Sunday, December 6, 2009

Clean and Unclean Sacrifice {Part One}

The old testament is full of blood. Most all the bloodshed in the old testament is due to sin. Remember sin=death. Prior to sin there was no death in the world. Meaning there was no bloodshed. So if bloodshed is sin then why does God institute sacrifice? The whole book of Leviticus is one big bloodbath! It can be horrific and macabre to read. So what was the deal? Let me try to explain.

The Hebrew word for blood is "dam"; which simply means blood. The root word is "damam" which means to be still or silent. So that makes sense...when your blood is spilled you are silent or dead. So in old testament sacrifice the animal was silenced and so was the devil. Let me say that a little different. When man sins it silences the will of God but when blood sacrifice is offered it silences the will of the devil.

See all ancient people groups had sacrifice as a part of their religious rituals. Many even practiced human sacrifice. The difference in pagan sacrifice was that it was to appease the gods. The sacrifice of the Hebrews and Israelites was not to appease God but to instead pacify the devil. That is not to say that the sacrifice was not pleasing to God. It most certainly was. It was a public statement in the spiritual and the physical that a person was stepping out of sin (will of the devil) and into righteousness (will of God). So yes God was most pleased. But sacrifice had to first come from the heart. The sacrifice to God was about relationship. Pagan sacrifice was out of fear.

So how did this whole thing get started? The book of Leviticus is a good 2000 years after the time of Adam and Eve. So how did people like Abraham, Noah and Abel know about sacrifice? How did they know what to sacrifice? Well once again we must go back to the beginning.

After Adam and Eve sinned in the garden it says that they realized they were naked and covered themselves with leaves. Now remember before sin there was no death. Man and beast both were vegetarian. Both man and beast did not kill animals for food. Isaiah 11:6-9 tells us how it was in the garden and how it will be in heaven.

"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea."

So to all my vegetarian friends...you are sooo holy. LOL. Whether you want to be or not. ;D So man's sin had a HUGE effect on the animal kingdom. Think of all the animals that are meat eaters. Think of all the animals that scavenge for food. Think of micro-organisms and the effect sin had on them. The beginnings of decay and disease that led to death. MAYBE this is some of the "evolution and adaptation" some scientist have found in biology. The change from a pre-sin state to a post-sin state. I don't know for sure. What I do know is that when sin came into the world EVERYTHING changed. Man had dominion over everything so his sin affected everything. Click to read blog on dominion.

So back to Adam and Eve and their strategically placed fig leaves. Before they are sent forth from the garden God does something for them out of love. Gen. 3:21 "The Lord made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." This was the very first sacrifice. The Lord took the life of an animal in place of Adam and Eve. The animal died so Adam and Eve wouldn't have to. This in turn pacified the devil, glorified God and atoned Adam and Eve of their sin. God didn't cover Adam and Eve's nakedness because He was ashamed of them. He covered them so that they would not be ashamed of themselves. This is what we are clothed in by the Lord. Isaiah 61:10 "For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." The covering of salvation and righteousness took Adam and Eve out of the will of the devil and back into the will of God.

Sacrifice was also a way of staying in relationship with God. It was an act of accountability to God not just for sin but also honouring and thanksgiving. It was to be an outward display of the heart. A sign that someone was choosing God's way over the devil's way. We see with Cain and Abel that it was what was sacrificed and with what attitude it was sacrificed. Abel brought the very best to God. Cain only brought a portion. See an offering without sacrifice is just giving. Sacrifice whether it was animal or grain was to be the very best. Cain was just walking through the motions. His heart was not in relationship. God even comes to warn him to be careful of his attitude. Not because God would be pissed but because "sin is crouching at the door"meaning the devil. When we do not give our ALL to God it leaves a portion for the devil. So why did you have to sacrifice so God would know your heart? Doesn't God already know? Yes. Sacrifice is again a statement to the devil. Sacrifice is spiritual warfare. It is an act proclaiming whose team you are on.

The next instance of sacrifice in the bible is with Noah after the flood. Gen. 8:20 "Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed..." Now how did Noah know what animals and birds were clean or unclean? It isn't until the book of Leviticus that this is written about; some 1500 years later. Moreover why did Noah take seven of each clean animal and only two of each unclean animal onto the ark? We know now that sacrifice was instituted in the garden by God Himself. I'm sure that God had a little chit chat with Adam and Eve about the whole thing. As far as I can tell it can take up to two weeks to make clothes from from animal skins. So I'm sure God used this time to teach them how to live outside the garden. Which is a nice thought huh? They weren't kicked out on their butts the same day they sinned. Our loving God made sure they were protected and that they had understanding of how things were going to be outside the garden.


This was something that must have been passed down in oral tradition. When sacrifice was needed and what to sacrifice. Being that Noah was a descendant of Adam and a righteous man who walked with God he must have known this tradition. So the need of more clean animals on the ark was because they would be needed for sacrifice.
There is also an easy way to see the difference of clean animals from unclean animals. Unclean meaning unfit for sacrifice. At this point eating any animal is not allowed. Look at this list of some unclean animals. Now at quick glance what do these animals have in common? 1} Most of them kill for food and eat meat. 2} Some of them are scavengers who eat anything. 3} Some carry disease. 4} Others are good for work or for pets.

Except for #4 I believe these animals were made "unclean" when man sinned. The other animals like the donkey and dog were for better purpose than to eat or sacrifice. So given all the information Noah had from God and through oral tradition it probably wasn't too hard for him to figure out. It also think he did the best he could and God was fine with that.

One interesting note while Noah and the animals were on the ark. The dove(clean) as you may know was not the first bird to be sent out from the ark to look for land. Noah first sends out the raven(unclean). But the raven did not return. It wandered "to and fro until the waters dried up" Gen.8:7. Remember the Hebrew root word for sin? "Chata" meaning to wander from the way. Who else was known to wander "to and fro" along the earth? The devil in the book of Job 1:7. Weird huh? So does this mean that the "unclean" animals are actually now evil? I don't know? I do know that man was given dominion over the animals. But we also know that the devil appeared as a serpent. There are other places in the bible that describe known demons in the pagan world as a particular animal. Certain animals have played very large roles in pagan and demonic practices.(I will blog more on this later)

The bottom line really is Jesus. When He died and rose again all things were reconciled. I believe that meant the animals too. So no your dog is not possessed by the devil. My dog however is a different story. LOL. No, just kidding. He is a good dog...most of the time

Now after Noah exits the ark and gives sacrifice; God makes a new covenant. The world had changed for the worse after sin entered in. That was the reason for the flood. One particular disappointment of God's was that the world was now full of violence. Both man and beast alike. So God reminds Noah of his dominion over the animal kingdom. Even though they are now carnivores they will have "fear and dread of you." (Gen. 9:2) Also the dietary rules changed. God gave permission to eat meat as long as the life blood was no longer in it. Why was it OK now and not before? I have heard a few ideas on this. 1} to exercise dominion. 2} so that man would get his violence out on animals instead of man. 3} the changes that sin caused on creation (namely vegetation) made a vegitarian diet insufficiently nutritious.

Number 3 seems the most likely to me. If you think in terms of what was available in ancient times. The way that man was living and working was different in a post sin world than how it would have been without sin. So that means that man dietary needs would have changed as well. So no every time I am eating a nice juicy rib eye I am not doing spiritual warfare and taking dominion. At least I don't think so. ;D

I also think that it only made sense in the long run to allow meat eating because of all the sacrifice. The animals had to be killed. So to not wasteful they now could be eaten. One thing I do want to make clear is God's very obvious statement about how to treat animals. "But you must not eat meat that has it's lifeblood still in it...I will demand an accounting from every animal." Gen. 9:4-5. Meaning don't be a savage. Respect God's creation. Be responsible and a good steward. It is so important to God that He places this command with the command about not taking the life of another man. (Gen. 9:6) Not that man and animals are equal, but that we must respect God's creation.

So let's fast forward to the book of Leviticus...to be continued


1 comment:

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