(Verses quoted are from Genesis -- King James' Version -- unless otherwise noted.)

Blood Sacrifice

3.     The Killing of Animals

History is being passed on... perhaps even a written history.
We see here that this tribe now has chieftains... and Lamech is making rules and deciding judgments.

4:23 -- "Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold."

It is here that we see the fruit of misunderstanding taking shape. Lamech killed a young man who had struck him... then claims protection from God. He is even declaring this act as if it were to be the rule. He was applying his own interpretation to the event with Cain and Abel. Abel had done nothing to Cain... only to a lamb... and yet Cain was protected. By these rules, Lamech is justified.

The verse immediately following this declaration... is...

4:26 -- "... then men began to call upon the name of the Lord."

Here we see the beginnings of what surely was the sacrifice of animals... in the belief that... just as what had happened with Cain and Abel... killing animals would bring God around. In fact... since God "had regard" for Abel's killing of a lamb... this surely must be the thing to do.

Nevertheless... it appears that God does not speak.

Another Lamech:

5:29 -- "And Lamech called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed."

God begins speaking again... to Noah... and becomes active. The lifespan of men was limited to 120 years. And a great project was taken up... the building of an ark... to preserve the animals. There was going to be a great flood. The wickedness and violence of men was so great that:

6:6 -- "it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart."

And so we follow the story of Noah preparing for the flood that was coming on the earth... the journey of the ark full of animals... and finally... the landing on dry land.

8:15 --"And God spoke unto Noah, saying, 'Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee.

'Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.

'And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him: Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.

'And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savor; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living as I have done.

'While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."

After all the effort to preserve the animals... after enduring the long journey away from danger... and when these animals were so few and precious... Noah takes many of them and sacrifices them to honor God... just after God has directed him clearly to release them and to allow them to flourish and multiply.

The words "smelled a sweet savor" seem to portray God enjoying the smell of burnt animal flesh. However... as you read this, do something. Stand up and act as though you smell something cooking in the kitchen. Your nose raises up... you get a queried look in your eye... looking a bit distant as if in wonder... and yet... this is also the look of someone who is caught without words to express something... something beyond amazement.

This surely portrays how ingrained animal sacrifice had become... even under the most strained of circumstance... even after the direction of God to allow these animals to be replenished... mankind would cling to his rituals in a misguided attempt to honor God.

And then we read the words that God said to Noah.

9:1-17 -- "... and the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth... into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you even as the green herb have I given you all things.

'But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

'And surely the blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of every man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.

'Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."

NOW God is giving his permission for man to eat animals... with the restriction that the blood would not be in the meat. In fact, God is giving man all of the animals. This tells us that before this time... the animals belonged to God. This tells us that if anyone had taken an animal before this... he needed to have God's permission to do it.

One could speculate that God gave the animals to Noah for food... in order to remove the sin of taking what they had not gotten permission to take before this decision. God has chosen to allow the eating of meat... but... it was to be done in a particular way... by first removing the animal's blood. This seems more akin to a health aspect of food, rather than for any spiritual purpose.

In these words is something that is a bit hard to see. The animals are all given to man for food... and then it says... "and surely the blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of every man."

This surely is saying... that man can eat animals for food... but it must be under the circumstances of preserving his life. There was not to be killing for the sake of killing. Such would not be tolerated of animals who do so... and it would not be tolerated of man to do so. This is God's response to Noah.

If there was to be no killing for the sake of killing... then...

God was prohibiting animal sacrifices.

God also answers Cain's response to him of... "Am I my brother's keeper?"
The answer is... yes, you are.
"At the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man"... means that... the well-being of a man is the responsibility of his fellow man.

The way that this is said is a command. "I will require..."
We see this reflected clearly in the teachings of Jesus.

This also draws the distinction between the life of an animal... and the life of a man. "For in the image of God made he man." This, too, answers Cain's question. The life of a man is of greater importance than the life of a lamb. You don't kill someone because he has butchered a lamb.

And this reveals the truth of all that occurred between Cain and Abel.

Chapter 4.   Abraham


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