Bible Studies - Sanctuary

2. Why And When Did The Sacrificial System Start?


At the conclusion of day six of creation we find that God saw every thing that He had made and that it was very good (Genesis 1:31). When God created this world there was no sickness, suffering, disease, or death of any kind every thing was good. Yet, we only have to read on another couple of chapters to see a change taking place.

God gave Adam and Eve one simple rule to obey. It was not much really, but by this one simple act they would show if they loved God supremely and would be obedient to Him, or if they would not. This one simple rule was not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil found in the midst of the garden (Genesis 2:17; 3:3). They could freely eat of all the other fruit, nuts, and grains that God had provided for them of which there was a plenteous variety and supply.

Every evening, in the cool of the day, God would come down and talk with Adam and Eve. This was a time looked forward to by the couple and God would explain many things to them. However, in Genesis chapter 3 verse 9 we read that "the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, where art thou?"

This is both sad and beautiful. Adam who had eaten the forbidden fruit was hiding from God, but God did not just abandon him He was looking and calling for him. It is just like we read in Luke 19:10, "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Adam was lost because he had disobeyed God's one tiny, simple rule. His disobedience or sin separated him from God (Isaiah 59:2).

Adam did not fully comprehend the seriousness of his sin or the result of disobedience. God had told him not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and said, For "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Genesis 2:17.) The marks of death and decay were soon seen in the falling leaves and withered flowers. There was no escaping the decree, "The wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23.)

Yet, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost had already devised a plan of redemption for mankind (Counsels of Health by E White page 222). The Son, Jesus Christ, had pledged His own life as a ransom for mankind. For &"without the shedding of blood is no remission." of sins. (Hebrews 9:22.)

In order that Adam might realise the enormity of sin, which would take the life of the sinless Son of God, he was required to bring an innocent lamb, confess his sins over its head, then with his own hands take its life, a type of Christ's life. This sin-offering was burned typifying that through the death of Christ all sin would finally be destroyed in the fires of the last day (Malachi 4:1-3.).

To make an even greater impression upon Adam and Eve of the nature and consequences of sin, as well as to demonstrate His love for them, God clothed them in the skins of the animals slain in sacrifice (Genesis 3:21). These garments were a continual reminder of what their sin cost – not just the life of the sacrifice, but one the day the death of the Son of God their Creator and friend.

They were then vanquished from the only home they had ever known, the Garden of Eden. On the east side of the garden God placed Cherubims with flaming swords to prevent mankind from regaining access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24). Here Adam and his sons came to worship God and make sacrifices to Him.

"The Garden of Eden remained upon the earth long after man had become an outcast from its pleasant paths. The fallen race were long permitted to gaze upon the home of innocence, their entrance barred only by the watching angels. At the cherubim-guarded gate of Paradise the divine glory was revealed. Hither came Adam and his sons to worship God. Here they renewed their vows of obedience to that law the transgression of which had banished them from Eden." Patriarchs and Prophets by E. White, page 62 par. 2.

With their backs to the east, or the rising sun, Adam and his sons worshipped God. How different from most Christian churches and all other religions that we find in the world today where the sun is venerated and worshipped as a god! Later on we will see that the same direction of worship was required by all who attended the sanctuary or tabernacle.

Throughout the Bible we find that certain people were required to do a particular thing to live and remain God's people. In the time of Noah God told him to come into the ark, him, his family, and every living thing, that they might be saved (Genesis 6:18-20). Note that God did not tell Noah to 'go' into the ark, but to 'come' into the ark implying that God or at least His presence was in the ark. Abraham was told to leave his own country, kindred, and go to an unknown place (Genesis 12:1). Yet, both of these men also made animal sacrifices to God.

The very first thing we read that Noah did after leaving the ark was to build an altar unto the Lord and offered burnt offering on it (Genesis 8:20). And Abraham had a habit that may seem unusual to us, for he built an altar unto the Lord every place he came to.

"And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD. . . . Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD. . . . And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac's servants digged a well." Genesis 12:7, 8; 13:18; 26:25.

Jacob followed in Abraham's footsteps.

"And Jacob came to Shalem, . . . And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-Israel. . . . And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. . . . And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother." Genesis 33:18, 20; 35:1, 7.


"The life of Abraham, the friend of God, was a life of prayer. Wherever he pitched his tent, close beside it was built an altar, upon which were offered the morning and the evening sacrifice. When his tent was removed, the altar remained. And the roving Canaanite, as he came to that altar, knew who had been there. When he had pitched his tent he repaired the altar and worshipped the living God.

"So the homes of Christians should be lights in the world. From them, morning and evening, prayer should ascend to God as sweet incense. And as the morning dew, His mercies and blessings will descend upon the suppliants.

"Fathers and mothers, each morning and evening gather your children around you, and in humble supplication lift the heart to God for help. Your dear ones are exposed to temptation. Daily annoyances beset the path of young and old. Those who would live patient, loving, cheerful lives must pray. Only by receiving constant help from God can we gain the victory over self."
Testimonies to the Church by E. White, page 44 par. 2-4.


Unfortunately when Jacob and his sons moved to Egypt things began to change. After many years the Israelites were made Pharaoh's slaves, and because of this status they were not permitted to practice their worship of the true God or the sacrifice of animals, and they forgot it's meaning and most of God's immutable moral laws.


© S. D. Goeldner



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© S. D. Goeldner, February, 2011. Last updated October, 2017.
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