The Smell of Burnt Flesh

BurntFleshWhat does Old Testament animal sacrifice have to do with us today? Did God really demand it? Why?

In today’s high-tech culture and high-tech churches, the world of our spiritual ancestors often appears barbaric and uninformed. If we are not careful it is easy to judge them through the lens of our modern world-view. When we do, we completely miss the significance of their worship.

It is important to remember that sin requires blood. Even the New Testament is clear, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sins.” (Heb 9:22) As Disciples of Christ, we are eternally blessed that the blood sacrifice made for us was of much greater importance and value than that of mere bulls and lambs. Jesus became the ultimate “lamb that was slain” (Rev. 5:12) for us.

Animal sacrifices had to be repeated over and over again as a temporary remedy. The blood of Jesus was offered once and for all for ALL. It covered the past, present and future – Praise God! So, this means that the methods of the pre-Jesus followers of God are no longer important right? Well not exactly.

First of all, it is impossible to fully understand the work of Christ unless we have a complete picture of Old Testament worship. Sin is still a huge deal to God and the penalty for it is awful. Immediately after declaring the curses over the serpent, the earth, Eve and Adam, God himself covered their nakedness with the first sacrificial animals. Death is ALWAYS the result of sin.

Secondly, there is a more symbolic element of sacrifice – God loves the smell of burnt flesh:

“…and Aaron’s sons will burn them on top of the burnt offering on the wood burning on the altar. It is a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the LORD.” (Leviticus 3:5 NLT)

In a generation that is narcissistically focused on what God can do for us, we often lose sight of what He expects from us. Despite what you may have heard from modern teachers, God does not want us to feel good about our sin. He wants it to die. Do you want to move forward in your life with God? Do you want a more intimate and powerful relationship with Him? Chances are, some things need to die first.

When we crucify our flesh (Gal 5:24) on the altar of obedience, God is delighted. When God is pleased, He moves closer to us and looks for new ways to bless us. When we rationalize our sins and rebelliously do things our own way, we offend God and grieve His precious Holy Spirit. (Eph 4:30) This causes him to distance Himself from us and quite frankly, results in a miserable existence where we seldom hear or experience God for ourselves. It is NOT at all a good place to be.

So the next time you are tempted to indulge the flesh, don’t feed it, kill it. Instead, offer it on God’s holy altar and get ready for the outpouring of His grace and blessings. Experience Him today! Amen!

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