Hebrews 10:11—Did OT sacrifices make atonement for sins?

Problem: Leviticus 17:11 affirmed that God gave blood sacrifices “to make atonement” for our souls. But Hebrews seems to contradict that, insisting that the Aaronic priest “stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (10:11).

Solution: The sacrifices in the OT were not intended to take away sin, but only to cover over sin until Christ came who could do away with it. Each blood sacrifice before Christ looked forward to Christ. The passover lamb was a type that anticipated fulfillment in “Christ, our Passover, [who] was sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7). They provided only a temporary covering for sins until Christ could bring in the permanent solution to the sin question. Old Testament offerings had, as it were, an IOU attached to them, awaiting the price to be paid by the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.