PART ONE – Why are they important?

2 Timothy 3:16-17  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  (17)  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The writers of the New Testament all refer to the Old Testament as a source for understanding the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. The word “Christ” for example echoes the meaning of Messiah which describes “The Lord’s Anointed”.  There are numerous examples of anointing in the Old Testament.  Priest, Kings and Prophets were anointed.  Sacrifices and Offerings were anointed.  So, there is plenty to study in this one topic of Types and Shadows.

The Lord Jesus referred to the types and shadows of the Old Testament and explained how they prefigured His life, death and resurrection. He spoke about Jonah, the Temple and the Law in ways that made it clear that those things “spoke” about Him.  Jesus also used the Old Testament extensively to resist temptation and to affirm Truth.

Studying the spiritual meaning of the sacrifices and offerings detailed in the Old Testament is helpful because we learn from them details about the amazing extent to which Jesus Christ has saved us.  Each different sacrifice or offering had an underlying purpose – to show us an aspect of what Jesus achieved through His death on the Cross. There are also lessons about the kind of lives we ought to pursue if we name Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour.  Here are just a few references to the different Old Testament sacrifices:

Matthew 12:7  If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.

Romans 3:25  God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—

Romans 12:1  Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Ephesians 5:2  and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Hebrews 9:26  Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

1 John 2:2  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 Corinthians 5:7  Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

Revelation 13:8  All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

The idea of sacrifice is engraved deep in our Doctrine.  Where did it begin? We understand that this concept began with God in eternity when he planned Creation and included the sacrifice of His Only Begotten One.  The doctrine of God’s Three-fold Person is essential to the Christian Faith but I will not attempt to develop it here!  The fact remains that the Godhead agreed to a Purpose of Sacrifice before time began.

Romans 8:32  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

2 Timothy 1:9-10  He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,  (10)  but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

When Adam chose to walk in his own knowledge of things (good and evil) rather than walk with God and learn wisdom, God was not unprepared.  Animals were killed and their skins were made into clothing.  Instead of dying, Adam and Eve lived.  The animals died in their place.  However, walking with God was no longer “automatic”  it required the constant acceptance of unworthiness and the need for the death of “another”, a sacrifice and shedding of blood in the sinner’s place.   In Genesis we can see how Abel, Noah and Abraham offered one kind of Sacrifice.  It seems that the motivation was Thanksgiving and Consecration, offered in understanding that, in Abraham’s words:

Genesis 22:8  “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”

So, Jesus could say about Abraham:

John 8:56  Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

In the Book of Exodus, we read about the people of Jacob becoming a nation under slavery.  We read that Moses was chosen to rescue the people and then to provide the nation with Laws so that they could please God and God could dwell in their midst.  These Laws included extremely detailed instructions about spiritual, social and personal life.  The Laws about sacrifices and offerings has, in my assessment, seven distinct types of offerings:

  • The Whole Burnt Offering – Leviticus 1
  • The Grain Offering – Leviticus 2
  • Trespass Offering – Leviticus 3
  • Guilt Offering – Leviticus 4
  • Transgression Offering – Leviticus 5
  • The Daily Offering – Numbers 28
  • The Day of Atonement Offering (including the scapegoat) – Leviticus 16

There is an eighth offering – The Red Heifer for cleansing and purification – see Numbers 19

(Dave Chapman – March 2021)