Old Testament animal sacrifices were brutal, horrific, gruesome.
Reading through Leviticus and picturing what the scene must have looked and smelled like. And it’s not pretty. If we were to see anything like it today, we would be horrified. We would call the cops and animal police for animal cruelty. And the perpetrators would be put away for a long time for such a heinous crime.
- This was brutal.
- It was beyond gruesome.
- It was absolutely horrific.
“If a bird is presented to God for the Whole-Burnt-Offering it can be either a dove or a pigeon. The priest will bring it to the Altar, wring off its head, and burn it on the Altar. But he will first drain the blood on the side of the Altar, remove the gizzard and its contents, and throw them on the east side of the Altar where the ashes are piled. Then rip it open by its wings but leave it in one piece and burn it on the Altar on the wood prepared for the fire” (Leviticus 1:14-17).
The entire temple area stunk like an un-refrigerated meat market – blood, guts, innards, fur, skin, feathers everywhere. And like such meat markets, you would have been able to smell the stench from miles away.
So I can’t help but wonder – “Why would God prescribe such a brutal sacrificial system?” Surely, there had to have been more “civilized” ways to deal with sin.
And I think the gruesome, brutality was the point. The only remedy for sin – albeit temporarily – was the brutal, vicious, horrific sacrificial system. It was brutal because the debt and the price of sin is brutal.
This was the point of the cross of Jesus. Jesus would be the eternal sacrifice for sin. And the price he paid on the cross and by descending into hell was brutal.
If we have problems with the brutality of the sacrificial system it is because we don’t appreciate enough the sheer gravity and brutality of sin.
- Sin is ugly.
- The debt of sin is brutal.
- The impact of sin is horrific.
And that’s the entire point of the brutality of the sacrifice for sin.