Part 2 of 5: The Sacrifice of Propitiation

Posted By Thomas Perez. July 16, 2011 at7 7:47pm. Copyright 2011.

A. General Introduction

The New Testament was largely written to people in three main cultures: Greco-Roman, Diaspora Judaism, Pharisaical Judaism. The images of those respective religious views would be the background to the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus.

Just as all the various messianic strands found their fulfillment in Jesus, so too did all the sacrificial system.

And the appeal of the various sacrifices in non-biblical religions also was satisfied uniquely in the sacrifice of Jesus.

B. The “Logic” of Sacrifice in the Old Testament

Sacrifice was always about repairing and maintaining community and personal relationships within the community (which included God as community member).

If a man or woman destroyed the property of another, the offender had to repay the victim, restoring like for like. Some aspects of sacrifice (e.g., reparation offerings) focused on this community repair. Some (but not most) aspects of some sacrifices looked like what we would call today “fines.” Since the “money” of the day consisted of livestock, fines were paid in that ‘currency’.

The community had been created by God, and His people were His ‘portion’ in the world. When someone would do damage to a community member, there was also a “loss” to the Community Owner and original Community Member, and it too had to be “made good.” Since all sin weakened the community to a greater or lesser extent, God had to be “paid back” for the damage. God took His payment in the currency of the day–livestock and agricultural products. Once the payment had been given over to God, and was now His property, God was free to do with it as He pleased: some of it He gave to His workers (i.e., the priests), some He gave to the poor and disadvantaged, some He used as “object lessons” (e.g., burnt offerings, post-exodus Passover lambs), but most of it He used in community and family celebration–to actively build community bonds. Since these sacrifices were at the center of the main community institutions, community life constantly reminded the Israelite of their relationship to the God of the Exodus. All of these uses of sacrfice by God added value and goodness “back into” the community, to help make up for the damage originally done.

The burnt offerings were a special category, which functioned like a perpetual reminder that (1) everything was the Lord’s already; that (2) He had absolute authority over what was His (including Israel!), and that (3) His absolute commitment to His people was to be matched by their absolute commitment to Him (in order to enjoy the incredible blessings He had designed for the community of which He was the founding Member).

Sacrifices were pervasive in the life of the Israelite, as a constant reminder that God’s ways and laws were only intended for community and individual welfare, and that deviations from that community design robbed the community of those intended blessings. They also functioned as a constant reminder that sin was not only a community issue, but also a personal issue–the offender had to approach God with a heart of honesty about the offense (and self-judgment in the process, obviously), and an action of relinquishing some personal property/value (e.g., livestock) as a just recompense to God. Sacrifices always cost something, and always required confession (by the very act of coming forward) and faith (that God had to be taken seriously).

Some sacrifices involved the notion of substitution–that the animal took the place of the community, select individuals, or offender (e.g., the scapegoat, original Passover lamb).

Sacrifices were expressions of an inward attitude and commitment. Sacrifices that were merely ritualistic were described as “worthless” or “empty” or even “treacherous.” Israel was unique in ancient history in one aspect of her sacrificial system: the concept of atonement as the repairing of personal communion with God, as a way to facilitate the constructive and creative interaction between Falling Humanity and a perfect, yet eager to bless, God.

Every sacrifice reminded Israel that she had been redeemed by God and was still in an interpersonal and corporate covenant with her Redeemer…

C. Sacrifice in the New Testament World

The phenomena of sacrifice in the Greco-Roman world:

“The traditional religion of the Greeks and Romans was a form of polytheism, in which some of the gods worshipped were benevolent and others malevolent, and in which even those who were benevolent shared the vices as well as the virtues of their worshippers. The gods were worshipped by sacrifice, and, as in Judaism, both animal and vegetable offerings were made, though the detailed ceremonial differed from Judaism considerably, and free use was made of images as the representatives of the gods. The purpose of sacrifice also had various similarities to Judaism. Thank-offerings, propitiatory offerings and sacred meals were practiced, and very frequently sacrifices were offered in fulfillment of vows, which had been made to secure some benefit. Sacrifice was mainly concerned with securing earthly benefits and averting earthly disaster, and whole offerings were made for the latter purpose to the gods and spirits of the underworld. Two marked differences from Jewish sacrifice were that human sacrifice was not excluded, and that in the ecstatic cult of Dionysus (Bacchus), the worshippers were believed to eat their deity in his animal representative. ” [STB:105]

Polytheistic (obviously), but also heavily weighted toward the dead ancestors.

Augustus Caesar became the head of most of the major priesthoods of the empire, and depicts himself offering sacrifice on coins. This was unprecedented (Julius had only held two of them–Augustus dominated at least seven at Rome).

The Roman army had their own dedicated sacrificial ‘chaplains’–one to do the dissection and one to read the entrails (coupling sacrifice and divination). Military generals would sacrifice themselves in order to win battles.

The empire honored both Roman and local deities, and “absorbed” deities as they assimilated cultures (but not all gods/religions were acceptable).

The senate offered sacrifices at the start of every session (between one-third and one-half would have been official priests).

[Many Christian persecutions were defined by our unwillingness to sacrifice.]

Much communal sharing and festivals, but some burnt offerings as well. Animals were preferred, but the gods accepted fruit, beans, milk, cheese, honey, and oil. Incense was also offered as a substitute for animals, and even buildings and inscriptions counted as “belated sacrifices” (e.g., model limbs in healing sanctuaries, in memory of the part healed in response to a promise of a sacrifice.)

“The person requiring the sacrifice usually made arrangements with the custodian of the relevant temple and hired the services of popae and victimarii (the people who actually cut the throats of the sacrificial animals and dissected them afterward), and often of a flute player (tibicen) as well. Sacrifices were accompanied by music (on a flute or lyre) to prevent any sounds of ill omen being heard, which would mean starting the sacrifice again. The priest kept his head covered with his toga at all times to guard against sights and sounds of ill omen.” [HI:HLAR:277]

“Animal sacrifice was the central ritual of many religious occasions; we know enough about it from both literary and archaeological evidence to understand its main stages. In structure, though not in detail, the ritual was closely related to the Greek ritual of sacrifice. The victim was tested and checked to make sure it was suitable; precise rules controlled the choice of sex, age, colour and type of victim, in relation to the deity and the occasion. After a procession to the altar and preparatory rites, a prayer was said in which the divine recipient was named; then the victim was made ‘sacred’ by the placing of wine and meal on its head and it was at this moment (so it was believed) that the signs (if any) appeared in the entrails that would imply the gods’ rejection of the offering. The victim had to be killed by a single blow; its exta (entrails) were examined by the haruspices; assuming that they were acceptable, the animal was then butchered, cooked and eventually eaten by the worshippers. If the exta showed unacceptable signs, further victims could be sacrificed until one was accepted and litatio achieved. The whole process was evidently bound by rules and by traditional lore; any error or misfortune – the victim escaping or struggling, the exta slipping when offered up at the altar – would have been very inauspicious. Even the butchering seems to have involved special knowledge, with a technical sacred vocabulary for the many different kinds of cuts (and sausages) that were offered to the god. [HI:RR1:36]

From BBC on I Cor 10: “Whatever meat was left over from sacrifices was taken to the meat market in the large agora in Corinth (not far from where Paul had once worked-Acts 18:3). Not all meat in this market had been offered to idols, but some of it had. In comparatively large cities, Jewish people were often allowed to have their own markets so they could avoid such food. In other cities, they would ask about the source of the meat. But Jewish teachers considered inadvertent sins “light”; thus Paul can trust that the scrupulous will be satisfied with “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” Because most people could not afford to buy meat, subsisting instead on fish and grain, Paul here addresses the well-to-do in the congregation.”

“Official” religion was falling out of favor at the time, and people were turning to more popular and flamboyant religions (e.g., mystery religions). These had elaborate rituals and initiations, used to solidify the sense of community and uniqueness of the group. Child sacrifice was practiced (against Roman law) in some of these cults.

“In this life, most elective cults offered a new sense-of community. As we have seen, the worship of traditional deities could have a social dimension. The association of Diana and Antinous, for example, met six times a year for sacrifice and dinner, and ensured that members had a decent burial. But most new, elective cults offered a much stronger type of membership, which they marked by special initiatory rituals. So, for example, in the cult of Isis, alongside the relatively public rituals, individual initiations became increasingly important from the first century A.D. onwards; members took part in the rituals at the main sanctuaries, or met in private groups, such as the one which used a house on the Aventine hill.[HI:RR1:287]

“Paradoxically, the spilling of blood, whether human or animal, symbolized the respect in which life was held by all. Everyone was insistent on the necessity of spilling blood, as it was the price that had to be paid for the survival of the community and for the salvation of each individual. This necessity was so clear and so much in everyone’s minds every day that when Tertullian could think of no further arguments against paganism he cried: ‘And if you must have blood, then you have Christ’s.'” [Aline Rousselle, Porneia, Blackwell:1988, p.128]

The phenomena of sacrifice in the non-Pharisaical Jewish world of first century Judaism:

“In the Intertestamental literature, the spiritualization of sacrificial ideas which we find in the Psalms and Prophets continues. Examples are Sir. 35:1-3; Test. Lev. 3:6; IQS 8,9; Philo, Som. 2:183. The instances from the Dead Sea Scrolls are particularly interesting, because the Qumran community had separated itself from the Temple until better times arrived, and was thus actually substituting spiritual sacrifice for literal, to a degree which even the Jews of the Dispersion, who could visit the Temple only occasionally, did not equal. When the Temple was destroyed in AD 70, rabbinic Judaism followed a similar course, as the prayers of the later Jewish liturgy indicate.” [STB:108]

Sirach 35.1-3: “The one who keeps the law makes many offerings; one who heeds the commandments makes an offering of well-being. The one who returns a kindness offers choice flour, and one who gives alms sacrifices a thank offering.” (see also 3.14, 30; 29.12; 7.9; 34.18f)

Philo, Som 2.183: “who then is the chief butler of God? The priest who offers libations to him, the truly great high priest, who, having received a draught of everlasting graces, offers himself in return, pouring in an entire libation full of unmixed wine”

1QS 9.3-5 (Dead Sea Scrolls): “When these exist in Israel in accordance with these rules in order to establish the spirit of holiness in truth eternal, in order to atone for the fault of the transgression and for the guilt of sin and for approval for the earth, without the flesh of burnt offerings and without the fats of sacrifice–the offering of the lips in compliance with the decree will be like the pleasant aroma of justice and the correctness of behavior will be acceptable like a freewill offerings”

We have an interesting passage on substitutionary suffering (martyrdom) in this period as well:

4 Macc 6:26-28: “When he was now burned to his very bones and about to expire, he lifted up his eyes to God and said, 27 “You know, O God, that though I might have saved myself, I am dying in burning torments for the sake of the law. 28 Be merciful to your people, and let our punishment suffice for them. 29 Make my blood their purification, and take my life in exchange for theirs.”

4 Macc 17.20-22: “These, then, who have been consecrated for the sake of God, are honored, not only with this honor, but also by the fact that because of them our enemies did not rule over our nation, 21 the tyrant was punished, and the homeland purified-they having become, as it were, a ransom for the sin of our nation. 22 And through the blood of those devout ones and their death as an atoning sacrifice, divine Providence preserved Israel that previously had been mistreated.”

The phenomena of sacrifice in the Pharisaical Jewish world of first century Palestine:

“…the first thing to note is that the literal sacrifices of the Pentateuchal Law were still being offered in the NT period, and continued to be offered until the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in AD 70.” [STB:107]

“Jewish sacrificial practice differed from that of the Greeks in two principal ways. In the first place, in Judaism during the Roman period the view prevailed that there should be only one temple and one place of sacrifice… The Greeks and Romans had almost countless temples, and sacrifice could be offered even where there was no temple.”

“Secondly, Jewish sacrificial worship was more expensive. There was a large hereditary priesthood that was supported by non-priests. In Greece and Rome priesthood was not a profession or a caste. In Rome, and not infrequently in the Greek-speaking world, it was an honor to be a priest, an honor reserved for the elite; like other honorary positions it was sometimes expensive for the office holder. Rulers whom we now think of as generals, conquerors, kings and emperors were also priests. Julius Caesar was a high priest. Alexander the Great, in his triumphant conquest of much of the known world, sacrificed regularly. In Greece and Rome, it is difficult to understand just what a priest was because the ‘distinction between civic magistracy and priesthood’ is elusive. Those who wanted to get on in the world sought priestly appointments (e.g. Pliny the Younger). In Judaism, on the other hand, priestly office was hereditary, priests were forbidden to support themselves by working the land, and the care and feeding of the priesthood were substantial costs borne by the rest of society, especially farmers. Another element that made Jewish sacrificial worship expensive was the use of holocausts, ‘whole-burnt offerings’, of which there were at least two each day in the Jerusalem temple. Such sacrifices were unknown in Greece. In Judaism, although a majority of the sacrifices provided food for the priest and/or the worshipper, some animals were entirely consigned to the altar. In Greece all sacrificed animals were eaten, and the gods usually got only some of the bones. In this second case, the expense of religion and the importance of a priestly caste, we can find parallels to Judaism in Babylonia, Egypt and other countries.” [E.P. Sanders, JPB:50f]

After the temple was destroyed, the sacrifices were (necessarily) spiritualized, substituting various alternatives as sacrifice:

1. Acts of love and mercy:

“When the court’s right to impose the death-penalty was abrogated and the Temple was destroyed, involving the abolition of the sacrifices, a sense of despair and the feeling that Israel had been deprived of the possibility of atonement prevailed. ‘It once happened that Rabban Johanan b. Zakkai was leaving Jerusalem and R. Joshua was walking behind him, when the latter saw the Temple in ruins. Said R. Joshua: “Woe to us that this is in ruins – the place where the sins of Israel were expiated!” Rabban Johanan b. Zakkai replied: “My son, be not grieved, we have a means of atonement that is commensurate with it. Which is this? It is the performance of acts of lovingkindness, as it is said ‘For I desire loving kindness and not sacrifice”‘ (Hosea vi 6).’ (‘Avot de-R. Nathan, 11a) [Ephraim Urbach, Sages:434-5]

“In another place, with reference to Prov 21.2, it is pointed out that the superiority of practicing the works of charity and justice over sacrifices consists in this, that whilst the atoning effect of the former extends also to the sins committed willfully, that of the latter is confined only to sins committed unintentionally” [Deut R., 5.8] (Solomon Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology:296)

“Rabbah Johanan ben Zakkai was the authority for ‘Even as the sin-offering makes atonement for Israel, so does charity make atonement for the Gentiles.’ [Baba Batra 10b] (Gedaliah Alon, JTLTA:51)

2. Hospitality to scholars (!):

“In the spirit of this teaching of Rabban Johanan b. Zakkai, the Tanna R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: ‘Whoever entertains a scholar in his house and lets him enjoy his possessions it is accounted to him by Scripture as if he had offered up the daily burnt-offerings’ (T.B. Berakhot 10b)…. [Ephraim Urbach, Sages:434-5]

3. Weight loss from fasting (!):

“The fasts that multiplied after the Destruction also assumed the character of a surrogate and replacement for the atonement effected by the sacrifices. This fact found concrete expression in the prayer attributed to Rav Sheshet: ‘Sovereign of the universe, it is known to Thee that when the Temple was in existence, if a man sinned he would bring a sacrifice, of which only the fat and the blood were offered up, and he would be granted atonement. Now I have observed a fast and my own fat and blood have been diminished. May it be Thy will that my diminished fat and blood be accounted as though I had offered them up before Thee on the altar, and do Thou show me favour.'” (T.B. Berakhot 17a) [Ephraim Urbach, Sages:434-5]

4. Death of the Individual himself, with repentance:

“death and the day of atonement effect atonement, if combined with repentance. Repentance effects atonement for lesser transgressions against both positive and negative commands in the Law; while for graver transgressions it suspends punishment until the Date of Atonement comes and effects atonement.’ (M. Yoma viii.8)

5. Death of the Individual himself, without repentance:

“The doctrine of R. Ishmael, R. Judah, and Rabbi that death–even death without repentance–has the power to atone originated only after the Destruction” [Urbach, Sages:432]

6. Criminal executions and punishments:

“The sacrifices only expiated iniquities between man and God, for which it was not in the power of an earthly court to impose punishment. Transgressions that were liable to punishment by a court were not atoned for by sacrifices, and only the penalty brought with it atonement for the sin. Those who were sentenced to death were told to make confession, ‘for such is the way of those condemned to death to make confession, because every one that makes confession has a share in the world to come…and if he does not know to make confession, he is told: ‘say, may my death be an atonement for all my iniquities,” (M. Sanhedrin vi.2) Similarly, it is stated regarding the penalty of lashes: ‘lashes are precious, for they atone for sins, as it is said: “according to the measure of wickedness’–the lashes suffice to atone for his wickedness’ [Midrash Tannaim, and TB Shevu’ot 21a]…” [Urback, Sages:433-434]

7. Involuntary suffering and disease:

“But besides satisfying the claims of a just God or of justice, death and suffering also atone and reconcile man with God. They form, according to the Rabbis, two of the four (or the three) kinds of atonement taught by the Scriptures. Self-inflicted suffering, such as fasting, assumes naturally the aspect of sacrifices. Hence the prayer of a Rabbi after a fast that the fat and blood which he lost through the fast should be accounted to him as a sacrifice on the altar, and have the same effect as the sacrifice in the days of yore when the Holy Temple was in existence. This was considered as a kind of self -sacrifice, or rather sacrifice of his soul, but this notion was not entirely limited to voluntary suffering. Every loss of property sustained by man, as well as every kind of physical suffering which he happens to undergo, are considered an atonement. “A man stumbled in a transgression, and became guilty of death by heaven (in contradistinction of the worldly tribunal). By what means shall he atone? His ox died, his chickens went astray, or he stumbled on his finger so that blood came out – by these losses and suffering, his debts (to the account of heaven against him) are considered paid.” Indeed, the loss of blood through any accident atones as the blood of a sacrifice [Chullin 7b]. It is further maintained that the appearance of leprosy on the body of a man is the very altar of atonement. Hence the dictum, “Beloved is suffering, for as sacrifices are atoning, so is suffering atoning.” Nay, suffering has even a greater atoning effect than sacrifice, inasmuch as sacrifice affects only man’s property, whilst suffering touches his very self. [Berakhot 5.b] (Solomon Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology:307-309)

8. Bible study:

“Atoning power is also ascribed to Torah and charity. The descendants of Eli could find no atonement by sacrifice and meat-offering, but they might receive pardon through the occupation with the study of the Torah and acts of loving-kindness. [ Rosh Hashanah, 18a] Indeed, the Holy One, blessed be he, foresaw that the Holy Temple would be destroyed and promised Israel that the words of the Torah, which is likened unto sacrifices, will, after the destruction of the Temple, be accepted as a substitute for sacrifices. [Tanchuma ahri, 10; Midrash Tanchuma, 3.85a] (Solomon Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology:312)

9. The dinner table:

” Reference may be made here also to the atoning effect ascribed to the dining-table in the household of a man, which is considered, by reason of the hospitality offered on it to the poor, as the altar in the Temple, on which the sacrifices were brought. [Berachoth, 55a] (Solomon Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology:312)

10. A chaste wife:

“The chaste woman is also likened to the altar; as the altar atones (for the sins of Israel), so she atones for her house.’ [Tanchuma, yishlh, 6] (Solomon Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology:312)

11. The death of a righteous/innocent person:

“The atonement of suffering and death is not limited to the suffering person. The atoning effect extends to all the generation. This is especially the case with such sufferers as cannot either by reason of their righteous life or by their youth possibly have merited the afflictions which have come upon them. The death of the righteous atones just as well as certain sacrifices.’ [Mechilta, 72b]… There are also applied to Moses the Scriptural words, “And he bore the sins of many” (Isa- 53 12), because of his offering himself as an atonement for Israel’s sin with the golden calf, being ready to sacrifice his very soul for Israel, when he said, “And if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book (that is, from the Book of the Living), which thou hast written” (Exod- 32 32).’ [Sotah, 14a and Berachoth 32a] This readiness to sacrifice oneself for Israel is characteristic of all the great men of Israel, the patriarchs and the Prophets acting in the same way, whilst also some Rabbis would, on certain occasions, exclaim, “Behold, I am the atonement of Israel”” [Mechilta, 2a; Mishnah Negaim 2.1] (Solomon Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology:310)

D. What might have been their first impression, at hearing John 1.29?

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1.29)

The Greek: appeasement of a deity, peace from evil spirits, communal celebration, violent death, surprise at the scale, uncertainty of acceptance, curiosity about the necessary repeatability.

The Roman: surprise at the human victim, model of a general in battle, holding together more than the empire, surprise at the “commonness” of the victim, still subject to the Emperor’s authority, but would have “checked out” at any mention of crucifixion.

Diaspora Jewry: Israel’s feasts, innocent victim, surprise at forgiveness for the world perhaps, a vagueness about the ‘how’, not surprised at the human victim (but no precision as to who ‘offers’ the sacrifice), an idea of the ethical purity of Jesus, awe and curiosity about such a remark from John the Baptist.

Pharisaical Jewry: the Suffering Servant, the Temple service, the Messianic age of forgiveness but with a dying/martyred messiah(?), curiosity over the scale, clear understanding of perfection and purity of the Lamb, confusion over the Lamb/scapegoat problem, confronted with inward response (in context of “repentance” preaching of the Baptist), and threatened by the mention of the Spirit.

E. How do the New Testament references to Christ’s death as sacrifice map to the OT sacrificial system?

Of the OT sacrifices, we noted:

A. Inaugural

1. The sealing of the covenant

2. The initial Passover

3. (Cleansing of altar and tabernacle)

B. Routine (with overlap within the types)

1. Burnt

2. Purification/Sin

3. Guilt/Reparation

4. Peace/Communion

C. Festival offerings

1. Passover

2. First Fruits

3. Tabernacles

D. Spontaneous offerings

1. Vows, including Nazarite

2. free-will offerings

E. Day of Atonement

1. The high priest

2. The slain goat

3. The scapegoat

And now the New Testament…

A. Inaugural

1. The sealing of the covenant

For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. 18 Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. (Heb 9.7)

the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, (Heb 10.29)

and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. (Heb 12.24)

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, (Heb 13.20)

In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. (1 Cor 11.25)

2. The initial Passover

Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed (1 Cor 5.7)

3. (Cleansing of altar and tabernacle)

By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Heb 10.10)

that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: (1 Pet 1.2)

Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. (Heb 9.23)

B. Routine (with overlap within the types)

1. Burnt

and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma (Eph 5.2)

For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. (Heb 7.26)

2. Purification/Sin

For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. (2 Pet 1.9)

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb 9.14)

And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Heb 9.24)

For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified…Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Heb 10.14,18)

3. Guilt/Reparation

but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1.7)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1.9)

4. Peace/Communion

In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. (1 Cor 11.25)

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. 16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? (1 Cor 10.14)

C. Festival offerings

1. Passover

Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed (1 Cor 5.7)

2. First Fruits

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. (1 Cor 15.20ff)

3. Booths (no special theme-offerings in the OT, but the Jewish lit refers to the atonement for the Gentiles)

D. Spontaneous offerings

1. Vows, including Nazarite (not applicable, unless “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am-it is written about me in the scroll- I have come to do your will, O God.'” (Heb 10.5ff)

2. free-will offerings:

For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. (John 10.17ff)

E. Day of Atonement

1. The high priest

and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Heb 9.12)

Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. (Heb 13.12)

For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. (Heb 7.26)

but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. (Heb 10.12)

When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; (Heb 1.3)

2. The slain goat

and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Heb 9.12)

Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, (Heb 10.19)

Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Heb 9.26)

so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, (Heb 9.28)

3. The scapegoat

And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; (1 John 3.5)

so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, (Heb 9.28)

F. So, what was the problem again?

God’s justice had to be visible, for the community’s welfare

God’s blessings were contingent on our basic atonement with the God of the Promises

We didn’t really have anything perfect to offer

We didn’t really understand the seriousness of the problem…

We would never be consistent or focused enough anyway…

Our sin destroys community

G. And what did the sacrifice on the Cross do?

Demonstrated His justice (“righteousness does pay”) and moral integrity, for His creatures.

“whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom 4.25)

God’s blessings were contingent on our basic atonement with the God of the Promises, and He opened the floodgates…

Our access to God was very limited before this:

Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, (Heb 10.19)

we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; (Rom 5.1)

The promise of the Spirit (New Covenant) required a new Passover

He came Himself as the perfect sacrifice–to insure its success.

He demonstrated the seriousness of the problem, by:

the robustness of the sacrificial system,

the value of the sacrificial victim,

our shock at the innocence of the Lamb,

the abject shame of the manner of death

the need for this to occur before the Restoration

the difficulty of the Example of the Life

He sent a loyal and faithful and focused and compassionate High Priest to do it for us…and the “once for all” character eliminated (1) the uncertainty about future sacrifices and (2) the possibility of our failure to perform consistently forever. [the Resurrection demonstrated the acceptance of the Sacrifice!]

The sacrifice of Christ actively reverses anti-community destructive forces:

It is a “shared” sacrifice and builds unity of spirit among those who love and appreciate the Loving Lamb

It “provokes” forgiveness within the community, under the logic of “God forgave–who are you not to?!!”

It encourages consideration, under the logic of “do not destroy those for whom Christ died”

It builds shared experiences, through celebration of the Lord’s supper and group exploration of implications of His death.

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