I wrote this article during the month of Ramadan, when our Muslim friends follow strict fasting almost for a month and end that fasting with three days of celebration called Eid al-Fitr (the festival of breaking the fast). Also, there is an another festival in Islam know as Eid al-adha(the feast of sacrifice). This feast of sacrifice is the greatest feast in Islam because it is when our Muslim friends remember Abraham’s sacrifice of his son and during this festival Muslim families slaughter a sacrificial animal, usually a lamb. After a short prayer, the neck artery is cut, and the sacrificial blood flows into a prepared dish. The dead animal is then skinned and divided in three parts. One part is usually given to relatives, the second to the poor and the family keeps the third part. This is how Muslims celebrate Eid al-adha.
However, some Muslims think that the animal is slaughtered instead of their firstborn son, as general thanks to Allah, or as a protection against evil spirits. But according to Quran, this feast of sacrifice is to be meant only as a remembrance of Abraham’s sacrifice.
While thinking about this an important question strikes my mind, why is it necessary to slaughter an animal in remembrance of someone? Yes, it is good to remember our old cultures but why slaughtering? No, I am not here to judge Muslims or to prove them wrong on this act. Also, I am no one to teach them how to celebrate their feast. I am well aware that Muslims give one part of that slaughtered animal to poor and to the people who are in need and some Muslims even give their own portion to the poor and needy. But, I am here just to explain from where did this slaughtering of animals started or in other words from where did this practice of animal sacrifice started?
When we go through the Bible, we find numerous accounts of animal sacrifices. Since, many people used to practice this. Also, when Jesus was born even his father took a pigeon to the temple in order to sacrifice it at the feet of god. Here, in India this animal sacrifices are still practiced by Hindus and if you question them, why do you do this? They would simply answer, this is just an act to please god or a blood-offering since god is pleased with this kind of offerings.
But, when you come to the Holy Bible the whole concept differs. According to Bible, sacrifices were decreed by god. It was god who allowed animal sacrifices and not only he allowed animal sacrifices it was god himself who started animal sacrifices. Yes, if you read Genesis chapter 03, you may well understand that when Adam and Eve sinned against god in the Garden of Eden, God used ‘skins’ to cover them which means a blood of an innocent animal was shed in order to cover human sins and this act was done by God himself. To shed more light on this there is a scripture which reads,
“Everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” – Hebrews 9:22
Yes, there is no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood. A blood must be shed in order to receive forgiveness by god and this is the law. As per Christianity, no one dares to break the law whether if it is a human or God himself. Because, if god would have wanted then he could have forgiven Adam and Eve with his words itself since there is power in his words. But, No, God didn’t do this rather he sacrificed a lamb for them in order to cover their sins which means even god followed this law. Now, you may think why is it even important to receive forgiveness of sin?
Bible says in Romans 6:23 as,
“The wages of sin is death”
If a person sins against god then the wages of his sin is death. So, god decreed animal sacrifices in order to save us from the judgment of death. So, what happens when an animal is sacrificed? In animal sacrifice, that particular animal serves as a substitute to human and is killed as a sacrifice so that the person may live. Symbolically, sins of humans are being transferred to that sacrificial animal and it is killed so that the person may be freed from his bondage of sin. In short, someone else is paying for our sinful act so that we may live and receive forgiveness from God.
If it is so then, why don’t Christians practice animal sacrifice today?
Today, we don’t practice animal sacrifices because we believe 2000 years ago, Jesus came as a perfect sacrifice for all. It was John-the Baptist who recognized Jesus and so he said,
“Look, the lamb of god who takes away the sins of the world” – John 1:29
Here, John-the Baptist didn’t say as, Jesus came to take away the sins of some particular people or group of people, rather he says, Jesus came to take away the sins of the whole world. Yes, Jesus came as a lamb of god to die behalf of every human so that we may receive forgiveness through him. And, not only he intended to die but he did die on the cross. Bible affirms this in Colossians 1:14 as, “Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins”. Yes, Jesus died on behalf of every human so that we may inherit the kingdom of God. We may think as, we have never sinned in our life or have never done any wrong deed but Bible says in Romans 3:23,
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Also, in Romans 3:10,
“There is no one righteous, not even one”
Yes, there is no one righteous. But, God gives his grace to the one who seeks. It is a fact that God is all-loving and merciful but also, it is a fact that he cannot overlook sins. His eyes are so pure that he cannot look at our sins. So, he himself entered this world, and “gave himself as a ransom for all – 1 timothy 2:6” and took all the judgment and punishment that we actually deserved. Also, Romans 3:25-26 reads like this,
“God himself presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus”
Yes, Jesus came as a perfect sacrifice to put an end to all kind of animal sacrifices and he did die on the cross in order to redeem us from the bondage of sins. Now, the only thing we need to do is to accept this sacrifice in faith and whoever accepts this sacrifice in faith will be saved and will be called as Son of God and will inherit the kingdom of God.
God bless you