The Living Sacrifice (2)
Out of the travail of all our problems there must be born in each of us something very wonderful and very unworldly; something very personal and individual; something very beautiful and spiritual. If this occurs, all the travail is worthwhile. We must perceive in all that happens a divine, loving means working out a glorious end. Very little in this life will be as we desire it to be. However, we have the all-sufficient assurance that all will be exactly as Yahweh desires it to be.
Let us never think of ‘sacrifice’ in a common, debased sense of the term as men use it — as a loss, a deprivation, a giving up of something. The word does not mean that. Men in their ignorance and self-commendation have added that. True sacrifice is a humble, joyful, eager yielding of the self to Yahweh in love and thanksgiving, without any assumption of self-glory for some supposed noble self-deprivation. Literally, the word in English simply means “holy act, deed or work of holiness”. The original Bible words for sacrifice simply mean “gift, offering, drawing near, devotion, dedication”.
We have nothing to “sacrifice”. All is Yahweh’s to begin with. We can never give Yahweh anything but our love and our intelligent worshipful realisation of the goodness and beauty of all His ways. The joy and satisfaction of love is in giving. Giving is the essence of love. If giving is not its heart and joy, then it is not love, but lust. Love gives, lust wants. The world cannot see the difference.
Yahweh is love. He wants to give. It is His essence. He wants to pour out showers of blessing and goodness upon us, but He can do it only where there is an intelligent appreciation of the true facts of life that He has revealed, and a deep and unshakable commitment in the heart to live in harmony with them. Where there is ignorance of the true realities of life, as in the natural mind of the flesh, or where there is unwillingness to conform the life to the things of Yahweh; where lust, greed, pride, and pleasure are allowed to pull in the other direction, then Yahweh cannot bless.
THE PEACE OFFERING
This was voluntary. It was never commanded specifically except on the occasion of Pentecost.
And this exception is fitting, for the Pentecost symbolises the First-fruits of The Lord Jesus Christ’s coming: the marriage supper of the Lamb, the great consummation of the communion of Yahweh with His people taken out of all the previous ages of the world.
In the Peace Offering, the offerer himself partook. The Peace Offering was the culminating offering, the joyous offering, the partaking of holy food belonging to Yahweh, in His house, as His guest and companion. In this offering, Yahweh, the priest, and the worshipper all shared. There was a portion for each. Here is the perfect union and fellowship of the believer with Yahweh through The Lord Jesus Christ: the covenant meal of friendship and loving intimacy, foreshadowing the great fruition and fulfilment of the eternal divine plan.
Although this was a voluntary offering of the offerer’s spontaneous freewill and thanksgiving, still there were many specific details of procedure that had to be followed exactly for the offering to be a blessing and not an abomination. Here is vividly emphasised the lesson that in everything we must be taught by Yahweh. Of ourselves we know nothing of eternal truth and we can do nothing right, (even our thanksgiving) without divine instruction.
This offering must be completely eaten the same day it was offered (or, in some cases, for special reasons, by the following day). If any part was left any longer, it was an abomination. There are several lessons here.
First, the general one of obedience: It must be Yahweh’s way, even though the offering was voluntary.
Then, hoarding was discouraged. This is the lesson of the manna. The blessings of Yahweh must, in faith, be put to current use in His service. Hoarding is faithlessness and idolatry.
Then, there is the related virtue of generosity. To get it all eaten, the offerer was expected to share the feast with others, with the poor, especially the poor among the Levites who were devoted to the service of Yahweh and were dependent on the offerings of the faithful Israelites for their sustenance.
There is another regulation concerning the Peace Offering that is solemnly thought provoking. Although it was a joyful, freewill offering to Yahweh, if any ate of it while unclean, by reason of contact with death or unclean objects, he was to be put to death.
Yahweh is a consuming fire to the careless and unheeding.
By being given to Yahweh, this food became holy, bringing great responsibility to any who partook of it. The eater must be made clean and kept clean in the Yahweh-appointed way, or he would be cut off from life.
What a sobering consideration, especially when right in the midst of a most joyous and Yahweh-directed activity. Israel was called to holiness. They were to be a pure nation of priests to dwell in the presence of Yahweh. Tremendous blessings were theirs if faithful, but also tremendous responsibilities. Even in this joyful Peace Offering there could be no carelessness, thoughtlessness or forgetting of the duties of the divine relationship; no heedless, or casual contact or association with the unclean. We are told that all this was for lessons and warnings to us:
“Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” (1 Cor. 11:28).
In partaking of the memorial feast, we fellowship at Yahweh’s table, as did the partaker of the Peace Offering.
This bread and wine mean joyful eternal life:
- If we partake worthily, realise and live up to our great responsibilities
- If we are faithful and sincere in our solemn covenant of the complete dedication of our lives to the work and service of Yahweh, especially separation from the world and all its uncleanness.
THE SIN OFFERING and the TRESPASS OFFERING
These sacrifices dealt with different aspects of sin. The regulations were quite different.
The animal for the Sin Offering varied according to whether the sin was by the Congregation, a Priest, a Ruler, or one of the people: whereas for the Trespass Offering it did not vary.
The Sin Offering did not require restitution; the Trespass Offering did.
The Sin Offering seemed to deal more broadly and generally and fundamentally with sin: this was the offering for sin in the national festivals. The Trespass Offering was more specifically for individuals.
In connection with both, sins of ignorance are referred to, and must be atoned for by sacrifice. This is an interesting consideration. If we look back twenty, ten, or even five years, we shall realise, of course if we have grown in our knowledge of Yahweh, that much of what we did at that time was tainted with the sin of ignorance. We see now how we were then limited in our spirit, attitude, and understanding.
And we can be quite sure, though we cannot see it now, that if we continue to study and meditate upon the Word of Yahweh, in another five or ten years (if we are still in this present probation) we shall be able to look back and discern many of our present limitations and shortcomings that we are so blind to today. And so, it will continue throughout our life. We live under the constant shadow of sins of ignorance, and we must constantly pray for Yahweh’s mercy on them.
There must be a constant growth of knowledge and understanding in the ways of Yahweh and the spirit of The Lord Jesus Christ. For each added day of life and opportunity that is given us, more will be expected of us in character, labour, and understanding. Woe betide that slothful servant who has not been using all his time in labour and in preparation for his Lord’s return!
We must overcome, not to absolute perfection, because that for us is impossible, but to perfection within the framework of the definition of Scripture, and within the merciful appointments of Yahweh. Perfection is required by Yahweh. In His holiness He can tolerate no less. And in His love He has provided for it, by our constant effort toward perfection, and by the constant washing and repurifying in the blood of The Lord Jesus Christ. Every sin must be washed away in that blood. Every sin must be repented of and repudiated. We must stand pure before Yahweh to be accepted.
We are so constituted in weakness that we do not and cannot even know all our sins. Every thought out of harmony with the perfection of Yahweh and with absolute truth is sin. In the imperfection of our mind and knowledge and weakness of the flesh, we cannot help but constantly sin, constantly fall short of perfection. But He has graciously provided for this as well:
“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought …”
We do not know, we cannot know, to perfection, what we should pray for, what sins of weakness, ignorance, incompleteness and partial comprehension for which we should pray to be forgiven and cleansed from. We are slowly learning, slowly advancing toward the goal of perfect understanding:
“. . . we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the heart knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of Yahweh.” Romans 8:26 & 27
For deliberate sin, there was and is no forgiveness. However, some sins that we would consider deliberate were forgiven, so we cannot judge others. The Sabbath day gatherer of sticks was put to death; David’s murder and adultery were forgiven! Only Yahweh knows where to draw the line as to what is deliberate rebellion, and what is weakness for this poor erring flesh. For ourselves, we must always bear in mind the danger, remembering with trembling and fear that Yahweh will not be mocked. He will not, for a moment, tolerate rebellion. Whenever we do anything we know is wrong, however small it may be, we are treading on the loose gravel of the edge of the precipice of no return:
“Yahweh is not mocked”
“Yahweh hath no pleasure in fools.”
For others, we must always be prepared to forgive and receive, and leave the final judgment to Yahweh Who knows each heart.
THE MEAL OFFERING
Always of wheat, was a thankful recognition of the care of Yahweh in the daily bread, and a presenting to Yahweh of the fruit of daily toil.
THE DRINK OFFERING
Of wine was an outpouring of spiritual rejoicing and zealous gladness and thankfulness of heart, essential to make the other offerings acceptable to Yahweh.
Three things must accompany the sacrifices: the SALT of purity and incorruptness:
“Ye are the salt of the earth.” Matt 5:13
The OIL of knowledge and enlightenment in the Spirit:
“Ye are the light of the world.” Matt 5:14
And the sweet INCENSE of faithful prayer:
“Pray without ceasing: in everything give thanks; for this is the will of Yahweh in the Messiah Yahushua concerning you.” 1 Thess 5:17 & 18.
was a special sacrifice, a sacrifice of special deliverance. Its ordinances were unique, but it most closely resembled the Peace Offering. All of it except the blood and fat was eaten by the offerers themselves. Unlike the Peace Offering, none was given to the priests, for when it was first instituted there was no separate priestly class. It portrays Israel in its highest relationship to Yahweh as a holy people, a nation of priests.
The Passover lamb was given special attention and care. It was roasted whole, and no bones were broken, especially representative of The Lord Jesus Christ’s offering. Bitter herbs were to be eaten with it, representing salvation through sorrow and suffering.
It was to be partaken of in active readiness for a journey with feet shod, loins girded, and staff in hand. The Lord Jesus Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us, and we too must keep the feast in a state of readiness for the journey, wherever it may lead, recognising that we have here no continuing city; nothing of the present is permanent or important. We must keep ourselves lightly loaded and travel-girded, careful not to build ties and possessions in this present evil world.
The Passover must be accompanied, Paul says, by:
“Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of SINCERITY and TRUTH” 1 Cor. 5:8
Sincerity and Truth are powerful and beautiful words: powerful and beautiful qualities. Sincerity is purity from any pretence or hypocrisy or deception. Truth is freedom from any error or falsehood or mistake. These are Divine qualities, not common to mankind. Very few will hold firmly and faithfully to sincerity and truth when a small degree of concealment or misrepresentation will save them from loss, embarrassment or get them gain. But such are no use to holy Yahweh. The ever-wise Psalmist exhorts:
“Behold, thou desirest Truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” (Psa. 51:6)
Only those, who in spiritual wisdom, perceive the living beauty, and dedicate their lives to the principles of Sincerity and Truth, are acceptable into Yahweh’s family. By nature, we are all creatures of error, subterfuge and deception. Lying and evasion for self-protection comes naturally right from childhood. Sincerity must be learned. We must be shown, and we must perceive, the beauty of the better, more excellent way. Pure, guileless sincerity is essential to holiness.
We must not look upon sacrifice as a “giving up” of something. It is a gaining and receiving; a joy and a privilege.
It is the highest and most satisfying use to which we may put anything we have, including our own-selves and our own lives. To a mature mind, there should be no particular pleasure in just possessing something. It is exceedingly juvenile to get pleasure merely from possession — it is a shallow, silly, selfish, unhealthy pleasure, not worthy of the name of pleasure. It is, when properly analysed, not a pleasure at all, as it is pride which is the underlying emotion in play. The pleasure and satisfaction should come in the use to which anything is put, and in the good that can be accomplished by means of it.
Moreover, the greatest mature satisfaction comes from putting all we have to the highest and best use: THAT IS SACRIFICE.
The Lord Jesus Christ, in perfect wisdom, put his whole life to the best possible use: he accomplished with it the utmost possible good. He reversed the whole trend of history from failure to success. He turned death into eternal life, and sorrow into eternal joy for all who have the wisdom to lay hold upon what he accomplished for them.
Do we detract from the preciousness and nobility of the sacrifice of The Lord Jesus Christ by saying that sacrifice is not sacrifice in the common, worldly, self-commending use of the term? Do we rob him of the recognition that he gave up everything, and suffered everything, for his brethren?
By no means. He did not give up anything worthwhile, rather he achieved and gained everything worthwhile. There was no self-pity, no self-glory, no self-delusion, in his sacrifice, his pure offering, his drawing near, his gift to Yahweh, his “deed of holiness.” The Lord Jesus Christ did not look upon himself as a martyr, but as the most highly privileged, the most really blessed, the most deeply honoured of all mankind.
It was his infinite blessing and riches to be the perfect manifestation of the love and beauty of Yahweh; the perfect manifestation of Yahweh Himself, and to be ever in perfect communion with Yahweh:
“I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30).
He was a man of sorrows; but he was also a man of transcendent joy. He spoke of that glorious, unquenchable inner joy on the very eve of the terrible ordeal of the crucifixion.
“These things have I spoken that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” (Jn. 15:11).
We read on two occasions that Jesus wept. There must have been many, many, other occasions where he wept. His life was a life of weeping, but not for himself. It was not the weeping of selfishness. On him was laid the burden of the sorrows of all the world, and it was his glorious, suffering joy to take them all upon himself and to bear them all away.
Love not only gives. It takes. It gives of goodness, and comfort, and strength, and courage. It takes of sorrow, and of fellow feeling, and shared bitterness in the fellowship of suffering.
If it does not do both, if it shrinks from either task, it is not love.
We may bring ourselves to the giving part, and triumph gloriously in it, and we think our love is complete. However, if we shrink or run away from the taking part, it really is not love. We have not yet attained.
We must keep in mind at all times that:
“even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:” 1 Cor 5:7
“He is the propitiation (mercy-seat) for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2
We must also realise that it has all been done because:
“This cup is the New Covenant in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:25)
With this in mind, and the emblems of all we have discussed before us, let us all appreciate;
”But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
“Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”