What About Those Old Testament Sacrifices?


"What part did the Old Testament sacrifices play in forgiveness and how efficacious were they?  Subjectively, they were most effective.  The sinner did receive complete relief.  His sins were forgiven on the basis of the word of a faithful God and the God approved substitute.  Of course the efficacy did also depend on the internal state of the sinner's heart.  And he did get relief from the penalty and memory of his sins.  On the day of Atonement there were two goats to indicate two parts of the same act--one goat slain as the substitute so that sins might be forgiven and the other goat led away to picture the fact that those same sins were forgotten in the sense that God remembered them against Israel no more.  

Nevertheless, man's sin was not objectively cared for as yet.  The blood of bulls and goats could never take away or remove sins, and neither did the OT claim it did.  These were substituted animals, not people; hence, they could only be symbols of that real sacrifice yet to come.  Thus in the meantime there was a 'passing by' of the sins of the OT on the basis of God's declared Word until He would later provide His own substitute who was a true man, yet one who had not sinned."
   Walter Kaiser, Jr. (Toward an Old Testament Theology)

"Externally Israel's sacrifices have much in common with sacrifices all over the world, but functionally they are 'sacraments.'  From God's side they belong to the realm of justification (ultimately by virtue of their unity with Christ's one, supreme sacrifice); the human input belongs totally to sanctification.  One major evidence of all this is the fact that no sacrifices were valid for willful, deliberate sins; these, if repented of, were apparently covered only by the comprehensive atonement of the Day of Atonement."
  Horace Hummel (The Word Becoming Flesh)

 "If in the eyes of God, Christ had not already existed as the One incarnate, dead, and glorified in the time of Adam and of Abraham, the patriarchs could never have obtained forgiveness of sins and justification."
    R.C.H. Lenski quoting Brenz (Commentary on the New Testament)