As part of FIRIS’ ongoing commitment to provide parents and caregivers with information regarding Real Christian SRE rather than leaving them to make their decisions based on the sales-pitch offered by Christian SRE providers, we will continue our exploration of the Firm Foundations scripture materials.

Before we start there are a few things which must be kept in mind as you read the following –

  1. Neither the NSW Minister for Education nor the Department of Education have authority over what is taught in a SRE classroom, how it is taught, or who scripture providers authorise to deliver it.
  2. The Department of Education relies on nothing more than an ‘annual assurance’ from providers that their SRE instructors are using the provider’s authorised ‘age-appropriate‘ curriculum ‘with sensitivity and in an age appropriate manner‘.
  3. The Firm Foundations curriculum was declared age-appropriate and authorised for use by the Fellowship Baptist Church of Blacktown for use in NSW public schools in its 2018 Annual Assurance.
  4. The Firm Foundations curriculum developers state – ‘Once a child has a learned to read, he can participate in all the aspects of the lesson material.’ Book 1, p. 64

Let’s now begin to see what the Firm Foundations lessons have to say about blood and animal sacrifice.

FIRIS has already made available the ‘doctrinal themes’ taught in the Firm Foundation materials, but will do so again asking the reader to focus on the sections relating to animal and blood sacrifice –

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Make no mistake, the theme of animal and blood sacrifice is core to Firm Foundation’s message that God demands the ‘death of the sinner as the payment for sin’ and that animal sacrifice served as a constant reminder that ‘nothing less than death could satisfy God’s holy and just demands’ (Hebrews 10:1-12)

At the end of Book 2 children learn about the first blood sacrifice for sin, that is, ‘God’s gracious act of clothing Adam and Eve‘.

The SRE instructor is reminded that

….the Word is very clear in stating that God killed animals in order to make acceptable coverings for Adam and Eve. Although the blood of animals could never pay for sin, from this time until the death of Christ, God accepted the blood of animals as a type, or picture, of the punishment that all sin deserves. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death….” Hebrews 9:22 says, “…without shedding of blood is no remission.” p. 149

The point of the lesson is that ‘God is establishing the fact of man’s helplessness to save himself and providing an analogy regarding the coming Deliverer.‘ p.  149

The children are taught that the first death in the world was brought about by sin. God killed the animals and took their the skins off in order to remind Adam and Eve ‘that disobedience to Him brought death into the world.’

Here the instructor is provided with the note –

Here God is preparing a redemptive analogy of the truth presented in Isaiah 61:10, “…he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness….” Later, we will draw on this analogy to reveal the truth of substitution and the covering of the righteousness of Christ received through faith…Just make it clear that God would not accept what Adam and Eve had made but that God provided them with clothing, and that what we do outwardly cannot make us pleasing to God. p. 152

At the end of the lesson, the children are asked ‘Why did God kill animals to make clothing for Adam and Eve?‘ and the answer provided is ‘Because God was reminding Adam and Eve that the punishment for sin is death.‘ 
 p. 157

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The theme returns in Lesson 13 in Book 3.

Instructors are told to have on hand, ‘a realistic stuffed toy lamb

This lesson focuses on animal sacrifice as the means for Abel to come to God in the way the prescribed by God, that is, to sacrifice a sheep as an offering. While drawing the children’s attention to the stuffed toy lamb, the instructor is told how the lamb had to be sacrificed in order to remind them that the punishment for sin is death and ‘that they would die and go to everlasting everlasting punishment unless He saved them.’

The instructor is encouraged to say to the children –

God was not being cruel to require the death of a lamb. No, the reason the lamb had to die was because of man’s sin. God loves man and wants man to know that the penalty for sin is death. The lamb was a sacrificeone who died in the place of the sinner. (emphasis in original) p. 6

– and the instructor is told –

This is important for children to understand. Most children are very tender. They must realize that the reason for the lamb’s death is man’s sin. p. 6

The children are told that the ‘Bible clearly says that blood must be shed for sin’ and that Abel brought one of his lambs, the firstborn of its mother, killed it so ‘its blood ran out‘ and offered the sheep, along with the fat, to God.

The children are asked ‘Why did Abel bring this offering to God?‘ and the answers –

  1. Because he agreed with God that he was a sinner.
  2. And he believed that only God could save him from everlasting punishment. 

The instructor is told –

These two concepts…are very important. Be sure to stress them and to make sure that the children are hearing what you are saying. You may want to have them repeat these two lines with you. p. 6

The instructor is told to explain to the children –

It is important to understand that the blood of animals could never pay for sin. God did not accept Abel’s lamb as the payment for his sin. But God forgave Abel’s sin and accepted him because Abel trusted, not in himself, but in God who had promised to send the Deliverer.

– and then the instructor is told –

It is important in every story that your students be taught grace. They must come to realize that man cannot contribute anything to his salvation. Make certain that they understand that the blood of animals could not and did not pay for sin. Sin must be paid for by human life being given. Animal blood, or life, is not equal to human life (Hebrews 10:4,5). Be sure to make it absolutely clear that God will not overlook sin. Sin must be paid for in full. The soul that sins, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:4), that is, be separated forever from God. (emphasis added) p. 7

The children are told –

God has not changed; He is still the same today. He does not command us now to sacrifice sheep, but He is still the only One who can make a way for us to come to Him. We must come God’s way; otherwise, He will reject us as He rejected Cain. p. 8

The suggested activity ‘Coming to God’ (p. 14) gets the children to create cutouts of sacrificial altars, the offerings, and Cain and Abel while a discussion is going on reinforcing to the children that ‘man must come to God according to God’s way and not his own. Man must have faith in
order to please God.’ p. 14

In the skit for the lesson, Uncle Don tells Jessica and Travis that ‘believing and obeying are extremely important.’

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The theme of animal and blood sacrifice in the context of having faith in order to please God is found in Lesson 18 regarding Abraham and Isaac. Once again, the stuffed toy lamb is to be at hand.

The children are asked to consider Isaac’s situation and to remember that he had most likely seen many sacrifices (‘SHOW THE STUFFED TOY LAMB‘).

Apparently Isaac ‘knew that the penalty for sin is death, and that the only way to come to God was by faith, offering the blood of a lamb or sheep as a sacrifice in man’s place‘ and he ‘could not understand why they had not taken a sheep with them.’

The children are told Isaac was tied up and laid on the altar and how Abraham lifted up the knife to kill his son –

God had commanded Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, and there was no way for Isaac to escape once he was on the altar. p. 74

The children are asked –

Is there any way that we can save ourselves from death and everlasting punishment for our sins? No! We cannot save ourselves. God will punish all sin. No one can escape from God.
God and only God can make a way to escape. Do you know what God did for Isaac? 

Because Abraham had not brought sheep with him as a suitable sacrifice, God ‘graciously’ provided a ram which could be sacrificed in place of Isaac.

Animal and blood next appears in the Firm Foundations materials in Lesson 22 as the children learn about God passing over Israel.

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The lesson materials begin by providing the instructor with a perspective on the materials –

What a tremendous story this is! We live in a day when many “religious scholars” are repulsed by any emphasis on blood. God was not repulsed by it; rather, He tells us in this passage that only those protected by the blood of a lamb would be spared the loss of their firstborn. Not only was the lamb’s blood spilled out, it was also applied to the top and the sides of the door frame of each house. 
We who know the story of the Lamb of God realize the tremendous implications of this passage in Exodus. Indeed, we too are spared the wrath of God because, by faith, we have been placed under the protection of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. p. 115

Once again, the ‘realistic, stuffed, toy lamb‘ is required as a visual prop.

After hearing about the nine plagues sent by God the students are told that God warned Moses that ‘the Israelites must prepare  for the final and most terrible plague of all‘, a plague that would destroy the firstborn in the Egyptian homes.

The children hear about how Moses was told by God to get the head of each Israelite home to choose a lamb or goat ‘without blemish’ (‘SHOW THE STUFFED, TOY LAMB‘), kill it and catch its blood in a basin. The instructor tells the children –

When the Israelites killed the lambs and the blood flowed out, the people were reminded that the punishment for sin is death. Just as the ram died instead of Isaac, the perfect lambs which were chosen and killed by the Israelites died instead of their firstborn children. p. 121

The children learn how the blood of the lamb was put on the doorposts and over the door of the house where the lamb was being eaten that night. The instructor tells the children –

The Israelites were to stay inside their houses on which they had placed the blood. It was just as if they were to hide behind the death and blood of the lamb which God said they must kill in place of the firstborn. p. 122

The children are asked –

What do you think would have happened if an Israelite had said, “It’s a shame to kill this good lamb. I won’t kill it. I will just tie it up at the door. God will see the living lamb, and He will not kill my child by the plague.” Do you think God would have passed by the firstborn of that house?

No! The lamb had to die. The blood must be shed. They must not forget that the punishment for sin is death.

It all had to be done the way God had told Moses. p. 123

The children learn that not one of the firstborn of the Israelites’ children or livestock died. They learn the lesson that ‘God always does what He says‘ and He ‘will punish those who fight against Him, but He will show His mercy to those who trust Him.’ p. 124

But the fun begins when the children get to step through the Passover Story, including the sacrifice of the ‘realistic, stuffed, toy lamb’ –

Given that NSW public school teachers do not have to remain in the classroom while SRE is being held, who knows what actions children are encouraged to carry out as they re-enact the Passover Story.

Animal and blood sacrifice appears in Lesson 26 of Book 4 as children learn about the role of animal and blood sacrifice in the Tabernacle.

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Once again they are told that the blood of animals could not ‘pay for sin‘ and that it was ‘only a reminder, or illustration, or pattern, of the punishment demanded for sin.’

Could the blood of animals pay for their sins? No! The blood of the animals could not pay for their sins.

— The punishment for sin is death, and that includes the sep­aration of the sinner from God forever.

— Sin must be paid for in full.

Nevertheless, God promised to hold off the judgement they deserved and forgive their sins for the past year, if they came to Him in the way He had told them. They must come to him believing Him and bringing a blood sacrifice for their sins. p. 11

This message carries on into Lesson 28 as the children learn about the role of animal and blood sacrifice in Solomon’s Temple. Once again, it is emphasised –

The Israelites were never to forget that they were sinners, that God is perfect, and that the punishment for sin is death. Because the blood of animals could not pay for their sin, the blood had to be placed before God every year. 

Every year, God forgave their sins and held off His judg­ment, waiting for the time when a perfect and complete pay­ment for sin would be made. p. 39

In Lesson 46 in Book 5 Jesus is presented to the children at the ‘Passover Lamb who died to save all men.’

In the Lord’s Supper, the bread represents His body, broken for men. The cup represents His blood, shed for the sins of all men. p. 81

At the beginning of the lesson the following skit is read out, with an adult performing the role of ‘Uncle Don’ –

Jimmy says to his Uncle Don –

Well, I still don’t understand about all the lambs and other animals used for sacrifices in the Bible. It just seems kind of cruel.

To which Uncle Don replies –

Well, the killing of a lamb or other animal was first of all a reminder that the penalty for sin is death. (emphasis in original)

– and –

The Bible says that without the shedding of blood, sin cannot be paid for. (emphasis in original)

– and Uncle Don concludes by reminding Jimmy and Jessica that Jesus was the final lamb to be offered as part of the Passover sacrifice.

This message is driven home in the suggestions for activities for the lessonwhich include –

In Lesson 48 the children are reminded that the punishment for sin is death, not only physical death, ‘but separation from God in Hell,‘ and that ‘the only way Jesus could deliver is was for Him to take our place before God and be punished for our sins.’ (emphasis in original)

The children are told that Jesus came into the world ‘to deliver sinners from Satan, sin and death.’

He finished this work by being separated from God and by giving His blood and His life as the full payment for our sins. (emphasis in original) p. 110

The suggestions for activities for this lesson ‘The Death Penalty’ and ‘Jesus took my punishment’ drive home that the punishment for sin is death and that the blood of animals could not pay for sins. The instructions for the activity ‘Full price’ are –

Give each child paper and pencil. Ask them to write what we can do to make ourselves acceptable to God. (We can do nothing. Jesus paid the full price for sins in His body. It is finished!) p. 114

Lesson 49 in Book 5 presents the meaning of Christ’s death from the Old Testament.

In relation to God’s killing of animals and his clothing of Adam and Eve, the children are reminded that there is nothing they can do to make themselves acceptable to God –

Going to church, doing good deeds, giving to the needy, taking care of the environment — all of these are things we should do. But none of these things will make us acceptable to God.  p. 119

How then must a person respond to God in order to be accepted by Him?

In relation to the story of the animal sacrifice of Abel, the children are told that the message is that ‘God will accept all those who put their faith in the Lord Jesus and His blood that He shed for their sins.’ p. 121

When revisiting the story of the Passover, the instructor tells the children that they can be ‘absolutely certain that, if they trust in the  Lord Jesus and His death for them, they will never face eternal punishment for their sins.’ p. 124

In Lesson 42, children are told –

The Bible makes it very clear that all who refuse to believe Jesus will be separated from God and punished forever in the Lake of Fire. p. 41

At the end of Lesson 49 the instructor is told to offer a personal testimony along the lines of –

I have agreed with God that I am a sinner and have trusted in the Lord Jesus and His death for me. I know I have eternal life because Jesus paid for all my sin. But it was not only for me that Jesus died; it was for you too. So, if you trust only in Him and accept His death as the payment for your sin, God will forgive you and give you everlasting life. p. 126

A note for the instructor states –

Some students may express their desire to put their trust in Jesus Christ and His death for them. Explain to those who seem ready that Jesus not only died but was raised from the dead on their behalf. p. 126

A small handout for students says –

– and if, after their journey through the blood-soaked account of the scriptures presented in the Firm Foundations materials, the instructor and Christian SRE can declare their ‘Mission accomplished’.