Question: Why do you think God required the blood of an animal for atonement of sin?
Answer: After God confronted Adam and Eve in the garden about their disobedience He replaced their fig leaf coverings with animal skins. To do that, of course, He had to kill and skin an animal. An innocent animal had to die to cover the guilt of Adam and Eve. This was the beginning of animal sacrifice. The blood that was shed by the animal was the proof that it had died. It had lost it’s life fluid.
In the sacrificial system developed by Moses at God’s direction, Leviticus 16 describes the role of the high priest when he sacrifices a goat for Israel’s sin. “He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites – all their sins – and put them on the goat’s head” (verse 21). This symbolizes that the goat is taking the guilt of human sin and dying for it so the humans don’t have to die for their sins.
Hebrews 10, however, makes it clear that the blood of animals cannot really take away sin (10:4), and that these sacrifices were only symbols of the sacrifice of the God-Man, Jesus the Messiah, whose sacrifice alone could take away human sin (10:8-14). The animal sacrifices taught those who brought them that sin cost a life. But it was meant to also teach them that they needed to be looking for a more complete answer. That answer was found in Jesus’ sacrifice of himself on the cross. Of course, because he was a sinless sacrifice and because God accepted his sacrifice, God raised him from the dead to become the head of a new race – Christians.