THE LIVING SACRIFICE
“The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit” (Rom. 8.26-27).
From Adam, we have the law of sin in our members, and we know we are all sinners ourselves; Paul even tells us so, very plainly, in Romans:
“All have sinned and come short of the glory of Yahweh” (Rom. 3:23).
It is Yahweh’s law that:
“almost all things are by the law purged with blood; without the shedding of blood is no remission (forgiveness of sin).” (Heb. 9:22).
Why? Because sin is a destructive, infectious plague that cannot be ignored. It must be dealt with and eradicated. The sacrifice of The Lord Jesus Christ is Yahweh’s way of dealing with this plague, and eventually removing it completely from the earth.
It is not a ‘magic wand’, or just a technical ritual. It is not just a form of words, or an arbitrary arrangement, or a rubber stamp. It is a practical method, an orderly procedure, a beautiful, effective contrivance of divine love and wisdom.
The Lord Jesus Christ — that is, of course, Yahweh manifested in The Lord Jesus Christ — laid the essential foundation; something we ourselves could not do. He was specially provided and specially strengthened to do that work. We are required to build our own salvation on that foundation:
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).
The promise of life is to “him that overcometh” (as quoted seven times in Revelation 2 and 3). Whatever that means, it clearly means that we must do something, we must accomplish a certain task, we must achieve a certain victory – based upon The Lord Jesus Christ’s foundation, and with Yahweh’s help.
The eternal principles of holiness, righteousness, justice, and truth required a perfect sacrifice for sin, a perfect condemnation of sin and a complete upholding of holiness, to lay a sound foundation for the extension of Yahweh’s mercy to fallen mankind. Yahweh and His holy law of life had to be honoured and vindicated openly, publicly, and eternally. This was done in the crucifixion of sin’s flesh on the cross — a voluntary cooperation and manifestation of joint love by Yahweh and The Lord Jesus Christ, for mankind.
The Lord Jesus Christ’s perfect, life-long obedience and sacrificial death provided one real, sound, holy, perfect man out of the whole race of fallen mankind, in whom and upon whom Yahweh could build His divine family. Until The Lord Jesus Christ destroyed the diabolos in himself on the cross, he was not the completed, purified, victorious man that Yahweh required as the foundation of His plan:
“That through death he (The Lord Jesus Christ) might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14).
All his life he held the diabolos within himself completely powerless by the strength of his perfect love and perfect obedience. However, that war had to be brought to a climax and settlement. Sin, the devil, the diabolos, had to be not only held off and held powerless, but utterly destroyed.
It must be a sacrificial death — a voluntary, obedient submitting to a death that was otherwise escapable.
If The Lord Jesus Christ had just lived a perfect life and then died a natural death, he would not have been voluntarily giving up his life, or to put it another way he wouldn’t be laying down his life, pouring out his blood, choosing in obedience to be a purifying sacrifice for mankind. Nor would it have clearly, dramatically, openly and publicly manifested Yahweh’s righteousness, holiness or the repudiation and condemnation of sin.
In The Lord Jesus Christ the man, the perfect sacrifice, the complete example, the central reality of the whole divine purpose, the body of sin had to be put to death, really, truly, literally and actually, as it was typically and figuratively in the Mosaic shadows. It had to be lifted up before the entire world in condemnation and repudiation.
The crucifixion of The Lord Jesus Christ is the most public event of all time. All mankind’s history is dated from The Lord Jesus Christ — forward and backward – it was universally known, until recently, as AD and BC, (until those who don’t want to know of The Lord Jesus Christ and his work had their evil way and now call it BCE standing for ‘Before Common Era’). The majority of this present heathen, pagan world, in international dealings used to date, and many still do, date every act measured according to his birth. Diverse as they are, it was their common point of reference. This is no coincidence, no mistake, no accident, or oversight. It is a providential, condemning witness. From Yahweh’s point of view, The Lord Jesus Christ’s life and death form the pivot of all human history; all radiates from it, all revolves around it.
Sin, the Devil, the Diabolos — in the Romans, in the Jews, in the world of mankind that openly rejected him, strangely they openly rejected the perfect Son of Yahweh who had never done anything but good, and put him to a cruel death, cut him off violently from the land of the living. The Seed of the Serpent and the Seed of the Woman, the eternal enmity that had begun in Eden, brought to a climax at Calvary, and will be finally resolved when the last enemy, death, is destroyed, and Yahweh is all in all.
The Lord Jesus Christ, in his death, did not appease, satisfy, or put away Yahweh’s anger. Rather he manifested Yahweh’s love, righteousness, holiness, and goodness. Yahweh’s anger against sin is, and will be, never appeased. He will be angry about sin until sin is eliminated from the earth. However, anger is more properly applied to responsible living creatures, not inanimate principles. Yahweh’s anger at sinners is appeased when they repent, change, put away and repudiate their sins, and therefore wholeheartedly serve Him.
The Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice was not to appease Yahweh’s anger. The whole conception was all of Yahweh’s Own love and wisdom and initiative, for man’s reconciliation. 2 Cor. 5:19-21;
“To wit, that Yahweh was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though Elohim did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to Yahweh.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of Yahweh in him. (2 Cor. 5:19-21).
There is nothing here about anger being appeased but rather that Yahweh and The Lord Jesus Christ are working together, in love, to manifest Truth and to open a way of holiness for man to escape death and achieve the divine nature. THEN, with the flesh of sin condemned, and holiness upheld and vindicated, mercy could be soundly extended without violating righteousness, as long as the perfect The Lord Jesus Christ-like foundation is always kept prominently in view and recognised as the only doorway to life. That is why we always pray, always approach Yahweh, always seek His attention and help and communion “in or through The Lord Jesus Christ’s Name.”
Mosaic sacrifice has long since passed away in actual use, but its lessons and instructions are just as current as ever as to what Yahweh requires of those who seek Him.
The ordinances of sacrifice in general, and The Lord Jesus Christ’s supreme sacrifice in particular, the one great reality which fulfilled all the shadows, were representative, NOT substitutionary. This is an essential and fundamental distinction. The substitution idea leads to all sorts of error. The representative principle guides us both in true understanding and true action. The Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death was not as a substitute instead of us: it was as a representative, on behalf of us. He was one of us. He stood for all mankind. Only as part of him can we approach unto Yahweh. All are wrapped up and included in him:
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, if one died for (on behalf of) all, then were all dead” (2 Cor. 4:14).
This reasoning does not follow if “for” is taken as “instead of.
As a representative, as one of us, a strong one of the sin-stricken race, his death was beautiful and fitting and a manifestation of Yahweh’s holiness and an opening up of a way out of death through travail unto joy, for himself and for us in him.
As one of us, our representative, he opened up the way of life; and we can follow him in that way to eternal life only by dying completely to ourselves and becoming a part of him, completely enclosed in him and covered by him. As a representative, a strong loving Elder Brother to lead the way and carry the weak, he manifested Yahweh’s love and provision for man.
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but BY HIS OWN BLOOD he entered in once into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12).
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Heb. 13:20-21).
When viewed as a substitute, dying instead of us, bearing Yahweh’s wrath, the innocent punished for the guilty, there is no beauty, no justice, no glorifying of Yahweh, and no manifestation of Yahweh’s righteousness. Yahweh did not ‘in anger’ punish The Lord Jesus Christ for our sins. Rather in love He forgave our sins for The Lord Jesus Christ’s sake:
“Whom Yahweh hath set forth to be a propitiation (hilasterion: a ‘mercy seat,’ a place of extending mercy) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission (forgiveness) of sins that are past, through the forbearance of Yahweh; to declare, at this time his righteousness; that He (Yahweh) might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth (that hath faith) in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25-26).
The Lord Jesus Christ is the golden mercy seat, the cover-lid of the Ark, the Cherubim-throne of the glory of Yahweh. The Mosaic mercy seat was purified unto Yahweh’s service by the sprinkled sacrificial blood “by his own blood he entered . . .” Viewed as a substitute, the Mosaic sacrifices and the great fulfilling, culminating sacrifice of The Lord Jesus Christ teach us nothing as to the way we must walk. They just take the responsibility off us and put it on someone else. Substitution is a heathen conception of sacrifice, not a scriptural one.
Perceived as representatives of us, The Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and the Mosaic sacrifices, in all their host of detail and regulation, teach us a great treasure of guidance and instruction, of solemn responsibility and of joyful duty.
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifices of praise to Yahweh continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name. But to DO GOOD and to COMMUNICATE (koinonia: share, distribute) forget not, for with SUCH SACRIFICES Yahweh is well pleased” (Heb. 13:15-16).
The Mosaic sacrifices beautifully manifest and teach seven basic principles of approach to Yahweh;
- REPENTANCE, CLEANSING, PURIFICATION. We are unclean from birth by reason of the law of sin in our members, and additionally by our allowing it to move us to sinful action, to rule over us. This is especially illustrated by the purifying Sin and Trespass Offerings.
- ADORATION, HOMAGE, WORSHIP, SUBMISSION. Humble and abased recognition of the greatness and majesty of Yahweh.
- CONSECRATION, HOLINESS, DEDICATION, DEVOTION. The complete, unreserved giving over of the whole life to Yahweh. This is seen especially in the solemn Whole Burnt Offering.
- THANKSGIVING, GRATITUDE. Recognition of goodness and blessing from Yahweh. This is shown in the Drink Offering of wine.
- SUPPLICATION, ENTREATY, DEPENDENCE, NEED. Seen especially in the sweet incense of prayer.
- OBLIGATION, RESPONSIBILITY, DUTY, LABOR, SERVICE. Seen particularly in the Meat (more correctly, Meal) Offering — the fruit of the ground and of man’s daily toil.
- COVENANT-RELATIONSHIP, FELLOWSHIP, COMMUNION. Entrance into the divine family –especially manifested in the joyful Peace Offering, the only one of which the offerer himself partook.
A primary requirement of the sacrifices was that the offerer must bring them “with his own hands.” There could be no substitutes. The rich could not pay to have someone do it for them. An earnest friend or parent could not do it for one who was lax. Each must do it himself in person. All stood equally before Yahweh, and each must do his required part. The clear lesson for us today is that no one is exempt from the work of Yahweh. We dare not, nay, even can not, leave it to others, no matter how much better qualified they seem to be. Truly the work may take many different forms according to ability and circumstances; sweeping the hall is as important as lecturing to many thousands, if that is our best; but all are required to give their best and most, and to do everything they do “as unto the Lord.”
We should never, in any aspect of life, do anything that cannot be done as unto Yahweh. This eliminates all useless, unworthy activity, and gives meaning, purpose, holiness, and sanctification to life’s every necessary task, however humble or ordinary it may be. In addition, it also emphasizes the responsibility to do everything we do to the very best of our power and ability, not because the thing or action itself is necessarily important, but because the way we do anything is important to our character.
We must live wholly in Yahweh;
all must be done as unto Yahweh;
and Yahweh requires the very best.
This is another general aspect of the sacrifices: they had to be of the very best a man had. They had to be perfect and without blemish. This was not only to teach that the One Great Offering for sin must be perfectly sinless and spotless and that man can never therefore earn his own salvation from sin and death, but it was also to teach the parallel and balancing lesson that our offering to Yahweh must be the very best we have, even though at best, we admittedly fall far short of perfection.
Giving less than our all is presuming on Yahweh’s mercy, and is dishonouring to His love and goodness that He has poured out so abundantly upon us
A fatal lack of devotion, gratitude, and understanding is revealed if anyone has not the desire, with intense longing, to give everything they can to Yahweh, and do everything they can for Him. Yahweh can and will graciously accept our puny little “best” as if perfection, as purified by the blood of The Lord Jesus Christ, but how can He possibly impute perfection to us if we do not care enough to do our best to strive toward perfection? This makes a mockery of the whole process, like forcing a noble scholarship on an indolent scholar. If our hearts, minds and efforts are on other things, how can we expect Yahweh to pursue us and force perfection upon us?
The first requisite of approach to Yahweh is a willingness, yea, more than a willingness, rather an anxious eagerness to do everything He requires, and to get rid of everything that stands in the way. A true, mature recognition of the respective importance and values of the very brief present and the eternal future. Any reservation or reluctance to submit to any requirement of Yahweh makes us useless to Him because the heart is not right; and a right heart is vital.
THE BURNT OFFERING
This was completely consumed upon the altar, except the skin, which went to the priest. This point is interesting, because the skin is the covering, the cloak of righteousness. In the symbolism of the slain lamb, Yahweh covered the sin and nakedness of Adam and Eve with coats of skins. Their own skin was not an acceptable covering; rather it exposed and emphasized their shameful nakedness. The priest had a need for the skin, he was of sinful flesh, and needed covering for sin, as do we.
The Burnt Offering is the basic sacrifice. The two lambs every day, and all the principle sacrifices every week, every month, on all the feast days, and on all special and solemn occasions were all whole Burnt Offerings. This offering symbolised the complete dedication and devotion of the life to Yahweh that is essential to gain His favour. This is perhaps the biggest and most vital lesson of the entire sacrificial picture. Until, and unless we realise that the essence of our covenant with Yahweh is that we give our whole lives to His service, we have no hope of life. For our dedication of this very brief life of probation to Him, He has promised an eternity of purest, highest joy.
At the very best and most that we can do, the requirements and the reward are infinitely out of proportion, we can give nothing remotely comparable to what we receive. But Yahweh does require (and what could be more reasonable) as an evidence of our love that we give all that we have: all our heart, strength, life and mind. The Whole Burnt Offering; completely consumed on the altar and arising as a sweet-smelling savour to Yahweh teaches us that to attain to the glories of eternity we must constantly labour to bring all our time and energies into His service.
The sacrifices were typical. They were shadows. They were pictorial representations of what must happen in reality in us, if we are to be acceptable to Yahweh.
“Ye also, as living stones are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to Yahweh by Yahushua the Messiah.” (1 Pet. 2:5).
Therefore, this Whole Burnt Offering must have its counterpart in us. It is just as if Yahweh said directly to us, “This is what I require of you”. Indeed, He does just that through Paul:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of Yahweh, present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to Yahweh, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).
It is a reasonable service.
In view of the infinite magnitude and glory of that which Yahweh promises, anything less would not be reasonable. Anything less than a living sacrifice, a Whole Burnt Offering, would be an insult to Yahweh; Therefore, we must give ourselves wholly to Yahweh. Even that is not enough. We must do it eagerly, with the oil of joy, without which, no sacrifice was acceptable (except in some cases where the specific omission of the oil had a particular significance). We must truly see and realise the necessity, the beauty, fittingness, and desirability of so doing. It must be a deep, true, and satisfying pleasure. We must develop a spiritual state of mind wherein we are not able to be happy if doing anything less.
(To be Continued)