Why are Animals a Sweet Savour to God?

Imagine walking through the forest and coming across a circle of bones and flesh that were obviously the evidence of some human ritual involving animals. Imagine a fire pit next to it, with animal fur and flesh still upon it. That would be pretty spooky, right? Well, there’s good reason for it to be frightening in today’s world, as modern Christianity no longer calls for such sacrifices, but such sacrifices do have their origins in the King James bible.

In Genesis 8:1, there is the introduction of the LORD enjoying the “sweet savour” of burnt animal flesh.

In Exodus 29 and other places, especially in Leviticus 1:17-6:21 when God instructs the building of the tabernacle, there are dozens of more references to the sweet savour of burnt sacrifice, and the call to kill animals and offer to the LORD.

In Numbers 28:13 and several other places, a lamb is offered for a burnt offering of a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD.

These are all consecrations, and in most cases these are cooked meals that are fed to the priests who minister to the congregations. The sweet savour that is referred to in the scripture of the King James bible is, most likely, related to the pleasure that modern day meat eaters would experience when cooking animals. The sacrifices referred to are also a means by which a congregation would pay homage to their deity, a claim that He is responsible for their well-being and survival, and the burnt sacrifice is a token of their gratitude.

The sacrificial lamb was furthermore a symbol of innocence, killed before the LORD. An innocent vessel in which to put the sins of mankind. In other words, an anxiety over their own behavior and the desire to improve opened up a space for people to desire to embody and symbolize their anxiety.

After the ultimate human sacrifice of Jesus Christ, a vessel for sin and forgiveness, animal sacrifice was no longer necessary. This is good news for modern day vegetarians, of course, and also the main reason why walking through that forest and finding evidence of such rituals in today’s world would feel so wrong. But the traditions of the bible are often meant to be placed in their appropriate historical context.

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