Devotional: ‘Why Have Men Always Offered Up Sacrifices?’

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This week we have been considering what it takes for us to become right with God. There are three major approaches that men have tried to use-

Approach #1 – Becoming Right by Always Doing What is Right

Approach #2 – Offer Up a Sacrifice For Our Sins

The Pharisees believed that obtaining righteousness required two things:

1. Living a Righteous Life
2. Offering Up Sacrifices for Our Sins

The Pharisees have not been the only ones to think this. Down through the history of mankind it has been a common thread in every civilization for men to offer up some kind of a sacrifice for their sins. Such sacrifices have included not only animals, but also precious items such as gold and silver, and even humans.

The biblical word for this kind of sacrifice is ‘atonement.’ An atoning sacrifice is meant to do at least three things:

1. Cover over or purge the sin
2. Appease the wrath of the god whom we have offended
3. Restore us to a rightful relationship with him

During the days of the Bible there was an annual event known as the Day of Atonement. On this special day the High Priest would present before God the blood of a sacrificial lamb as an atonement for the people’s sins. Though this ritual was very elaborate and precise, it never accomplished what men hoped that it would do. We read from the book of Hebrews –

Hebrews 10:1 …The sacrifices under the old system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. NLT

Even though the people followed the instructions of Moses with exact precision, there was never the feeling inside of them that they were now right with God. There was always the question of what happens once they sin again? Thus we read –

Hebrews 10:5 That is why Christ, when he came into the world, said, “You did not want animal sacrifices and grain offerings. But you have given me a body so that I may obey you. 6 No, you were not pleased with animals burned on the altar or with other offerings for sin. 7 Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God… NLT

The primary purpose God gave His people the Law and its system of sacrifices was to stress to them the importance of righteousness and the need for forgiveness. The Law never made a man right with God. It only revealed where he was wrong. Only through the atonement of Christ can we find peace with God and complete forgiveness.

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