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Why Did God Require Animal Sacrifices? 

And why do Christians need to know?

Hebrews 10.1–10

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • December 4, In the year of our Lord, 2016

Scripture Reader and Reading: Phil Joseph – Hebrews 10.1–4

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Kevin Michael – Songs on the sacrifice of Christ

  1. Why Did God Require Animal Sacrifices? 
    1. Why do we, as Christians, need to know about animal sacrifices?
    2. Why did God not send Jesus initially and avoid all those sacrifices?
    3. If animal sacrifices did not do the job, why did He command them?
    4. Also, why did He sometimes tell Israel that He did not want sacrifices?
  2. A History of Sacrifices 
    1. What happened when Adam and Eve sinned?
      1. They covered themselves in fig leaves.
      2. God clothed them with animal skins.
        1. Animals died
        2. What little we know of Cain and Abel deals with sacrifices.
    2. Noah sacrificed.
    3. Abraham sacrificed, etc.
    4. The Books of Exodus through Deuteronomy, especially Leviticus
  3. Hebrews 10.1–10 
    1. Why we know sacrifices foreshadowed something else,

      1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.
    2. What then did those sacrifices do?

      3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.

      1. Not that they had not been forgiven.
      2. If, verse 2 says, the animal sacrifices had made the worshiper perfect,
        1. they would have had no more consciousness of sins.
        2. However, the continual sacrifices kept alive the awareness of sin.
          1. Continual animal sacrifices
          2. reminded the world of the problem of sin.
      3. The Israelites were forgiven, but
        1. based on something else,
        2. not the countless deaths of the animals.
          1. We know that something else took away their sins, because
          2. of what the writer of Hebrews said next.
    3. Animal blood cannot redeem human blood,

      4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

      1. Animals are not equal with humans.
      2. Therefore, the blood of animals cannot take away the sins of humans.
    4. A human body and blood can redeem us,

      5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
      [Psa 40.6–8]

      “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
      But a body You have prepared for Me.
      6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
      You had no pleasure.
      7 Then I said, Behold, I have come—
      In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
      To do Your will, O God.”

      1. Psalm 40 and Hebrews 10 quote someday as taking the place of sacrifices.
      2. This someone lived previous to his sojourn here, because
        1. he spoke of God preparing a body for him.
        2. He would come to do the will of God.
          1. Animals cannot recognize that fact, nor
          2. did they decide to be sacrifices for human worshipers.
            1. However, someone else would make the decision
            2. to do the will of God for the sake of humanity.
    5. Then the writer gives his inspired commentary on Psalm 40,

      8 Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second.

      1. This meant a change of the sacrificial system.
      2. He took away the First Covenant.
        1. Then He established the Second Covenant.
          1. We went from a system where the sacrifice did not know what it was doing
          2. to a system where the sacrifice knew what it (he) was doing.
        2. This was all part of God’s plan to educate us on sin and sacrifice.
    6. Jesus doing the will of God brought sanctification,

      10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

      1. “That will” being the will to which Psalm 40 makes reference.
      2. Animals had no will and did not know God’s will.
        1. They did not choose to die for us.
        2. Jesus of Nazareth knew precisely what He was doing, and
          1. He wanted to do it.
          2. God gave Him a body and He offered that body to God for us.
            1. Freely He had received,
            2. freely He gave.
    7. But someone say, “All that blood…”
  4. All that Blood 
    1. Can we count the number of animals?
      1. How much blood did they all give?
      2. When I watched the custom butcher slaughtered our 800 pound steer,
        1. the amount of blood that came from his body amazed me.
        2. It created a pool.
    2. How much blood did the levitical priests take from the animals, and why?
    3. Leviticus 17.11 reveals
      1. the connection between blood and the person,
      2. why it is blood that has to be shed,

        11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Lev 17.11).
    4. All that blood taught the world something.
      1. Blood comes from a violent death.
      2. Seeing all that blood,
        1. even reading about it,
        2. keeps our mind on the existence of sin.
          1. Why did this animal have to die?
          2. Because man committed sin.
      3. Man needed to know the high cost of sin.
        1. Romans 6.23

          23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 6.23).
        2. Ephesians 2.1

          1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins… (Eph 2.1).
        3. Isaiah 59.1–2

          1 Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened,
          That it cannot save;
          Nor His ear heavy,
          That it cannot hear.
          2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
          And your sins have hidden His face from you,
          So that He will not hear.
          (Isa 59.1–2)
    5. Therefore, man needed something or rather someone at least equal to him
      1. who could take away his sin and
      2. enable a restoration of fellowship with God.
    6. The countless animal sacrifices
      1. reminded man of what he had done and
      2. showed the high cost of the cure.


  1. Sometimes the Lord said that He did not want their animal sacrifices. Why? 
    1. Isaiah 1.11

      11 “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?”
      Says the LORD.
      “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
      And the fat of fed cattle.
      I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
      Or of lambs or goats.”
      (Isa 1.11)
    2. Hosea 6.6

      6 For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
      And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
      (Hos 6.6)

      1. Matthew 9.13

        13 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matt 9.13).
      2. Matthew 12.7

        7 “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless” (Matt 12.7).
      3. We are supposed to know
        1. the meaning of sacrifices and
        2. what the Lord wanted behind those sacrifices, because
          1. He still wants the same thing,
          2. although we do not kill an animal in worship to Him.
    3. Psalm 51.16–17

      16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
      You do not delight in burnt offering.
      17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
      A broken and a contrite heart—
      These, O God, You will not despise.
      (Psa 51.17)
    4. A sacrifice without repentance He does despise.
      1. God wants the heart and
      2. without the heart, any sacrifice is vain.
  2. Now the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, 
    1. saves us from our sins.
    2. Romans 5.9

      9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him (Rom 5.9).
    3. First Peter 1.18–19

      18 …you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1Pe 1.18–19).
  3. When the fullness of grace did arrive, we needed to be able to appreciate it. 
    1. When someone sins,
      1. something or someone has to die, because
      2. sin is leaven,
      3. sin is poison.
    2. Jesus took our death upon Himself when He took our sin upon Himself.
      1. It is easier to sacrifice something rather than ourselves.
      2. The Lord wants self-sacrifices.