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The Savior's Sacrifice: Is It Biblical?
Source: Brit Hadasha Part 1: His Sacrifice by 119 Ministries
Welcome. Today we are going to answer the question; If the Old Testament condemns human sacrifice, how can the Messiah die for the sins of his people? This is an argument used by both skeptics and Old Testament only believers used to discredit the New Testament as valid. But they do not understand how this works. Today we will delve into the Old Testament to prove how his sacrifice in no way contradicts the Old Testament scriptures.
Is Human Sacrifice Wrong According to the Old Testament?
The assumption is that the Most High is against all human sacrifice. Now is that saying he allows things such as sacrificing virgins in a pit? Absolutely not. But if we are going to answer this question, we need to look into the times when human sacrifice was condemned in the Old Testament. Where do we see human sacrifice being a prominent thing? The sacrifice of children towards pagan gods. We see that multiple times in the Old Testament.
- Leviticus 18 21, 20 2-5
- Deuteronomy 12 31
- 2 Kings 16 3, 17 30-31, 21 5-6, 23 10
- Jeremiah 7 31, Chapter 32 35
So here we see a prominent emphasis on two things; child sacrifice and pagan rituals. But there is no mention of a man willingly giving up his life.
Sacrifice For Unintentional Sin
You also have to ask the question as to how this is possible if sacrifices were only for unintentional sin. The Old Testament is clear that only unintentional sins can be atoned for:
- "Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Yisrael, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them."
- "But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people."
The idea of 'intentional' is better understood as 'defiant' or 'high handed'. Unintentional therefore includes many sins committed due to want of knowledge, through weakness, or perhaps the offender did not really understand his guilt. Intentional sin, is not that you were consciously aware of sinning, like when King David committed adultery, rather it is more of a public defiance against the covenant, like the man stoned for picking up sticks on the Sabbath (Num 15:32), just after the Most High had declared that the whole camp should not work on the Sabbath. This open rebellion during the establishment of the ceremony was like a spirit of mutiny on a ship at sea. This is what 'intentional' means in this context. It is a total act of rebellion, not just making an intentional mistake once and then you must absolutely die for it.
The punishment of 'cut off' is understood differently by various ancient and modern commentators. However as many 'high handed' sins were punishable by death, the term should not be confused with excommunication as some sins incurred but as in literally being put to death. Naturally their is no atonement for that.
In the New Testament this 'cutting off'' is referred to in three ways.
First as 'intentional sin' is actually open unrepentant rebellion to the Most High. This has a corresponding reality in blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 12 31-32
- "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven unto men."
- "And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."
Second, in showing when people commit great sins that seem like blasphemy but are not due to 'ignorance', such as Peter's sermon in Acts which implied many Jews killed Mashiach 'in ignorance' (Acts 3:17). Peter is saying, 'Even though it seems that you have 'intentionally' sinned when killing the Savior, many of you did not actually blaspheme the Holy Spirit because you did it in 'ignorance', so I offer you today atonement even for that sin through him.'
Third, for sins where capital punishment was the penalty but not necessarily implying a 'high handed' full rebellion from the covenant, the New Testament provides an atoning sacrifice in the Savior, including murder, adultery, etc. Therefore being put to death for sin in the Old Testament is not to imply that each offender could not be forgiven by faith, just not forgiven by Mosaic Law.
Acts 13 39
- "And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses."
Misconceptions About Sacrifice
Could repentance alone atone for sins? First you have to understand that not every sacrifice offered was to atone for sins. There were daily sacrifices in praise to the Almighty. But like we said earlier, the sin related sacrifices were for unintentional sins. Take the book of Daniel, for example. There was no Temple, yet Daniel was called righteous without sacrifice. According to Psalm 32 5 and 51 16-19, repentance atoned for intentional sin if you were honest and sincere. The one exception to this rule was when an individual who was accused of theft swore falsely in an effort to gain acquittal (Leviticus 5 24-46).
The Sinless Atonement
The Savior was sinless. He died in the place of his people.
1 Peter 2 24
- "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."
Hebrews 9 28
- "So Mashiach was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
Reading the whole of Isaiah 53, it all becomes clear that this is talking about a man dying for his people. A lot of skeptics and Old Testament only people will try to attribute this to either being symbolic of Yisrael itself, or another person. But there are too major problems with this. Verse 9 says "he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth." How can this be symbolic of the land itself? And we see later on that he bore the sins of his people. But every other human being in scripture has sinned at some point. So this cannot be talking about them as earlier it was made clear that an imperfect vessel cannot be used as a sacrifice.
In Micah 5:2, there is a prophecy that reveals that Bethlehem would be the birthplace of the Savior. Matthew 2:1-6 describes the birth of Mashiach as the fulfillment of Micah's prophecy.
In Genesis 49:10, Jacob is blessing his 12 sons. This blessing was also a prophecy. Jacob told his son Judah that his descendants would be rulers and that one of his descendants will be an ultimate ruler. Cross reference with Jeremiah 51 20 and Revelation 19 15. It is made clear that this is the man who shall rule with an iron rod over the land.
Isaiah 43 11
If there is no savior besides the Almighty, how can whom the world calls Jesus be savior? Read from verse 8 until verse 13. Those who worship false gods are called to appear in defense of their idols. Those who make them, and trust in them, are like unto them. And it is folly unto them. But those who trust in the Most High know his power, and that no one can save us from sin except him. This in no way means that the covenant given by the Savior cannot happen. The Most High is still the one who saves our souls. And his mediator between his people in the covenant is the Savior.
Peace and blessings, and all praises to the Most High.