SACRIFICES TO THE LORD
Anita Clark – Pastor, Carbondale, Kansas
God’s word in Old Testament times had much to say about “sacrificing.” The word “sacrifice” in the Hebrew language means “to kill, to offer or slay- a sacrificial present, something brought near the altar, or to bestow a donation, gift, or present.” Bible characters such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob all brought blood sacrifices to the Lord to express their gratitude or to simply worship Him or invoke Him to forgive sin.
To Moses God gave the order of the sacrifices which Israel was to observe beginning with the Passover Lamb in Exodus 12:5. The children of Israel had been held in bondage as slaves in Egypt for over 400 years. On the night of their deliverance by God, who appointed Moses to lead them out, God instructed them to sacrifice a lamb for each household. The explicit instructions given in Exodus 12:1-13 are summarized in this: On the 10th day of Abib (April) of the Jewish calendar, each family was to take a lamb of the first year, without blemish according to the number of souls in each household. This lamb was to be kept up in a pen and scrutinized for any flaw for four days, as the sacrifice had to be perfect before God. On the night God would pour out His wrath on the Egyptians, Israel would roast the lamb and sprinkle the blood upon the doorposts of their houses and on the tops of the door frames, and this would secure them when God passed over Egypt to judge and kill each firstborn child, Israel would be kept safe because of the blood. In verse 13, God says to them, “...when I see the blood, I will pass over you.”
In Leviticus after Israel was delivered from bondage into the wilderness God spoke to them and told them of His order of sacrifice for their sins. All these offerings are wondrous pictures of the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for our sins. There are five offerings: the burnt offering, which was the highest type of offering, was a voluntary offering, and is the greatest example of Christ’s offering. Being a voluntary offering, speaks of Christ’s willingness to do His Father’s will, regardless of the suffering it entailed. The bullock was the greatest type of voluntary offering any of the people could bring. This animal meant so much to a family: their beast of burden, plowing and pulling and many other tasks that only this great beast could do. Christ was the faithful ox of God. He was always willingly doing the Father’s will.
The other offerings announced by God for Israel in the book of Leviticus were the Meal offering, Peace offering, Trespass offering, and Sin offering. These all portray Christ’s death for us in some particular way. For example Christ gave up all He had with the Father to become the Sin offering to atone for our sin. The word “sacrifice” means - The act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else more important. The Hebrew word used for sacrifice means, “A forfeiture, giving up, relinquishment, surrender or loss.” In Philippians 2:5-8, we read of the seven steps downward Christ willingly took to become our Saviour. Read these steps there, and see what Christ gave up for our salvation. He gave up all this glory to save us and was perfectly obedient to His Father’s will. Hebrews 10:7 says, “Then said I (Christ Jesus), Lo I come to do thy will, O God.” In verses 10,12, &14 “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ once for all. But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God. For by one offering He hath perfected (completed, consecrated, finished) forever them that are sanctified (set apart to God, to make holy).” II Corinthians 5:21 says, “For He hath made him, Who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
God does not ask us to bring blood sacrifices now, but there are other sacrifices that He is well pleased with. Christ Jesus is truly our example of what sacrifice really means. Sacrifice is spelled “LOVE.” The Lord does not ask us to sacrifice anything to gain or keep our salvation, but He does ask us to sacrifice because of our love for Him and others. Romans 12:1-2 is one of the greatest texts that shows this, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God.”
One of the greatest examples of “sacrifice” besides Jesus Christ is Apostle Paul. He sacrificed his life to spread the gospel all over the known world. Philippians 2:17 says, “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith; I joy and rejoice with you all.” In II Cor. 11:23-33,+ Paul innumerated some of the sufferings he endured to sacrifice his life to preach the Gospel. In Philippians 2:25-30, Paul speaks about Epaphroditus who sacrificed so much for the Gospel’s sake. It says that he was burdened that the people of God in Philippi were so concerned, when they heard that he was ill. Verse 30 states, “Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his own life..,” Many today are called of the Lord to do the will of God even when it brings suffering and sorrow.
Other sacrifices the Lord is pleased with and asks of us are found in Hebrews 13:15, where it says, “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. Psalms 141:1-2 says, “LORD, I cry unto thee; make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee. Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” Psalms 107:21,22 says, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.” Note that this is a sacrifice. Often times we don’t feel like praising the Lord, but if we begin to praise Him, often victory will come into our hearts. If you can’t praise Him because you are in pain, or things are bad - Praise Him for Who He is and His faithfulness! Oh, let us praise the Lord continually for all His wondrous works He has done for us.
In Hebrews 13:16, Paul says, “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” The word “communicate” means in the Greek - “partnership or distribution.” The Amplified Version says, “Do not forget or neglect to do kindness and good, to be generous and distribute and contribute to the needy [of the church as embodiment and proof of fellowship], for such sacrifices are well-pleasing to God.” This is such a blessing in an assembly of believers - to share whatever we have to bless others. Right at this present time our people in the church who have vegetable gardens are sharing their produce with all the rest of us. This is just one example of what communicating means. In the early church Christians were suffering hunger and confiscation of their property by Rome, and persecution unto death. In many places of the world these very things are happening right now. When yielding to the Holy Spirit’s direction we may feel led to help those who are needy. Let us be willing to sacrifice in what ever way God leads us. But to do good and communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.