Salvation in the Old Testament

Before the coming of Christ and His death on the cross for sin, many wonder how those in the Old Testament came to salvation. God killed the animal in the Garden of Eden to cover the sin of Adam and Eve thereby introducing “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin,” (Hebrews 9:22). Later, Moses and the Children of Israel were instructed to construct the Tabernacle in the wilderness wherein sacrifices were to be made daily. Those sacrifices were a picture of the salvation revealed in the coming of the New Covenant, the New Testament, with the coming of Christ and His once-for-all sacrifice for sin.

In Leviticus we read of the Sin Offering that was to be brought to the Tabernacle priest when an individual sinned, either “through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering.” In acknowledgment of his sin, “the sinner was to bring a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned,” (Leviticus 4:27-28).

After the sinner offered his sin offering in confession of his sin, he offered a Burnt Offering signifying complete surrender, giving all of himself to the LORD. The burnt sacrifice was to be a male “of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock,” without blemish. It was to be offered “of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.” The one who had confessed his sin and was now offering his burnt offering to the LORD was to “put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering: and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. It was the repentant sinner who then killed his offering to the LORD, shedding the animal’s blood and cutting it up in pieces to be laid upon the altar by the priests. The burnt offering was to be totally consumed by the fire upon the altar, (Leviticus 1:1-9).

Upon offering his sin offering in acknowledgment of his sin, offering a burnt offering to atone for his sin, the repentant sinner offered a Peace Offering signifying reconciliation had taken place between the sinner and God. The peace offering was to be offered of the herd, either a male or female without blemish. The offering was to be laid upon the burnt offering (sacrifice) “and the priest shall burn it upon the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire unto the LORD.” The peace offering was then served for food to the priests and the one who offered it, symbolizing the communion one has with God upon his confession of sin, acceptance of God’s provision of atonement, resulting in receiving God’s peace that passes all understanding, (Leviticus 3; Philippians 4:7).

With the coming of Christ’s sacrifice for sin, no longer was the blood of bulls and goats necessary for salvation as it had been in the Old Testament. “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us,” (Hebrews 9:11-12).


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