Christ’s Atonement and Animal Sacrifices in Israel -- By: John C. Whitcomb

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 06:2 (Fall 1985)
Article: Christ’s Atonement and Animal Sacrifices in Israel
Author: John C. Whitcomb


Christ’s Atonement and
Animal Sacrifices in Israel

John C. Whitcomb

The future function of the millennial temple (Ezekiel 40–48 ) has long been problematic for dispensationalists in view of the finished work of Christ. Light is shed on this problem by noting the original theocratic purpose of OT sacrifices. This purpose was functionally distinct from that of the redemptive work of Christ. Millennial sacrifices will not simply memorialize Christs redemption but will primarily function in restoring theocratic harmony. The differences between the Old Covenant stipulations and those of Ezekiel 40–48 can be accounted for in terms of this solution.

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Introduction

How does the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ relate to the animal sacrifices which God gave to Israel through Moses? What did the blood of these animals accomplish for believing and/or unbelieving Israelites during the days of the Old Covenant theocracy? How does that Old Covenant sacrificial system compare with the New Covenant system envisioned in Ezekiel 40–48 and other OT prophets, especially in the light of the NT book of Hebrews?

A wide difference of opinion still exists in this important aspect of biblical theology. It is the thesis of this study that the answers to these questions lie in the recognition that there are distinct functions in the plan of God for the blood of sacrificial animals and for the

The author expresses his appreciation to John A. Sproule, Professor of New Testament and Greek, Grace Theological Seminary, for his careful interaction with this study, especially from the perspective of the Book of Hebrews; and to Richard E. Averbeck, Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, for his keen insights on Old Testament covenants and the function of “atonement” in Leviticus and Ezekiel. Research papers by the following graduate students at Grace Theological Seminary have also been of considerable assistance: David R. Webb (1980), Robert L. Maziasz (1980), and David C. Wagner (1985).

precious blood of Jesus Christ. This distinction is especially significant for understanding the reinstatement of animal sacrifices in the future millennial kingdom of Christ.

The Church and the Mosaic Covenant

The atoning work of Jesus Christ is infinite in value, and is therefore eternally sufficient and efficacious for those who put their trust in him. This truth is clearly and repeatedly taught in the NT and is therefore fundamental to the Chr...

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