Why did God demand blood sacrifices?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Do you ever wonder why God demands blood sacrifices for man’s sin? In this Bible study, we want to use the Holy Scriptures to answer this question.

Blood must be shed if man is to be forgiven of his sins. This is transdispensational: it is true for every dispensation, no matter where you are in the Bible.

It was true of Adam and Eve: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). God killed animals and made coats of skins for Adam and Eve, and this shed blood covered their sins.

The shedding of blood is necessary if we are to receive forgiveness of our sins: “In whom we have redemption through his [Christ’s] blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7). Colossians 1:14 affirms: “In whom [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”

Blood must also be shed for people who will live beyond our Dispensation of Grace to be forgiven of their sins: “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building: neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:11,12).

Hence, we read in Hebrews 9:22b: “…And without shedding of blood is no remission [forgiveness].” But, what is so special about blood? Why blood, of all things, is needed for the remission of sins? Let us search the Scriptures for the answer.

Once Noah got off the ark, notice what the Bible says in Genesis 9:1-4: “[1] And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. [2] And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. [3] Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. [4] But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.”

As verse 4 teaches, blood is the source of life. God later told Israel in the Mosaic Law: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul…  Blood… For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off” (Leviticus 17:11,14). And Deuteronomy 12:23: “…eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.”

Now, remember that sin causes death: “The wages of sin is death(Romans 6:23a). James 1:15b concurs: “…[S]in, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Are you beginning to see why blood is necessary for forgiveness of sins?

The Bible explains why God demands blood for sins. What is the answer to death? Life! What is the answer to sin? Blood! Blood is the solution to sin because life is the answer to death. The sacrificial blood would give new life—it would atone, or “make man at one with God.” The Old Testament animals’ blood sacrifices could not take away sins: hence, they were only temporary (Hebrews 10:2-12). Although the cross was still future, God would credit believers with the finished crosswork of Christ, which did take away sins. When the Old Testament animal sacrifices were offered, God would apply the merits of Calvary’s cross to that particular saint. Once Christ died, the animal sacrifices were unnecessary.

Hebrews 10:10-14 reminds Israel: “[10] By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. [11] And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: [12] But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; [13] From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. [14] For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

King David wrote about those who offered animal sacrifices in the Old Testament economy: “Blessed is the whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity…” (Psalm 32:1,2a). Our Apostle Paul quoted this in Romans 4:1-8, which describes our salvation today in the Dispensation of Grace: “[1] What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? [2] For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. [3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [6] Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, [7] Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. [8] Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

Thus again we see the connection between the Old Testament animal sacrifices and the offering of Christ on Calvary’s cross. The blood sacrifices represented the new life we have today in Jesus Christ. We are forgiven of our sins, and we made “at one” with God. “Our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:11).


The Bible explains why God demands blood for sins. The answer to death is life, so the answer to sin is blood. Blood is the solution to sin because life is the answer to death. The sacrificial blood would give new life—it would atone, or “make man at one with God.”

In hindsight, we see the Old Testament blood sacrifices were a “type”/“picture”/preview of the perfect blood of Jesus Christ that provides total and permanent forgiveness, and more importantly: “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b). We are spiritually dead in and of ourselves: “we [are] dead in [our] trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). But, if we have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God has given us new life in Christ.

Friend, please understand that we cannot gain God’s forgiveness by walking an aisle, saying a prayer, getting water baptized, confessing our sins, taking communion, giving money to a ministry, joining a church, or doing any other religious activities. We have sins that must be dealt with, and they can be paid for in two places: at Calvary’s cross, or in the everlasting flames of the lake of fire. The blood of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can take away our sins: our performance cannot, for we can never measure up to God in our own strength. Will you trust in the fact that Jesus Christ suffered God’s wrath against your sins for you, or will you reject Him and continue toward everlasting hellfire, where you will suffer God’s wrath against your sins forever?

The Gospel of the Grace of God declares that Christ died for our sins, He was buried to put away those sins, and He was raised for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Will you trust in Jesus Christ alone as your personal Saviour, that His blood sacrifice is enough to pay for your sins? I hope you will.

What wonderful truths, and praise the Lord that we can rejoice in them!

Also see:
» Why did God reject Cain’s offering?
» Why did Israel have to keep so many strange laws?
» Was God unfair in striking Uzzah dead?