The sacrificial system

Picture of a small goat in a fied of wild flowers

Lev 2:13 And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.


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The Sacrifice

On Highway 70 half way between Plainview and Olton, Texas there is a wide spot in the road appropriately named Halfway. A very short distance north of there is a small yellow house on the East side of the road. My family lived right next door in a little white house while the yellow one was being built. I was a small child then and I remember standing in the front yard each afternoon with my mother waiting for the school bus to bring my older brother home. A couple of hours before that bus was due to arrive my mother and I could be found laying on the bed together. I was a rambunctious little kid and she would teach me about God and the Bible which would calm me down in preparation for our afternoon nap. I wasn't much for napping, but I loved those stories, and many an afternoon I drifted off dreaming of the day that the wolf would lie down with the lamb. We had a German Shepherd dog then. I don't recall it's name, just that it was a big fluffy dog that didn't mind a hug from a small child now and then. One day that dog got underneath a car that belonged to a carpenter who was working on that yellow house next door. Quitting time came and the carpenter got in his car to go home. He didn't know the dog was underneath the car, and the dog couldn't get out in time. The dog was badly injured with a broken back among other things. I remember watching as the dog tried to walk, but it's back half wasn't working. My Dad and Mom discussed the situation and then Dad got his shotgun while Mom brought me and my brother in the house. I didn't know what was going on, but I saw a different look in my Dad's eyes that day. I don't recall ever seeing that look before and only a handful of times since. It was quite a while before I realized what had happened, but for then I just noticed that our dog wasn't around any more. My parents tried to explain what death was, but I just couldn't comprehend it at the time. That is the innocence of childhood.

Most people probably remember the first time that they were introduced to death. It seems to be something that sticks with us, because that is the day that we lose a major portion of innocence. That innocence is our natural state. Mankind wasn't designed to know death. Death is something we learn. Think back now to your first experience with death. Think of your innocence before that time. Embrace that innocence for a moment. Put your mind back in that place for a moment as we play out a scenario. You and I, we are in our innocent place, but we know right from wrong. We have a few sheep that we take care of. The babies were born a few months prior and are adorable. We each have our favorite little lamb that we love and it loves us back. We play with the lambs and they suckle on our fingers and we pet them and hug them and love them. We love these sheep and raise them only for their wool. We are vegetarians and the thought of eating meat is as foreign as death. It just isn't something we would ever contemplate. One day while walking in our innocence, we are tempted and we do something wrong. The thing that we did is so bad that it could have cost us our lives. Our Father comes to us and confronts us. We are ashamed and we want to make this bad thing that we did, go away. But how? What is done, is done. We can't erase our bad deed. Our Father wants us to remember to never do this bad thing again and so He sets out to teach us in a way that we will never forget. He asks us what we love the most. We both reply "You Father". He then ask us what the most important thing to us other than Him and our family is. We both reply "our favorite lamb". Now our Father tells us that he wants to teach us a lesson so that we will remember to never do this bad thing again. He tells us to take our favorite little lamb, which is perfect in our eyes, to the priest. He tells us to hold the lamb in front of the priest, put one hand on the lamb's head, and with the other hand kill our little lamb. We love our little lamb, but we love our Father more. So we take our little lamb and do as we are instructed. We place our hand on the lamb's head and we look into the eyes of this little unsuspecting lamb, and we cut it's throat. The warm blood gushes down our hand and arm and we feel the life go out of our little beloved lamb. The little lambs eye hazes over in an instant and it goes limp and our favorite little lamb is forever gone. We then begin cutting our little lamb into pieces and handing them to the priest. The hurt wells up inside and the tears fall from our own eyes as we remember this little lamb suckling on our finger, and how we once played together. The memory of this horror will be vivid in our no longer innocent mind forever. The next time we are tempted to do that bad thing, We WILL NOT do it.

Is that too graphic? Does that take you to a place that you don't want to go? This is the ideology behind the sacrificial system in the Old Testament. Did you know that before the great flood, people were not supposed to eat meat. They were vegetarians or maybe even vegan. (See and ) The sacrifices were designed to be so dreaded that mankind simply would not sin because they didn't want to kill the animal. Our love for our Father, God is supposed to be such that we would kill this precious thing that meant so much to us in order to demonstrate to Him that we are truly ashamed of our bad actions. The sacrifice was designed to demonstrate that we love Him and His ways more than the most precious things of this earth. The sacrifice was designed as a way for us to show Him that we understand that His commandments were put in place to keep us on the path to His heavenly kingdom and to keep us far away from eternal death. But mainly it was designed to keep us from ever wanting to do it again

I won't go into all of the details of the actual sacrifices. If you are interested, you can find it in Leviticus I would like to point out some things that some people do not realize about the sacrificial system.

1. The person who committed the sin requiring the sacrifice was in most cases the one who was required to kill and dismember the animal to be sacrificed. The priest then took the parts to perform the ceremony.
2. Not all sacrifices were animals.
3. A "meat" offering was not what we call meat today. A "meat" offering was a tribute or a gift to God, it was usually unleavened bread made of fine flour, and oil. It was a way to show love to God and did not require the shedding of blood.

Here is the strong's definition for the word "meat" as used in the meat offering. H4503 minchaah min-khaw' From an unused root meaning to apportion, that is, bestow; a donation; euphemistically tribute; specifically a sacrificial offering (usually bloodless and voluntary): - gift, oblation, (meat) offering, present, sacrifice.

I realize that most people are bored to tears at the thought of reading Leviticus and so I will only point out one verse here. That verse is:

Lev 2:13 And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.

This verse makes an important point. When a person offered the meat offering or gift to God, they were to season the offering with salt. The salt had a purpose as we read in the above verse. The seasoning or salt added flavor to the offering. This verse tells us that the offering to God should also be consistent with the flavor of, or the spirit of God's covenant. The offering should be consistent with the covenant of God. The covenant being the commandments of God otherwise known as the ten commandments. In other words, one should not bring an offering to God if there was sin in that person's heart. A person shouldn't bring an offering to God in preparation for a future transgression or sin. That would not be in the flavor or spirit of His covenant. Of course we no longer offer up sacrifices, but the message is still pertinent. We must come to God with a pure heart. If we come to God asking for forgiveness for a sin that we are planning on committing in the near future, our heart is not in the right place.

Mankind did not respond appropriately to the sacrificial system. Instead of staying far from sin, mankind just became accustomed to offering sacrifices. Mankind completely missed the point of the sacrificial system. The Bible tells us many times that God took no delight in sacrifices in lieu of obedience.

Isa 1:11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.

Here God tells us that he was tired of all the sacrificing. He goes on to say that He will not even hear the prayers of those who sacrifice instead of just being obedient.

Isa 1:15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Isa 1:16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Isa 1:17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Isa 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isa 1:19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:

God doesn't want sacrifices and blood. God wants our obedience.

Jer 7:21 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. Jer 7:22 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: Jer 7:23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.

God speaks through the above verses to tell us that the point of the sacrificial system wasn't so that God could receive sacrifices. The point was that we should obey His voice which means to obey His commandments. The Ten Commandments. God never needed, nor wanted anyone to kill and sacrifice an animal for Him. Look at these verses:

Psa 50:8 I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me. Psa 50:9 I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. Psa 50:10 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. Psa 50:11 I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. Psa 50:12 If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. Psa 50:13 Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Psa 50:14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: Psa 50:15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

The above verses make it clear that God takes no delight in the death of the animals that He provided for us. If He wanted the animals He would have taken them. The sacrificing of an animal was supposed to be a dreaded thing. It was supposed to give us an idea of how it would feel to God if He was to Kill one of us. We are His children, he doesn't want to destroy us. We were meant to have everlasting life. We are also meant to be obedient to Him. A parent takes no pleasure in disciplining a child. The parent disciplines the child for the benefit of the child. It is the same with the sacrificial system. God took no pleasure in it. God put it in place for the benefit of His children. His children became accustomed to the killing though. His children sacrificed in lieu of being obedient. Then God sent a greater sacrifice. A sacrifice that should be more important to us than any animal. A sacrifice so important to us that we would surely be obedient. He sent His Son. He sent a part of Himself to atone for our sins. When we transgress His law, when we sin then our sin is covered by His sacrifice. The flip side to that is that every time we sin, we are a little more responsible for His death on that cross. Our part in His suffering is increased every time we are disobedient to Him.

Now let us go back again to our innocent place. That time before we were acquainted with death. We are in our field playing with our lambs and we are tempted and we do something wrong. Our Father calls to us and takes us to the place where Christ is being crucified. He tells us that He knows that we have done wrong, but that Christ Jesus is paying the price for our transgression. We look upon Christ Jesus as he hangs there with a crown of thorns stuck into his scalp. His body is bruised and bleeding and He is in great torment and it is because you and I did something wrong. He is in this great torment through no fault of His own, but because of what we did. How does that make you feel. This is the reality of the situation. We are responsible for His pain and suffering. He took our place. It is through His stripes that we are healed of our transgressions. Perhaps this is why He told us: Joh 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Let us therefore keep all Ten of His commandments.

1Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.


Wow, this is really wonderfully written so as to explain the reason for the sacrifice of Christ, and the higher reality behind it. I often wondered about things related to this. Thanks for answering some of my questions, as covered in this piece. :)
Raine 29 Apr 2013, 11:40
Thank you very much for your text. I have been wondering about this subject for a long time. My question was that from my point of view, in this day and age, when I love animals and do not like to kill them (am trying to be completely vegetarian for the love of animals), why would a loving God asks us to hurt and kill animals, and why would a loving God want to sacrifice His own child? Your text very well answers my questions. To me, now, it makes sense, and even helps me to think twice about sin and its consequences. I had heard many talks about sins before and accepted the logic with my head, but now it truely sinks in. THANK YOU.
Tania 19 May 2015, 07:02

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