Have you ever wondered why infanticide has been a part of most societies throughout history? When you read about the cultures that surrounded Israel, it is quite clear that sacrificing children was a common practice in their cult worship (2 Kings 17:31-33). Both Ezekiel and Isaiah actually indicted their own people for partaking in the same destructive abominations (Isaiah 57:5; Ezekiel 16:20-21). Why? Why have cultures been so misled and infatuated with sacrificing their own flesh and blood–their precious children?
It all began with Abraham and Isaac. Genesis 22 shows that God is different from any other god. The gods of this world demanded the sacrifice of a firstborn son. On Mt. Moriah, God brought Abraham a knife’s edge away from slaughtering his own son. Suddenly, he cried out, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me!” (Genesis 22:12). Then the most amazing thing happened: God provided a substitute. A ram caught in a nearby thicket was sacrificed in Isaac’s place.
This begins a theme that runs the length of the OT. In Egypt, when the people were about to be delivered from slavery, God sent an angel to kill every firstborn son in all of Egypt. However, for Israel, a substitute was provided: if the house would slaughter a lamb in the place of their son, the son would live by the death of that lamb and the spreading of its blood on the doorpost. This institution, the Passover, was an annual reminder that God had made substitution for the firstborn sons of Israel who ought to have died. Furthermore, every firstborn son throughout all generations had to be redeemed before God by offering a sacrifice in his place before the Lord (Exodus 13:15).
Why does Satan want every society to kill their babies? Because it obscures the gospel. When infants and babies are tortured with fire, or saline, or knives, it makes a statement about God; it tells the world that a substitute has not been provided. The last thing that the powers of Darkness want the world to know is that mankind does not have to die; though every man be a liar, a sinner, and a rebel against God, justly deserving his wrath even from the cradle, the Gospel declares that God has provided a substitute.
That’s what sets our God apart from every other. He is not a God who demands child sacrifice. Rather, he is a God who sacrificed his only Son in the place of justly deserving sinners.