God’s Old Covenant with the Jewish people worked on a system of sacrifice. People would gather their goods, and the priests would offer them to God at certain times each day or on special occasions. The sin sacrifice was a type and shadow of the New Covenant when Jesus Christ would become our one-time sacrifice for all sin. But what about all the other types of sacrifices? And with no Levitical line, who is supposed to be offering them up to God each day? 1 Peter 2:9 says that the priests are you and me. As such, we have a very specific task each day: to offer the sacrifice of praise.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”1 Peter 2:9
A Perfect Sacrifice
Old Testament offerings had to be spotless and without blemish. The Israelites couldn’t expect to please God by sacrificing lame animals or blighted grain. Everything had to be perfect and done with a heart that was devoted to God. In this way, it produced the “sweet aroma” that God was looking for. God could, and often did, reject offerings that were not perfect or that were given by hearts that were far from Him. That same concept is in action with believers today as we see that all the types of sacrifices have New Covenant counterparts.
Without the shedding of blood, there will be no remission of sins. Jesus was and is forevermore our only offering for sins. He was sacrificed outside the camp on a tree just like the Israelites sacrificed animals and then took them outside the camp to burn the bodies on wood. Jesus paid the price of sin with His blood and sealed the New Covenant. Now, God can forgive you and me.
Burnt offerings were meant to be totally burned up on the altar to God. They could be oxen, sheep, goats, or even turtledoves or pigeons. In every case, though, they were to be without blemish and burned completely.
As children of God, this represents our total dedication to God. Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
Since there was no blood involved, the grain offerings were always done along with the burnt offerings. These consisted of flour and oil, making a type of “bread.” When burned on the altar, it was to be mixed with Frankincense (an incense) that was burned with it. Finally, salt was to be present with every offering. Salt is a preservative and can endure very high heat.
The Word of God is our spiritual food, or bread. When read with the help of the Holy Spirit (symbolized by oil), this is an essential part of our worship every day. Another part of our worship is prayer. Revelation 5:8 says are our prayers are as incense to God. As believers, we are to be salt and light. We preserve the ways of God and withstand suffering that comes with naming the name of Jesus.
Peace offerings were to be to be added on top of the burnt offering and grain offering. They were eaten by both the priests and the people presenting the offering to symbolize the unity of God’s people.
Romans 12:18 says “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Hebrews 12:14 says, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” We are to strive for peace, especially with our brethren, and live in unity with them when it is possible.
Unlike the sin offering which covered the Adamic nature and sins done in ignorance, the trespass offering was to be made when there was a specific law broken. It came with restitution for any party harmed in the process. Not only would someone have to sacrifice an animal for stealing, for example, but the victim would be entitled to compensation for the crime.
Now as then, when we trespass against God, we must not only repent to God, but we must make things right with those we have harmed. Sin has consequences. Some of them are spiritual and can be forgiven with genuine repentance made possible by the blood sacrifice of Jesus. But some also need remedy in the natural. When we harm others, we must seek to restore the damage we have done.
The Sacrifice of Praise.
Jeremiah 17:26 speaks of bringing a sacrifice of praise, and Hebrews 13:15 seals the deal:
Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”Hebrews 13:15
Sacrifice means there is a cost. The Israelites had to give up valuable animals and grains to be right with God. Today, God asks only for our time and attention. But in our busy society of work and family obligations, not to mention the constant draw of entertainment and social media, pulling ourselves away to spend time wholeheartedly praising God can feel very much like a sacrifice.
But is reading the Bible and praying every day and going to church each week enough? Is God still pleased when we sit in church thinking about work or skim the Bible quickly to get to the sweet sleep that seemed to elude us the night before? Are our offerings without blemish, or are they the equivalent of a lame bull or a sick lamb? Does God get the best of us, or do we find ourselves giving God “what’s left”?
Likewise, do we always praise God even when things aren’t going well in our lives? While it might be easy to praise Him in the good times, are we so quick to praise when we are sick, tired, hurt, or broke?
God Deserves Our Best
God has been so good to His children. He sacrificed His own life to pay the penalty for our sin. He goes before us, He fights for us, He provides for us, and He loves us. Every day, He deserves our time and attention. Every day He deserves our praise. Not just when we feel like it. Not just when things are good. And, not just in our minds, but with our lips, we must praise him “continually.”
We can sing songs in the car or around the house or in our prayer closet or at church. We can speak of Him to others at work, with our families, or while we are out and about. And, of course, we can pray out loud in the wonder and joy that we are His children and He is our God. Praising God gets the focus off ourselves and onto Him. It leads us into more humility as we realize how small we are comparison to One so great. It also brings us peace in knowing that our great God holds us in the palm of His hand.
In Psalm 34:1, David said, “I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Praise is our sacrifice to God, and it is up to us to make sure it is “perfect” by praising Him from a heart and mind that are fully focused on Him. In every situation,we must thank and exalt Him, for He is worthy.
If you like analogies, try It’s Not the Machine That Makes Us Clean. In it, we see that neither dishes nor Christians get clean without the washing of the Water. Or, try Message in the Moisturizer: We Can Choose Change . It is an object lesson about changing for the better. Like to read more from Evangelical Christian sisters who “tell it messy, true, and wonderful because we are His”? Check out Telling Hearts.