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Question and Answer

Why did God demand in the Old Testament, even before the Law, that people had to sacrifice animals to Him?

The Bible makes it clear that shed blood is the way to atone for sin (see Ex. 30:10). The Fall of Adam and Eve brought sin and death into the world and separated humanity from God (see Genesis 3). Death cannot come into God’s presence, and the only way to ask for forgiveness of sin and be in a relationship with God is by presenting an offering of blood, which is life (see Lev. 17:11–14). Rather than kill or harm ourselves to make this sacrifice, God allowed people to offer the blood of an animal instead.

These sacrifices of animals had to be repeated and were imperfect. But they pointed forward to the perfect sacrifice, Jesus, who offered His blameless, holy life on our behalf to pay for sin once and for all (see Rom. 6:10; Heb. 7:27). Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we are able to have forgiveness of sin and a relationship with God with the promise of eternal life.

Why do young people refuse to believe that the rules laid down by their parents really are good rules? I don’t mean simply rules about cleaning their rooms or washing their hands before eating, but the rules like not drinking or taking drugs and abstaining from premarital sex.

Like countless generations before them, young people today want to know for themselves whether or not something is good for them. Mom or Dad can lay down the law about what’s good or bad, but kids think there’s nothing as certain as experiencing it for themselves. Then they’ll know for sure. But they are wrong. Unfortunately, some will suffer the consequences of doing what is absolutely wrong. Illicit booze and drugs and sex can lead to addiction, disease, a criminal record, and a wake of destruction. It’s difficult to recover from these consequences apart from the miraculous grace of God.

As parents, grandparents, and other loving adults, what can we do to keep our precious children from falling prey to these temptations? First, we must recognize that these sins are not new today (see 1 Cor. 10:13). Second, we must encourage our children to be immersed in a lifestyle of faith, including prayer for God’s guidance, habits of studying Scripture, and a community of godly friends (see Prov. 12:26). And finally, we should commit to praying for our children throughout their lives, asking God to protect them and to restore them if they have fallen from a path of righteousness (see Luke 15:11–32).

The Bible often speaks of God as a jealous God, and yet the Scripture makes it clear that jealousy is linked to quarreling and anger, and it goads us into destroying relationships rather than protecting them. But at the same time, Scripture points out that God is a jealous God (see Ex. 34:14; Deut. 4:24; Josh. 24:19; Nahum 1:2). What’s the difference?

When the Bible speaks of a jealous God, it is talking about that wonderful covenantal relationship that God has with us. He warned the children of Israel against worshiping the idols of other nations surrounding them. He alone was worthy of their praise and worship, and He also knew the destruction that came from worshiping idols, including child sacrifice and sexual immorality.

God is jealous both of us and for us. Only by abiding in God exclusively can we know the fulfillment that He yearns to provide (see Jer. 29:11). Moving away from a relationship with God is sure to hurt us. Yes, God is jealous. He loves us and wants what is best for us, which is the worship of His name and obedience to His will.

In the Old Testament, a priest had to offer sacrifices for the people, but we know that no one is saved by the sacrifice of bulls and goats. How then were these Old Testament saints saved?

They were saved by faith in the promises of God, just as we are. We find this truth affirmed in the New Testament: “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend” (James 2:23; see Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6). The litany of Old Testament saints in Hebrews 11 reminds us again and again that they were saved by faith. By faith, Abel was commended as righteous; by faith, Enoch was commended as one who pleased God; and by faith, Noah became an heir of righteousness. Sarah, Rahab, Gideon, and Moses were all saved by faith. The chapter ends this stirring roll call of Old Testament heroes by saying, “These were all commended for their faith” (v. 39).

Old Testament saints believed that God would fulfill His promise to send a Savior. They believed in God’s promise to provide a way for them to dwell with Him forever. Today, we are saved through faith that God has fulfilled His promise to send a Savior. We trust in the person and work of Jesus, who made the final sacrifice for our sins: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8–9).

BY Mike Kellogg, Moody Radio Host

Mike Kellogg worked with Moody Radio for more than 40 years, beginning in 1972. For many years he was the reader on Continued Story and began hosting Music Thru the Night in 1982. He also read the Today in the Word devotional for Moody Radio for many years. In July 2014, Mike retired from full-time radio. He is a graduate of Cedarville University, and has served as adjunct faculty in English and Speech Communications at Moody Bible Institute. He is married to Nancy, and they have 6 children and 16 grandchildren.