Weirdly enough, animal sacrifice keeps coming up more than ever before. (Though, it's possible the reason animal sacrifice keeps popping up is because of what we are discussing in the P40 Ministries Podcast right now.) In my college and career class, animal sacrifice came up as a topic of discussion last week. Then later on, I was discussing some biblical stuff with my sister-in-law, and animal sacrifice came up again.
The one thing I learned was that Christians really, really don't want to discuss animal sacrifices! Many believe that it's too gruesome, weird, and unnecessary. If we're being honest, it's a part in the Bible that we kind of like to pretend doesn't exist. We think of it as a cruel act. We sometimes even wonder why God would command such a thing to be done! When we do acknowledge animal sacrifice, it's often brushed over as something that is antiquated and unnecessary to discuss, since Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.
However, I believe that animal sacrifice is something we should discuss today. Though it technically is antiquated because of Jesus's sacrifice, it is important to understand why animal sacrifice was at one time necessary.
Thousands of years ago, when God told the Israelite nation to practice animal sacrifices, He was being merciful... Yes, merciful. You see, people had done a lot of damage to themselves and others as a whole. They were sinful people who were dying in their sins, unable to find forgiveness, because they weren't even sure how to attain forgiveness in the first place! That is when God gave them the Old Testament Law, and with it, came animal sacrifices.
Romans 6:23 states this, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." (NLT)
In layman terms, this means that the penalty for sin is death.
In the second chapter of Genesis, God explained the penalty of sin to Adam very well. He said to Adam, "But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die." - Genesis 2:17 (NIV, emphasis mine.)
You see, God directly described to Adam that if he ate from the tree, he would have to die, because sin causes death. The reason for this is because sin is evil, and evil causes murders, and sicknesses, and accidents, and violence, as well as spiritual death. Spiritual death is the worst death. Spiritual death is the death that leads to eternal damnation. This is because God Himself is perfect. Anyone with spiritual death is not able to come into the perfect presence of God, because death is something opposite from Him. We chose death, but God is the definition of life.
But that wasn't the end.