Written by MayBell Developments – October 31st, 2022
Sacrifice is something rarely talked about in the present day and consistently talked about in Biblical times. When we look to the Bible for guidance we can see the importance of sacrifice in our lives and examples of how to implement sacrifice into our own lives.
We live in a world where we are told that we shouldn’t have to sacrifice anything. We deserve the world and more. Western culture instructs us through TV, the internet, and social media that we’d be happier and healthier with more. That acquiring more of what we don’t have is our right as consumers. Sacrifice is seen as unnecessary unless it directly benefits us. Take a look at your life and the lives around you today, how many sacrifices can you see? Look closer at those who sacrifice nothing and those who sacrifice a lot. What are some differences in their lifestyles, relationships, and faith? I would encourage you to consider these things as we explore sacrifice in Biblical times.
The word “sacrifice” is mentioned many times throughout the Old Testament. God instructed Moses that His people were to perform ritualistic sacrifices for many different things. But even before the time of Moses, God’s people were making sacrificial offerings to God.
These sacrifices were designed to redeem the wrongs that the people committed. Because of original sin, we are inherently sinful and even when we try our best we will always fall short. In the time of the OT, God made His people aware of this shortfall when Moses brought down the stone tablets carved with the 10 Commandments.
The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” – Exodus 24:12
The law of God made people aware of how far they fell below God’s holy standard. Thankfully, God didn’t leave it there, He created a way for His people to be made right with God through the grain, animal, and monetary offerings. The catch: these sacrifices had to be made repeatedly as people repeatedly fell into sin and the sacrifices were only temporary solutions.
The OT sacrifices build to the greatest sacrifice this world has ever seen. In Isaiah, we are introduced to a coming saviour, one who would be a sacrifice for all and for all time. For hundreds of years God’s people have leaned into their sinful nature and, though many still followed the rituals set in Moses’ time, there were many others who abandoned their faith altogether. Jesus entered into a world which is seeped in sin.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:5-6
The sacrifice of Jesus parallels and overcomes the many types of sacrifices in the OT. Christ’s death on the cross was God’s wholehearted sacrifice that covered the sins of all those who put their faith in Him (sin offering) and provided a way for us to have peace with Him (peace offering). You can read more about how the OT sacrifices parallel to Jesus’ sacrifice here.
Sacrifice is a major theme throughout scripture and we have only just skimmed the surface. We don’t know exactly how sacrifices first began in the time of Genesis. We can see that God created the first sacrifice when He killed the first animal and used the skins to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness. In this way, we know that sacrifice is directly related to our sin.
And the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife. – Genesis 3:21 (NLT)
Adam and Eve sinned, and God killed an animal to cover their sin. Sacrifice was borne out of necessity. As people continued in their sin throughout the Old Testament, sacrifice continued to be necessary. Sin increased and so did the need for sacrifice.
God knew that sin would require more sacrifice than people could provide. Ritualistic sacrifice provided only temporary redemption of sin. God had something much better in mind when He made the ultimate sacrifice by sending His Son Jesus to die on the cross for us. Jesus’ sacrifice means that we no longer NEED to sacrifice for our sins.
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. – 1John 2:2
You are likely wondering why we should be concerned with sacrifices in our own lives if Jesus’ sacrifice is already enough. Jesus’ sacrifice is complete, it covers our sins, creates a connection with God, and promises hope for eternity. Yet we are called “to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1).
Yes, Jesus has paid for our sins and we can never fully repay Him for that gift, but when you receive such an immense gift, our response is to be one of gratitude.
With a thankful heart, we can sacrifice our best to God and others. God calls us to praise and worship Him, but it doesn’t stop there. In an attitude of worship, we are to sacrifice our time and resources to lift up those around us.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. – Hebrews 13:15-16
Sacrificing parts of our lives can be difficult and will often put us in a place of discomfort. Today I would encourage you to mobilize your time and resources on behalf of others. This might mean something as small as giving up your Netflix subscription and using that extra time and money to serve the poor in your community or as big as downsizing your home to live in a community that could benefit from seeing healthy relationships created and modelled.
To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” – Mark 12:33
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