Sacrifice Topical Study

<p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Sacrifice in Scripture</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">Sacrifices appear very early in <span class="body-copy">the biblical story, immediately after humans fall into sin. In <a href="">Genesis 4</a>, Cain and Abel both offer sacrifices to God according to their work, but only Abel&#39;s sacrifice is accepted by God. We are never told ex</span>actly why, nor do we know the reason for the sacrifice. Noah offers a sacrifice to God, presumably in thanks for the deliverance of his family on the ark.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy">We read that the patriarchs built altars, but there is very little information about any sacrifices they offered.</span></span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Apart from the Passover sa<span class="body-copy">crifice on the eve of the Exodus, sacrificial practice became the norm after God gave Israel a whole range of sacrifices and careful instructions on how the priests were to carry them out, especially in Levit</span>icus.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy">Sacrifices were offered for v<span class="body-copy">arious reasons, such as thanksgiving to God, but most of them were centered on sin and guilt. This is especially true of the central sacrifice on the Day of Atonement (<a href="">Leviticus&nbsp;16</a>) in which the high priest enter</span>ed into the Holy of Holies and splashed the sacrificial blood on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant as an atonement for the sins of the people. </span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;">While sacrifices were&nbsp;<span class="body-copy">central to temple worship, they also became a target of prophets and wisdom writers. <a href="">Psalm 50</a>, for example, offers a blistering attack on the idea that God can be manipulated through sacrifice, and <a href="">Ps</a></span><a href="">alm 51</a> declares that the true sacrifice is not an animal on an altar, but a wounded and repentant heart.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">The prophet Isaiah and others open up still another pathway, depicting a suffering servant who will be a sacrifice for sins in giving his own life as an offering for sin (<a href="">Isaiah 53</a>).</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;">The gospels introduce this ser<span class="body-copy">vant figure as none other than the Son of God who has come to us as a human from Nazareth. Jesus identifies him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus himself seems aware throughout his ministry that he will end up dying on a cross and rising again, but he does not relate this to the Old Testament idea of sacrifice, except at the very end when he eats the Passover with his d</span>isciples. In his radical transformation of the Passover sacrifice, he is now the Passover Lamb, slaughtered to cover the sins of the people.</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;">In the epistles of P<span class="body-copy">aul, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews especially, the concept of Jesus Christ as the final atoning sacrifice comes to full flower. Jesus is the true atonement sacrifice (<a href="">Rom. 3:25</a>) through whom we have rede</span>mption by his blood (<a href="">Ephesians 1:7</a>), in a once-for-all sacrifice for sin (<a href="">Hebrews 10:11-14</a>).</span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;"><span class="body-copy">Paul also makes clear that we still have a sacrifice to offer &mdash; a living sacrifice of our bodies dedicated to God in holiness (<a href="">Romans 12:1-2</a>), an offering of thanksgiving to God.</span></span></p><p><span style="font-size: 16px;">The ascended Lord is pictured in Revelation as &quot;the La<span class="body-copy">mb that was slaughtered&quot; but now has conquered and receives the thunderous praise of the heavenly hosts. And in the end, when the new Jerusalem descends from heaven, there is no temple, and s</span>acrifices are eternally at an end in the fully redeemed new heavens and new earth.</span></p><p><strong><span class="heading-lg">Reflections about Sacrifice</span></strong></p><p><span class="body-copy">Much ink has been spilt over&nbsp;<span class="body-copy">the years about the exact nature of Christ&#39;s sacrifice. Was it expiation or propitiation? Did it satisfy God&#39;s justice and wrath or express God&#39;s love? At the heart of this mystery is the fact that God assumed our sin and guilt in Christ&#39;s incarnation and crucifixion and because of that we are now reconciled to God. In this stunning act God also shows us the way we may now live in forgiveness and reconcili</span>ation with our neighbor.</span></p><p><span class="body-copy"><span class="body-copy">Sacrificial living means we offer ourselves, wholly and completely, to God. This is not a sacrifice in which we lose ourselves, but one by which we gain our true identity and purpose.</span></span></p>