Troublesome Topic: How Do We Know What the Sacrifices Were For?

Lesson 6 of 21

Good question!

The answers are not as easy to find as one would suppose.

The Bible does not usually tell us what the purpose was for each sacrifice. The people of that day were expected to deduce its purpose from the following things: the name, the thing that was sacrificed, the method of sacrificing it, and the occasions in which it was sacrificed.

For that reason I will use the following questions in our quest for a purpose for each sacrifice.

What did the name of the offering mean?

What was sacrificed and what did it symbolize?

How was it offered?

When was it offered?

Why is it good to know the purpose behind the sacrifices? I have been saying that the Law was intended to teach, not to save. If every aspect of the Law taught spiritual lessons, and I believe they did, then the sacrifices also taught spiritual lessons. Of all the parts of the Law we could discuss, the sacrifices themselves are the things that would most likely be thought of as having the power to save someone. They could atone, wasn’t that the same as salvation? Well, in reality, they did not fully atone for sin; what they did was paint a picture that looked ahead toward the true sacrifice for sin, who is Jesus. So if the sacrifices did not save, and did not fully atone for sin, what did they do? Why did the Israelites have to offer them if they didn’t do anything? The answer is that they taught key spiritual lessons that prepared the heart for what God wanted to do in them. And the heart is what God looks at.

The next lesson in the full series on covenants is That “Sweet Smelling Aroma” Does Not Seem Sweet to Us