Sacrifices of any kind from the time of Cain and Abel to the birth of the nation of Israel emerge in the Torah as man-initiated events, without any reference to sin! Indeed, sacrifices as man-initiated events are confirmed in the book of Jeremiah 7:
22 For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. 23 But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’
So troubling is the above to Christian theology, that the New International Version (NIV) of Jer 7:22, 23, adds an extra word to the translation which the Hebrew does not support:
22 For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, 23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.
The extra word ‘just’, parachuted into the NIV translation of verse 22 gives the reverse idea that G-d did command the Israelites to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings for sins in stark contrast to the man initiated sacrifices found in the Torah (prior to Sinai) without reference to sin! Moreover, the ‘but’of verse 23 renders verse 22 in the NIV illogical!
Animal sacrifice has always been permitted prior to Sinai and post Sinai only under extremely limited and controlled circumstances as to time, place[Lev 17:2-5] and intention as detailed by the Torah. Certain sacrifices are brought purely for the purpose of communing with God and becoming closer to Him. Others are brought for the purpose of expressing thanks, love, or gratitude to God. Others are used to cleanse a person of ritual impurity (which does not necessarily have anything to do with sin). And yes, some sacrifices are brought for purposes of atonement. The messianic era does have sacrifices if Jer 33:15-18 is considered.
The verses of Jona ch3, 1Sam 15:22, Psalm 51:16-19 and Hosea 14:2 serve to underscore:
1. With or without a temple, sacrifices are worthless if their is no repentance (in the case of sin) or without proper intention (to get close to G-d).
2. Repentance alone is sufficient in times where no temple is available.
What about human sacrifice?
1 Thus says the LORD: The heaven is My Throne, and the earth is My Footstool, where is the house that you may build unto Me? And where is the place that may be My resting-place? 2 For all These things has My hand made, and so all These things Came to be, says the LORD, But on this man will I look, even on Him That is poor and of a Contrite Spirit, and Trembleth at My word. 3 He That Kills an ox is as if he slew a man, he That Sacrifices a lamb, as if he broke a dog’s neck, he That Offers a meal-Offering, as if he Offered swine’s blood, he That makes a memorial-Offering of frankincense, as if he blessed an idol; according as they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations;
Isaiah 66 is talking primarily about sacrifices without repentance and chapter 66 resonates with the opening chapter 1 of Isaiah.
You shall no longer bring vain meal-offerings, it is smoke of abomination to Me; New Moons and Sabbaths, calling convocations, I cannot [bear] iniquity with assembly. (Isaiah 1:13)
Without proper and sincere repentance it is as if one has killed a man, offered swine’s blood and blesses an idol (see verse Is 66:3 above) all of which have always have been and always will be unacceptable at any time or place!