The Sacrifices of God’s People
Psalm 51:1-19 – 1Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin [is] ever before me. 4Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done [this] evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, [and] be clear when thou judgest. 5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden [part] thou shalt ake me to know wisdom. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8Make me to hear joy and gladness; [that] the bones [which] thou hast broken may rejoice. 9Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me [with thy] free spirit. 13[Then] will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. 14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: [and] my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. 15O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. 16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give [it]: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. 18Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. 19Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
sacrifice (OT) – zebach (sacrifice/s, from zabach meaning to slaughter, kill, sacrifice, slaughter for sacrifice)
sacrifice (NT) – thusia (a sacrifice; victim) from thuo (to sacrifice; immolate; slay; kill; slaughter)
Thus “sacrifice” in both OT and NT relates to the slaughter of something. This meaning therefore cannot be left out when we discuss all forms of sacrifice, including of righteousness, praise, thanksgiving, joy, even sacrifices of fools and of the dead, and ultimately, the sacrifice of Christ as our Passover lamb.
Hebrews 10:20 – By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
new – prosphatos (lately slaughtered; freshly slaughtered; recently made; new) from sphazo (slay; slaughter; butcher; put to death by violence; mortally wounded.
and – kai (and; also; even; indeed; but)
Thus Hebrews 10:20 can be read as “By a freshly slaughtered yet living way ……
One thing is clear, though. Sacrifice must cost!
sacrifice – The act of offering something to a deity in propitiation or homage, especially the ritual slaughter of an animal or a person. The act of giving up something highly valued for the sake of something else considered to have a greater value or claim. Relinquishment of something at less than its presumed value. (https://www.thefreedictionary.com/sacrifice)
The English term “sacrifice” is derived from sacrificium (Latin: holy; sacred) and facere (Latin: to make). Thus the word “sacrifice” means “to make holy”. Therefore our word “sacrifice” doesn’t relate specifically to the original biblical meaning which was based upon slaughter or the putting to death of something. Today we interpret “sacrifice” as meaning something we go without for the sake of something of greater value (this can include worship of a deity). (Eg the pearl of great price, Matthew 13:44-46)
Note what David said concerning a sacrifice needing to have a cost for him: “neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing.”
2 Samuel 24:21-25 – 21And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the Lord, that the plague may be stayed from the people. 22And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what [seemeth] good unto him: behold, [here be] oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and [other] instruments of the oxen for wood. 23All these [things] did Araunah, [as] a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The Lord thy God accept thee. 24And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy [it] of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.
Note though that while this passage mentions “sacrifice”, it is not the word generally used for such, but specifically represents “burnt offering” or burnt sacrifice” and actually means to go up, ascend (to heaven) and can also be translated ascent, stairway or steps.
sacrifice – ‘olah (burnt offering; whole burnt offering; ascent; stairway; steps) Used 3 times: in Vs 22, 24 & 25 above.
(The LXX uses the Greek word ολοκαύτωμα = olokáftoma = “holocaust; disaster” for “a whole burnt offering”.)
Note the ascending in Revelation 8:4 – And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.
So how can all these forms of sacrifice relate to slaughter, especially the OT terms? Let’s look at each one to see how they fit in.
1/. the sacrifices of righteousness
Psalm 51:19 – Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
Psalm 4:5 – Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.
Deuteronomy 33:19 – They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck [of] the abundance of the seas, and [of] treasures hid in the sand.
Sacrifices of righteousness cannot mean that righteousness is sacrificed for some purpose. That would assume that it is good to offer God that which denies His righteousness. Therefore it has to mean that a desire to be righteous must involve a need to sacrifice something of your life in order to be righteous, or holy as God is holy. That is, it must cost you something you put personal value upon. The sacrifices of righteousness must require that you give up those things of the world that are stumbling blocks to a closer relationship with holy God.
Barnes: Offer righteous sacrifices; that is, sacrifices prompted by right motives, and in accordance with the prescriptions in the law of God.
Such a sacrifice must require forsaking the world, that is, all that the world offers that would hinder your Christian walk. In the following, forsaking all has to be seen as forsaking the world; denying your life is also to forsake the world. You have a choice (note, free will!): the world, or self-denial (forsaking the world).
Matthew 16:24-26 – 24Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Luke 14:33 – So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
1 John 2:15-16 – 15Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
This includes anything that presents a conflict where a choice must be made between righteousness and self-fulfilment. The sacrifices of righteousness requires that choice to be made such that God’s holiness is not compromised in any way.
Ephesians 4:26-30 – 26Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27Neither give place to the devil. 28Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
2/. the sacrifice of thanksgiving
Psalm 116:17 – I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.
Amos 4:5 – And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim [and] publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord God.
Leviticus 22:29 – And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the Lord, offer [it] at your own will.
Psalm 107:21-22 – 21Oh that [men] would praise the Lord [for] his goodness, and [for] his wonderful works to the children of men! 22And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.
Just as the sacrifices of righteousness required sacrifices of self to be made in order to maintain our righteousness in Christ, the sacrifices of thanksgiving require us to thank God for His provision even when our own logic clearly says that there is absolutely nothing to be thankful for. Note that we must declare His works with rejoicing (Psalm 107:22). Rejoicing is not necessarily being happy, but rather having joy at being in God’s will for your life no matter what it might bring. Even in suffering, trials and tribulations we must rejoice.
Romans 5:3 – And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
James 1:2 – My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
We are to rejoice at all times.
Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord alway: [and] again I say, Rejoice.
And we are to give thanks always for all things.
Ephesians 5:20 – Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Because all things that God permits into our lives work together for good.
Romans 8:28 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.
It can be difficult for our natural feelings to accept rejoicing at all times, or being thankful for all things; in order to do so, we must make a sacrifice of thanksgiving where we are thankful for those things that we logically should feel not the least bit thankful. Giving thanks is not something that comes naturally. It often has to be an act of the will to offer thanks for some things; thus the sacrifices of thanksgiving, or the giving of thanks when we can’t see why we should, other than by faith in God who has provided all our needs and asks us to give thanks for all things!
3/. the sacrifice of praise
Jeremiah 33:11 – The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord [is] good; for his mercy [endureth] for ever: [and] of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the Lord.
Hebrews 13:15-16 – 15By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name. 16But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Jeremiah 17:26 – And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the Lord.
In many ways this sacrifice is very similar to the sacrifice of thanksgiving. But instead of being thankful for all things always, we should be able to acknowledge God’s provision in our lives as from Him. There is always a strong tendency to boast of our own achievements as if everything we have done is because of our own abilities. But the Bible says there is nothing good in us, so everything we have that’s good must be from God.
Isaiah 64:6-7 – 6But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. 7And [there is] none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.
James 1:17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Satan’s sin was to declare himself deserving of some of the glory rendered to God; he wanted to be recognised as God was; he wanted what he saw as his share of God’s glory. Our problem is that we are infected with an old man nature that satan still manages to tempt over and over. We want to be recognised for our achievements, yet God says to sacrifice that and give Him the praise and glory instead. This is the sacrifice of praise.
4/. the sacrifices of joy
Psalm 27:6 – And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.
When everything is going bad, nothing good seems to happen, all things fall apart and we are left with little, then we must sing praises to the Lord.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 – 17Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither [shall] fruit [be] in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and [there shall be] no herd in the stalls: 18Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
When we lose everything like Job, then we must sacrifice our joy and rejoice in the Lord instead.
Job 1:20-22 – 20Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, 21And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. 22In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
Rejoicing is best seen in adversity, for no-one exists without some adversity.
Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord alway: [and] again I say, Rejoice.
5/. the sacrifice of fools
Ecclesiastes 5:1 – Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.
Of course, not all sacrifices are good. Fools sacrifice good in order to enjoy their folly. Fools deny that God exists. Do not give the sacrifice of fools!
Psalm 14:1-3 – 1The fool hath said in his heart, [There is] no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, [there is] none that doeth good. 2The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, [and] seek God. 3They are all gone aside, they are [all] together become filthy: [there is] none that doeth good, no, not one.
Proverbs 18:2a – A fool hath no delight in understanding
Proverbs 10:23 – [It is] as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.
Proverbs 14:7-9 – 7Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not [in him] the lips of knowledge. 8The wisdom of the prudent [is] to understand his way: but the folly of fools [is] deceit. 9Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous [there is] favour.
6/. the sacrifices of the dead
Psalm 106:28-29 – 28They joined themselves also unto Baal–peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead. 29Thus they provoked [him] to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them.
That is, they (the Hebrews in the wilderness) have sacrificed to dead gods instead of the living God. They have put aside the benefits of God by rejecting His law. They ate their sacrifices in worship of dead gods, and ended up suffering His anger instead of His blessings.
Deuteronomy 30:15-19 – 15See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; 16In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. 17But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; 18I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, [and that] ye shall not prolong [your] days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. 19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
(Note that word “choose” – to choose; elect; decide for; select. This verse alone proves the truth that Israel as God’s people had a free will to choose. Calvinists of course say that this proves free agency, not free will, but free agency – according to calvinist references such as Boettner – is merely giving man the freedom to choose the only option permitted to him to choose, therefore effectively not free at all. Just another example of calvinist verbal gymnastics!)
7/. spiritual sacrifices
1 Peter 2:5 – Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
That’s what priests do: they offer up gifts and sacrifices, thus spiritual sacrifices.
Hebrews 8:3 – For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore [it is] of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.
For Christians they must be spiritual offerings which must involve the sacrifice of something associated with self. While the world is always in need of those to help, Christians have an especial task, that of offering spiritual offerings, that is, they have a message to take to the nations, the gospel, and so on. Too many churches today have a social agenda, one that professes to help people with their needs. Yet, unless they can help with spiritual needs, the physical helps are ultimately irrelevant. Those who are spiritually dead will remain so for eternity. Physical help may keep them physically alive for a bit longer, but eventually they will still be as dead as the ones who died earlier, unless they are also saved spiritually.
James 5:20 – Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
8/. the ultimate sacrifice
Hebrews 9:26 – For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice (thusia – victim) of himself.
The ultimate sacrifice is always total.
John 15:13 – Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Romans 5:6-8 – 6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
All sacrifice has to involve doing without/missing out on something important (according to our own self-assessment). That is, sacrifice requires a cost. As I often say, there’s no victory without a battle and no battle without a cost. If your Christian life isn’t costing you anything, then it’s not winning anything either. The value of your Christian life could be summed up by the question, “How much is it costing you?”