The word sacrifice is used constantly in our efforts to show how committed we are to a cause. Some people left better paying jobs to stay in their current place of work. Others took a low paying job or moderate means of livelihood to be with someone they love. The list of what we perceive as sacrifice goes on. However, in the Bible sacrifice takes a deeper meaning. It will interest you to know that there is no just one purpose for sacrifice except for propitiation. Propitiation means to turn aside the wrath of God. Some sacrifices are meant to end the wrath of God. The Book of Leviticus is replete with types of sacrifices in the Old Testament. Here are few examples of sacrifices:
Communion/Eucharist: Although some of us receive communion weekly, we may not know that it is a type of sacrifice: Communion depicts how we are all one because we are eating this meal together.
Consecration: This is another type of sacrifice. In the Old Testament animals were sometimes offered for consecration. The animals do not represent what happens to the offerer when they die. Instead the animals offered on behalf of the people represent their being sold out for the things of God. In consecration, you offer yourself to God. Consecration comes with variety of forms- like expressing gratitude, thanks offering, *votive offering, or free will offerings. King David says “I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you oh Lord……” It is when God does so much good for you and you want to show gratitude to him so you offer something. People use words like tithes and offering. You offer above and beyond the tithes as expression of gratitude. A free will gift to indicate how grateful you are to God. Tribute is also example of sacrifice.
Tributes: Tithes are example of tributes. People gave tithes to God, usually animals and sometimes plants or crops as we find in the Old Testament or in the ancient world culture. Giving 10% is usually a symbol in the ancient world for a tribute to a king. For those of you who give tithes in your churches today, when you give tithes, you are saying that God is your king. Samuel told the Israelites when they were demanding for a king that the king will take a tenth of their increase. This is because that is what kings do. So when we give tithes to God, we are saying that He is our king. The difference is that God does not force us to give tithes to Him as the kings did. In the ancient world one cannot come before a king without a tribute. The people either come with a gift or with both hands raised in total surrender or a gesture of giving themselves to the king. We give tithes because we are acknowledging what God has done for us. (this is not a teaching on tithing but if you are interested in the topic we can talk about it at another time).
Another thing we do with offering in expressing our gratitude to God is that you are not only having animal represent you, but you can also kill an animal or kill something or destroy something that you used to worship thereby deepening your commitment to God. For example, Pharaoh says to Moses and Aaron go, offer your sacrifice to your God, but Moses says the sacrifice we offer to our God will be detestable to your eyes that the people will stone us—They will offer rams, but the Egyptians worship rams.
We do this inadvertently in our marriages (for those who are married) or even with our romantic relationships. In every faithful relationship, spouses sacrifice all other past romantic relationships to devote to each other. In other words, you destroy what you once worshiped or adored to deepen your commitment to your current spouse. That is what sacrifice is like when we come to Christ. We kill other gods that we worshiped when we come to Christ to deepen our relationship with Him. One of the dilemmas we face as Christians today is that we are still cleaving to those gods we once worshiped. It is also one of the problems that we have in our marriages today. Some spouses secretly maintain past romantic relationships and try different ploys to hide it from their current spouses. They may try to hide it but not for too long. Many homes and relationships have been broken, and hearts rent asunder; all because spouses don’t understand what sacrifice means or they do understand but are so callous that they don’t care about the aftermath effect of their actions.
What will surprise you is that in all of the OT sacrifices and offerings, there was no single sacrifice for sin committed intentionally. All of the sacrifices were for sins committed inadvertently. Until the coming of Jesus, there was no one single sacrifice for willful sin. The penalty for willful sin was death. That is why the book of Leviticus could be difficult to read if you do not understand what the intent of the author is. The author of Leviticus is painting a picture (a graphic one) and preparing the audience to see God’s redemptive plan that will unfold in the coming of Christ. Not until the coming of Christ, all the sins of the people were covered and not blotted out. Jesus’ death on the cross was the only sacrifice that could take away sins once and for all- that is why the Book of Hebrews has the audacity to say that Christ is the Final sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:10-18).
As you eat your thanksgiving turkey dinner today, I encourage you to ponder on the word sacrifice. If you are still having trouble letting go of past romantic relationships when you are currently married to your spouse; or in a romantic relationship with someone else, then you don’t understand the concept of sacrifice and the worst thing is that you have started filing your divorce papers inadvertently, and pretty soon the relationship would be over. Because when you come to Christ you kill all other gods you worshiped. When you are married to your spouse, you literally kill all past romantic relationships. Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
*Votive offering: an offering in fulfillment of a religious vow, as of one’s person or property.