The very first sin brought death. To show the consequences vividly to the very first sinners, God caused a lamb to be killed to provide clothing for Adam and Eve.
Sin Results in Death
In a recent viewing of The Nativity Story, I was again taken aback by how striking the image of the sin placed on an animal and then the animal’s punishment for the sin—death. It was displayed over and over again at the temple, and everyone had a part.
For a God that wanted to show just how seriously He took wrong, life was something that could hit you in the face and let you know that you did something that was wrong.
This is in stark contrast to today’s world, where we believe that people need rehabilitation through incarceration (or parole).
Why was this reminder of sin effective? Not only was it the loss of a life for a sin—which would be staggering enough—but it was not that you just chose your weakest animal or something that was going to die anyway. You chose the best animal.
This process was meant to be more than some kind of grisly practice of killing animals—it was meant to explain to people that they were sinners and needed a Savior. But more than that, it also served as a deterrent.
If you knew that certain sins would result in death—of you or your best animal—then you would probably not want to be part of that sin which would cause you to lose the use of said animal.
In that day and age, animals meant crops which meant the ability to eat and live. The equivalent today is when there are fines with incarceration. And yet it’s hard to compare the loss of a life—even the life of an animal—to the loss of money.
To put it into today’s terms, it’s as if someone said that the family dog could be killed if you stole from the bank. A financial fee—that’s one thing. Losing spot, who would be killed by beheading in front of you—that would be tragic. You’d do everything you could to avoid that.
A Focus Above
The fact that sin brings death was a constant feature in God’s earthly government. Obviously, it was only as good as those that taught and led it—which is part of the reason that Israel fell away; however, the concept and the principles behind it are sure.
When people start focusing on the effect their actions have on others instead of their potential gain, then they are less likely to do a damaging thing—unless there is some degree of derangement.
What say you? Was the sacrificial system simply a grisly, outdated practice, or was it effective and served a higher purpose?