Was God ever pleased with blood sacrifices?
I realize that many Old Covenant Scriptures seem to indicate that our Loving Father delighted in blood offerings but consider some of the very last Scriptural insight ever given from the Holy Spirit ~
6In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hadst no pleasure:
Jesus was recorded speaking ~
7Then said I, Lo, I am come (In the roll of the book it is written of me) To do thy will, O God.
8Saying above, Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein (the which are offered according to the law)…” Hebrews 10
This “new” revelation had actually been given through David and other prophets throughout Israel’s history but, apparently not understood. Do we truly understand it today?
BACK TO THE BEGINNING ~
We probably agree that God does not any longer desire bloody offerings but, do we impose our perspective of the Old Covenant (Moses and the Levitical Priesthood) on our understanding of the other Genesis accounts?
Consider that Scripture has not one account of the Lord actually requesting anyone to follow through with blood offerings before Moses and “The First Passover”.
Not Adam, Cain and Abel, Noah or Abraham were ever told to follow through with bloodshed. Seriously.
I’m going to very briefly articulate a few points within these stories and assume that you are familiar with the basics of these recorded accounts. You may have to unlearn what you learned through Sunday School, Church, etc…I did. You also will probably have to study the Scriptures (at least the Book of Genesis ~ which means ” The Beginnings” for yourself and intentionally listen for any single instance of the Lord requiring follow through of bloodshed.
THE FIRST FAMILY ~
After Adam and Eve sinned, God responds ~ “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”
It is true that most scholars decided to conclude that the Lord killed an animal and made garments from the skin to clothe them but, that is not what the Hebrew Text says. Some versions have actually added words to the text because of their preconceived bias but, that’s not a good idea.
NLT ~ “And the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.” The ISV and GWT unfortunately do the same.
I believe this mistranslation and wrong understanding has laid a bad foundation. Truth be told, the original text says nothing of “how” God made the “garments of skin” or even “what” he made them from. The Hebrew word is the same used when God created “in the beginning” , so we have no reason to assume that God “made” these garments of skin from an animal.
Along come Cain and Abel, who have never been given a Mosaic understanding of “sacrifices”. According to Scripture, Cain may have invented the idea of “offering” something to God because ~ “In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel ALSO brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions.” Gen.4:3,4a
Cain started it and Abel followed. I was always taught growing up that Cain’s was unacceptable because it was not a bloody lamb. However, that is not stated anywhere in Scripture! Actually, “Faith chapter” that follows multiple chapters of minimizing literal sacrifices, offerings and “Priestly ministry” boldly revealed the reason Able’s was accepted!
“By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings…” Hebrews 11:4A
It was faith and faith alone that approved Abel before God!
If people want to assume that God was pleased with Abel’s because it was bloody, they add to Scripture. Without repeating their error, I would like to suggest that maybe Cain killed Abel because he made the same assumption.
Consider that Cain may have had no animal to offer (he was a tiller of the ground) and since it “seemed” that God was pleased with a bloody sacrifice; maybe (just maybe) Cain thought that he was making an even better offering to God by sacrificing his brother! Just a thought…
ENOCH THE RIGHTEOUS…BY FAITH ~
We know that Enoch walked with the Lord because God was pleased with his faith but, there is not one mention of Enoch ever sacrificing a single bloody offering! (See Gen.5)
The next verse in Hebrews 11 ~ ” 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.”
No blood required. Not even in the Old Testament!
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Heb.11:6 Remember this chapter followed immediately on the heels of multiple statements in Hebrews 10 that “God took no pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Think blood!)
NOAH, THE PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS ~
After Noah obeyed the Lord’s first instructions to gather 2 of every animal, The Lord gave him some more…
1Then the LORD said to Noah, “Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time. 2“You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female;3also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth.” Gen.7
More literal translations record Gen.7:3 this way ~ “Also of the birds of the sky, seven and seven, male and female, to keep seed alive on the surface of all the earth.”
We know now that clean animals were later used for sacrifice and secular history tells us that ancient cultures at that time may have had similar thought but, God had never required it until the time of Moses.
15They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. 16And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the LORD shut him in.” Gen.7:15,16
Noah did everything correct going in! But, then things got shaky…
Notice the very specific instruction given to Noah. So specific that the Lord even changed the order of how they (the 8 people) were supposed to exit the Ark! * Credit due to Dr. Jonathan Welton in his book ~ “Normal Christianity”.*
15Then God said to Noah, 16“Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.”
He told them to leave the Ark side by side, male beside female but, apparently they misunderstood or ignored that instruction.
18So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.”
For whatever reason, God let that slide. But, Noah was just getting started with his blatant disobedience! (Please understand that I am in no means criticizing Noah, the righteous. Just examining his mistakes for the sake of articulating my point.)
Remember that the Lord had already made it very clear why he wanted Noah to take so many clean animals on the Ark. 1.) “To keep seed/offspring alive on the land” ~ Gen.7:3 & Reason # 2.)…”that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” ~ Gen.8:17b
Yet Noah went his own way. ” 20Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” Gen.8:20
God said the extra clean animals were for filling the land and yet Noah killed them. Did God take pleasure in his offering? It seems so. But why?
Based on Hebrews 10 & 11 we understand that is was yet again faith that pleased God. Maybe Noah even “offered a sacrifice of faith-filled praise”!
15Through him (Christ) then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13
But within the Lord’s satisfaction with Noah’s faith-filled offering (of praise?), the Lord seems to have recognized that Noah was actually imperfect.
21The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. ~ Gen.8
Interestingly, it’s only after Noah’s unrequested sacrifice that the Lord declared animals would fear man (Gen.9:2), man would eat animals (9:3), yet they were not supposed to consume the blood (9:4) and man’s bloodshed would be severely disciplined (9:5).
Is it possible that Noah’s sacrifice changed the way God intended their new life?
God established his covenant with even the animals (9:10) and immediately Noah became like Cain was…before Cain sinned. Noah became a tiller of the ground. (9:20)
It gets even more interesting when we examine the life of Abraham and how God did not clearly ever require him to shed any blood! But, that blogpost will have to wait until another time. Hopefully that time, I can wrap this up with some practical applications for us within the New Covenant. As for now, hopefully this provokes some thoughts for reconsidering how you read the Scriptures. Be blessed!