read Exodus 27 and Hebrews 10 & 11
“Make an alter of acacia wood; it shall be five cubits long by five cubits broad and three cubits high and overlay it with bronze.” Exodus 27:1
This was where all the burnt sacrifices were made. This is where atonement was made for the sins of all the Israelites. I’m guessing it was kept blazing hot day and night, for all the sheep and the goats and the bulls offered on this bronze alter needed to be consumed down to their ashes.
Yet we are told by the writer of Hebrews that “the priest stood daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices which could never take away sin.” Heb 10:8 But he also tells us, “If we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there remains no longer a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful judgment and a fire that will consume.” From Heb 11:26&27
Several years back, my son-in-law decided to celebrate the Passover by actually killing and then cooking and eating a lamb. He and my daughter purchased a lamb from a local farmer. They took care of the lamb for four days and then they cut its throat—or actually a friend of theirs cut its throat for they could not bear to do it. They took a video of what they did. I could only watch part of it. When the knife was brought out, I had to leave.
I have been around the killing of animals before. I’m fond of meat and I do realize that to get meat, one has to kill an animal. But to kill an animal for a ritual type reason was more than my stomach could handle.
But that is what God required of His chosen people. He required hundreds of thousands of ritually sacrificed animals, many of which were not for meat at all, but had to be totally consumed.
A primary lesson of sacrifices is to teach the one for whom the animal is sacrificed the seriousness of sin. Adam and Eve had to have animals killed for them after they had sinned. When sin came, they were found to be naked. Leaves could not hide their nakedness. Their nakedness to be properly covered required the skins of an animal.
When I was in kindergarten, a handicapped boy followed me around the playground. I demanded several times that he stop following me, but he would not. So I picked up a large dead branch and smashed it over his head. It seemed to me at the time an appropriate thing to do, especially as he stopped following me. The principal observed what had happened and tried to get me to understand the seriousness of what I had done. Not until he called my mother and I saw her come into his office weeping did I understand that this was a very bad thing that I had done.
It is way too easy for us to lightly dismiss certain sinful behaviors of ours. Too often we rationalize our dishonesty, or our appreciation of the sensual, or our meanness. If each time we casually sinned we were required to ritually slay a lamb; and then required to burn that lamb to ashes on one special prescribed alter, perhaps we would be less apt to behave in that same sinful way again. Maybe then, before our temptation became a sinful act, it would turn our stomachs.