What makes God wanting animal sacrifices in the OT any better than pagan gods wanting them?


Why did he even NEED them? This is carrying over from another thread about miracles outside of Christianity, but seriously, why did he call for things to be sacrificed for him if he’s all powerful? It seems to debase Him to just another stone idol like Ganesha who “needs” to be offered milk.

The real focus here is: how does this record make Christianity any better than Hinduism?


I don’t know what God needed those sacrifices for, however I have heard that it was a result of the people beginning to worship animals (or to prevent that - one or the other). On thing that pops to mind, however is the symbolism that might not exist if not for this practice (e.g. Jesus wouldn’t be called the “Lamb of God”).



Another difference is that He is the one God, and that the pagan gods were not morally compatible to the thought stimulated by the one God.

Think “intention.” The intention of someone sacrificing an animal to gain supreme power versus someone sacrificing to the God of the ten commandments for supreme obedience.

God bless
Aaron Magnan


First of all, Christianity has never required animal sacrifices.

Second, if you look carefully, sacrifice relates to human value. The sacrifice in the OT has to be something of value to the person making the offering. The purpose of sacrifice is to affirm the giver.


Right. Because they were so into animal worship, God commanded them to offer them as sacrifices to break them of the habit.


God doesn’t NEED the Sacrifices, He is all powerful, God doesn’t NEED anything,

What He was asking for is for humans to recognize the source of their bounty and have a desire to return some if it.

Also, notice when God instituted animal sacrifice. Right after the newly freed Isrealites created a golden calf to worship.

So God made them sacrifice what they had chosen to worship instead of Him.


God does not need animal sacrifice, and he does not even want it (Ps 40:6). The purpose of animal sacrifice was to prepare the Jews to comprehend the one final, complete sacrifice, that of the Son of God.


Conciousness is determined by the means of production. If you live a pastoral lifestyle in a patriarchal set-up - feminists use that word without knowing what it means, patriarchy is where the head of the extended family is politically independent - then having a religious ritual for when you slaughter an animal is the most natural thing in the world.

By Second Temple times the patriachal society has disappeared, and sacrifice had turned into a commercial venture by the temple authorities. Basically special animals were sold, which could be sacrificed by the priests to gain merit. Romans took this very seriously, Josephus notes that it was the banning of pagan sacrifices at the temple that made the Jewish war of AD70 inevitable.

In modern conditions we eat hamburgers at McDonald’s, and so our consciousness is correpsondingly different. People who have little contact with animals, except maybe as pets, tend to invest them with human feelings, regard slaughter as a scandal, sometime even become vegetarians. For McDonald’s, of course, the meat is simply a product to be sold at a profit, no different form any other traded good.


One way I’ve thought about it is this:

God told Moses to “Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” (Exodus 25:9, see also Exodus 25:40). The writer of Hebrews tells us that this is because the Tabernacle (and later the Temple) that God told the Israelites to build was a copy of what is in heaven.

They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain. (Hebrews 8:5)

The way I tend to see it (and the way I think the writer of Hebrews might see it) is that not only was the Tabernacle a shadow of what is in heaven, but the sacrifices offered at the Tabernacle (later Temple) were shadows of Christ’s sacrifice. Since his sacrifice is continually before the eyes of God in (timeless?) heaven, the animal sacrifices, which took place on earth (in time) prior to the incarnation are shadows of that sacrifice.

So God didn’t NEED the sacrifices, but if the Tabernacle was to be a shadow of heaven, it must therefore be the place where a shadow of Christ’s sacrifice was to take place. AND it prepared the Israelites to understand Christ’s sacrifice in those terms.


Quoted for truth

what we often forget is that all our time and everything we have belongs to God and we are only stewards of it. If he asks us we should be willing to give it all back. (this mentality is a good one to have for going to mass your not taking time out of your busy day to give some time to God your taking time out of Gods day to do everything else)


NOW look at your statement. I could substitute the same word with Zeus, Mazda, Aten, Jupiter, or Allah and deliver the same point: having this mentality, while important in some respects, doesn’t make our Old Testament rituals any better than that of the pagans, who I’m sure had the same mentality when they offered up pigs on the altar.

Otherwise, all the answers so far have been more than satisfying, but let me get this straight: God instituted animal sacrifice as a means to prove to the Jews that He was the lone deity, and that by offering up to God what they once worshipped, the Jews became attached only to Him.

Seems to make sense, but I would appreciate any critique-ing of it so that I can get my point across in another thread.


I agree with the earlier posters that God does not need the sacrifice. Sacrifices were instituted for our benefit. As I understand it a sacrifice of a worthy animal was a common way of sealing a contract, treaty or covenant (family relation or adoption) during the time of the early Israelites. Both parties would take part in the sacrificial meal.

Many cultures around this time sacrificed children to their Gods. If animals were good enough for sealing a relationship between two human parties, a greater and more perfect sacrifice was needed for the relationship between a person and their god. (Perhaps this was just an excuse since abortion methods were not as effective and they needed a way to get rid of unwanted children.)

The God of the Israelites requested Abraham give a child sacrifice but stopped him and told him to replace the child with an animal instead. The perfect sacrifice of a completely innocent person was worthy of sealing the covenant relationship the but, the Israelite God taught us, the sacrifice of an unwilling child is wrong.


Perhaps God gave exact specification for His Tabernacle and His temple because He’s really a carpenter (creator, builder) at heart.


One very practical reason is that the sacrificer was ordered to also eat his sacrifice. Also I was taught that it hearkens back to the Fall when God Himself killed animals in order to clothe Adam and Eve.



We don’t disbelieve in the pagan religions because they are ritualistic and slaughter animals, we disbelieve in them because we don’t have faith that they worship the one true God. The form/ritual is not the problem–who it’s directed to is. As such, any structural similarity between their rituals and ours is irrelevant to our faith. In fact, I don’t think it would be far off in saying that the universality of the concept of “sacrifice” among peoples, might be seen that all people have had an understanding placed in their hearts that 1) Their being is dependent on something higher than themselves, 2) The human condition creates a debt towards this higher being we are dependent upon, and 3) That debt must be repaid somehow.

With that clear understanding and yearning in their hearts, it’s now up to humans to clearly look around and soberly discern WHO could actually satisfy those needs. And, the more one contemplates those yearnings in their heart, I think they’d naturally come to see that the sacrifice must be to the ultimate creator and that it must be made by someone eternally perfect, for no normal human person could possibly repay/make up for the depth of sin committed.

If they did this, I think one would naturally come to faith in Christ.


Hinduism is a diverse religious tradition. There are traditions of animal sacrifice in the Vedas (c. 2000 BCE), but contemporaneous with this Vedic sacrificial tradition, was the Sramana tradition that taught non-violence and non-harming, and rejected literal animal sacrifice in favor of sacrifice of one’s own greed and lust. The Sramana tradition eventually convinced most Hindus to give up Vedic animal sacrifice.

The Buddha came out of this Vedic-Sramana tradition, and founded a new tradition, rejecting the Vedas and based on non-violence.


except that God is real and Shiva (?) is not.
my statement wasn’t meant as something for debate for atheists or non christians so much as something Christians need to understand and sometimes don’t.


That’s sort of like saying, “God is real, but Allah” is not. “Allah” is Arabic for God, and “Shiva” is (for many Hindus) simply Sanskrit for God.


“The wages of sin is death.” I always thought God was just letting the Israelites know of the seriousness of their sin—that sin required a death, and He was mercifully allowing them to substitute an atoning animal sacrifice for their own death.

Blood represents an offered life; our covenant with God is a blood covenant. Today it exists through the blood of Christ; God offers Himself instead of the animal sacrifice, to redeem us from sin.


There are many types of sacrifices in the Old testament, and it is notable that the earliest kind mentioned in the Bible is the bread and the wine offered by Melchisedech.

Leviticus 17:11 Since the life of a living body is in its blood, I have made you put it on the altar, so that atonement may thereby be made for your own lives, because it is the blood, as the seat of life, that makes atonement.

Hebrews 9:22 According to the law almost everything is purified by blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

There were also different kinds of offerings:
*]Holocausts (burnt offerings)
*]Communion sacrifice of peace offerings
*]Sin and guilt offerings

Here are a couple of theories about the offerings:
*]These sacrifices are a gift of appeasement to a cruel and demanding deity. (There is really no evidence to support this theory from the Bible)
*]The sacrifice was a kind of bilateral contract in which the people gave a gift to God and God reciprocated by granting them something in return. (But this theory implies God had need of the gift, which is foreign to Biblical thought)
*]Or the sacrifice is a meal shared with a hungry God. (Of course, this is rejected by Psalm 50:12-13 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for mine are the world and its fullness. Do I eat the flesh of strong bulls, or is the blood of goats my drink?”

Here is a qote from the New Jerusalem Bible Commentary. 76:93

Sacrifice was a gift, but a gift to which God had an imperative right, since anything that people could offer had first come from the bountiful divine hand. “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it” (PS 24:1, also 50:9-13; 1 Chr 29:14).In returning a part of God’s property to him, people symbolically acknowledge God’s right to it all, and thereby acquired a right to use the rest of it, under God, for their own purposes. This was the idea behind the offering of the firstfruits and the firstborn. From another point of view, since the offeringswere staples (meat and vegetables) by which people sustained their lives, the victims represented the life and being of the one offering. In sacrificing, a person symbolicaly surrendeded to God; and God, by accepting, bound himself in some way. It was not a quid pro quo notion, since God had no need of the gift and there could be no proportion between the gift and God’s favor.

The essense of the sacrifice did not consist in the destruction of the victim. In fact, in the case of animal sacrifices, the slaughter of the victim was only a preparatory rite and was performed by the offerer, not by the priest. One reason for the destruction of the offering, whether animal or vegetable, was that it made the gift irrevocably definitive and withdrew it completely from ordinary use. Also it rendered the victim invisible and symbolically sent it into the invisible sphere of the divine. The word fo holocaust, “ola”, means basically “that which goes up.” The ritual served to symbolizethis idea of “giving,” of “sending up” to God. The altar was the symbol of God’s presense; and the victim’s blood, the most sacred element, was brought into direct contact with this symbol. In every sacrifice, the blood was poored out at the base of the altar…The sacrifice, then served as a gift expressing the Israelite sense of dependence on God, but it also indicated the desire for union with God. The Isrealites never enteretained a crassly physical notion of this union; theirs was a more suble attitude, in harmony with the sulime spiritual transcendence of Yahweh. When God had received his share of the victim, the ones who had presented it ate the remaineder in a sacrificial meal. The fact that one victime had both been offered to God and eaten by the worshipers brought the two parties together in a spiritual communion, establishingand consolidating the covenant bond between the two. This was a joyful occasion and in the early days the communion sacricfice was the most popular of rituals.

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