If meat-eating occurred only after the Flood, who was eating the animal sacrifices prior?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Not to diminish this question, but a scoffer once asked it in hopes of using it as a “gotcha” or “captious” inquiry. The goal was not to gain spiritual light but rather pose an unanswerable question to the Christian and make him look foolish. Provided we ask in faith, we will learn this is really a non-issue, a trivial matter, easily addressed.

Whether in Judaism or even pagan (heathen) religions, animal sacrifices were at least partially eaten: “And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy. And if ought of the flesh of the consecrations, or of the bread, remain unto the morning, then thou shalt burn the remainder with fire: it shall not be eaten, because it is holy” (Exodus 29:32-34). “Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, saying, This is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD: it is most holy. The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation…. All the males among the priests shall eat thereof: it is most holy” (Leviticus 6:25-26,29). Various other verses throughout Leviticus read similarly.

The argument goes like this: If there were animal sacrifices offered before the Great Flood of Noah’s day, but there was no meat-eating until after the Great Flood (Genesis 9:1-4; cf. Genesis 1:29-31), then who was eating the animal sacrifices prior to the Great Flood? Scripture does not provide us with many details concerning the pre-Flood sacrificial system, but we can use the Law of Moses issued centuries later to understand the matter and answer the question.

See 1 Kings 18:30-41, when the Prophet Elijah proposed a test to see if Baal were God or JEHOVAH were God: “[30] And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. [31] And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: [32] And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. [33] And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. [34] And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. [35] And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.

“[36] And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. [37] Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. [38] Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. [39] And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God. [40] And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.”

Pay close attention to verse 38, re-reading it: “Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” Now, go to pre-Flood verses such as Genesis 3:21: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” The first animal sacrifices are implied here, and we have no reason to believe God’s fire from Heaven did not fall upon these slain animals and consume them. Such would have also been the case with Abel (but not Cain) in chapter 4: “[1] And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. [2] And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. [3] And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. [4] And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. [5] But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”

Also see:
» How did God “testify” of Abel’s gifts?

» Why did God reject Cain’s offering?
» Can you explain Genesis 4:7?
» Why did God demand blood sacrifices?
» What did Jesus mean, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice?”