Sacrifice

* A true sacrifice is giving something that costs

When David wanted to buy Araunah’s land to build an altar, Araunah generously offered it as a gift.  But David refused…  David wanted to offer an offering (or a sacrifice) to God.  An offering should cost the giver in terms of self, time, or money.  To give sacrificially requires more than a token effort or gift.  God wants us to give voluntarily, but he wants it to mean something, a sacrifice.  Giving to God what costs you nothing does not demonstrate commitment or sacrifice. (NLT)

1 Chronicles 21:22-24 – David said to Araunah, “Let me buy this threshing floor from you at its full price.  Then I will build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.”

“Take it, my lord, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David.  “Here are oxen for the burnt offerings, and you can use the threshing tools for wood to build a fire on the altar.  And take the wheat for the grain offering.  I will give it all to you.”

But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying what it is worth.  I cannot take what is yours and give it to the Lord.  I will not offer a burnt offering that has cost me nothing!”

* Sacrifice for the right reasons

God’s perfect moral nature demands that the penalty for sin be death; however, a person could offer an animal to God as a substitute for himself, symbolizing the person’s faith in the merciful, forgiving God.  But the people were offering sacrifices and forgetting their significance!  The very act of sacrifice showed that they had once agreed to follow God wholeheartedly.  But at this time their hearts were not in it.  We may fall into the same pattern when we participate in religious activities, tithe, or attend church out of habit or conformity rather than out of heartfelt love and obedience.  God wants righteousness, not empty ritual. (NLT)

Psalms 50:5-9 – “Bring my faithful people to me–those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.”  Then let the heavens proclaim his justice, for God himself will be the judge.

“O my people, listen as I speak.  Here are my charges against you, O Israel: I am God, your God!  I have no complaint about your sacrifices or the burnt offerings you constantly bring to my altar.  But I want no more bulls from your barns; I want no more goats from your pens.

* Be willing to give up, sacrifice, everything for Jesus

Should all believers sell everything they own?  No.  We are responsible to care for our own needs and the needs of our families so as not to be a burden on others.  We should, however, be willing to give up anything if God asks us to do so.  This kind of attitude allows nothing to come between us and God and keeps us from using our God-given wealth selfishly.  If you are comforted by the fact that Christ did not tell all his followers to sell all their possessions, then you may be too attached to what you have. (NLT)

Matthew 19:21 – Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.”

* Jesus worth any sacrifice

Jesus used startling language to stress the importance of cutting sin out of our life.  Painful self-discipline is required of his true followers.  Giving up a relationship, job, or habit that is against God’s will may seem just as painful as cutting off a hand.  Our high goal, however, is worth any sacrifice; Christ is worth any possible loss.  Nothing should stand in the way of faith.  We must be ruthless in removing sin from our life now in order to avoid being suffering for eternity.  Make your choices from an eternal perspective. (NLT)

Mark 9:43 – [Jesus said] “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.  It is better to enter heaven with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands.”

* End results of self-sacrifice

In this chapter we read Jesus’ words against seeking status and in favor of hard work and even suffering.  Let us not lose sight of the end result of all our humility and self-sacrifice–a joyous banquet with our Lord!  God never asks us to suffer for the sake of suffering.  He never asks us to give up something good unless he plans to replace it with something even better.  Jesus is not calling us to join him in a labor camp but in a feast–the wedding feast of the Lamb, when God and his beloved church will be joined forever.  (NLT)

Luke 14:16 – Jesus replied with this illustration: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations.”

* Is there any difference between a sacrifice and an offering?

In Leviticus the words are interchanged.  Usually a specific sacrifice is called an offering (burnt offering, grain offering, peace offering).  Offerings in general are called sacrifices.  The point is that each person offered a gift to God by sacrificing it on the altar.  In the Old Testament, the sacrifice was the only way to approach God and restore a relationship with him.  There was more than one kind of offering or sacrifice.  The variety of sacrifices made the more meaningful because each one related to a specific life situation.  Sacrifices were given in praise, worship, and thanksgiving, as well as for forgiveness and fellowship.  The first seven chapters of Leviticus describe the variety of offerings and how they were to be used.

When God taught his people to worship him, he placed great emphasis on sacrifices.  Why?  Sacrifices were God’s Old Testament way for people to ask for forgiveness for their sins.  Since Creation, God has made it clear that sin separates people from him, and that those who sin deserve to die.  Because “all have sinned”, God designed sacrifice as a way to seek forgiveness and restore a relationship with him.  Because he is a God of love and mercy, God decided from the very first that he would come into our world and die to pay the penalty for all humans.  This he did in his Son, who, while still God, became a human being.  In the meantime, before God made this ultimate sacrifice of his Son, he instructed people to kill animals as sacrifices for sin.

Animal sacrifice accomplished two purposes: (1) The animal symbolically took the sinner’s place and paid the penalty for sin, and (2) the animal’s death represented one life given so that another life could be saved.  This method of sacrifice continued throughout Old Testament times.  It was effective in teaching and guiding the people and bringing them back to God.  But in New Testament times, Christ’s death became the last sacrifice needed.  He took our punishment once and for all.  Animal sacrifice is no longer required.  Now all people can be freed from the penalty of sin by simply believing in Jesus and accepting the forgiveness he offers. (NLT)

Leviticus 1:2 – “Give the following instructions to the Israelites: Whenever you present offerings to the Lord, you must bring animals from your flocks and herds.”

* Sacrifice of praise

Since these Jewish Christians, because of their witness to the Messiah, no longer worshiped with other Jews, they should consider praise and acts of service their sacrifices—ones they could offer anywhere, anytime.  This must have reminded them of the prophet Hosea’s words, “Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us, so that we may offer you the sacrifice of praise” (Hosea 14:2).  A “sacrifice of praise” today would include thanking Christ for his sacrifice on the cross and telling others about it.  Acts of kindness and sharing are particularly pleasing to God, even when they go unnoticed by others. (NLT)

Hebrews 13:15-16 – With Jesus’ help, let us continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming the glory of his name.  Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have with those in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to God.

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