A man sinned against his wife even as men sin against God. His wife caught him in the act of adultery with his mistress. So, the husband went home to his wife with sacrifices. He brought her a brand-new Mercedes Benz car. He also included a bouquet of flowers for good measure.
But does his wife require these sacrifices? The answer is “No!.” Gifts of cars and flowers are not part of the marriage covenant. What she desires is a repentant and faithful husband. Cars and flowers are no substitute for these. They cannot atone for his sin of adultery.
The same principle applies to sacrifices for sins. God has no use for them because they cannot atone for sin. It is repentance that atones for sin. It is a broken spirit that atones for sin. If we repent, we do not need to bring any sacrifices at all.
David committed adultery with another man’s wife, killed the husband, and then married his wife. Nevertheless, God required no sacrifices for his sin.
David confirms this in his psalms. He says to God: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.” (Psalm 51:16). He repeats this in his messianic psalm: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have opened; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.” (Psalm 40:6).
But the problem here is that, unlike David, the ears of so many pastors and Christians have yet to be opened. Their deafness would appear to be a chronic spiritual disorder.
Sacrifices are ritualistic. When a man sins, he gives a sacrifice and assumes this takes care of his sin problem. In effect, sacrifices are “bribes” given every so often to placate a demanding deity; without the burden of repentance for sins. Therefore, God declares to Israel: “Bring no more futile sacrifices.” (Isaiah 1:13).
Sacrifices come from the perversion of those who claim the gods need to be appeased with violent and bloody death. It is the way of the idol-worshipper; therefore, according to kingdom dynamics, it cannot be of God.
What does the one true God require instead? David provides the answer: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart- these, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17). Solomon concurs: “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:3).
God does not change. If He desired sacrifices, He will still desire them. If sacrifices are no longer necessary today, then it means God never desired them. Christians need to listen to the truth. It is written in the prophets:
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices.’” (Jeremiah 7:21-22).
Jesus did not destroy the law: He fulfilled it. If you commit adultery today, you are still a sinner, even though Jesus fulfilled the law. Christians continue to fulfil the law against adultery. But no Christian sacrifices animals today. That shows God never desired sacrifices.
God says in Hosea: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6). Jesus reiterates this. He says: “Go and learn what this means:: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’” (Matthew 9:13).
Christians have obstinately refused to learn what this means. Some now insist Jesus Himself was a sacrifice for sins. But why would Jesus give to God what God does not desire? And since Jesus Himself is the God who created the heavens and the earth, is it not foolish to presume that God would sacrifice Himself to Himself?
Of all Israel’s sins, none was more abominable than the sacrifice of the firstborn. God says in admonishment: “You took your sons and daughters whom you bore to Me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough?” (Ezekiel 16:20).
This heinous ritual is lambasted by Micah. He observes that it is ridiculous for a man to think he can give sacrifices to God. He wonders sardonically what we could possibly give that would satisfy Him:
“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:6-7).
The abomination of human sacrifice was one of the reasons why God sent the Israelites into Babylonian captivity: “They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from His presence.” (2 Kings 17:17/18).
Why then would God himself turn around only to offer His Son Jesus as a human sacrifice to Himself?
Sacrifice of fools
God Himself pours scorn on the entire sacrificial system, He says: “I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” (Psalm 50:9-10).
God is not a blood-guzzling vampire. He asks: “Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?” (Psalm 50:13). Sacrifices mean nothing to God. He says this unequivocally: “Your burnt offerings are not acceptable; your sacrifices do not please me” (Jeremiah 6:20).
God again speaks through Isaiah and asks the children of Israel to bring no more sacrifices to Him:
“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. When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices.” (Isaiah 1:11-13).
God even uses very strong language to reject sacrifices. He says: “He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck; he who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine’s blood; he who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol.” (Isaiah 66:3). This shows the sacrificial system is totally objectionable to God.
Testimony of Jesus
Jesus demonstrated His disdain for sacrifices by smashing the sacrificial implements in the temple. He maintains the kingdom imperative is to love God and our neighbour instead of giving burnt offerings and sacrifices. (Mark 12:28-34).
Jesus teaches that all God requires as atonement for sin is repentance. He warns: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3-4).
This is Mark’s report of the objective of the ministry of Jesus and His disciples: “They went out and preached that people should repent.” (Mark 6:12). They did not go out and preach about the need to make sacrifices to God.