Why are there so many different sacrifices in the Bible?

I have been told that God in the HS/OT is very bloodthirsty and perhaps no more so than when it comes to the temple sacrifices that are required for all sorts of things. Guilt offerings, sin offerings, thanksgiving offerings, atonement offerings, etc. all were some animal that was sacrificed. Additionally, it has been said to me the temple had a channel to direct the sacrificed animals blood out of the temple and that channel is larger than one might think it would be - insinuating that there was a lot of blood. 

It is easy to look at an ancient system of religion as recorded in the Bible and come to the conclusion that religions of the Bible are religions that adore a very violent God. I believe this is an uninformed reading of the culture of the time, and here is why.

Early civilization was one built on the idea of sacrificing things to the gods in order to make them happy. If you made the correct sacrifice, then god would be happy. However, this understanding of the gods is one that ultimately leads to loads of violence. Say you are a rancher and you have a productive herd, you might sacrifice an animal to say thank you to the gods. The next year your herd is plagued with sickness so you offer up a larger sacrifice in order to please the gods - notice the violence can quickly grow over time. The same is true if you have another good year. You offer up a sacrifice but it cannot be the same amount of sacrifice that you gave the first year because your herd has had two good years and has grown. So you give a larger sacrifice in order to show the gods you are very thankful and their generosity is not unnoticed by you. Again, even in good years the violence can quickly grow over time.

"Book of Leviticus Chapter 1-1 (Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media)" by Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing. 

"Book of Leviticus Chapter 1-1 (Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media)" by Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing. 

However in the Bible there is an image of a God who says, "look I AM who I AM and nothing you do will affect that. As such I do not need sacrifices to keep me happy. However, humanity you seem addicted to these sacrifices so here is the deal. If you feel the need to sacrifice something then here are some very specific guidelines so that we can work on containing the violence you are addicted to. Every year on the day of atonement, you don't have to sacrifice more than you did in the past. Whatever the sin is, the offering is the same - you don't have to offer a larger sacrifice for larger sins. I cannot break your addiction to violence for you, but I can help you contain the violence and pain you inflict on creation."

And so yes, there is violence in the Bible, it is there because humans (not God) are addicted to violence. I am thankful for a religious tradition that, while often times forgotten, is a religion built on peace. 


"...because Jesus did not die for God."

In Christian theology there are a lot of shorthand sayings that carry with it a load of assumptions and theological ideas that are often assumed to be agreed upon by all parties in a conversation. Which may or may not be accurate. 

One of these shorthand sayings is "Jesus died for you" or "Jesus died for your sins". I agree. Jesus did die for us. Where the difference is what is meant by that idea. What assumptions and theological ideas are loaded into just a few words? 

I don't desire to lay out an entire personal Credo or theological document. I am not that good of a writer and you would be board. Instead I want to offer up a shorthand reflection to the shorthand statement. 

Jesus died for you, Jesus did not die for God. 

God does not demand the death of Jesus. God does not demand that there be a tit-for-tat system of justice where murdering one person will bring Peace. Jesus did not die for God to see the error of God's ways. Jesus did not die in order to appease an angry god. 

Jesus died for you and me. Humans demanded the death of Jesus. Humans demand a justice system of tit-for-tat where murdering one person will bring a "sense" of peace. Jesus died for us to see the errors of our ways. Jesus died in order to appease our anger, resentment and desire for resolution for our self-created scandals. 

So yes, Jesus did die for you, but not because diverted anger and wrath from us to Jesus. Jesus did not die for God, Jesus died for us, at our hands, for our own reasons, for our own purposes. 

The Good News is that in light of humanity saying no and killing Jesus, God said yes and resurrected Jesus. Regardless of why Jesus died, he did not remain dead. 

And neither will you.