From Old Testament Sacrifices to New Testament Sacrifices

Christians believe that with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the sacrifices required under the Law of Moses in the Old Testament are no longer needed. We believe Jesus was the ultimate once-for-all sacrifice.

However, in taking a look at the sacrifices listed in the Old Testament book of Leviticus (a hard book to read and understand) it was interesting to see that while we no longer offer the sacrifices listed in the Law of Moses, the New Testament does speak of sacrifices.

Peter told us:

And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. 1 Peter 2:5

There were five types of sacrifices that were to be offered in the Tabernacle. Three of them were called sweet savor offerings and were voluntary gifts.

  • The burnt offering by which the believer declared total commitment to God.
  • The meal offering by which the believer acknowledged that all he owned came from and really belonged to God.
  • The peace offering by which the believer expressed openly his thanks or made a vow of spiritual service to God.

Looking in the New Testament I see similar ways we are to offer sacrifices to God. Not for our salvation. That was paid for by the death of Jesus Christ and there is nothing we can offer to make us right with God. It is a free gift of God.

Instead of a burnt offering declaring total commitment to God – we can:

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him...Romans 12:1

A prayer that so clearly helps us do that is: “In all I say, in all I do, in all I think, in wherever I go, let me bring you honor.”

Instead of a meal offering acknowleding all we have comes from God, we can do as the church in Philippi die for the Apostle Paul:

At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God.

By being generous with what we have and sharing with others, we offer a sacrifice that is pleasing to God.

Instead of the peace offering expressing gratitude we can:

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name...Hebrews 13:15

I encourage you to offer a sacrifice to God to day – a voluntary sacrifice in thankfulness for what He has done for us.

Is My Worship Healthy or Lame?

A son honors his father,
And a servant his master.
If then I am the Father,
Where is My honor?
And if I am a Master,
Where is My reverence?
Says the Lord of hosts
To you priests who despise My name.
Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’

“You offer defiled food on My altar,
But say,
‘In what way have we defiled You?’
By saying,
‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’
And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice,
Is it not evil?
And when you offer the lame and sick,
Is it not evil?
Offer it then to your governor!
Would he be pleased with you?
Would he accept you favorably?”
Says the Lord of hosts.

Reading in the Old Testament book of Malachi this week I found a verse that made me stop and take a look at my own relationship with God.

The prophet Malachi was speaking to the priests (the religious leaders) of the nation of Israel. The Law of Moses had clearly stated that the animals used in the sacrificial worship were to be perfect specimens. They were to have no blemishes, to be healthy animals (Leviticus 22:17-33). It appears that instead of bringing the best of their flock or herd, they were bringing animals that were sick or lame and keeping the better animals for their own use.

God sees this action as “despising His name.” He suggests they invite the governor and serve him a meal with a sick or blemished animal for the main course. Certainly they would not do that. They would want to serve the governor the very best they had.

Malachi tells them that their very attitude toward their worship of God is apathetic and worse than no worship at all.

You also say,
‘Oh, what a weariness!’
And you sneer at it,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick;
Thus you bring an offering!
Should I accept this from your hand?”
Says the Lord.

Today our worship does not consist of bringing an animal sacrifice. Still, I wonder, how my worship can sometimes be just like theirs. Bringing God my “leftovers.”

  • Giving him a few minutes of devotion after hours spent watching TV, shopping, posting on FB.
  • Giving a few dollars to support the work of my church or a charity after spending much on my own entertainment.
  • Giving a few minutes to write a card to someone after spending hours doing my own thing.
  • Walking into church for worship five or ten minutes late, coming in and distracting those who are trying to praise God. Casually entering into the song without any real thought of what worship really means.
  • Coming to worship now and then when I don’t have other events scheduled that are more important than being in God’s house.

I am reminded of a poem by Frederick Ohler that says it so well:

Great and holy God awe and reverence fear and trembling do not come easily to us

for we are not Old Testament Jews or Moses or mystics or sensitive enough.

Forgive us for slouching into Your presence with little expectation and less awe

than we would eagerly give a visiting dignitary.

We need neither Jehovah nor a buddy—neither “the Great and powerful Oz” nor “the man upstairs.”

Help us to want what we need…You God

and may the altar of our hearts tremble with delight at Your visitation

amen.