Initially published: Nov 23, 2011.
Originally, this post was written to answer three questions posed in a YouTube video, which unfortunately is no longer available.
Despite the absence of the original video, I pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth to you, according to God’s will. This is not so that you have more knowledge; rather, I pray you will have a greater understanding of Biblical truth. May the Lord draw you nearer to Him and help you establish a living and dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ!
Why did God create a world with a sacrificial system?
Firstly, to believe that God created the world with a sacrificial system already in place, is to start off on a false premise.
God did not create the sacrificial system as part of creation. But, in His divine omniscience, God knew man would sin and therefore, had already conceived in His mind, the way out for humanity, which is through sacrifice. It was implemented (not created in response) when man sinned, not as a knee-jerk reaction (an afterthought) to the fall of man. The fall of man was tragic, but not a surprise to God. God did not create man to fall, but knew that He would. If God had created man without freewill, it can safely be said that man would always choose God’s way and Satan could never have successfully tempted Adam and Eve, which led to original sin. Original sin is man choosing to disobey God and expressing that decision (free will in action) by eating the fruit (not apple) of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Why is sacrifice necessary? Is mercy not enough? Why can’t God just forgive everyone?
To comprehend this question, we first need to have a reasonable understanding of who God is. Also, since I am a Christian, the God I believe in and write about is ONLY found in the Bible.
According to the Bible, God:
- is holy (Exodus 3:5, Leviticus 19:2, Joshua 24:19, 1 Samuel 2:2, Revelation 4:8)
- is perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4, 2 Samuel 22:31, Psalm 18:30, Matthew 5:48)
- is light (Psalm 118:27, 1 John 1:5, Revelation 21:23)
- is just (Deuteronomy 32:4, 2 Chronicles 19:7, Job 34:12, Isaiah 30:18, 2 Thessalonians 1:6, Romans 12:19, Hebrews 6:10)
- judges (Genesis 31:53, Psalm 7:11, Psalm 58:11, Acts 10:42, Revelation 18:8)
- punishes (Exodus 20:5, Ezra 9:13, Hosea 9:9, 2 Thessalonians 1:8, Hebrews 10:29)
- is patient and does not want anyone to perish (Ezekiel 33:1, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9)
- is merciful & forgiving (Deuteronomy 4:31, Psalm 99:8, Daniel 9:9)
- loves us (Deuteronomy 7:9, Psalm 42:8, Jeremiah 32:18, Hosea 3:1, Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2, Zephaniah 3:17, John 3:16, Romans 8:39, Ephesians 2:4, 1 John 3:1)
- is love (1 John 4:16)
This list is by no means exhaustive, but you get the idea.
The truth is, we cannot fully understand God. We cannot get into His head and figure Him out. Any attempt to do that is futile. But, as we can see from the verses above, the Bible has revealed enough about Him for us to get an idea of who God is.
God cannot be more merciful and less just or be more wrathful and less compassionate. If He did lean to one side more than the other, He would cease to be perfect and thus, cease to be God!
If He was only merciful and forgave everyone who not only stood against Him but hurt others as well, without any consequences to their actions, then He would be unfair and unjust to those people who have been wronged and would end up being unkind and without compassion towards them. How could a loving and just God treat the victim and the wicked person who caused harm and has done wrong, the same way? Every action has a consequence and if He broke the very laws He has set in place, if He went against His very nature of being perfect and just, He would cease to be God. All around us, we live in a cause and effect world that God has created. Sin is no different. If a person stops breathing, the consequence is obvious. If a person stops eating, the consequence is obvious. All one has to do is stop and observe to see this cause and effect principle in action all around them.
We have already established that God is perfect and holy in every way. Anything that goes against God is sin. Because of how majestic and holy and pure and perfect and awesome and powerful and mighty God is, the only consequence of sinning against God is death. Think about it. If earthly kings and rulers and authorities took the life of those that stood against them or threatened them or defied them or fought them, how much more should the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Ruler of all creation, God, demand the life of anyone that wrongs Him!
God cannot blindly forgive everyone unless they face the consequences of sinning against a Holy God, according to His justice. On the other hand, if He let everyone die for their sins, one can argue that God does not love and is not kind and merciful and therefore, cannot be God!
In the Old Testament times, God allowed for animals to be sacrificed as atonement for the sins of the people. Not any animal could be sacrificed either. God had given special instructions on what kind of animals would be acceptable to Him. These animals were to be without any defect of any kind, spotless and without blemish! Rather than the human being losing his or her life, the animal would take their place and be killed instead. This is God’s love and justice at work at the same. God’s requirement of life being taken for sinning against Him was met. Would you rather give up your life as punishment for your sins or would you rather an animal take your place?
So, the animal sacrifice system was a temporary solution. This had to be done once a year every year. Why temporary? Because the sinner was still alive! Remember, the wages of sin is death! Until the sinner dies, that price has not been fully paid. So, the question is: What would be a solution, which once and for all, would meet God’s standards and requirements and be a way for all humanity to be saved all at once? Who or what could be the perfect sacrifice?
Why did Christ have to die?
Jesus came into the world, born of the virgin Mary, by the power of God. He was without a human father and thus, was not like every other human being. He was not the offspring of two sinful human beings like the rest of us and thus, was born into this world without sin!
Jesus, because He was born without sin, therefore did not need to give up His life!
Until Jesus came, the system of animal sacrifice was the only way to please God’s requirement (wages of sin being death)!
If you read the New Testament, especially the four Gospels, you will know all that Jesus said and did while He was on Earth. Therefore, I will not go into the specifics of that.
In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus said:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
So, we know that Jesus did not come down to simply erase everything that is the Old Testament.
So, why did He come to Earth?
He came to be the perfect sacrifice that was necessary for mankind to be saved and for God’s holy and righteous requirement to be met. In Jesus Christ, justice meets mercy. God’s justice and God’s mercy can only coexist perfectly in God, so God the Son (Jesus) came to be the perfect and ultimate sacrifice for His creation! Jesus did not come down just to die for us so that we can spend eternity with God; He came down to also show us how to live according to God’s standards. Jesus came down to teach us how to live well! Jesus came down to be the example that we can all follow!
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
In His life, Jesus showed us all the kind of human beings we can be. By His death, He ensured that those who accept Him as Lord and Saviour, His sacrificial death, His resurrection, can spend eternity with God in heaven.
Jesus had to die because no animal could take the place for all humanity to satisfy God’s requirement once and for all. Jesus was perfect, without sin (no spots or blemish)! If Jesus did not give up His life, each one of us would face death and eternal separation from God for our sins.
Where’s the justice in this for Jesus?
Even though Jesus was crucified by the Romans because of the false accusations of the Jewish religious leaders, He gave up His life willingly. He allowed Himself to be arrested and scourged and crucified.
“I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Jesus knew that this was the only way and knew of the agony that He would have to endure if He were to go through with the arrest and the crucifixion.
Right before His arrest, Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane:
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Jesus was both Son of God and Son of Man, though in Scriptures, He identified Himself more as the Son of Man than the Son of God. Jesus was in every way, like all of us, except He was without sin because of His miraculous virgin birth. Jesus the human being experienced everything we experience and this is clear in His prayer above. However, He knew that this was God’s will for Him and He knew that without His sacrifice, humanity would have no chance.
I am focusing on this to stress the fact that getting arrested, beaten and bruised and then crucified, was no easier for Jesus than any other person because He was fully human and did not rely on his divinity to get out of it easy. He endured everything for us, as a human being. The emotional, mental, physical and spiritual pain and anguish – He experienced it all for us!
Because Jesus sacrificed His life willingly and so great was this sacrifice, that we who call Him Saviour and Lord are truly and eternally saved! And He is vindicated because EVERYONE will one day bow down before Him! We see that in the Scriptures below!
Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus is ruler above all because He paid the price that no one else could pay! God has exalted Him above EVERYONE and EVERYTHING! There cannot be a greater honour for Jesus than this! There is no greater vindication for everything Jesus endured!
Therefore, though what Jesus went through cannot be fully comprehended by anyone, to merely focus on that is incorrect and missing the point. Though Jesus suffered and died for us, don’t forget everything else the Bible tells us! If you don’t read everything, you’ll miss the point completely! From the Bible, we know that:
- Jesus conquered death and rose from the dead on the third day!
- Jesus has triumphed over sin!
- Jesus has paid the price for our sins!
- Jesus defeated Satan!
- Jesus ascended into Heaven and now sits at the right hand of the Father!
- Jesus first came as the Lamb who was slain, but He will return triumphantly as the Lion of Judah and establish His Kingdom and authority over ALL!
Then the end will come, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:24-26
You can mock Him, ridicule Him, scoff at Him, doubt His Word, insult His followers and live your life as if He does not exist, BUT one day, EVERYONE will bow down before Him and confess that He IS Lord!
If on the other hand, you would like to know more about Jesus and have questions, please feel free to contact me and I trust God will use me to bless you.
I pray that this article post has been informative and Lord willing, shed some light on this vast topic. May the Holy Spirit continue to increase your wisdom and understanding, according to God’s will!
God bless you.