Hey everyone, I found an amazing verse today regarding the question of whether the actual "propitiation" of wrath/punishment/consequences/whatever was due directly to the sacrifice or due to the intercession/prayer of the righteous priest who offered them.
[I gave various reasons for the sacrifices themselves... see last post.]
Check this out: the context is that David ordered a census of Israel, which was a major sin (likely because it suggested a lack of faith in God's ability to save Israel, but that is beside the point.)
David is being punished because of this sin...or rather the entire land is being punished.
Gad tells David to offer sacrifices. After he does so we read 2nd Samuel 24:25,
David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel.
Isn't that awesome? Even in a verse where a sacrifice is given, we are told the actual reason for the relenting of wrath was the prayer/intercession. (Same word in Hebrew.)