This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I started this on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed blogging from that book on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. Since then, I have begun adding material from his Bible commentaries. I also re-blog many of the old posts.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Pre-Sinaitic Sacrifices (Part 1)

In approaching the great sacrificial book of the Bible, it becomes necessary to survey, and briefly discuss, the sacrifices offered before the institutions of that legal code of ritualism contained in Leviticus. From Abel to Moses altars were built and victims flamed sending heavenward their “savour of sweet smell.” As the decalogue thundered forth from the summit of Sinai was not the first revelation of the moral law, so the Levitical system set up at the base of Horeb was not the first exposition of access to God by sacrifice.

As the Hebrews went forth from Egypt with the moral law written on their hearts to receive it engraven upon stone, so they entered the wilderness with the vague feeling that their God was to be approached by oblations — to receive in that wilderness a minute and elaborate code of sacrificial laws to be executed by a divinely-appointed priesthood.

The nature of the patriarchal sacrifices is still a question among theologians. Orthodox polemics generally deem it incumbent on them to demonstrate the expiatory character of these sacrifices, while the rationalistic school quite unanimously deny this as an unwarrantable assumption. Several evangelical writers take the same view. To neither party is there scriptural ground for dogmatism, for the sacred oracles are silent respecting the origin and nature of the early sacrificial offerings. Hence they go beyond the sacred record, who, in their zeal for orthodoxy, inform us that Cain’s sacrifice was rejected because there was no blood in it, betokening his need of the death of another as a satisfaction for his sin, while Abel’s was accepted because it had that vital element, rendering it pleasing to his Creator. Sacred history not only contains no such declaration, but it plainly intimates another cause for the difference between the two offerings. God expostulates with the wrathful fratricide, and explicitly declares that the imperfection of his offering lies in the moral state of the offerer: “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?” In Hebrews 11:4 the writer declares that Abel’s acceptableness was because of his faith, leaving us to infer that the lack of this element was the radical defect in Cain’s oblation. 

— Commentary on Leviticus.

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