Why did God previously require animal sacrifices?

This question could require a lot more, but I will give the bare minimum for basic understanding.

When Adam and Eve committed the original sin (Genesis 3) the consequence was death.  The first time we see this consequence is when God kills the animal to clothe them in animal skin.  Thus, blood was shed as a result of their sin.  Death remains the consequence of Sin, and like all people we will one day die, because our entire world has been contaminated with Sin.  God however, allowed men and women to live on this earth in spite of their sin, and he began to set in place ways for people to “atone” for their sin.  Animal sacrifice was a practice of atoning for their sin.  Instead of receiving the penalty of death, God would transfer the penalty to an animal, thus the penalty of death was still carried out for Sin.  This is a root part of the meaning of atonement (at-one-ment), because it allowed the people to be one with God even though the deserved death and eternal separation.

The crucifixion of Jesus and the sacrifice of animals in the Old Testament are intimately related.

Unfortunately this was only a temporary fix for the situation because sin was so great.  The reason that we do not continue this practice today is because Jesus received the penalty once and for all.  No longer would a sheep, a cow, or a goat need to be sacrificed, and no longer do we need to live under the consequence of our sin, because Jesus took the penalty that we deserved and satisfied the wrath that God had for our disobedience.  This is called substitutionary atonement.  There are many different good analogies that describe Christ’s atonement for our sins, but this is the most common and it is one of the fundamental beliefs of Christian faith.

Remember that God is both perfectly just and perfectly loving.  Sometimes it seems like the two cannot coexist, because if justice is to be done perfectly then everyone God loves deserves death, but if God is to love perfectly how can he bring death to those he loves.  It is a huge conundrum and that is why Jesus was the only way to redeem, or fix, the situation.  God could bring his perfect justice on Jesus.  Paul says that on the cross “he became sin for us” even though he was perfect in every way.  This substitution of Christ in our place satisfied God’s nature as one who is perfectly just, and allowed him to continue loving us by opening the door for eternal life.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

8 Responses to “Why did God previously require animal sacrifices?”

  1. Evan Says:

    The animal sacrifice is more for the sake of man to understand the punishment/consequence of sin which in God’s eye should be repaid by death. An eye for a eye. If you sin before God your punishment should be death.

    Fortunately, God is displaying His kindness upon us and instead of a human life, He allowed for an animal to take our place temporarily. And I say temporarily, because God knew that this would never be enough. Hence, Jesus was to die as the ultimate final “perfect” atonement for our sins.

  2. Questions about the psalms of David? « Metro Bible Blog Says:

    […] God certainly is a loving God, he is also a God of justice, vengeance, and wrath (see post on Atonement).  Those are the ones that no one ever wants to talk […]

  3. Theodore A. Jones Says:

    “It is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13
    And this is another of those that no one dares talk about.

    • MetroBibleBlog Says:

      I think that there are many who talk about this verse, the problem is that too many use this verse and others like it to justify a works-based theology. In other words, salvation comes from what we do and not from what God did.

      The question we need to ask ourselves in light of a verse like Romans 2:13 is not, first and foremost, “How do I obey the law so that God will see me as righteous?” The question we need to ask is, “Is it even possible to be righteous without the cross of Jesus Christ?” that answer of course, is ‘no way José”

      Furthermore, one must always take into account the context of difficult verses. This verse does not stand on it’s own. Paul is addressing those legalistic hypocrites who think they are righteous, and Paul is giving them a wake up call, essentially saying, “Ha! You think you are so righteous, but there are heathen people who are better at keeping the law then you!”

      Perhaps though, it is Romans 2:4 that answers the difficulty of Romans 2:13 the best. If you go back just a few verses you find that Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” In other words, God’s kindness comes first, THEN REPENTANCE!!! He is always first. Yes, we are required to obey, but our obedience is not so that we will be declared righteous. Rather, our radical obedience should be a response to his radical kindness. If we are not a people of radical obedience,then we must question whether or not we have really known and believed his radical kindness or worse we do know it and we “show contempt” for it, as Paul says, by not repenting and obeying.

  4. Rosemary Says:

    A 15 year old new Christian asked a youth pastor, ‘Did Adam ask God for forgive him before he was put out of the Garden?’ I realize there were animal sacrifices, but did Adam and Eve know sacrifice of animals was because of their sin and how was that explained to them?

    • MetroBibleBlog Says:

      A basic rule of thumb for biblical interpretation should be that we don’t really comment on what is not in the text. We can make certain judgements based on how we know certain cultures thought, and acted. But Adam and Eve were before any cultures that we know. The text doesn’t say that Adam did or didn’t “ask God to forgive him before he was put out of the Garden.” I doubt he even knew what forgiveness was, because it had never been necessary before the moment of their sin. I would go so far as to speculate that when they saw that God had killed an animal to clothe them, that they must have had a very VERY real understanding of what their sin had meant, much more so then you or I could ever know. Up until that moment, they had never seen or known death, the very animal that was killed and used to clothe their nakedness was one of the very animals that Adam himself had named. Adam’s connection to creation was deeper and richer than we will know until all things are made new again by Jesus. So I doubt that any explanation was needed for the consequence of original sin. They lived it, they saw it, and they knew better than you and I what ‘paradise lost’ really means.

  5. True faith comes from knowledge. Find everything you need to know about bible study Says:

    True faith comes from knowledge. Find everything you need to know about christianity…

    […]Why did God previously require animal sacrifices? « Metro Bible Blog[…]…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: