Yesterday we included the circular of questions about Old Testament laws that a skeptic sent us (these same questions were posed to Creation Ministries International on 10 July 2010). We want to give attention to them, because we love to write about the Word of God.
The first question is: ‘When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odour for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbours. They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?’
# The sacrifice of animals
- Adam and Eve. Animal sacrifices became part of the history of man in the garden of Eden. God gave Adam and Eve a command. If they disobeyed they would ‘surely die (be separated from God and from their earthly bodies).’ 1 Adam and Eve did not obey God. They were separated from God, but they did not die immediately physically. God instituted animal sacrifice to cover their disobedience. He clothed them in animal skins – innocent animals died in their place for their sin.
- Cain and Abel. God rejected Cain’s offering of ‘some of the fruits of the soil,’ but accepted Abel’s offering of ‘fat portions from some of the first born of his flock.’ 2 Abel obeyed God’s provision that an innocent animal could die to cover his sins, and Cain didn’t.
- Abraham and Isaac. God commanded Abraham to go and sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac, as a burnt offering. It was a test of obedience. When Abraham was willing, God supplied a ram to sacrifice in the place of Isaac.
- The sacrificial system. Under God’s command, Moses instituted the sacrificial system. The Israelites offered innocent animals to cover their sins for generations.
# The sacrifice of Jesus
- The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament point to Jesus, ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ 3 In the Old Covenant animals were the sin bearers, but in the New Covenant it is Jesus.
- Jesus was the final ‘Lamb’ who was ‘sacrificed’ on the Cross (around 33 AD): ‘For this reason Christ is the Mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.’ 4
- When Jesus was ‘sacrificed’ on the Cross, the old system of animal sacrifices was done away with. To make sure there would be no further animal sacrifices, God allowed the Romans to destroy the Temple in 70 AD. For the time being, it cannot be rebuilt, because the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock on the very place where the original Temple was.
# The sacrifice of the believer
- Today followers of Christ don’t sacrifice animals. We sacrifice ourselves, ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. …’ 5
- This accords with Jesus who said, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ 6
Will the people who ask questions about animal sacrifices in our day, be willing to sacrifice an independent lifestyle and entrust themselves to the living Lord Jesus?
- Genesis 2:16-17
- Genesis 4:3-4
- John 1:29
- Hebrews 9:15
- Romans 12:1
- Mark 8:34b