The Temple fire is not quite huge like this.
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1 “If his offering is a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offers an animal from the herd, male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord. 2 And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering and kill it at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and Aaron's sons the priests shall throw the blood against the sides of the altar. 3 And from the sacrifice of the peace offering, as a food offering to the Lord, he shall offer the fat covering the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 4 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins, and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. 5 Then Aaron's sons shall burn it on the altar on top of the burnt offering, which is on the wood on the fire; it is a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.
6 “If his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering to the Lord is an animal from the flock, male or female, he shall offer it without blemish. 7 If he offers a lamb for his offering, then he shall offer it before the Lord, 8 lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it in front of the tent of meeting; and Aaron's sons shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. 9 Then from the sacrifice of the peace offering he shall offer as a food offering to the Lord its fat; he shall remove the whole fat tail, cut off close to the backbone, and the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails 10 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. 11 And the priest shall burn it on the altar as a food offering to the Lord.
12 “If his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before the Lord 13 and lay his hand on its head and kill it in front of the tent of meeting, and the sons of Aaron shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. 14 Then he shall offer from it, as his offering for a food offering to the Lord, the fat covering the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails 15 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them at the loins and the long lobe of the liver that he shall remove with the kidneys. 16 And the priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering with a pleasing aroma. All fat is the Lord's. 17 It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, in all your dwelling places, that you eat neither fat nor blood.”
This is the share due the priests from the people who sacrifice a bull or a sheep: the shoulder, the jowls and the inner parts. You are to give them the firstfruits of your grain, new wine and oil, and the first wool from the shearing of your sheep, for the LORD your God has chosen them and their descendants out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the LORD's name always.
Eli's sons, priests, sinned against the Lord by:
1 Samuel 2:15 -16
Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw.”And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.”
When we think of an altar we think of something clean, something in front of people in good, clean clothes - people acting appropriately.
Then we try to think of a bloody altar and we cannot imagine it. It seems very ancient to us. Iron age, bronze age, but surely not new age. No, the nature of man hasn't changed so very much. They were not blood thirsty people who enjoyed a good animal kill at the Temple.
Remember what Jesus said - the Pharisees were the teachers of the Law, they weren't BBQ and cut-up-the-live-animal-to-read-the-gizzards. This was a sacrifice. Sacrifice. In the Temple you were to act appropriately. So appropriately, it was cumbersome.
9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.
Not only was Jesus concerned with mercy to the animals, the Pharisees were as well. They were concerned for animals, not just for profit.
It would not be easy to raise your animal, care for it, and lead it to the Temple - place your hand upon its head and kill it -- for your sin atonement. You just literally had an innocent die for your sins. Yes, there were people who purchased the animal at the Temple, but they still had to slaughter it. It was still a time of inn keepers, accountants, salesmen, merchants, farmers and not just hunters and butchers. The sacrifice involved looking at the death, blood, pain your sin causes.
When we say in our Good Friday Services, "Crucify Him!" I cannot speak for you, but it hurts. But I did and I do need the salvation from God available in Jesus Christ. I know Jesus died for me, personally. Even for the people who would say they never asked him to die for them, He did die for them. All we need to do to make that salvation ours is call upon Jesus, admit we need Him to save us for our sins and believe it in our heart. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
Jesus Christ willingly opened His arms on the Cross to be our Atonement. Just as willingly:
He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
An attitude of gratitude, being blessed to live during the days Jesus ended the sacrifice of animals at our hands. You Gave us Someone Far More Precious to You. Thank You, Father, for the Gift of Your Eternal Mercy in Jesus Christ. Amen.
1 Peter 3:18
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.