Jump to content

Sacrificing Animals


trust
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have a huge problem with the traditional explanation for animal sacrifice in the Old Testament. Can someone explain the logic behind this? According to what I understand, it essentially breaks down to the injustice of our sin, plus the injustice of killing an animal who has no say in the matter equals justice.

 

Injustice + Injustice = Justice?

 

How? It makes absolutely no sense to me. I can understand the sacrifice of Christ since this was willingly given. There is a huge chasm between willingly laying down your life for others and being forced against your will to give your life. What am I missing?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Trust,

 

My two cents worth:

 

It doesn't make any sense in our time because generally we have developed compassion for animals. Of course we still kill and eat them, but mostly insist this is done humanely. In OT days there was less consideration for animals so it wasn't a question of killing an animal as being unjust. Animals were considered under the diminion of man and that was that. I don't know whether domestic pets existed at all in Jewish culture, but I doubt it. In their day they saw no issue with killing an animal and offering it as an act of repentance, to God. That is how those people thought of God at that time. Generally people don't feel like that today (although some Jews believe they should, it's just that the temple no longer exists, yet the covenant still stands). This simply reinforces for me that the bible was written by men influenced by the cultural context they found themselves in.

 

I understand that animal sacrifice was also part of a 'thankyou' process. The kills were still utilised as food, rather than just wasted.

 

As for Jesus, whilst there is huge chasm between willingly laying down your life and being forced against you will to do so, I think Jesus did both. He didn't choose to die and probably would have much preferred to live. But he was prepared to die and had no fear in doing so, hence no resistance on his part and if anything, simple pure acceptance.

 

Like I said, just my take on it.

 

Cheers

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sacrifice of life (animal or human) seems to satisfy some basic impulse. It is not unique to Judaism and Christianity and is found in many religions with some much more gruesome than that found in the Bible (think Mayans as an example).

 

Why we have such an impulse is a question for which a number of explanations have been offered. But, there seems to be no consensus on why. However, the act of giving up something valuable seems important in expressing adoration and gratitude. It has been pointed out that sacrifice of wild animals vs. domestic is rare. Also, for some reason, animal sacrifice is not found in hunter-gatherer societies.

 

I think Paul correctly observes that we should not apply our modern sensibilities to practices in very different cultures such as that 3000 years ago in a desert, nomadic society.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One question ask of any practice that is adopted from surrounding cultures is how have the Jewish writers altered the story. Other cultures often used the sacrifices to appease Gods who were unpredictable. In the Hebrew Bible a layer of human responsibility has been added. It is human action which has broken relationship with God. The sacrifice restores that relationship. The practice looks the same but has a different significance.

 

Dutch

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

These are all very good points. What I am having trouble with is how the traditional explanation makes any sense. At all. How could anyone who lives in our modern society ever accept that this was God ordained? I don't have enough information to be able to even twist the facts to remotely suggest that this makes sense. How do modern religious people accept this logic? The only thing I could come up with is an argument that God simply allowed it. However, this seems like a cop out to me.

 

When Christ freed the animals from the temple and became the first great animal liberator, he quotes from Jeremiah. This is somehow twisted into only being about money changers when the money changing is only one small part of the story. The much bigger picture is the sacrificing of the animals. Jeremiah goes on to say that God never even asked for the sacrifices (Jeremiah 7:22). Most translations leave the text plain to see but the NIV translation changes the wording to fit in with a pre-determined theology. Christ says, "If you had known what that text meant, you would not have condemned the innocent" of course referring to Hosea which denounces the sacrifices. Hell, Christ says he is the Good Shepherd and lays down his life for the sheep. While this is referring to humans obviously, I think it also is referring to literally giving his life to put an end to the sacrifices once and for all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Trust,

 

I don't like your chances of making any sense of the matter in the way you hope.

 

There are people that see animal sacrifice as a thing belonging to a specific culture, with a specific mindset, for the times - I think that makes sense.

 

Then there are those who need to believe the bible is inerrant, is historically accurate, is God-breathed - subsequently everything mentioned in it must somehow be God-sanctioned. This makes no sense to me either. However I have found that people of that mindset simply do not want to, or are not prepared to, understand the bible any other way. IMO it threatens their very being, and so they will do anything, think anything, to defend it.

 

Not alot of room for logic there unfortunately.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Isn't the revealing question about sacrifices, "who is placated or gratified or appeased by the sacrifice?" The usual answer, provided by scripture, is "God". But then we have troublesome bits like Jeremiah and the disturbing example of the vow of Jephthah who swore to God that if Jephthah was granted victory over the Ammonites, Jephthah would sacrifice the first thing which came to greet him on his return home. Well, as bad luck would have it, out came his beloved daughter whom he (Jephthah) berated, gave a little time off, and then slit her throat for the maintenance of his honor and the glory of God. Now we get to Jesus for a real puzzler. Ask the first question again. Was God appeased by the death of one-third of the Trinity? Gratified? Placated? What's up with that? The best I can do with all this is to say that our understanding of God has evolved so that God is no longer a malign presence to whom sacrifices must be made to get Him and his storms, earthquakes and military defeats off our backs. Our current view is that God is a God of love who has no needs whatsoever and to whom we owe the duty of reciprocal love. Later on He may become the Higgs Field, but that's another subject.

 

My sage advice is that we should forget that Jephthah's story was ever written and that if you ever say to God, "God, if the next traffic light stays green I will burn an orphanage in your honor", you would be well served to break your promise should you sail through before the yellow.

 

Hollis

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I am having trouble with is how the traditional explanation makes any sense. At all. How could anyone who lives in our modern society ever accept that this was God ordained?

 

I am sure that if asked, some theological spin would be put on it. In any event, I think it is recognized as a relic as no modern Christians or Jews, even the most fundamentalist, still engage in animal sacrifice.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

God was powerless, from our point of view, to do anything about the animal sacrifices. More and more I am puzzled by liberals who beat up a literal and inerrant Bible when they don't own such a Bible. Shouldn't the goal be to look for positive readings, or decide that that selection will be part of a personal canon.

 

Dutch

Link to comment
Share on other sites

More and more I am puzzled by liberals who beat up a literal and inerrant Bible when they don't own such a Bible. Shouldn't the goal be to look for positive readings, or decide that that selection will be part of a personal canon.

 

Excellent points.

 

Why should one care about benign beliefs of others?

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a huge problem with the traditional explanation for animal sacrifice in the Old Testament. Can someone explain the logic behind this? According to what I understand, it essentially breaks down to the injustice of our sin, plus the injustice of killing an animal who has no say in the matter equals justice.

 

Injustice + Injustice = Justice?

 

How? It makes absolutely no sense to me. I can understand the sacrifice of Christ since this was willingly given. There is a huge chasm between willingly laying down your life for others and being forced against your will to give your life. What am I missing?

 

Well first of all you're assuming that killing an animal is an injustice xD And we see in Genesis that Yahweh* has given man dominion over the earth and sea, and is told to subdue it.

 

First of all, animal sacrifice GREATLY foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The animal had to be male, perfect, and without blemish. And they killed the animal so that they would be able to enter into God's presence in the Holy of Holies. With Jesus, He is male, perfect, without blemish, and He died so that we could have a personal relationship with Yahweh. Jesus is the door in the tabernacle. The Jewish tabernacle is a huge physical manifestation or symbol of Jesus and His Church.

 

Second, like I mentioned already, the animal sacrifice was necessary for the temporary atonement of sins. Why? Well I have no idea. We're humans who aren't going to understand everything like God does, and to think that we will is putting ourselves at the same level as God which is pride. But the animal sacrifice was necessary, so that the prophets could enter into the Holy of Holies and talk to God without dying.

 

---------

 

*Yahweh; I use Yahweh to refer to the Trinity, Jehovah the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well first of all you're assuming that killing an animal is an injustice xD And we see in Genesis that Yahweh* has given man dominion over the earth and sea, and is told to subdue it.

 

First of all, animal sacrifice GREATLY foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The animal had to be male, perfect, and without blemish. And they killed the animal so that they would be able to enter into God's presence in the Holy of Holies. With Jesus, He is male, perfect, without blemish, and He died so that we could have a personal relationship with Yahweh. Jesus is the door in the tabernacle. The Jewish tabernacle is a huge physical manifestation or symbol of Jesus and His Church.

 

Second, like I mentioned already, the animal sacrifice was necessary for the temporary atonement of sins. Why? Well I have no idea. We're humans who aren't going to understand everything like God does, and to think that we will is putting ourselves at the same level as God which is pride. But the animal sacrifice was necessary, so that the prophets could enter into the Holy of Holies and talk to God without dying.

 

---------

 

*Yahweh; I use Yahweh to refer to the Trinity, Jehovah the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit

 

Guapo,

 

I understand that depending on what translation of Genesis one uses, dominion is actually better translated as 'responsibility'. That is to say that man was given a responsibility to care for the earth and the animals. Similarly, depending on how you read the one single verse that contains the word subdue, in that instance it seems to be referring to the earth itself, as in 'subdue' the land, meaning to bring in under cultivation. Genesis goes on to explain that fruit & veg has been provided for man but there is no mention of animal meat.

 

Additionally, an alternate and credible view of Jesus's death explained as a sacrifice, is that the people of the day were looking for an explanation as to why Jesus died and they came up with a model based on animal sacrifice, as that was something they could relate to. So rather than a thousand years of animal sacrifice foreshadowing Jesus, it's quite likely that it was more of a case that bewildered disciples were trying to make some sense of the sudden and unexpected execution of their leader. They related it to animal sacrifice, and away the story went.

 

As for animal sacrifice being neccessary and you having no idea about why, I think that's exactly Trust's point - it makes no sense to anyone, not even bible-belieiving fundamentalists, other than it seems to say that because it's in the bible it must be right. A God who cannot forigive unless there is blood spilt seems to be to be a very harsh and mean God (to put it kindly) and to me seems more like a God modelled on the style of government that was popular in those times (i.e. Kings who ruled hard, people who relied on a King's favour to get anywhere, and a society that had no concept of democracy and liberty).

 

Cheers

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a huge problem with the traditional explanation for animal sacrifice in the Old Testament. Can someone explain the logic behind this? According to what I understand, it essentially breaks down to the injustice of our sin, plus the injustice of killing an animal who has no say in the matter equals justice.

 

Injustice + Injustice = Justice?

 

How? It makes absolutely no sense to me. I can understand the sacrifice of Christ since this was willingly given. There is a huge chasm between willingly laying down your life for others and being forced against your will to give your life. What am I missing?

 

You are missing the economic point to animal sacrifice, and you are also reading the Jewish practice of animal sacrifice through the lens of Christian extrapolation.

 

The reason one was to choose the unblemished lamb was not to "foreshadow Christ," but because it was WORTH more economically than any other of your animals. Animal sacrifice was also a way for the Temple priests to have the best steaks in town!

 

I think you are reading more into animal sacrifice than is there. It's just what ancient civilizations did. I'll leave it to the Anthropologists to discover why.

 

Further, a lesson learned in the story of Isaac and Abraham is that human sacrifice should not be practiced, as it was by all of their neighbors (although, in Christian Sunday School, I was taught that the lesson from this story was that Abraham was obedient). It was meant to single out the Jewish people as being different - in that their G-d did not require human sacrifice.

 

Is it any wonder that the Jews reacted with horror when the concept of the Moshiac as human sacrifice was brought forth in the evolution of Christian dogma?

 

NORM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I understand that depending on what translation of Genesis one uses, dominion is actually better translated as 'responsibility'. That is to say that man was given a responsibility to care for the earth and the animals.l

 

Paul,

 

The Hebrew word in Genesis means 'rule,' 'dominate,' 'have dominion.' One could certainly understand that 'ruling' entails responsibility for that one has dominion over.

 

I think we do have that responsibility, but independent of what is said in Genesis.

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guapo,

 

A couple of points. First, if you are going to participate here and you are welcome, it would be nice if you would introduce yourself in the "Introduce Yourself" thread and say a little about how and why you came here.

 

Second, you are certainly entitled to your beliefs and Bible interpretation. But, it would be preferable if you would indicate, in the way you express yourself, that it is personal belief and not established fact. Your words seem to assert empirical fact. Expressions like "I believe," "in my opinion," "my understanding is," and the like signal this.

 

George (as Moderator)

Edited by JosephM
added as Moderator
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks George. Whilst I agree the word may be translated rule/dominate/have dominion, it's the meaning behind those words that I have read about before. I just carried out a quick Google search to provide some further detail, and this is the best I could come up with at quick notice. It's from http://christopherbrown.wordpress.com/2009/01/03/genesis-128-to-subdue-and-have-dominion-over-creation/

 

I apologise for the length, but I think it's relevant.

 

Tomorrow when Eileen and I begin teaching about environmental stewardship at Hampton Presbyterian, we’ll start “in the beginning”, looking at what Genesis has to say about the environment. I’ve written before about what Genesis 2 has to say about taking care of creation. The truth is, though, that most people don’t care what Genesis 2 has to say. Most people in modern western industrial civilization have heard a lot more about Genesis 1:28: “God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth‘” (NRSV). This is the verse that people will frequently, and with good intentions, cite in describing how we are called to relate to the environment.

First the word “subdue”. In Hebrew this is kabash. You can’t get around it; it does mean “subdue” or “enslave”, and even in the harshest instances “molest” or “rape.” But here’s the catch: it only means this when the party being subdued is already hostile. Hence it’s used to speak of military enemies in scripture. Not to subdue an attacking army would lead to death. Hence, we subdue the earth because without such subjugation the harshness of nature would yield death for us rather than life. Or, as one commentator writes:

Therefore “subdue” in Gen 1:28implies that creation will not do man’s bidding gladly or easily and that man must now bring creation into submission by main strength. It is not to rule man. However, there is a twistedness in humanity which causes us to perform such a task with fierce and destructive delight. Try as we might, we cannot subdue this. But it can be subdued and this is the promise of Mic 7:1[9], “He will subdue [
kabash
] our iniquities.” (Harris, R. Laird, et al.;
Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament
. electronic ed. Chicago : Moody Press, 1999, c1980, S. 430)

As God subdues that in us which leads to death rather than life – sin – so too we subdue in nature that which leads to death, turning it around so that it yields life. Jesus’ words about pruning in John 15 provide a beautiful example of the way in which God subdues sin, using as an analogy the way a farmer subdues nature. Thus agriculture and other life-giving uses of nature are proper fulfillment of the command to “subdue” creation.

Now for the word “dominion” or “rule”. In Hebrew this is radah. It’s a royal word. This is the dominating rule of a king. But let’s pause and think of the kind of king that God desires. The same word is used in Psalm 72, originally a coronation psalm for Solomon. Verse 8: “May he have dominion [radah] from sea to sea . . .” But now look at verses 12-14 to see what that dominion, that radah, looks like:

He delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight. (NRSV)

What is the kind of rule that God doesn’t want? Ezekiel 34:4 gives us an example. In a tirade against Israel’s kings, God says through the prophet, “You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them.”

The dominion that God desires is one that protects the defenseless and gives justice to the oppressed. Applying this to the command for humanity to exercise dominion over creation, we can see that while we rule over creation, we’re called to protect it. As a king accepts tribute or taxes from his subjects, so too we receive a bountiful sustenance from the fruits of creation. Yet also as a king should take care of the weak and poor in his kingdom, so too we are called to guard natural beauty, preserve endangered species of God’s creatures, and even to restore the places which we have too often ruled “with force and harshness.”

 

Cheers

Paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Paul,

 

I agree with an interpretation of 'rule' that it should (but not necessarily) entail care for a king's dominion. However, Solomon may not be the best example of benevolent rule as he was quite the tyrant (and womanizer).

 

George

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Paul,

 

I agree with an interpretation of 'rule' that it should (but not necessarily) entail care for a king's dominion. However, Solomon may not be the best example of benevolent rule as he was quite the tyrant (and womanizer).

 

George

 

Which is a strange type of King for God to endorse I guess - a tyrant and a womanizer. Hang on, maybe God doesn't endorse Solomon but rather it was the human author that did. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well first of all you're assuming that killing an animal is an injustice xD And we see in Genesis that Yahweh* has given man dominion over the earth and sea, and is told to subdue it.

 

First of all, animal sacrifice GREATLY foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The animal had to be male, perfect, and without blemish. And they killed the animal so that they would be able to enter into God's presence in the Holy of Holies. With Jesus, He is male, perfect, without blemish, and He died so that we could have a personal relationship with Yahweh. Jesus is the door in the tabernacle. The Jewish tabernacle is a huge physical manifestation or symbol of Jesus and His Church.

 

Second, like I mentioned already, the animal sacrifice was necessary for the temporary atonement of sins. Why? Well I have no idea. We're humans who aren't going to understand everything like God does, and to think that we will is putting ourselves at the same level as God which is pride. But the animal sacrifice was necessary, so that the prophets could enter into the Holy of Holies and talk to God without dying.

 

---------

 

*Yahweh; I use Yahweh to refer to the Trinity, Jehovah the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit

 

Anyone who has seen an animal struggle or experience pain knows it is an injustice.

 

It seems strange that the very thing Christ spent his life trying to eradicate would have been purposefully created as a foreshadowing. The only explanation seems to be quite obvious. That ancient humans wanted to eat the meat and simply incorporated the pagan tradition into their own. Isaiah, Amos and Jeremiah put it plainly that God never even asked for these sacrifices. When Christ came, he saw the incredible injustice and how it made absolutely no logical sense. He freed the animals from the temple and became the Good Shepherd, giving his life for the sheep to end the man made sacrificial system.

 

You say that the sacrifice was a temporary atonement of sin but you don't know how. I would give you the benefit of the doubt if this actually went along with logic. However, this goes against logic. I refuse to believe something that goes against logic, that causes massive amounts of suffering, "because God said so". Especially when all the evidence points to corrupt ancient humans being the responsible party.

 

There was only one temple correct? Not everyone could go to the temple and present a sacrifice. So how did ordinary people get forgiven before Christ? Simple forgiveness?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Trust, you need to get it laid down first hand that you are not God and aren't going to understand His mind.

Isaiah 40:28 "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable"

 

Romans 11:33 "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!"

 

Psalms 147:5 "Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite"

 

His understanding is infinite.

Ours is not.

If you think you can understand everything perfectly, then you might as well not read any of the rest of my post.

I'm not attacking you in anyway, but I'm saying that because you said "I refuse to believe something that goes against logic, that causes massive amounts of suffering, "because God said so" Well thinking that you're smarter than God (or that you can understand things just as He does) goes against logic. Because the very idea of God is WAY above any human.

----

 

"Anyone who has seen an animal struggle or experience pain knows it is an injustice."

They killed animals, they didn't torture them xD

 

"Isaiah, Amos and Jeremiah put it plainly that God never even asked for these sacrifices."

Please quote specific verses? I think I know what you're talking about I just need to know in more detail.

 

"When Christ came, he saw the incredible injustice and how it made absolutely no logical sense. He freed the animals from the temple and became the Good Shepherd, giving his life for the sheep to end the man made sacrificial system."

What church do you go too?!

WE are Jesus' sheep, and He is OUR shepherd.

He used that analogy because so many people in that time were shepherds.

 

"There was only one temple correct? Not everyone could go to the temple and present a sacrifice. So how did ordinary people get forgiven before Christ? Simple forgiveness?"

The priest would make the sacrifice for all :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't have any problem with the idea of killing an animal in sacrfice, as for anyone today finding it objectionable or 'unjust' don't give me that line unless you are a dedicated vegetarian yourself, lol! We take killing animals for granted as as 'just' action, whether to eat as food, to feed our other animals, to stop their damaging our property or threateniong our safety, and even because we've allowed too many to be bred and born and nobody wants them. We even routinely 'sacrifice' billions of turkeys annually for our own ritual day of observing thankfulness to God for our blessings.

 

I do not, however, get the idea that killing an animal, or even more so a human innocent of any wrong doing or harm against anyone, somehow makes God happy with the killers, remits anyones 'sins'.

 

Jenell

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

terms of service