopted animal sacrifice but turned it into a worship of the true monotheistic God. They were to isolate themselves from their neighbors and only worship at the tabernacle (at first), later the temple.
  5. God did not command the Israelites to practice animal sacrifice, but he honored it as best he could.
  6. Animal sacrifices do not teach people the enormity of sin since they are familiar with killing animals all the time for food.
  7. Later in the New Testament, the writers used all of the meaning from the Old Testament regarding sacrifice and incorporated it into their descriptions of Christ's work. I'm not sure how helpful this was except to refute the ideas of those Jewish Christians who thought you had to first be Jewish to be Christian.
  8. The Old Testament sacrifices were not merely a type pointing to Christ's sacrifical death. The New Testament never says that Christ's death was an Old Testament-style sacrifice.