What is the significance of Old Testament sacrifices and why are they not practiced today?
In the Old Testament, God is often given animal sacrifices 1) What is
their significance ? 2) Why is not it being practiced in Christian
The signigicance of the OT sacrifices depends on which sacrifice you are
talking about. There were the;
1. Sin Offering. Atonement for a personal willful sin. (Lev 4)
2. Guilt Offering. Atonement for more general sins or for accidental sin.
3. Free Will Offering. A voluntary offering to give praise/thanks to God.
4. Fellowship Offering. Similar in some way to the Free Will Offering.
5. Peace offering. Thanksgiving (Lev 7:11,12)
6. Grain Offering Lev 2:1,f
There were many other specific types of sacrifices mentioned, especially
in Leviticus. This would include the scape goat on the Day of Atonement,
the daily sacrifice for all the people and so forth and so on. You can
read Leviticus for a summary. Besides, more info is found in Exodus and
Bottom line, the OT sacrifices were commanded by God so that the Jews
could have fellowship with him. They did not provide salvation in the
sense that Jesus’ death does, as they had to be offered again and again.
See Hebrews 8,9 for a thorough discussion of this. In the final analysis,
the sacrifices were at least as much to make obvious our tenuous position
before God because of our sins as they were to bring about a right
relationship with God. Romans 7 and Colossians 2 point out that the
sacrificial system of the OT was a prefiguring of what we have in Christ.
This is made clear in several places in Hebrews as well.
We do not practice the animal sacrifices today because they are no longer
needed. In fact, God has abrogated the Old Covenant. It is no longer in
force now that Jesus has “fulfilled the Law” (Matthew 5) Colossians 2:
provides what I believe is the clearest description of where the OT
sacrificial system comes into play now. It describes the old system as
having been canceled, even describing it as being opposed to us, and
having been nailed to the cross. If we were to sacrifice animals for sin
now it would be a clear statement to God that we do not believe the blood
of Christ is effective in removing sin.
A better question might be, why do the Jewish people no longer make
sacrifices for sin? The practice was ended when the temple was destroyed
in 70 AD. What do Jews do in order to deal with sin now?
John Oakes, PhD