Sacrifices

Under the Old Testament, God chose Aaron and his descendants to be the priests.  These men were set apart to the Lord and were washed with water, anointed with special oil, and wore special priestly garments.  Their responsibility was to serve God and the Israelite people.  One of their duties was to offer up to God the required animal sacrifices to include bulls, rams and goats and the grain offerings.  The first account we have of sacrifices was when Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam, offered sacrifices to the Lord (Genesis 4:3-4).  From the time of Cain and Abel until Aaron, people had offered animal sacrifices to the Lord.  Under the Law given through Moses, many sacrifices were prescribed to be offered to the Lord through the priests.  The priests were the class of people who had been set apart to offer sacrifices to God and be a mediatory agent between God and the people.

In some Christian denominations today, there is a certain class of individuals designated as priests.  These individuals are often expected to make intercession and requests to God for other Christians who are not priests.  But there is no instruction in the New Testament for making an office of a priest or a priestly class of individuals.  All of us as Christians are priests.  1 Peter 2:9-10 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”  Each one of us has the privilege of going directly to God the Father through Jesus Christ as our mediator.  Each one of us can pray to God.  Each one of us can offer spiritual sacrifices to God.  1 Peter 2:5 “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

What is a sacrifice?  It is taking something that you have and that you value and giving it away for a good purpose.  Parents frequently sacrifice for their children; the parents may go without eating so that their children can have food or the parents may go without something they want or need so that their children can have what they want or need. A sacrifice in the Old Testament would be when an Israelite would take an animal from his livestock, give it to the priest who would then slay it, place it on the altar and burn it up as a sacrifice to the Lord.  The purpose for such a sacrifice might be because of some sin committed or to thank the Lord for His blessings or to fulfill a vow.    Today, a person might take something he possesses and values, such as a car, and voluntarily give it for the Lord’s work; that would be a sacrifice. 

The greatest sacrifice given was that of Jesus Christ.  God sent His Son into the world.  Jesus came to the earth, gave us the words of God, and then willing gave Himself to be taken and crucified for the sins of the world.  That is why He is called the Lamb of God.  Just as lambs were offered as sin offerings under the Law given through Moses, Jesus was offered as the sin offering for the New Covenant.  Ephesians 5:2 “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”  Jesus sacrificed Himself as a sin offering to God for you and me.

God is your Lord who watches over you and blesses you.  Sacrificing something to God is a way of worshipping Him.  Since you are a priest to God, what are some of the spiritual sacrifices that you are to offer to Him?  Let us begin in Hebrews 13:15-16 “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.  But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”  When you praise and thank God from your heart, that is a sacrifice that you give Him.  When you do good and share with others, that is a sacrifice that pleases God.  Matthew 16:24-25 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’”  When you deny yourself the works of the flesh because you have faith and love for God, you are sacrificing yourself and worshipping God.  The apostle Paul exhorts you in Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”  When you give your whole body to please God as a living sacrifice to Him, this is the way you are to worship God.

You are a priest to God who is meant to offer up acceptable spiritual sacrifices to Him.  Praise and thank God; do the good that He asks you to do; deny yourself; present your body as a living sacrifice to Him.  Worship God with your spiritual sacrifices to Him. W