Troublesome Topic: Jesus Terminated All the Old Testament Sacrifices

Lesson 9 of 11

In Matthew chapter 24 Jesus made a clear and compelling case for how the destruction of the temple and the elimination of its sacrificial system would be one of the two powerful confirmations that He was indeed the Messiah. The confirming sign became a reality in AD 70 when the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. See my study lesson called THE END OF WHICH AGE? for more about how this topic fits with the rest of Matthew 24. A discussion of why the confirmation did not come till 40 years after Jesus left the earth is found in my lesson dealing with the other powerful confirmation; it is called EVANGELIZATION MARKED THE COMPLETION OF AN AGE – BUT WHICH AGE?.

It is worth mentioning that there are a number of Old Testament passages that point to the coming of the Messiah, and yet they refer to sacrifices. Because of these passages, and due to their views on prophecy, some people assume that the temple will be rebuilt and the sacrificial system will be reinstated. However, in those Old Testament passages, God communicated in a way that the people of that day could understand. They associated atonement with sacrifices because God had taught them to think that way in preparation for the coming of Jesus.  It is also obvious that God did not choose to correct there thinking and explain to them ahead of time that he would send His own Son, in the form of human flesh, to die on a cross for our sins because they were still in the time of preparation. He gave some details, but not enough for them to get the whole picture of exactly how things would come about. Therefore, the way it was communicated to and through the Old Testament prophets matched the understanding they had at that time.

David’s Psalm of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba is a good example of how the Old Testament people used the terminology of sacrifices when referring to what we know is different from the old sacrificial system.

Psalms 51:16


For you do not desire sacrifice or I would give; you are not pleased by a burnt offering.


For in a case like this, you do not desire a sacrifice, or else I would readily give you one; in this case even a burnt offering would not quell your anger.

Psalms 51:17


The sacrifices of ELOHIM are a broken heart; a broken and crushed heart, O ELOHIM, You will not consider worthless.


That is because, in a case like this, the sacrifices that you, THE CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS, will accept are nothing more and nothing less than a broken heart; yes, a heart that is broken over sin and a spirit that is crushed with guilt are the only things that You, O CREATOR AND OWNER OF ALL THINGS, will not reject as futile and ineffective.

Psalms 51:18


In your accepting favor, do good to ZION; build up the walls of JERUSALEM.


In your willingness to show favor and be accepting, I ask you to carry out that which pleases you for THE SIGN POST (which indicates where you are at work and what your work looks like); and I ask you to increase the strength of THE PLACE OF PEACEFUL FOUNDATIONS.

Psalms 51:19


Then you will be pleased with righteous sacrifices, with offerings that are completely burned up. Then they will sacrifice bulls on your altar.


After you do that you will be pleased with the right sacrifice for situations like mine, one that is completely consumed for you. At that time the most expensive type of sacrifice will be offered to You.

David knew something better was coming.

Not only did David know that the sacrificial system had no sacrifice for willful sinning, he realized that this would change some day. Notice the use of future verbs in verse 19. He was convinced that one day there would be “righteous sacrifices” which would atone for all types of sins. He did not know what that sacrifice would look like, but he knew it would come.

David did not picture the Son of God dying on a cross. Crosses had not been invented yet. Rather, he assumed that the true and effective sacrifice would look something like the ones he was familiar with. The Old Testament prophets thought similarly. Therefore, we cannot read verses from the Old Testament about sacrifices in the new era and assume that means that God wants the sacrifices of lambs and bulls to be reinstated. They were pointing to Jesus because He is the One True Sacrifice. When that which is real shows up, the substitutes must step aside.

Christians who believe that the sacrifices will be reinstated say that they will only serve as reminders of the efficacious sacrifice of Jesus. But that does not agree with the way the New Covenant was set up. The Holy Spirit is the only witness of the New Covenant; He is the only reminder and motivator we need!

Look at what Jesus did regarding the covenantal relationship between God and man. He established a new covenant with His own blood, He supplied the only efficacious sacrifice, and He eliminated the sacrifices that were still going on according to the previous covenant, leaving the sacrifice of His life as the only one available and the only one that is needed. What God does, He does well. With Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, and the confirmation that came 40 years later, His redemptive work was complete; nothing was missing.

The next lesson in the Full Series on Covenants is: Communion Is Multifaceted

The next lesson in the Midsize and Short series on Covenants is: A New Perspective on the Curse of Death