When and why was the blood sacrifice required by God?
God requires a blood sacrifice in order to forgive a person’s sins.
. . . without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (NASB) Heb. 9:22
This is a strong statement. God cannot forgive a person’s sins without the shedding of blood. The question is, “Who dies?”
The first sacrifice occurred immediately after Adam and Eve sinned. Eve did not know what she was doing when she ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, according to 1Tim. 2:14, but Adam did. He willfully sinned. Eve did not believe God, she ate, and Adam sinned. As a result God killed two animals in order to give them clothes.
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. (NASB) Gen. 3:21
Was this a blood sacrifice by God? Some think so. But it is clear that Abel did offer a blood sacrifice in Genesis 4:4. The concept of a blood sacrifice was already understood.
The Perfect Sacrifice
A blood sacrifice was required because Adam had sinned. The forgiveness of his sin required blood to be shed. God could have killed Adam, but He used an animal. Unfortunately, the sacrifice of an animal does not give a person lasting forgiveness.
For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered . . . But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (NASB) Heb. 10:1-4
Every time a person sinned a new blood sacrifice had to be offered in order for their sins to be forgiven. But Jesus was the perfect sacrifice who takes away our sins completely (John 1:29).
. . . we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (NASB) Heb. 10:10
When a man or woman believes that Jesus can take away his/her sins and sincerely trusts in Him, that is, depends on Him to do that, then his/her sins are forgiven. Jesus is the perfect blood sacrifice.
Only by the shedding of blood can our sins be forgiven. Someone must die in order for sins to be forgiven. That is why God requires blood sacrifices. Later, at the time of Moses, God formally established the regulations for animal sacrifices (see the book of Leviticus). These sacrifices were symbolic of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.