Thursday, February 15, 2018

4.6 Atonement in the Old Testament

In my biblical theology classes, I have often covered atonement immediately after I have covered sin. I was noticing this morning that there is a tension in this order. A systematic theologian would surely cover atonement after Christology, as a matter of soteriology. Of course atonement is not related to Christology in the theology of the OT. Still processing.

4.6 Atonement in the Old Testament

4.6.1 The Perspective of Hebrews
The author of Hebrews gives us the canonical perspective on the OT sacrifices. Hebrews 10:2-3 is especially determinative. None of the OT sacrifices were actually able to take away sins. Although we often hear talk about how "without blood there is no remission of sins," Hebrews goes on to indicate that none of the blood of the OT actually worked.

The OT sacrifices were thus all foreshadowings of the one effective sacrifice of Christ. "raincheck" One thus wonders how much investment God actually had in blood sacrifice or whether this was God meeting the human psyche where it was. In the end, God does away with it.

4.6.2 Priests versus Prophets
In this section I would talk about the tension between prophetic passages that say things like "I desire mercy not sacrifice" (Hos. 6:6; 1 Sam. 15:22; cf. Matt 9:13), it's justice and mercy, not sacrifice (Mic. 6:6-8; Isa. 1:12-18; Ps. ). The prophets know nothing of a necessary sacrifice (cf. Jer. 7:3-4; 21-22). They more seem to think that Israelites sometimes hid behind sacrifices as an excuse not to do justice.

Yet there were lots of sacrifices in the OT, even if the Law might represent somewhat of a standardization. The first chapters of Leviticus give us the five main types (which were not all for atonement). Day of Atonement, Passover, hyssop, red heifer, inauguration (mention NT correspondences). There also seems to be a deuteronomistic sense of atonement by death (e.g., Achan).

Previous "chapters"
Chapter 1: What is Biblical Theology?
Chapter 2: Theology of God
Chapter 3: Creation and Consummation

4.1-3 Sin and the Fall

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