Did God command animal sacrifies? Or not?
HUMANIST QUESTION: The Old Testament is contradictory as to whether the Lord commanded the Israelites to sacrifice animals to him. At Jeremiah 7:22, God denies he ever gave the Israelites commandments about animal sacrifices. In contrast, Exodus 29:38-42 and many other verses depict God as requiring the Israelites to offer animal sacrifices.
By now you know there is an answer. What is the first thing you need to do? Look at scripture...
It is plain that God commands the Israelites to make very specific sacrifices in multiple places in scripture. There is no doubt about that. So what does Jeremiah say?
For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. - Jeremiah 7:22
Let's define the word hyperbole: an obvious and intentional exaggeration. An extravagant statement or figure of speech
not intended to be taken literally, as to wait an eternity. -- from www.dictionary.com
Hyperbole is a device we use in our writing, and day-to-day speech. It is an exaggeration used to make a point. That's what we have here. Let's read this verse in its context:
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat flesh. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them
in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have sent you all My servants the prophets, daily rising early and sending them. Yet they did not listen to Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck; they did more evil than their fathers."- Jeremiah 7:21-26
God is upset with Israel. Why? Because Israel is disobeying God. Because Israel is not listening to God's commands, nor even to the prophets God has sent. Why? Because
of their hard hearts they prefer to walk in their own counsels (human wisdom). And because of their evil hearts they are going backwards, not forward.
What is the point? Sacrifices mean nothing if you have the wrong heart. "Wrong heart" means a wrong attitude. The Israelites were making the required sacrifices, but they were just going through the motions. Making the sacrifices, but turning away from God in their hearts, totally destroyed the purpose of the sacrifices. Making sacrifices, with a wrong attitude, is a waste of time. It is just as though God had not commanded the sacrifices... and that is the point God is making.
How Would You Know This?
What happens when you encounter an alleged contradiction such as this? Maybe you are a new Christian and you don't have the head knowledge to know what is going on. What do you do?
You should be attending a good (conservative Biblically) church. And you should be able to ask your pastor or an elder.
Another option is the internet. A quick search on the internet for "Jeremiah 7:22 Bible contradiction" brings up a number of web sites with the answer. Be careful. There is a lot of bad information on the web. Pick a search result for a web site you know you can trust. Some examples of major web sites you can trust are:
GTY.org (Grace To You)
What did we learn here? There is no contradiction.
In the New Testament, there are contradictions between the genealogies of Jesus given in the first chapter of Matthew and the third chapter of Luke.
Get the answer here (tap here).