The Blood of Bulls and Goats

An Impossibility

For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:4 (NASU)

In Hebrews Chapter 10, the Hebrew writer definitively explains that the sacrifice of Christ is better than the sacrifices of old because of the power of the sacrifice in Christ alone.

A Question

This section, however, has caused difficulty for some in questioning the efficacy of the sacrifices commanded to those living under the Old Covenant. Why would God command a people to present a bull or goat sacrifice if these sacrifices could not take away sins? To this question, the following two answers are commonly given:

It Did Not “Work”

The Jews were not forgiven of their sins. This seems an incredible answer, but is not uncommon. This same school of thinking also teaches that the Gentile nations were without any hope before God before the church.

Kicking the Can

The Jews’ sins were “rolled forward” to the cross. This is a fanciful way to understand the concept of sin sacrifice. The theory would state that until Christ died, the sins were in a form of “limbo” or waiting until they were paid for. However, this is not necessary and opens other unnecessary questions.

The Right Answer

Although these two answers are commonly given, neither is correct. The answer to the problem is actually quite simple, yet difficult to comprehend because it requires understanding the nature of God. When Jesus is said to perfect “for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14), this means everyone who is righteous before God. One must remember than God is removed from time and is able to presently witness the Old Covenant time, the cross, the New Covenant time, and our future – at the same time! When a Jew offered bulls and goats as sacrifice, God forgave them immediately because He could see Christ years later.

The Importance of Obedience

So we are left with one final question: If the blood of bulls and goats did not take away sin, why did God command it? It was not the sacrifice itself that was important as the act of obedience in offering the sacrifice. The New Covenant is not different. There is no “power” in the water of baptism, but in the act of obedience. Forgiveness of sins is granted to Christians that pray for it because of obedience. In essence, although the means of obedience may change, the act of doing what God wills alone connects every righteous man and woman in time. A connection made possible because of the selfless sacrifice of Christ who offered “one sacrifice for sins for all time” (Heb. 10:12).

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