When you read your Bible, specifically the Old Testament, you will often see the words “sacrifices” or “offerings.” There are many kinds of offerings, like burnt offerings and sin offerings (Leviticus 1-7). These passages are usually referring to animals being sacrificed. You will especially find references to this in the book of Exodus and Leviticus. For this article, we will talk about the concept of animal sacrifice, but not the details, since tackling that would be challenging, considering the many instructions in the Old Testament regarding these things.
Before we get to the concept of animal sacrifice, let us first get into why they need it in the Old Testament. It all started when sin entered the world when mankind chose to rebel against God. Because God is just and holy, He cannot let sin go unpunished, and the punishment for sin is death (For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23). Therefore, anyone who has sinned deserves death (For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. Leviticus 17:11). That is where the concept of animal sacrifice appeared. Because God is loving, gracious, and merciful, He doesn’t want His chosen people, the Israelites, to receive the punishment of sin, which is death. Therefore, instead of a person taking the punishment for their sins, the animal takes that person’s place, dying on their behalf to satisfy God’s justice against those who sinned. It is a substitute to spare a person from the punishment of sin. If you study the Bible in depth regarding animal sacrifice, there are many instructions as to who should kill the animal, which person will do the sacrifice, clearly stating that the animal to be sacrificed should be flawless. Animal sacrifices were to be done from time to time, as such a sacrifice does not provide a permanent covering for sin.
Animal sacrifice was also a foreshadowing of Jesus’ death and the work that He would do a few centuries later. Jesus is known as the ultimate sacrifice for sin. Just like an animal who took the place of sinners receiving punishment for their sin, Jesus did the same, nailed on the cross to take God’s Wrath instead of us (Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 1 Peter 2:24). Remember, animals that were to be sacrificed had to be spotless or perfect, and Jesus was too; He lived a righteous and sinless life (For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Hebrews 7:26). The Bible says that Jesus made a sacrifice that provides a permanent covering, so we don’t need to sacrifice animals again and again (Hebrews 7:27). The Bible also refers to Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” referring to what He would do in terms of his own sacrifice, which would take away the sins of the world (Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Revelation 5:12). That is why Christians don’t make animal sacrifice anymore, since the blood of Jesus is enough to cleanse your past, present, and future sins. This is what makes the work of Jesus so amazing and awesome that even the angels in heaven rejoice when one comes to accept Jesus (Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Luke 15:10).