Sacrifice Laws and Traditions
Feb 08, 2007
The first seven chapters of Leviticus give us an outline of the various types of animal sacrifices. There is no doubt that God told Israel to perform these sacrifices, for they were part of the law itself and, in essence, appeared to be the means of justification. Even Hebrews 9:22 tells us from the New Testament perspective that "without shedding of blood there is no remission" (of sin).
However, Hebrews 10:4 tells us also that "it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin." The book goes on to tell us that for this reason we were given a better Sacrifice which could succeed in justifying sinners and removing sin. That Sacrifice was Jesus, "the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
The law said that blood must be shed for remission of sin. The law said that an innocent lamb must be killed for sin. But the traditions of men said that the blood must be from an animal and that only a literal lamb was sufficient to fulfill the law. Such traditions were regarded as truth by all those who did not know the mind of God. They read the law, but did not know the intent of its Author.
Such is the difference between the law and the traditions of men.
A related tradition said that God was quite blood-thirsty. After all, with all that blood being shed at the temple twice a day, one might easily get that impression. This spilled over into their manner of judging sinners in their earthly courts. In Jesus' day the people were quick to stone people for blasphemy or adultery, thinking that this pleased God. When they brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery, He surprised them by not condemning her but showing mercy to her (John 8).
Some think that this passage in John 8 ought not to be in the Bible, because some of the early manuscripts of John had omitted it. But the scholarly work of Ivan Panin showed that the gematria (mathematical values of the letters and words) proved it to be inspired, and if the passage were removed, it would destroy hundreds of numerical patterns inherent in the text itself. (Ivan Panin was the head of the department of astronomy and physics at Harvard in the early 1900's. He had become a Christian when he discovered the gematria of the New Testament, which proved the existence of God.)
Psalm 50 is part of the Exodus book of Psalms (Psalm 42-72). Psalm 50 correlates specifically with the instructions for the tabernacle, the priesthood, and the sacrifices found in Exodus 25-31. In this Psalm of Asaph, God reveals His true feelings about the sacrificial system.
" (9) I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor the goats out of thy folds. (1) For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. (11) I know all the fowls of the mountains; and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. (12) If I were hungry, I would not tell thee; for the world is Mine and the fulness thereof. (13) Will I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? (14) Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most High . . . (23) Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me; and to him that ordereth his conversation [way] aright will I show the salvation of God."
Here Asaph was giving us a peak into the real intent and desire of God. He did not care about sacrifices; He cared about people being thankful and doing what they said they would do. He cared about doing the right things in daily life. God is not blood-thirsty or hungry. Sacrifices were considered to be food for the gods in virtually all religions, but Asaph knew that God did not get hungry as humans do.
In Psalm 51, David continued this idea, saying in verses 16 and 17,
" (16) For Thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it; Thou delightest not in burnt offering. (17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise."
The prophet Micah echoes the same idea, giving us a good look at the mind of God in regard to sacrifices. Micah 6:7 and 8 says,
" (7) Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgressions, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? (8) He has shown thee, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."
So we see that although the sacrificial system was commanded, it was not what God really wanted or needed. The Old Testament writers made this perfectly clear, because they looked at the law from a New Testament perspective. Isaiah 53 spoke of the "righteous Servant" (vs. 11) that would "make His soul an offering for sin." Of all the Old Testament prophets, he presented the clearest picture of the true Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world.
Those who did not understand the mind of God thought that God desired and demanded sacrifices of animals and that such a command would never change to a better form of sacrifice. They could not believe that the sacrifices would ever end. Even when God finally hired the Romans to destroy the temple in 70 A.D. (Matt. 22:7), they still believed that the day would come when God would again set up a physical temple where more animal sacrifices could be offered to Him.
What is most astounding is that many Christian books have been written to teach us this same Jewish tradition. They think that Christ will return to dwell in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and that Jewish men named Cohen [Hebrew for "priest"] would again sacrifice animals to Him. How is it that we have been given a "better sacrifice" and yet soon Christ Himself will require us to go back to that which was worse?? That is a regression, not a progression of the Kingdom.
Traditions of men are man's understanding of the law apart from knowing the mind and intent of the Author Himself. It is a twisted understanding, and in Jesus' day it led to their rejection of the Messiah and ultimately the destruction of Jerusalem. The results of men's traditions are seen in history. And many Christian traditions are just as deadly.
Dr. Stephen Jones