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I've never completely understood the purpose as to why God required that the Israelite's should kill an animal in order for God to forgive them.

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Maybe this should belong to judaism.se ? –  vsz Aug 5 '12 at 20:05
    
Answer to this I guess would be same as this question –  Seek forgiveness Jan 30 at 3:56
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There were two main meanings to this. The first was as a symbol of Christ, whose blood makes it possible for everyone to have their sins forgiven. The second is as a sacrifice in the more traditional sense: willingly giving up something important and valuable. And when your animals are both your livelihood and the food on your family's table, giving the best of your flocks to the Lord (and the sacrifices were required to be the best, not just any old animal) is quite a sacrifice indeed! By the Law of Sacrifice, the Lord teaches us to have faith and trust in him instead of getting too attached to material possessions and trusting in them to bring us happiness and success in life.

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Indeed, that it was required to be "first-fruits", and the very best without spot or blemish, directly correlates to be a type of Christ. –  Lawrence Dol Aug 28 '11 at 21:57
    
However, not all Israelites were shepherds, having neither flock nor herd. Accordingly, such an Israelite could simply purchase an animal from those who sold them for such a purpose. Ergo, his only loss would be monetary (which yeah, that still hurts the pocket book). –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Jan 29 at 3:54
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