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God required animal sacrifices to provide a temporary covering of sins and to foreshadow the perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Leviticus 4:35, 5:10). Animal sacrifice is an important ...
I believe I heard this from Joseph Prince, but I think one thing that people need to also remember that when the people brought the spotless lamb before the high priest, no one was concerned about the condition of the man bringing it -- only the condition of the lamb/goat. If the animal was deemed spotless and the man associated with it by placing his hand on it's forehead, the man was deemed forgiven/clean. It wasn't about the man -- it was about the lamb. We need to remember this, as well -- it's not about what WE do or don't do -- it's only about Jesus -- HE IS ENOUGH and alone can take away sin and make us right in the eyes of God -- not what WE do. Many people, Christians included, try to earn God's approval by what they do or don't do. It's not about you.
Let us remember in the outset that God never liked animal sacrifices. David in Ps. 40:4 and also in Ps. 51:16 declares that God did not desire animal sacrifices nor He was pleased with them. (Please remember that all quotations below are from NKJV of the Bible.) Even in the commandments given through Moses, in the first lot of the commandments (Ex. 20:1-21) no mention of animal sacrifices is there. In the latter part of the book of the covenant in Exodus 20 to 23 also animal sacrifices is not mentioned, though only in passing altar for sacrifices is mentioned in Ex. 20:22-26. Even the later addition of animal sacrifices were spoken of against by the prophets (e.g. Am. 8:25-27; cf. With Acts 8:42-43). Let me here assert that many faithful Christians, including S. Michael Houdmann, make mistake by referring Gen. 3:21 saying that God performed first animal sacrifice. This is a wishful assumption. The text only says that "Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them". No mention of animal sacrifice is made here. Where from the skin was obtained is not mentioned. What animal was sacrificed is not mentioned. Just reason here. Will God do the thing which is later on described that He never liked done or which never pleased Him (Ps. 40 & 51)? Moreover, this incident is never ever referred to directly or indirectly in rest of the Bible. Still these friends love to mention the erroneous assumption. There is another erroneous assumption that Cain's offering was not accepted because he had brought "the fruit of the ground" and Abel had brought offering of animal. How can anyone expect a man, who grows only vegetables, to bring animal offering? I think the distinction is not made here between veg. And non-veg offerings. The distinction here is between "an offering" and "the firstborn" (Gen. 4:3-4). Abel had offered firstborn of his flock but Cain had offered anything but first fruit of the ground, thus Abel had honored God while Cain had failed to honor God (See Pro. 3:9). Anyway, it is a fact that God commanded Israelites to have animal sacrifices for different purposes and for different offerings at different occasions. In the book of Hebrews in detail is explained the real purpose of those animal sacrifices (See specially chs. 5 to 10). These sacrifices could not perfect the conscience (9:9), they were simply "concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation." (9:10). It is impossible that animal blood could take away sins (10:4). They were reminder of sins every year (10:3). Offering of animal sacrifices again and again was reminder that those sacrifices could not make the people perfect. They were only shadows of good things to come (10:1-2). Thus those O.T. sacrifices were reminder of God's seriousness against sin, reminder of sins, and reminder of good things to come. St. Paul in Rom. 5:25-26 indicates uselessness of O.T. animal sacrifices as far as the sin was concerned, "whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were committed, to demonstrate at this present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus". That is, in the past before Christ's sacrificial death God had forgiven the sins of the faithful in abeyance. Only in the sacrificial death of Jesus the rightness of God in forgiving sins of the past saints is proven.
Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins Hebrew 9:22. Animal sacrifice was originated with God after Adam and eve fell in genesis 3:21 God clothed Adam and eve with animal skin, meaning an animal was killed and blood was shed for them to cover there sin or nakedness In revelations 3:19 Jesus counseled the Church to buy white garments for them to wear because they were naked. He told them to buy white garments from Him because its only His blood that cleanses us from sin its His blood that is said in Isaiah 1:18 though our sins are as scarlet they shall be wool. Aaron's sons went and offered unlawful sacrifice a sacrifice that was without blood and they were killed by the presence of God in Leviticus 16:1 God told Mose how to enter into his presence and the priest was to enter with blood not. Animal sacrifice was needed because Jesus had not yet come it was a temporary covering of sin until Jesus came.The perfect lamb without wrinkle or spot to be our sacrifice once and forever as is written His sacrifice has made us perfect forever in Hebrews. Animal sacrifice pointed to Jesus. In Hebrews 9 we are told that Jesus entered in the tent that is not man made not by blood of bulls and goats but by means of His own blood we are told, The high priest used to enter into the Holy place with blood not his own, but that of bulls and goats.Hebrews 10:19 we have confidence to enter boldly in the Holy Place through Jesus' blood shed on the cross. Hallelujah! And so to enter into the Holy place or into God's presence the pattern was you had to enter with blood, after the fall Adam. For the people in the old testament Jesus had not yet come so for them it was blood of animals but for us its through Jesus' blood shed FOR US on the cross. Glory unto God. That is one of the reasons Abel's offering was accepted and not Cain's, Abel's offering was with blood, number one reason.
In the period of the TaNaKH (the Old Testament), the sacrificial system was given, among other reasons, as the “vindication markers” of the faith of an individual (“faith acted out in faithfulness”). Obedience played a big role in demonstrating true and lasting covenant faith. Individuals wishing to approach HaShem’s (God's) sanctuary were required to bring some sort of atonement for the sin they carried. Often, the blood of the animals served this very purpose. Surely the animals themselves did not bring about lasting spiritual atonement (a permanent forgiving of sin of the conscience), yet God saw fit to allow his perfect plan of Salvation, tied into the eventual coming of his Son Yeshua (Jesus), to be “acted out” as it were through the Temple rituals. The historical sacrificial system was effective in covering sin (sanctifying of the flesh; restoration of ritual purity) as well as cleansing (wiping) the Sanctuary, but ultimately it proved to be a mere “shadow” pointing to the True Body of Sacrifice found only in the Perfect Lamb of Sacrifice! The sacrificial system was not designed to accomplish for the individual the “goal” of purging the conscience. Even though it was a “limited” solution, it was authentically God’s solution. No Jew living in that time period was able to circumvent this system, and remain officially within the community. If we take HaShem seriously, them we will accept his provision—no matter what means, or how limited that provision is! This is our first lesson in “Torah logic.” The older idea that “atonement” was only a “temporary fix” for sins for those who lived in the time before the coming of our Messiah must be abandoned. The idea of atonement as portrayed in the Scriptures encompasses both a temporal aspect as well as an eternal one. To be sure, Yeshua himself stated emphatically that he was THE way, and that NO man can come unto the Father except through HIM. The sacrifices, performed with a genuine heart of repentance, afforded real-life forgiveness, but only to the purification of the flesh. However, the mortal blood of the animals in and of themselves—and by themselves—could not even take away sin; only the eternal blood of the Perfect Sacrifice—to which the animals pointed—could purify both flesh and soul. Thus you could say that the blood of the animals ritually “washed, wiped clean” the participants as well as the Holy Place where God “manifestly dwelt.” The objective faith of the individual still remained dependent upon God’s Promised Word to Come, namely Yeshua himself, yet his obedience was demonstrated by adherence to explicit Torah commands where sacrifices were concerned. What is more, the salvation of the eternal soul of an individual was always dependent upon a circumcised heart, exactly as it is today. In summary then, the sacrificial system was not designed to bring the participant to the goal, namely a purged conscience and salvation of the individual. Sacrifices were for dealing with sin in the flesh, for restoration of ritual purity. Only genuine faith in the Promised One could move God’s heart to reckon to one’s account “righteousness” as was done for Avraham (Abraham). The Torah was weak in that it could not bring to the goal of salvation the heart of an individual. Only the Spirit’s supernatural work could—and always will be able to—do that.
It is a matter of knowlwdge of good and evil, where ever there is a good, there is an evil, just like the twoo side of the same coin; for the good/ salvation of man, there must be an evil/ killing for sheding the blood. Since animals were created as a helper for man (Genesis 2: 18-20) and man was created as an image of God (Genesis 1:27); God wants each kind of creature plays its own role accordingly.(Genesis 22: 7-14).
OT animal sacrifice was pointing to Christ's sacrifice for humanity. In the earthly sanctuary, God's plan of salvation was revealed. Everything in the sanctuary, or connected with its services, was a symbol of something Jesus would do in saving us. It was a 3-D object lesson explaining the process of salvation. The animal sacrifices were necessary to help people understand that without the shedding of Jesus' blood, their sins could never be forgiven. The ugly truth is that the punishment for sin is eternal death (Romans 6:23). Since all of us have sinned, all of us should die. When Adam and Eve sinned, they would have died at once except for Jesus, who stepped forward and offered to give His perfect life as a sacrifice to pay the death penalty for all people (Revelation 13:8). After sin, God required the sinner to bring an animal sacrifice (Genesis 4:3-7). The sinner was to kill the animal with his own hand (Leviticus 1:4, 5). This will show the sinner the reality of sin's awful consequences (eternal death) and the desperate need of a Saviour. Without a Saviour, no one had any hope for salvation. The sacrificial system taught, through the symbol of the slain animal, that God would give His Son to die for their sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). Jesus would become not only their Saviour, but also their substitute (Hebrews 9:28; John 1:29). OT people looked forward to the cross for salvation. We look backward to Calvary for salvation. There is no other source of salvation (Acts 4:12). The animal sacrifices could not save a single person, it was needed the blood of Christ to save the humanity (“It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” Hebrews 10:4-6). The righteousness offered to us through Jesus covers our past sins and counts us as guiltless (Isaiah 44:22; John 1:9) and restore us to God's image (Romans 8:29). Christ gives us the desire to live right and then grants us His power to actually accomplish it (Philippians 2:13). Jesus, removes the death sentence from us by crediting us for His sinless life and atoning death (2 Corinthians 5:21) and He assumes the responsibility for keeping us faithful until He returns to take us to heaven (Philippians 1:6 Jude 1:24).
The first case - for sin: The animal sacrifices instituted for sin by the Mosaic Law did not actually result in full forgiveness of the sin. They were simply an indication that an individual was sincere in not wanting to have sinned. Otherwise, for those not repentant, no sacrifice of any kind would avail them. The sacrifice itself only temporarily covered over the sin (as clothing covers the body in Gen 3:21) so that a person could continue on living without the constant threat of death because of the sin (Ezek 18:20). At the time of judgment after physical death, everything, including good works and past sins, entered into an individual's final judgment. For Christians, Christ's atoning sacrifice is the true remedy for sins so that they are truly forgiven, permanently blotted out, and not remembered. In the judgment of a true Christian after physical death, past sins are not considered since they have been already done away with through the blood of Christ. Second case - Ceremonial sacrifices. In my opinion, animal sacrifices were not simply symbolic in nature and meaning. The death of an animal actually released life energy, or vital force, which was useful to spiritual beings in altering or maintaining the spiritual situation and potential of the people the sacrifice was intended to benefit. This is suggested in verses where the LORD would smell a sacrifice (Gen 8:21, Lev 26:31, Amos 5:21) and presumably gain life energy to favorably affect the spiritual condition of people involved, without expending his own effort on people who otherwise would be unworthy. We see in Zeph 2:11 that the LORD will "famish" all the so-called gods of the earth - a reference to those gods obtaining vital energy to function from animal sacrifices. Indeed, animal sacrifices have diminished sharply from ancient times, as also those numerous religions then requiring them. To sum it up, animal sacrifices were originally required because after the Fall, God would not have necessarily intervened in human affairs purely on his own behalf to save people from their sins or errors. Man was then required to provide at least some basis (animal sacrifices, for example) for his own continued welfare on the earth. Animal sacrifices only constituted a temporary expedient. However, with the increase in population, and with sin also abounding so much that all the animals in the earth would be an insufficient remedy, the true solution of Christ's atoning sacrifice has permanently solved the problem.
My thoughts on this question are that God wanted something that was important to a person. In the beginning people were farmers and herdsmen. Their animals and crops were their livelihood. Also if the person was poor, animals were not required. An offering of fine flour would cover your sin. Just like the poor woman that gave her only penny; Jesus said she gave more than all. The word of God is plain. These offerings gained God's forgiveness for a time. Jesus also forgave sin before he died. It too was just for a time; that is why Jesus said to go and sin no more. It is Jesus' death on the cross that covers our sin forever, but only if you do the will of the Father. The will of the Father is to believe in the One he sent.
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