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SACRIFICE

He has appeared to put away sin
by the sacrifice of Himself.
Heb. 9:26

Sacrifice is a common and comprehensive word that describes the death of Christ. The Greek for sacrifice is thusia, occurring approximately 350 times in the Septuagint and translating numerous Old Testament words. It appears 29 times in the  Greek New Testament, always translated “sacrifice” in the KJV.

Sacrifices of the nation were not unique in that Israel was the only nation offering various sacrifices. At all times and in all places man has believed in a higher power or powers, and in order to placate and please the deities sacrifices have been offered. The uniqueness of Israel was that their sacrifices were the ones prescribed by God Himself, the one and only God, and none of the sacrifices were human.

All sacrifices were offered because of sin, with the various aspects of the sacrifices teaching truths regarding sin. Note the lessons from the following verses:

When anyone of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of the livestock . . . he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him . . . an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the Lord (Lev. 1:2, 4, 9; see: Lev. 4:29-35).

Here is sacrifice – “an offering”

Here is sacrifice to the Lord – “to the Lord”

Here is substitution – “his behalf” and “for him”

Here is satisfaction – “make atonement” and “a sweet aroma to the Lord”

Here is identification with the sacrifice – “put his hand on the head”

God’s requirements were that the sacrifice must be perfect, without spot, no blemish. Moses writes of the requirements for cattle, sheep, and goats: “Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it shall not be acceptable on your behalf . . . it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it” (Lev. 22:21-22). Of the Passover sacrifice Moses said: “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year’ (Ex. 12:5). Only the best was to be offered to the Lord; anything less was unacceptable.

God’s guidelines were specific, and they were designed to teach the people. A perfect sacrifice symbolized the holiness of God and the holiness He required in man; and, at the same time, the sacrifice that was free from defect exposed and condemned the defect or sin of the one offering the sacrifice.

Scripture tells of sacrifices being offered throughout history, from the very beginning.

Sacrifice reaches back to Eden and God’s provision for Adam after he sinned; it is implied that God secured skins from an animal that was sacrificed. Thus the first sacrifice was offered by God Himself on behalf of Adam and Eve, by which He provided not only a covering for them, but also an object lesson regarding sin and its remedy.

The proper sacrifice of Abel cost him his life (Gen. 4:1-8), and the incident was referred to by Jesus (Matt. 22:33-36). Through Abel it is learned that some sacrifices are acceptable while others are an abomination, the difference being determined by what is required by God.

Sacrifice of Noah (Gen. 8:20-22).

Sacrifice of Abraham and the sacrifices of the Patriarchs (Gen. 12-50).

The Passover sacrifice involved substitution; the Passover lamb died in order that the firstborn might not die (Ex. 12).

Sacrificial laws given to Israel in order that the nation might have guidelines for the numerous sacrifices to be offered (Lev.).

In opposition to all of the above sacrifices, the sacrifice of Christ is considered to be a better sacrifice (Heb. 9:23), a once-for-all sacrifice (Heb. 9:26), and, therefore, there is no need for more sacrifice (Heb. 10:26). He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Heb. 9:26); He is “the Lamb of God” (Jo. 1:29; see: I Pet. 1:19; Rev. 5:6) and also “our Passover” (I Cor. 5:7). Christ, unlike the priests of the Old Testament, did not need to offer up sacrifice for Himself because He Himself is and always has been “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens” (Heb. 7:26-27). Through His sacrifice Christ was and is a sweet aroma to God the Father (Eph. 5:2).

Jesus because of His submission to the Father’s will and because of His love for us, He Himself became a sacrifice for us: “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (Jo. 18:11), the cup being the cup of sacrifice, a sacrifice in which the Son experienced the wrath of the Father.


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