12 – The Law of Sacrifices

12 – The Law of Sacrifices2016-11-27T17:36:32+00:00

Sabbath, September 19, 2015

“The types and shadows of the sacrificial service, with the prophecies, gave the Israelites a veiled, indistinct view of the mercy and grace to be brought to the world by the revelation of Christ. To Moses was unfolded the significance of the types and shadows pointing to Christ. He saw to the end of that which was to be done away when, at the death of Christ, type met antitype.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 237. 

Instituted after the fall 

1. Where do the Scriptures first mention sacrifices and offerings? Who in ancient times received a command from God to offer a sacrifice that would ultimately help him understand the great sacrifice of God’s Son?

Genesis 4:3, 4; 22:2 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. 4And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering…. 22:2And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. 

“Adam and his sons began to offer the ceremonial sacrifices ordained by God as a type of the coming Redeemer….” –Lift Him Up, p. 26.

“Through type and promise God ‘preached before the gospel unto Abraham.’ Galatians 3:8. And the patriarch’s faith was fixed upon the Redeemer to come. Said Christ to the Jews. ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced that he should see My day; and he saw it, and was glad.’ John 8:56, R.V., margin. The ram offered in the place of Isaac represented the Son of God, who was to be sacrificed in our stead.… The agony which he endured during the dark days of that fearful trial was permitted that he might understand from his own experience something of the greatness of the sacrifice made by the infinite God for man’s redemption.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 154.

Purpose of sacrifices and offerings

2. What offerings are listed in the law of sacrifices, pointing to the greatest sacrifice of all? 

Leviticus 7:37 This is the law of the burnt offering, of the meat offering, and of the sin offering, and of the trespass offering, and of the consecrations, and of the sacrifice of the peace offerings. 

“Every dying victim was a type of Christ, which lesson was impressed on mind and heart in the most solemn, sacred ceremony, and explained definitely by the priests. Sacrifices were explicitly planned by God Himself to teach this great and momentous truth, that through the blood of Christ alone there is forgiveness of sins. 

“This grand and saving truth is oft repeated in the hearing of believers and unbelievers, and yet it is with amazement that angels behold the indifference of men to whom these truths mean so much. How little is evidenced that the church feels the force of the wonderful plan of redemption. How few make this truth, that only through faith in the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ there is forgiveness of the sins that cling to human beings like the foul leprosy, a living reality.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 107.

3. What was God’s purpose in commanding the sacrifices and ordinances? But what did the prophets preach, since the people were not paying attention to their real spiritual meaning? 

Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 

1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 

Hosea 6:6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. 

“All who did service in connection with the sanctuary were being educated constantly in regard to the intervention of Christ in behalf of the human race. This service was designed to create in every heart a love for the law of God, which is the law of His kingdom. The sacrificial offering was to be an object lesson of the love of God revealed in Christ–in the suffering, dying victim, who took upon Himself the sin of which man was guilty, the innocent being made sin for us.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 233. 

Prophecies about sacrifices, offerings, and the temple

4. What characterized the sacrificial law with all its ceremonies? For how long were the sacrifices, offerings, washings, and every other ceremonial ordinance to be carried out?

Hebrews 10:1; 9:9, 10 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect…. 9:9Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. 

“Paul endeavored to direct the minds of his hearers to the one great Sacrifice for sin. He pointed to the sacrifices that were shadows of good things to come, and then presented Christ as the antitype of all those ceremonies–the object to which they pointed as the only source of life and hope for fallen man. Holy men of old were saved by faith in the blood of Christ. As they saw the dying agonies of the sacrificial victims, they looked across the gulf of ages to the Lamb of God that was to take away the sin of the world.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 424, 425. 

“There are many who try to blend these two systems, using the texts that speak of the ceremonial law to prove that the moral law has been abolished; but this is a perversion of the Scriptures. The distinction between the two systems is broad and clear. The ceremonial system was made up of symbols pointing to Christ, to His sacrifice and His priesthood. This ritual law, with its sacrifices and ordinances, was to be performed by the Hebrews until type met antitype in the death of Christ, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Then all the sacrificial offerings were to cease.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 365. 

5. What had been taught even in the time of the prophets regarding sacrifice and oblation? When Jesus died, what happened in the temple as a sign that the typical services, laws, and ceremonies had ended? 

Daniel 9:27, first part And he the Messiah shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.

Matthew 27:50, 51 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent. 

“Then, said the angel, ‘He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week

[seven years].’ For seven years after the Saviour entered on His ministry, the gospel was to be preached especially to the Jews, for three and a half years by Christ Himself, and afterward by the apostles. ‘In the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.’ Daniel 9:27. In the spring of A.D. 31, Christ, the true Sacrifice, was offered on Calvary. Then the veil of the temple was rent in twain, showing that the sacredness and significance of the sacrificial service had departed. The time had come for the earthly sacrifice and oblation to cease.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 699. 

6. What had the temple become in the time of Jesus? What did He say about it? 

Matthew 21:12, 13; 23:38; 24:1, 2 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves…. 23:38Behold, your house is left unto you desolate…. 24:1And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. 2And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 

“The rending of the veil of the temple showed that the Jewish sacrifices and ordinances would no longer be received. The great Sacrifice had been offered and had been accepted, and the Holy Spirit which descended on the day of Pentecost carried the minds of the disciples from the earthly sanctuary to the heavenly, where Jesus had entered by His own blood, to shed upon His disciples the benefits of His atonement. But the Jews were left in total darkness. They lost all the light which they might have had upon the plan of salvation, and still trusted in their useless sacrifices and offerings.” –Early Writings, pp. 259, 260. 

“As Christ’s attention was attracted to the magnificence of the temple, what must have been the unuttered thoughts of that Rejected One! The view before Him was indeed beautiful, but He said with sadness, I see it all. The buildings are indeed wonderful. You point to these walls as apparently indestructible; but listen to My words: The day will come when ‘there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’” –The Desire of Ages, p. 627.

End of the Levitical priesthood

7. Did the Levitical priesthood bring about the fullness of blessing and sanctification? Therefore, what had to happen to it? 

Hebrews 7:11, 12, 18, 19 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 12For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law…. 18For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. 19For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. 

“The sacrificial service that had pointed to Christ passed away; but the eyes of men were turned to the true sacrifice for the sins of the world. The earthly priesthood ceased; but we look to Jesus, the minister of the new covenant, and ‘to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.’ ‘The way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:… but Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands,… by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.’ Hebrews 12:24; 9:8-12.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 166. 

Commandments more lasting than the earth

8. In contrast to the sacrificial laws and ceremonial ordinances that ended when Jesus died on the cross, what did the Lord say about the commandments of the Decalogue?

Matthew 5:17-19 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 

“But concerning the law of Ten Commandments the psalmist declares, ‘Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.’ Psalm 119:89. And Christ Himself says, ‘Think not that I am come to destroy the law…. Verily I say unto you’–making the assertion as emphatic as possible–‘Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.’ Matthew 5:17, 18. Here He teaches, not merely what the claims of God’s law had been, and were then, but that these claims should hold as long as the heavens and the earth remain. The law of God is as immutable as His throne. It will maintain its claims upon mankind in all ages.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 365. 

For additional study

“As they departed from God, the Jews in a great degree lost sight of the teaching of the ritual service. That service had been instituted by Christ Himself. In every part it was a symbol of Him; and it had been full of vitality and spiritual beauty. But the Jews lost the spiritual life from their ceremonies, and clung to the dead forms. They trusted to the sacrifices and ordinances themselves, instead of resting upon Him to whom they pointed. In order to supply the place of that which they had lost, the priests and rabbis multiplied requirements of their own; and the more rigid they grew, the less of the love of God was manifested. They measured their holiness by the multitude of their ceremonies, while their hearts were filled with pride and hypocrisy.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 29. 

  • What is more pleasing to the Lord–offerings and sacrifices, or faith, love, and obedience to His will? 
  • Why did a certain time come when the Lord no longer accepted the ceremonial sacrifices brought by the people? 
  • If there is no faith and love in us, will following rules and carrying out even good practices be of more value than the offering of the Old Testament sacrifices? 

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