Did God command animal sacrifies? Or not?
HUMANIST ACCUSATION: The Old Testament is contradictory as to whether the Lord commanded the Israelites to sacrifice animals to him. At Jeremiah 7:22, God denies he ever gave the Israelites commandments about animal sacrifices. In contrast, Exodus 29:38-42 and many other verses depict God as requiring the Israelites to offer animal sacrifices.
What is the first thing you need to do? Look up the referenced scripture. There are multiple places in scripture where it is plain that God commands the Israelites to make very specific sacrifices. There is no doubt about that. So what does Jeremiah say?
For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. - Jeremiah 7:22
Let's define the word hyperbole. It means: an obvious and intentional exaggeration. An extravagant statement or figure of speech
not intended to be taken literally, as to wait an eternity. -- from www.dictionary.com
Hyperbole is a normal device we use in our writing as well as in day-to-day speech. It is an exaggeration used to make a point. That is what we have here. Let's read this verse in its context:
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat flesh. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them
in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have sent you all My servants the prophets, daily rising early and sending them. Yet they did not listen to Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck; they did more evil than their fathers."- Jeremiah 7:21-26
God is upset with Israel. Why? Because Israel is disobeying God. Because Israel is not listening to God's commands, nor to the prophets God has sent. Why? Because of their hard hearts, they prefer to walk in their own counsels (human wisdom). Because of their evil hearts, they are going backwards, not forward.
What is the point? Sacrifices mean nothing if you have the wrong heart. "Wrong heart" means having a wrong attitude. The Israelites were making the required sacrifices, but they were just going through the motions. Making the sacrifices, but turning away from God in their hearts, is acting in opposition to what the sacrifices represent obedience to God in heart, mind and action. Making sacrifices, with an attitude of rebellion against God instead of an attitude of obedience, is a waste of time. It is as though God had not commanded the sacrifices... and that is the point God is making. There is no contradiction.
There Are Other Views On This
For more information and descriptions of other views on these verses, visit the following page:
Did God Command the Israelites to Sacrifice to Him Before Sinai? (AIG)
How Do You Know This?
What happens when you encounter an alleged contradiction such as this? Maybe you are a new Christian and do not have the Biblical knowledge needed to know what is going on. What do you do? Here is a summary:
(1) Do not assume the humanists are right and there is an error in scripture. Begin by trusting that what the Bible says, and assume you do not have the complete story. Ask the leaders of your church, your pastor, or a church elder, to help you. Or, you may have a friend who is more knowledgeable, and they can help.
(2) Have good reference books in your home (or on your Kindle or Nook). Having a good commentary available is very helpful. However, they can be expensive. Check your church library to see if they have a good commentary. If a commentary is not possible, a good study Bible, such as a MacArthur Study Bible is helpful. In addition, an excellent and affordable reference everyone should have is a Strong’s Concordance.
(3) Check other translations of the Bible such as the KJV, NKJV, ESV, NASB or CSB. Different translations may use different wording that will help you understand what scripture is saying.
(4) The final option is the internet. For example, in this case a quick search for "Jeremiah 7:22 Bible contradiction" brings up a number of web sites with the answer. Be careful. I have said this before; there is a lot of bad information on the web. Pick a search result for a web site you know you can trust. Here links to several good web sites".
GTY.org (Grace To You)
What did we learn here? There is no contradiction.
Next accusation... In the New Testament, there are contradictions between the genealogies of Jesus given in the first chapter of Matthew and the third chapter of Luke.
Get the answer here (tap here).
We tend to think of genealogies as boring, but they include some surprisingly interesting information. Always keep 2nd Timothy 3:16 in mind:
All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for re-proof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God will be adequate, equipped for every good work.
THE GOOD NEWS
Before you get the good news, you need to know the bad news. It's about you. God says:
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. - Romans 3:23
Sin means disobeying God, aka breaking God's law. God is perfect and perfection is required to enter heaven. It's a standard none of us can achieve. We all fall short. For example, compare yourself with just one of the Ten Commandments. Have you ever told a lie?
All liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. - Revelation 21:8. Or what about:
Have you ever taken something that does not belong to you, no matter how small? Have you ever looked at another person with lust? In Matthew 5 Jesus said:
Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.' Have you done that?
You have broken God's laws. You have sinned. There must be justice, and that means eternity in hell, the lake of fire, the second death. Unless...
Unless there was someone willing to pay that penalty on your behalf. Someone who will take on themselves the consequences you deserve. And there is. There is one person who can and will do that. That person is Jesus Christ. If you trust this is true (believe), and repent (turn away from disobeying God), Jesus' death is applied to your account and you are freed from the penalty of sin to be with God forever.