Why did God Require Animals to be Sacrificed?

There are times in the Bible when a person can miss the blessing of something because they don’t understand the purpose or point of God’s command. This is especially true when it comes to understanding why God had people do certain things in regards to their sin.

Many Christians today take for granted what God was trying to teach his people under the Old Testament. Some look at the Old Testament as old, and unworthy of study or care; but if a person misses why God had his people do certain things under the Old Covenant, they’ll never come to a fuller appreciation of what God has accomplished for us under the New Covenant of today! And there are very few places where this is more true than when it comes to the animal sacrifices found from Genesis to Malachi and right on into the gospels we read.

Let’s think about why God required what he required under the Old Testament, and how it can better help us understand the sacrifice that Jesus made on behalf of humanity when he established the New Covenant.

So the first question is, “Why did God have animals sacrificed?” If we’re not required to sacrifice them anymore, why were they ever sacrificed to begin with??? If God was going to send Jesus all along, then why didn’t he have people just say they were sorry and then forgive them when Jesus died? Why did God have people do something when it seems like it was useless in dealing with sin? Did God even care whether or not someone sacrificed an animal? If He did, then why did he say he didn’t sometimes? These are some of the issues and questions a person can have when they read about these things in the Old Testament and New Testament.

So did God really ask for, require and even command animal sacrifices? Contrary to what some try to teach, he sure did! When Adam and Eve sinned and they made fig-leaf bikinis, and God said that wouldn’t do, what did He give them? He gave them clothes to wear! Now, you don’t have to be a tanner to know that you can’t get an animal-hide outfit to wear without the animal losing its life. Right from the get go with sin, a sacrifice was made. From the garden, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses and all throughout the history of the children of Israel you will find God requiring the sacrifice of animals for sin. There’s even a book called Leviticus that deals with the intricacies of how to properly deal with the sacrificing of burnt offerings, peace offerings, guilt offerings and sin offerings that God commanded.

But if God required the sacrifice of animals then why did he at times say he didn’t want them??? I mean there are multiple places in the Old Testament where God plainly says, “NO!!!” Read them for yourselves:

  • To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats.” Isaiah 1:11
  • For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6 (quoted by Jesus in Matthew 9:13, 12:7)
  • For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.” Psalm 51:16

As if that’s not enough, the New Testament says this about sacrificing animals as well:

  • 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 10:3-4

If this is true then what was the whole point of it all? The point has to do with the context that all these verses are given in. There was, and still is, a big lesson about sin and the human heart behind all that sacrificing that God called for! The majority of the time, God’s people in the past, like His people of today, were missing the whole point of worship, sacrifice and sin.

When blood gets spilt – God takes notice! He noticed Abel’s blood (Genesis 4:10). He warns all men to take notice (Genesis 9:6). Judgment was pronounced upon the scribes and Pharisees because of bloodshed (Matthew 23:34-35). Even when an animal dies, God takes notice (Matthew 10:29b). When an animal was killed or sacrificed, God commanded that the utmost respect be shown toward the blood (Leviticus 17).

Why does God take notice of every drop of blood that gets spilt? Because life is in the blood: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul’” (Leviticus 17:11). God called for the blood sacrifice of animals because He was teaching His people about the cost of sin.

But what does the cost of sin have to do with the shedding of blood? How do you get from something that a person does to an animal dying for it?

When a person sacrificed an animal they were meant to see that blood. They were meant to see the blood and realize the cost of their actions. They were supposed to realize what it meant to have blood on their hands. Because of something selfish they did, something died! The blood was meant to teach their heart about the cost of their sin.

God has always been after the heart of men and women. If you go back and look at the context of the quoted verses that say God was tired of sacrifices, or that He didn’t desire them, you’ll find that the whole point was about how the sacrifice for sin without the remorse for sin was USELESS! At times God’s people got into habit of thinking that they were buying off God with the animals instead of recognizing the lesson that God was teaching them with the animals. The lesson was that sin kills! Every time! The lesson was about recognizing the power of God’s grace through the blood! The lesson was about getting to the heart of the matter.

But if the blood of bulls and goats wouldn’t remove sin (and it wouldn’t or else they wouldn’t have had to offer them over and over again) then why do it to begin with???

The whole time God was leading His people through the types and shadows from the words of His prophets toward the culminating sacrifice. God was getting them ready to see the blood that was going to be shed for the remission of their sins, our sins, and every sin ever committed. Every drop of blood ever split from a bird, bull, calf, cow, goat, sheep, or lamb was only a substitute until the blood of the Son of God was given for sins.

  • Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” Romans 5:9
  • knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:18-19
  • Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22
  • For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?Hebrews 10:26-29

The whole reason God was revealing a shadow of grace in the Old Testament is so people would recognize the Body of grace when the New Testament came. What did Jesus say the cup represented while instituting the Lord’s Supper? He said, “This is my blood of the New Testament/Covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).

When someone sins, something must die; something has died, and something must die for the sinner to live!!! This has nothing do with some sort of guilt trip. It has everything to do with a dose of spiritual reality (John 1:29).

The reason so many people missed Jesus is because they weren’t looking for Him. They weren’t looking for the grace of God (John 1:17). The people didn’t mind God asking for a cow or a lamb every once in a while, but when Jesus came on the scene, He came preaching about more than sacrificing an animal. He came preaching about sacrificing our heart! He preached about faith, and love, and justice, and mercy, and humility, and devotion, and the necessity of a broken spirit.

Jesus’ preaching didn’t require anything new! It had always been God’s desire to have our heart: “For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).

Why did God have people sacrifice animals if it would never remove sin? Because God wanted His people to realize the cost of sin; because He was preparing the hearts of his people for the when the solution to sin revealed Himself.

If we miss the purpose of the blood shed for sins in the past, then we won’t comprehend the purpose of the blood of Jesus when it comes to our sins today. When we understand the shadows, we can place our confidence in the substance, and trust the power that’s only found in the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:1-31).

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50 comments

  1. The tumult and the shouting dies—
    The Captains and the Kings depart—
    Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
    An humble and a contrite heart.
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

  2. Thanks for your insight in regards to this but I would like to open up a related question to you. If the OT sacrifices were a foreshadowing of Christ (which they were) why do we see Christ suffering before He is put to death? The OT sacrifices were not beaten or bruised before they were put to death? Why the brutality in the case of Jesus?

    1. Hi, Dwayne. Thanks for commenting and great question.

      The thing to keep in mind when it comes to types and shadows (and this goes for any type/like-figure/shadow) is that they are types and shadows and not the substance. A shadow only “outlines” the substance. A like figure only has “similarities” to the subject. A type only “signifies” the typeset. The substance (in this case, Jesus) is the consummation of everything that God was leading His people up to.

      For example, the Passover lamb found in Exodus wasn’t crucified but it was still a type/shadow of Jesus. Another example of a type and shadow that refers to Jesus is king David. Not everything in David’s life was a type/shadow looking forward to Jesus, but there are moments in David’s life that are recorded in the prophets and in the Psalms that are figures and shadows looking forward to Jesus. Think of Abraham and Isaac; when Abraham went to sacrifice his son upon the mountain you can definitely see the similarities to Jesus but you can also see the differences. These things can also be seen in Moses’ life and even in Aaron’s life.

      So to answer your question more succinctly, the animals looked forward to Jesus’ atoning sacrifice while there were scriptures that prophesied about the harsh and violent treatment that Jesus would receive as a person. Read Isaiah 53 for an example of this (Peter refers to 53:5 in 1 Peter 2:24 and Philip used this chapter to preach Jesus to the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-35). The scriptures not only prophesied about Jesus’ atoning blood sacrifice through the animals, but they also prophesied that Jesus would be crucified, which accounts for the awful violence, chastisement, wounding, bruising, smiting and piercing that Jesus’ body suffered through (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Luke 24:44-46).

      There are plenty of other things/examples that I could give you but I hope this provides you with the answer you were looking for. If I can help any more, just ask. Take care, Dwayne.

  3. The insight of this article is indeed helpful for any Bible student who would read it. Thank you for sharing your God given knowledge about His words. I already shared it also via FB, and hope that more people would find time to read it as well. Take care always and God bless!

  4. Eugene,

    One other reason why animal sacrifices were commanded was because they had to make the connection that sin was costly. The animals they had to sacrifice were not cheap. They had to see the blood, yes, but it was also to get them to realize the cost associated with sinning.

    Now, imagine yourself back in the days of Israel, and you are tempted to sin. You think to yourself, “if I do this, I’ll have to go give up one of my sheep.” For someone who had shepherding as a livelihood, that was probably a decent deterrent.

    1. Hi, Bradley, thanks for commenting.

      I think there’s something to what you’re saying (I’m thinking along the lines of 2 Samuel 24:24), but I believe there is/was a greater emphasis placed upon the actual loss of life that was required for the atonement (both the shadow and the fulfillment). That’s definitely what I had in mind when I said, “They were supposed to realize what it meant to have blood on their hands. Because of something selfish they did, something died! The blood was meant to teach their heart about the cost of their sin.” The sacrifice that Abraham offered upon Mt. Moriah cost him nothing, but it cost the ram everything and Abraham’s heart learned the lesson. Parallel that to what Peter said in 1 Peter 1:18-19 and I believe the Bible shows that no monetary value could replace the value of the actual life that had to be given. All in all I definitely think there’s a point to your point though – as you know, the Bible makes sure that we understand that the cost of sin is never cheap! (Romans 6:23)

      Thanks again, and God bless as you serve His will in His kingdom! And I hope to see you commenting more often on the Fellowship Room.

  5. Thanks brother our pastor said animal sacrifice were an invention of man borrowed from the pagan religions. I tried talking to him as I felt unsettled in my heart about what he taught concerning animal sacrifices. His answers didn’t convince me! Thanks for taking the time to write this article! And for clarifying things for me!

    1. Hello Bruno,

      I am glad the article helped you out and I am glad that you took the initiative to study and investigate the issue for yourself; that’s a great attitude to have when it comes to studying the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15) Animal sacrifice was definitely not “borrowed” from pagan religions according to the scriptures for many different reasons, and I’m glad that you were able to see that by the word of God.

  6. I disagree.
    What about love and justice and mercy for those animals? What about not killing? As I see it “God” is not one entity in the bible but multiple beings. Among the Ulohim a being known as Enlil wanted animal sacrifice. Enlil and those following him and the present day remnants of his followers were of the Dominator philosophy.
    A being known as Enki, his brother was of the compassionate philosophy and the one who made modern day man.

    You have used scripture to composite a rough personal dialogue of what you believe to be the meaning behind a contradiction of animal sacrifice being permissible as worship or not. I believe the real answer is it was being viewed by different physical bodied beings with different philosophies and agendas.

    1. Hello Blarg,

      Your comments go in a few different directions but I’ll try to keep my response to them tied to what the lesson is about.

      You mention the animals and there is somewhat of a point in that, but that’s exactly what I was pointing out in the lesson. The people doing the sacrifice were meant to recognize the fact that something innocent was having to shed its blood and give its life because of something they were not responsible for. The point of this was a type/shadow of Jesus and how someone is meant to recognize the fact that he shed his blood and gave his life because of something he was not responsible for, but rather he did it willingly (moving beyond the purpose and type of the animals) to reveal the love and justice and mercy of God: “For him who had no knowledge of sin God made to be sin for us; so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 – BBE)

      As to your comment about God not being one entity in the Bible but multiple beings with multiple personalities I will just say that is not what the Bible teaches. The God of the Bible is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Mark 12:29-30). The Bible teaches that Jesus and the Father are one, meaning one in will and purpose and essence; which is exactly the opposite of what you have said (John 10:30; Philippians 2:5-11).

      The things that you speak of concerning these “differing beings” are things that rely upon the thinking and roots of man-made religions and not the faith that comes from studying the Bible which brings a person to Jesus (Galatians 3:8-29). The scripture that I have used (and the order of which it was used) was done so in a Biblical manner (2 Timothy 2:15) and it was done using the same principles that Jesus and his apostles and prophets used while preaching to others. Whatever your “endpoint” is in philosophy or theology or religion, if the answer isn’t Jesus then you have the wrong answer my friend.

      The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

  7. I’m pretty sure the preciousness of life, values of love,justice,mercy can be recognized without extinguishing said life.
    As for multiple entities, that is what history and archaeology teach. That is what previous versions of the bible teach. The bible also tells us we are being deceived and we know the scriptures have suffered from heavy re-editing over the years.

    The tetragrammaton or “name of god” is already missing in almost 7.000 instances, replaced by lordies and father and god. Every instance of those three is a name that has been omitted. Names of multiple “demi-gods”. My research finds no conflict with this, in fact it makes the bible make more sense.

    The bible like the Epic of Gilgamesh (flood of Noah) is about the Annunaki from our making in their image to ancient Sumer. Of course I know in any case you will claim this is part of the great deception and I am wrong.

    Myself and these beings still believe in an overall supreme Creator of all, but we were visited in ancient times by beings who formed polytheism. Since then those beings of them leading us astray have set up a monotheistic philosophy to divide and rule over humanity.

    1. Blarg, the more you talk the more you get away from the Bible and most importantly the more you get away from Jesus. The life and teachings of Jesus simply will not allow what you’re saying about the Bible or God to be true. Jesus’ life fulfilled the scriptures. Scriptures which were written hundreds of years apart at a time but yet they fully, clearly and wonderfully align with the life of Jesus (Luke 24:44-46).

      Animal sacrifices were a part of that fulfillment because the purpose of animal sacrifices was to bring a world of sinners to a spiritual point to where the Son of God, who was the Lamb of God, would be more easily identifiable, thus resulting in a saving faith in Jesus.

      To be perfectly honest with you I’m not interested in debating things like “mystical beings” who created polytheism and other such fanciful ideas that will not have any Biblical support. All polytheism is wrong and God commands a repentance of such and He has given evidence of His will through the resurrection of Jesus and the warning of judgment:

      Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:

      TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.

      Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”” (Acts 17:22-31)

      When a person gets away from Jesus they get away from God, and animal sacrifices point to the reality and truth of Jesus coming in the flesh to shed his blood for the sins of men and women according to the plan and providence of God.

      knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Peter 1:18-21)

      You have one of two choices my friend: believe the Bible and in the man who shed his blood according to God’s plan or believe in some fanciful manmade plan, but you can’t believe in both at the same time (2 Peter 1:16-21).

      Enough has been said here and in the article above for you to learn the truth if you so wish.

  8. “When a person gets away from Jesus they get away from God, and animal sacrifices point to the reality and truth of Jesus”

    I think animal violence points to creating an attitude among people that to worship God requires killing, attitudes of entitlement…hypocritical patterns of behaviour that decimate animal life and the environment. The world needs Veganism. Non participation in animal violence and exploitation in it’s so many forms, including for human rights aswell.

    There were other cultures back then that were into sacred animals, vegetarianism. Early christianity itself has strong vegetarian, meat killing, animal non-killing roots despite it not seeming so today on the surface.

    Hebrews 10:3-4 can be taken in two different ways. Either it is as the convoluted meaning you say, or it states the obvious of what I see.

    I think you are making a stretched argument to explain contradictions in this. Animal matters in religous writings are really the most important parts of them.
    I say consider another likely possibility, that the bible which warns against deception in the utmost, is already itself deceiving through mistakes and deliberate deception edits in the copying of it through the centuries. Consider it’s talking about real physical 10 foot tall people who shone light and were called “gods”.

    It has a decidedly pro-slaughter animal stance, and this is a social/societal conditioning to make us as humanity more unstable.

    1. Blarg, you’re proving my opening statement – “There are times in the Bible when a person can miss the blessing of something because they don’t understand the purpose or point of God’s command. This is especially true when it comes to understanding why God had people do certain things in regards to their sin.”

      You keep trying to discuss things from your own point of view, what you think, and what you want it to be, and not what the Bible says concerning the issue. And considering your comment about the Bible it’s easy to see why you had such a hard time understanding the point of the article, much less the point of animal sacrifice itself.

      So you can say whatever you want about Hebrews 10:3-4. You don’t believe in it anyways. Plus you still have the entire book of Leviticus, parts of Exodus, Matthew 8:4 (which is an endorsement of sacrifice from Jesus), John 1:29, 1 Corinthians 5:7, and Hebrews 9:6-26; 10:8,11 to deal with plus much more but that should be enough to get the point.

      Your problem is that you’re ignoring the underlying issue which is sin. You don’t believe in the substance (the solution to sin in the sacrifice of Jesus) so you’ll never understand the shadow (animal sacrifices), and you’ll never understand the shadow until you see what’s casting it (Colossians 2:13-17). That’s why I said, “When someone sins, something must die; something has died, and something must die for the sinner to live!!! This has nothing do with some sort of guilt trip. It has everything to do with a dose of spiritual reality (John 1:29).

      I’ll leave off with the same point that I made in the article:

      Why did God have people sacrifice animals if it would never remove sin? Because God wanted His people to realize the cost of sin; because He was preparing the hearts of his people for the when the solution to sin revealed Himself. If we miss the purpose of the blood shed for sins in the past, then we won’t comprehend the purpose of the blood of Jesus when it comes to our sins today. When we understand the shadows, we can place our confidence in the substance, and trust the power that’s only found in the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:1-31).

      You can believe whatever you want, that’s called free will. But regardless of what you believe, your belief does not change the truth of the matter. Humanism makes humanity unstable, not an accountability to God. A denial of sin leads to an abundance of it and your self deception is seen in your denial of an accountability to God, or else you would not deny what his word teaches from beginning to end – that sin separates us from God but God separates us from sin through Jesus who is the substance of the shadow of animal sacrifices.

      But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:7-8)

      PS – You do realize that Christians don’t sacrifice animals don’t you? Because according to your last reply it sounds like you don’t.

  9. Except you believe those with “freewill” can exercise it and disagree until it sends them to eternal damnation, don’t you? Which wouldn’t make it freewill, would it?

    Christians don’t sacrifice animals? Oh really? Yes, If you are eating meat, killing or purchasing the animal’s body, you are engaging in animal sacrifice aswell as whatever ceremony, institution or idol is part of it or overseeing it as morally acceptable.
    Again, many early christians believed in abstaining from animal parts.

    “The shadow” transformed into “the grace”. This is sounding a little catholic. Are you sure you aren’t looking for convenient if not convoluted abstract symbolic excuses for the taste of burnt flesh? If these people were absolved from the sacrifice of Jesus, and after that humans were no longer required to make non human burnt offerings….why still revere these ones? Do you know the word sacrifice simply means to ‘make sacred and set aside’? It is not synonymous with animal killings, mostly it is incense burning with libation of oil. Tell me, what do i deserve from God when I tell him I would not worship any deity who would require such things?

    Does this example put forth by the god of moses put forth a positive example for people to follow? No. It’s similar to morphing evolution and social darwinism, and survival of the fittest and might is right conditioning the people to be less merciful.

    Reinforcing animals as a low sub-class sets the stage for humans to abuse eachother even worse in the millenia to come.
    The world and humans are dying from animal exploitation leading to sin in the world, seriously:

    Isn’t man an amazing animal? He kills wildlife by the millions to protect his domestic animals and their feed. Then he kills domestic animals by the billions and eats them. This in turn kills man by the millions, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative- and fatal – health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease and cancer. So then man tortures and kills millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, some people are dying of sad laughter at the absurdity of man, who kills so easily and so violently, and once a year sends out cards praying for “Peace on Earth.”- C. David Coat

    Research Shumer. Research more in general. Research dogmatic brainwash.

    1. Dan,

      It sounds like you’re more interested in promoting “animals rights” than learning about the spiritual responsibility of men and women to God. Let’s just end the conversation because the longer you talk the further you get away from the original point of the post.

  10. Awesome post.,..as a believer in all loving GOD,i was struggling with all the massive animal sacrifices in the OT.This article helped me a lot to understand our Heavenly Father’s heart.Love you Jesus…:) and thanks for Sharing man,GOD Bless :) Love from India.

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words, Vinay. I am happy that the post was able to help you along in your studies, and I pray that it will help many others see the hope and salvation that God had always planned to bring into the world through Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross and through His empty tomb.

      Again, thank you for commenting and God bless as you study His word…and back at you from Tennessee, USA.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment with your words of kindness, Dipish, I appreciate that.

      And I am happy that you found the article to be useful. All glory be to God for the truth that can be seen through Jesus.

      God bless as you study his word (2 Timothy 2:15).

  11. Great article. I was trying to find where God actually gave the command to sacrifice animals. I am talking about early on in Genesis. Abel made an animal sacrifice, but i can not find any passage supporting them being commanded to sacrifice back then. Help me out please. It is possible Adam and Eve were told to do so when they were removed from the garden and it just doesn’t say it. Just wondering.
    Thanks again for posting.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Greg, and I’m glad that you found the article useful.

      As far your question goes it’s a good one. I think I may able to give a few pointers to help you out in your studies.

      First there’s Able. We can be sure that Abel’s sacrifice was in accordance with a command given by God because Hebrews 11:4 describes his sacrifice as something that was offered “by faith.” To do something by faith means to do something according to the word of God (Romans 10:17). So in Abel’s situation it’s pretty much an open and shut case.

      Now for Adam and Eve. You’re right in that when it comes to their situation there is no explicit command recorded nor is there even a scripture that implies that they made sacrifices. But we can be sure that if they desired to be in a right relationship with God it would have required an atonement of sorts to be made, and as the rest of the Old Testament shows when it came to atoning for sin there had to be a shedding of blood. Also, regardless of whether or not they desired to be in a right relationship with God, which is something that the Bible is silent on…remember that Abel is actually the first person mentioned in Hebrews 11, we can be sure that some sort of sacrifice had been made due to the fact that they were given animal skins by God to wear as clothing.

      At the end of the day I’d say there’s a strong possibility that Adam may have taught Abel what animals sacrifices were about, but whatever the case we can have a strong confidence that animal sacrifice was something expected by God according to the situation concerning Abel.

      I hope that helps, and thanks again for taking the time to comment; I appreciate that. If you have any other questions feel free to ask.

  12. Good Evening,

    I found some great spiritual understanding through your writings, especially the point that God notices every drop of blood spilled. I was also enlightened by the fact that people in those days were “supposed to” see how their disobedient actions towards God cost them innocent blood on their hands. I see how this innocence reflects the pure innocence of Christ’s blood. I still do have some questions that perhaps you may have insight to.

    I grasp that “For the wages of sin is death”, since God created the perfect environment, lifestyle, free will and love for Adam and Eve (and as that goes, all of mankind). If punishment for disobedience was anything less then death, then the value of what God gave us diminishes infinitely. If Adam and Eve simply received a slap on the wrist or a “time out” for disobeying God, then basically the value of life, free will, and love is on the same level as sitting in the corner for 2 minutes without talking; basically meaningless.

    My issue is, if we were already receiving death as punishment for sin, then why was sacrificing an innocent animal by force necessary?

    I know you said it turned into more of “buying off God” then a lesson and I completely agree. If you continuously sin and continue to sacrifice your herd of animals, you’ll start to become numb to the lesson. As a very selfish human being, if I had to sacrifice my dog I would definitely be sad and upset…for a little while. But eventually I’ll get over it and now my Dog had to pay for my sin. Basically, why does the dog get the shaft?

    Now for me I do see where you are taking the type/shadow of innocent blood of animals and the innocent blood of Christ. But Christ willingly chose to die for our sins (with the exception of his plea to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, but he still choose to do the will of God). Animals, as far as I can tell, were not willingly choosing to die for man’s sins. We lead them to the slaughter. So doesn’t that seem to be a bit of cruelty and injustice done to animals?

    Obviously I don’t have the divine knowledge of the spiritual and moral compass of animals. I have no idea what God’s ultimate plan is for them. But I believe from Genesis he created them to also be fruitful and multiply. I also believe He gave us authority to rule over them. And as rulers over animals, doesn’t it seem we need to be kind, compassionate, and merciful towards them as a King who rules over those in his kingdom? I just get confused as to why these living, breathing, soulful creatures were chosen against their will (as far as I can believe) to be the sacrifice for man’s disobedience.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi, Rudy.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. You bring up some good points and valid questions. Ultimately I think you’re hitting the nail on the head in about your 5th paragraph.

      Animals sacrifices completely revolved around being a substitutionary sacrifice of the type and shadow kind. And one reason, among others, that animal sacrifices were not completely effective is because of what you pointed out – they weren’t voluntary participants, and animals weren’t responsible for sin, mankind was/is. But because of sin’s effect (immediate death which is a spiritual separation from God), something (blood) had to be shed to make atonement at that moment, and blood was used because it represented a life for a life, because as Leviticus 17 says, “life is in the blood.”

      Now when it comes to the “why” part of animals being involved despite the fact that they’re not responsible there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

      One, they were a type and shadow of Jesus in that Jesus was not responsible for our sins, but yet he still bore the burden. Think of what the eunuch was reading in Acts 8:26-35 and what Peter said about Jesus in 1 Peter 1:18-21. Yes, Jesus was voluntary in that he chose to become a stand-in, but at the same time Jesus was also compelled to do what he did due to there being no other option (remember the aspect of Jesus’ prayer that you brought up). So Jesus’ sacrifice was given by his own will in that he willingly laid down his life for us (John 10:15), but at the same time it was done by love because there was no other way – the types and shadows would not allow it to be (John 15:13 and Hebrews 8:1-6, 9:9-24, 10:1-10).

      Two, blood, which is essential for the remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22), only has one of two sources – animals or man. And since human sacrifice was something that was unacceptable to God, and a spiritually illegal thing to do (remember that even those who crucified Jesus were still guilty of murder – Acts 2:23, 3:15, 7:52), animals played the substitutionary role until Jesus came to make his self-sacrifice. And since Jesus offered himself on behalf of sinners, as a man without sin, he was able to fulfill the requirements of the law’s righteousness while also being able to break free from the bonds of death due to not having sinned, which is something that an animal was wholly incapable of doing (Acts 2:24).

      I hear what you’re saying about animal sacrifices being cruel, unjust and a part of ugly repercussions due to our irresponsible behavior – but at the same time, all of that could be easily said about Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

      I think that this should address the sum of your concerns, but if it does not, feel free to reply. And thanks again for reading and commenting.

      1. Very well put! Thank you for the detailed answers. It does clear up some very confusing issues. I like how you explained This is done out of love because there is no other way. It was either do this and reconcile mankinds relationship with God through love, or don’t do it and we can never fully be redeemed. I especially like the simplicity that there are two options for blood: man or beast.

        Your last submission regarding a cruelty in the death of Jesus brings up another interesting point; one to where all this necessity of death really leads. This moves off the subject of animal sacrifice a bit, but still in line with my concerns for God using man to shed blood. (If this is discussed elsewhere in your blog, I apologize for bringing it up here and please direct me to where I can find similar comments and information)

        My concern is God’s direction to have man hand out his punishment. For instance, when God orders Saul and the Army of Israel in 1 Samuel 15:3 to “attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys”, how can a loving God request other men to kill other men and spare no one? Now before we get into the need for the Amalek nation to be held accountable for their sins, I already get that. In Lee Strobel’s ” The Case for Faith”, Norman Geisler gives some great insight on not only how depraved and sinful the Amakelites were, but also how he surely gave them a chance to repent and they did not. So I understand the severity of their punishment. But he doesn’t answer why man is ordered to destroy man. To directly order and use humans as the instrumental tool to destroy other men, women, children etc. doesn’t that put God into a “tyrannical” type of King? Also, and I hate to put it this way, is that also not a cop out for God? Why not wipe them out himself? Why not have these sacrificial animals raid upon them at night and destroy them? How is man, in those days performing those duties, able to understand this merciful God who orders them to kill? How are we today to relate to God using man to kill other people and then say “Thou shall not kill?” Why are humans who are supposed to choose love over death, given an order by The Almighty Loving God, to kill other people? My only thought is that this is the fate of Saul (after the four……teenth time he went against God) and the nation of Israel for choosing to have a king in Saul rather than a King in God. But it’s hard for me to connect the good in this and understand how he can order man to do such things.

      2. Hello again, Rudy. Sorry for the delay in responding back, the ole’ time schedule has been really full the last few days.

        One word that keeps coming to mind concerning the topic that you brought up is sin. Sin has a way of eating at a society until the society becomes consumed with it. When a culture sows to the wind then the principle of sowing and reaping by necessity says that the society will reap to the whirl-wind (Hosea 8:7). The greater the sowing of sin the greater the reaping of judgment. All sin condemns spiritually, but regardless of what some teach, the Bible teaches that there are certain societal behaviors and sins that hasten and multiply the judgment(s) of God (Revelation 18:4-8).

        Now as far your question about God using people as instruments of judgment goes I would simply say that God has given this responsibility to governments (Romans 13:1-4). God uses the judgment of a nation to grab the attention of other nations who need to repent. The Lord says that if a nation repents then he will relent, but if there is no repentance then there is the necessity of judgment (please read Jeremiah 18 for an example of this). Not only did God do this with pagan nations like Nineveh (Nahum 3), but he did the same with Israel. Even Israel herself fell prey to same judgments of God that their ancestors had carried out on others and the very nation(s) used to judge them would in turn find themselves judged due to sin (Ezekiel 14 and 2 Kings 8:9-15 and Isaiah 13).

        Time and time again God has used the governments of men to remind mankind that one day the sowing of sin will reap judgment, and for this reason we’re called to take notice so that sin does not find a home in our heart our in our culture (Psalm 67). Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people, but judgment reminds us that the scales will ultimately be righted (Ecclesiastes 8:6-14 and Psalm 73).

        As far as relating to a God who uses man to judge the sins of other men I would encourage you to remember that God seeks our repentance, and that he is not willingly that any perish, but the gift of free-will comes with responsibility and consequences (2 Peter 3:8-15). God didn’t send his son to condemn the world, we do a good enough job of that on our own (John 3:17-18). We relate to God by remembering that there’s one God and we’re not him (a principle that is replete in the Psalms), but that the same mighty God of Heaven and Earth calls us through mercy and love to draw near while we have the chance (Isaiah 55:6-9); and at the same time we also remember that he desires to be our father despite the sin that deserves his judgment (2 Corinthians 6:17-18).

        I’ll end in the same way that I began – sin carries with it consequences that we often fail to appreciate until it is too late.

      3. Eugene,

        Thank you again for such a powerful response. The consequence of our disobedience to God is a very serious issue. You have shed some light on my questions which are actually questions of others that I’ve had a hard time giving answers to myself. I often get caught up in the theological discussion with some who I try to explain that there exists an ultimate standard of good and when someone goes against that standard, that is wrong, and people must be held accountable. I have a friend who cannot hurt a fly. She is vegan, refuses to eat or wear anything made of animals, and believes that any penalty of death, directed by government or God, is extremely cruel. She was once a strong believer in Christianity, but has since lost her way as she explains that she cannot believe in a God who would kill. She will not believe in a place of Hell because what kind of all-loving, all powerful, and all knowing God would allow his children to go there. Even more, if we are supposed to forgive everyone, why is it that he does not forgive all? I try to explain that God forgives anyone who asks for forgiveness. I also give an idea that God does love everyone and if you continually reject God, wishing he stay out of your life, then ultimately he loves you enough to give you what you want; an eternity without him. I sometimes breakthrough to her with this idea, but I can still she she has trouble understanding how God can not save everyone. I myself used to believe that everyone, no matter what, eventually goes to Heaven. My issue with that later came to the notion that if that is the case, what is the point of life then?
        Anyways, I thank you again for the great information. I know I can only provide so much information and then pray the Spirit will guide her.

      4. Hey, Rudy. These words came to mind as I reading your comment – the just and justifier (Romans 3:23-26), free-will, consequences, the devil, sin and salvation. Sounds like the garden scene in Genesis to me because at the end of the day, the decision(s) that were made then are the same decisions that people make everyday – God said do this and don’t do that, the devil says otherwise, and we have to decide who we’re going to listen to (Matthew 7:13-14).

  13. Very good article! I would like to add three points for your consideration:

    1 – for a shepherd and agrarian society, having to give up your animals and crops had a very real and direct cost to the one sacrificing.

    2 – the crops/animals were not “wasted.” Many people think they just burned the whole thing up, but it was food for the priests (so they could eat).

    3 – many of the pagan faiths sacrificed animals/babies too, so God was speaking in a language that they understood. The difference is, unlike other “gods,” he said if you do X, you sacrifice Y, and you are forgiven. You didn’t have to “guess” how much God wanted you to sacrifice. For an example, look to Job, who obviously obsessed a bit over sacrificing for his family.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Douglas.

      You’re first point is something that’s worth noting, and others have mentioned it in the comments above. Regardless of the dispensation in which man has lived, the point has always been the same when it comes to the cost of sin: it comes at a high price! (Romans 6:23) The action of offering one’s sustenance (which gets down to the topic of reliance and trust) definitely tested the faith of God’s followers.

      You’re also correct with your second point. There were exceptions (as can be seen in Leviticus 4 and 6:30 and 16:27) but basically you’re correct in that a certain portion of some offerings were allowed to be consumed by the priests unless otherwise noted.

      As far as your third point goes there is a lot that could said about it but I’ll limit it to this – when it comes to being right with God, He doesn’t leave us guessing at what He desires (John 6:29; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 17:30-31).

      Thanks for reading, and thanks again for sharing your thoughts on the subject.

  14. You said that, “The whole time God was leading His people through the types and shadows from the words of His prophets toward the culminating sacrifice. God was getting them ready to see the blood that was going to be shed for the remission of their sins, our sins, and every sin ever committed. Every drop of blood ever split from a bird, bull, calf, cow, goat, sheep, or lamb was only a substitute until the blood of the Son of God was given for sins.”

    I seriously doubt that anyone (or at least the common man) in Israel at that time made any connection between what they were doing as a foreshadowing of God offering His Son Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice. As your supporting texts, you then listed all texts from the New Testament, which of course was not around during this time, hence, your supporting Scriptures are not helping your premise since from our perspective looking backwards we might see that.

    Just a thought. . .

    1. Hi, Kelly. You bring up a good point to consider.

      You’re right in that the “whole picture” in relation to Jesus and his sacrifice was not seen by the “every day Israelite”. But there was enough revealed to let the people of God know that something was coming (Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4). Especially consider what Peter said in 1 Peter 1:10-12-

      Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.

      Aside from the main fact, which is especially seen in Leviticus, that the wages of sin was death and that an atonement to God by necessity included the shedding of innocent blood and repentance produced by sorrow from the heart, the people did not understand everything about the One to come, but God’s plan revealed things in a way that when the One came he could be identified. This, amongst other places, is what Jesus meant when he said-

      …“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

      When I said that God was leading his people through the types and shadows I was referring to the people who were presented with the body/substance that cast the shadows/types (Colossians 2:16-17). The vast majority of the NT verses that I referred to are verses that quote the OT. And for good reason – “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

      The people of the past were not expected to understand everything that God was doing in relation to the first advent of Jesus as the Christ, but nevertheless they had faith in God and they looked forward to what he would ultimately accomplish on behalf of his people (John 8:56; Hebrews 11:8-10, 24-26).

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I hope my reply helped you to better understand the point that I was making.

  15. I am so bless and uplifted by the revelation of your teaching God’s words. I pray the Holy Spirit of God to continue using you to the glory of Almighty God through Christ Jesus amen.

    1. Okoh,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. All credit does go to God because if it comes from God’s word, and it’s taught in truth, then no one else deserves the credit. As you said, a vessel is all we can be, so we must decide what we’re going to be filled with.

      Thanks again, and God bless as you study the word.

  16. This is my first time ever commenting on an article. Thank you so much for this amazing information which was confirmed for me by the Holy Spirit! Although I have always believed that Yahweh did indeed require animal sacrifices there have been Christians who have been trying to convince me otherwise. I will refer them to this article! May Yahweh continue to use you mightily!

    1. Haggai, thanks for taking the time to comment; especially since commenting isn’t something that you’re used to doing.

      Confirmation of truth can definitely be found when one follows the truth revealed by the Spirit of God through the word of God that has been left for us (Ephesians 3:1-5), so while I claim no inspiration of my own, I do encourage people to examine what I have said in light of the scriptures that I referenced (1 Peter 4:11; 1 John 5:1). The sum of God’s word is truth (Psalm 119:160) and the sum of the matter is what I was striving to present.

      I’m glad that you found the article beneficial and I hope that it does the same for those that you know.

      Thank you for the referral and God bless as you study you his word. And feel free to comment on any other article that you may find interesting.

  17. Excellent article I keep reading it over and over as it helped me with my readings of Leviticus~ Now I wanted to know if example a person sinned one hour ago and presented a animal for sacrifice would the person have to bring another animal each hour and minute they sin or was this a once a day thing?

    1. Hi, Cassia. I think it’s great that you’ve found the article to be so useful.

      You’ve asked a really good question. As far as my understanding goes, there was not meant to be any kind “per diem” mindset behind any of the offerings. In other words, a person couldn’t take an animal and say, “Well, this animal will cover my tab for the day” or “Well, this animal will buy off _____ (insert number) of my sins.”

      With the exception of some offerings such as the goats on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:11-22) which represented all of Israel, most of the offerings were given on a personal basis where each individual sin was “atoned for” through each individual animal. Leviticus 4 contains some good examples of this. There it gives an example of an offering for sins of ignorance that represented the whole congregation of Israel but also offerings of certain individuals such as a priest, a ruler or any common person. In every case the word sin is used in the singular sense; so it definitely sounds as if one sacrifice was to be given for one sin in these cases.

      If this is the case it would be apparent that a person’s sins could start to become expensive rather quickly (which is something that a previous commenter pointed out), and I also believe this is why there were exceptions for those who were genuinely unable to financially afford the more costly sacrifices in certain situations…the Lord still provided a way for those who had a humble spirit and contrite heart (see Leviticus 5:1-13).

      Ultimately I believe the wording of God’s command for the situation and the individual sin that was committed (or even when a sin was not committed but there was a ceremonial offering given or cleansing as in the case of a child being born, or when the body of a dead individual was touched) determined exactly what was covered when an offering was made since you can see cases in which one animal was given for a multitude of sins but also times when each individual sin required an individual animal according to scripture.

      I appreciate the question, and thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope my answer helps.

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