“If the offering to the LORD is a burnt offering of birds, you are to offer a dove or a young pigeon. The priest shall bring it to the altar, wring off the head and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. He is the remove the crop and the feathers and throw them down east of the altar where the ashes are. He shall tear it open by the wings, not dividing it completely, and then the priest shall burn it on the wood that is burning on the altar. It is a burn offering, a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the LORD” (Leviticus 1:14-17).
At least once a year, I read through the entire Bible. Every time I do this, I get to sections of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and think…what? Why is this even here?
So, I confess, I don’t get big chunks of the Old Testament. I don’t understand why it’s important for us to know the exact dimensions of the tabernacle, how to make the garments for the priests, what metals were used to make the lamp stand, the dimensions of the holy place.
And then there are the instructions for the sacrifices. The description of the sacrifices is brutal!
Every day, animals were sacrificed. They were butchered, torn apart. Blood of the animals were sprinkled on the altar, on the priests, on the people.
I can only imagine the smell. I’ve smelled some rancid smells traveling in the unrefrigerated meat markets of developing countries. In the summer time, you can smell them from miles away.
The entire butchering, tearing the birds apart at the wings, burning, sprinkling of blood. It’s just so darn bloody, smelly, and brutal. Most modern persons seeing an animal sacrifice would be so offended by the grisly scene.
And, I think that’s the point. Forgiving our sins is not easy. It’s messy. It’s stinky. It’s brutal.
What happened to Jesus was not pretty. It was messy. It was brutal.
When we find ourselves offended by the animal sacrifices, it’s because we don’t take seriously enough the offense of sin against God. God is telling us through the sacrifices and the sacrifice of his Son on the cross that the business of forgiving sins is brutal, costly, and painful. But Jesus did it. Because it was, and still is the only way to transform sinners into children of God.
Thank you Jesus. Thank you God.