Author: Ron Graham
Jesus offered his body and his blood, as the final sin offering for all people for all eternity. "For by one offering he has perfected forever those being sanctified." (Hebrews 10:14)..
"[Christ] himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for the whole world" (1John 2:1-2). Nevertheless, the worship of the temple went on, with hardly a hiccup. It went on even after it was made clear to Jewish people far and wide that the one man who could die for the people had done so. It went on even after his perfect sacrifice was made once and for all. Jesus offered his body and his blood, as the final sin offering for all people for all eternity. From that time animal sacrifice should have stopped.
Animal sacrifices should have ceased the day Jesus died when Caiaphas ought to have realised what his own prophecy meant. It should have ceased the day Jesus's tomb was found empty and falsehood was needed to explain it away. It should have ceased the day Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit from heaven upon Jerusalem. But no. The bloody slaughter of animals went on for another generation. It continued until it ceased perforce, when the temple was destroyed by Rome in AD70.
The foregoing brings us to one simple but important question: Was it God's will that animal sacrifices continue from the cross until AD70? Or was it rather rebellion against God's will? Did God feel pleased with any animal sacrifice offered in the temple after Jesus was crucified? Or did animal sacrifice become an abomination in God’s sight?
Were anyone's sins forgiven through the blood of animals slaughtered in the temple after Jesus laid down his life and shed his own precious blood? Or was it now rather a sin to offer animal blood to God? Did animal sacrifices push sins back to the cross like they had formerly pushed sins forward?
Those who hold certain views, about the significance of events in Jerusalem AD70, and those who hold certain views about the change of covenants, will suggest that animal sacrifices still held good for some people after the crucifixion and up till the end of them in AD70. Others will say that the cessation of animal sacrifices was unfortunate, and that Jesus himself will restore the practice for a thousand years.
Yet Christ was the final sin offering and his death atoned for sins once and for all. He put an end to the offering of beasts as a legitimate act of worship and atonement.
Daniel prophesied that, after the Messiah was cut off, God would confirm a covenant with many for one week (not a literal week). In the middle of that week, God would "put a stop to sacrifice" with an abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:26-27 11:31 12:11). Jesus linked this prophecy with the destruction of the temple (Matthew 24:15) which came to pass in AD70.
The destruction of the temple occurred about the middle of a seventy-year period (possibly the final “week” of Daniel’s seventy weeks) when God was confirming the new covenant or gospel. This confirmation was in the form of miraculous signs and gifts of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 2:3-4, Mark 16:20).
Some people hold the view that while the covenant was being confirmed, it was not fully and exclusively in force; therefore God allowed the old covenant to continue in effect for the sake of a generation of Jews who did not readily accept the gospel.
The idea that God continued the first covenant and its animal sacrifices in order to establish the second covenant and the sacrifice of Christ, is not the Hebrew writer's position. He says that Jesus "takes away the first that he might establish the second" (Hebrews 10:4-10). Who will you believe? Those who say that God continued to recognize animal offerings, or the inspired writer who says God had abolished them?
Some will reply that there is no question of whether Christ abolished animal sacrifice. Of course he did. The question is when. They will say not at the cross, but in AD70 at the destruction of Jerusalem. But the Hebrew writer says it was when Jesus came to do God’s will in offering his body once for all.
In the following verses he makes it perfectly clear that the sacrifices still being offered in the temple were "no longer any offering for sin" because Christ had offered "one sacrifice for sins for all time" (Hebrews 10:11-22).
Who will you believe? Those who say animal sacrifices still made atonement, or the inspired writer who says they were no longer any offering for sin?
When Jesus Christ died upon the cross, he laid down his life for all mankind. The animal sacrifices of the Patriarchal and Mosaical ages were effective only because they looked forward to the true sacrifice. Once the Son of God came and surrendered himself, all other sacrifices ceased to be efficacious.
The Passover observed just before Jesus was crucified, should have been the last act of Jewish temple worship involving flesh and blood slaughtered and shed for atonement. The only sacrifice offered after that should have been the offering of the precious body and blood of our Lord.