The Horror of Sin

By Bud Brown

I've read about the Levitical sacrifices on many occasions over the years, but recently I began to get a sense of what the sights, sounds, smells and feelings that must have been attended the various animal sacrifices. Perhaps the grisly scenes in Fast Food Nation sensitized me to the dreadful reality of the abattoir's "assembly line of death."

As I read about the burnt offerings, the peace offerings, the guilt offerings, the praise offerings and so on, I find my mind lingering over instructions about the proper way to dispatch the sacrificial animal, dispose of its blood and entrails and how the edible portions are to be sacrificed. In a nation of millions there certainly must have been a steady stream, day in and day out, of sacrificial animals that had to be slain and butchered. The priests collected and disposed of the blood, removed the fat, kidneys and liver from the entrails, and butchered the carcass to remove those parts to be burned on the altar. They would have been up to their elbows in blood, offal and mire, their garments would have been blood stained and the sickening odors would have permeated every pore. The braying and bleating of terrified animals waiting in line for their demise surely added to the din.

If you have ever witnessed what happens on the killing floor of a modern slaughter house you have some idea of the horror. Yet in time those who raise and process animals for human consumption become inured to it.

And that is precisely the point of the Levitical sacrifices: they depict the horror with which God greets sin and sin's corrosive, mind numbing effect on the human conscience.

God cannot simply overlook sin; an absolutely holy Being must react to sin by eliminating it. Leviticus 18:28 portrays God's reaction to sin as similar to your reaction when you stick a finger down your throat: he cannot help but gag on it. It must be dealt with. It is in the face of horror and retching that God's grace is displayed. Jesus Christ took that horror upon himself - willingly out of love for the Father - that sin would be purged from us.

1 Bud Brown is president of Transition Ministries Group, and organization that helps local churches through transitions between pastors. Transition Ministries Group