Question:

In a Wednesday night lesson recently, our minister stated that under the Old Law sins were not rolled back when sacrifices were made. He said there was no Scripture that says that and that it has just been repeated until people think that. He said since God knew from the beginning of time that Jesus would give His life for all that the sins were covered by His blood. I know that the blood of animals could never remove one sin, but I have always been taught that the sins were rolled back each year (maybe this terminology is not correct). Could you help me with this? He said if they were, it would be stated in the Bible and he would believe it. What he was trying to prove was not clear to me. Could you shed some light on this subject? Thank you kindly for your time and for all the good you do for the Lord.

Answer:

I suspect that the statement about sins being rolled forward was an attempt by some gospel preacher to explain a few passages from Hebrews. I know it has been around a long time as I recall my grandfather, who was also a gospel preacher, taking about it when I was a child.

"For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins" (Hebrews 10:1-4).

Combined with an earlier statement:

"And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance" (Hebrews 9:15).

The Hebrews writer's point is that the regular sacrifices didn't solve the problem of sin. Instead it continually reminded people of their sins. If it solved the problem, it would not need to be repeated.

The way this passage is sometimes explained is that since the sacrifices could not take away sin, you can imagine them being pushed forward to the eventual death of Jesus, who then took care of the problem both for the future and the past. It is not an accurate description because there were times, such as the 70 years of captivity when sacrifices in the Temple were interrupted. But it is illustrative enough that it makes the idea understandable -- illustrative enough that it has stuck with people for a LONG time.

One idea that is hard to grasp is that forgiveness of sins was offered under the Old Law. "And he shall do with the bull as he did with the bull as a sin offering; thus he shall do with it. So the priest shall make atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them" (Leviticus 4:20). The Hebrews writer is not saying there was no forgiveness under the sacrificial system, but that it was not a complete solution. It took the one perfect sacrifice of God's Son to bring a permanent solution to sin, which is why we no longer have sacrifices.

I would like to thank you very much for answering my question so promptly. You answered it in simple terms that I could easily understand and I appreciate your time to help me with the question I had. You have a great talent to be able to answer questions scriptually and use words that can easily be understood by anyone. May we all continue to search the Scriptures daily and learn more about God's message to us. May God bless you and give you a long life in His service.