Today we want to continue with the Bible’s answer on animal sacrifice (see Sacrifice in the city and The law – do or die!).
God’s sacrificial system (animals in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament) is the key to the Kingdom of God. Without it, God’s plan of an eternal kingdom will remain a pie in the sky and never materialise. It is because no human being can ever keep all God’s commands. 1 Let’s look at God’s brilliant design to ensure that the Kingdom will become a reality.
# Almighty God, the King
The very first people, Adam and Eve, disobeyed Almighty God, the Ruler of the universe. It is a serious offence and carries the death penalty. 2 God knew that the descendants of Adam would find it impossible not to sin or disobey. So He designed a way to legally be fair (judge them) and yet forgive them (extend mercy).
# The legal exchange – judgement and mercy
- When Adam and Eve sinned, God clothed them with animal skins (the animals died for their disobedience). It fulfilled God’s decree, ‘…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.’ 3 It was a legal exchange. The animals were ’judged’ and the people were forgiven. So justice combined with grace and mercy. God was fair (He judged the sin), yet merciful (the animals died in their place).
- Followers of Jesus don’t always recognise that God’s justice and mercy is absolutely unique. Only the all-knowing, wise God was able to plan it. Remember it was designed before creation. 4
# The enemy cannot complain
The devil wanted to complain, because he does not want people to be forgiven. He wants them in hell, which is his future ‘home.’ It was actually prepared for the devil and his angels because of their rebellion against God. 5 However he cannot complain. When he stole Adam’s right to rule, God did not stop him. Scripture is very clear, ‘the whole world is under the control of the evil one.’ 6
# The New Covenant/Testament
- The Old Testament sacrificial system was a type or shadow of something better. Through Jeremiah 31:31 God said there will be a New Covenant. Jesus instituted it, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’ 7
- We see how effective God’s new covenant is by the universal spread of the Gospel. Animal sacrifices were only for a time for the Israelite nation who kept livestock. It was not practical for people like the Eskimo’s who live in the polar regions. Animals for offerings are scarce there. Yet in God’s New Covenant system they are not disadvantaged. When an Eskimo wants forgiveness, the blood of Jesus takes away his sins. God ‘catered’ for all people in Christ.
The sacrificial system of justice and mercy, which began in the Garden of Eden and ended with Jesus on the Cross, displays the wisdom of the Trinity. The unbeliever can mock about Jesus and the Cross,8 but God’s design of justice and mercy stands forever as a monument to His brilliance.
- Romans 3:9-18
- Genesis 2:16-17
- Hebrews 9:22
- 1 Peter 1:18-20
- Matthew 25:41
- 1 John 5:19
- Luke 22:20
- Revelation 5:6