It is a sin after the fact to not deal with wrongdoing after you find out about it. Don’t think it will just blow over.
All sin brings death. Sin is sin. We do it on purpose. We do it accidentally. And it must all be punished. So God gave His people a system of substitutionary justice, whereby an innocent creature would take your place and take your punishment. When you sinned, you would not pay with your own death, or even by losing a limb. It would not cost you an arm and a leg. A substitute, which you provided, would take the fall.
By our modern sensibilities, I can imagine people being outraged at the deaths of so many lambs and goats and cows. “Why does God demand this? If He is going to forgive us, why not just do it without the bloodshed?” Because otherwise He would require your life instead. Justice is what the judge determines, not the mob. And our judge is also our creator, our master. It is to Him that we give account. Then, when He determined the time was right, He sent His son to be the final sacrifice. We should be happy He did.
“If his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before the Lord and lay his hand on its head and kill it in front of the tent of meeting, and the sons of Aaron shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. Then he shall offer from it, as his offering for a food offering to the Lord, the fat covering the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. And the priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering with a pleasing aroma. All fat is the Lord‘s. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, in all your dwelling places, that you eat neither fat nor blood.” Leviticus 3:12-17
Some of the explanations for these offerings come later, but let it suffice to say that they are not peace offerings in the way we mean them today. They are not a method of apology. They were often an expression of thanks, or made after fulfillment of a vow. There were other offerings for sin.
Today, sin is no longer in the offering equation. Jesus has taken our sin away. But our thanks is always appropriate. It’s that last part at the end, about eating fat, that I will deal with. Is or was all fat off limits, and why?
We will find that many of the dietary restrictions of the old testament are against things that are today regarded as less good for our bodies. And the fat in Leviticus 3:17 is from a Hebrew word that refers to a specific kind of fat that surrounds the liver and entrails. This fat holds a lot of toxins and is not good for us to consume. It is the fat included in what was to be burned with the entrails. For an interesting article on the subject, click here.
That said, is this relevant to us today? In Mark 7:19 Jesus said all foods were now “clean,” and in Romans Paul says it’s a matter of conscience and that we should not cause people to violate it. If you feel that it’s unclean, don’t eat it.
“When you bring a grain offering baked in the oven as an offering, it shall be unleavened loaves of fine flour mixed with oil or unleavened wafers smeared with oil. And if your offering is a grain offering baked on a griddle, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mixed with oil. You shall break it in pieces and pour oil on it; it is a grain offering. And if your offering is a grain offering cooked in a pan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil. And you shall bring the grain offering that is made of these things to the Lord, and when it is presented to the priest, he shall bring it to the altar. And the priest shall take from the grain offering its memorial portion and burn this on the altar, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. But the rest of the grain offering shall be for Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the Lord‘s food offerings.” Leviticus 2:4-10
In the earliest days Cain made an offering of produce from the field and it was unacceptable. Under this new order, there was a whole sacrifice infrastructure. Part of it was to attoned for sin, but many others were to support the new ministry class God had created. Man would no longer make a sacrifice when he felt the need to do so. It was regulated and made mandatory. It was to be a sustainable activity and obligation. But it was also an opportunity to enact sowing and reaping for their benefit.
In Christ, the sacrifice for sin has been abolished.
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with themafter those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Hebrews 10:15-18
So the ministry has not been abolished with the sacrifice for sin. It has been repurposed to bring the good news to the world that their sins have been taken away. And the ministry class God created is still in effect and sustainable through the offerings of God’s people.
The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock. Leviticus 1:1-2
The animal sacrifice is a practice that has taken place since the beginning of human civilization, in every part of the world. It was universal because sin is universal, and it must be attoned for. The first sacrifice recorded in the Bible was God’s spontaneous sacrifice of animals to make clothes for Adam and Eve from the skins after they first sinned. When Cain and Abel made an offering to the Lord, Cain’s sacrifice of crops was not accepted by the Lord, but Abel’s sacrifice from his herd was. It was the picture of Christ God was creating, the innocent dying for the guilty.
God never sanctioned human sacrifice. Sinners cannot die for other sinners. Pagan sacrifices in which infants and children were sacrificed were abhorrent to God. This was a realm that only he could enter with the voluntary gift if his own body through Jesus. The perfectly innocent died willingly for the guilty.
The reason we find the idea of animal sacrifice to be so awful today is that we have forgotten what it is for. We have forgotten that the wages of our own sin is death. We have forgotten that someone has to pay.