The 5 books of Moses are chalked full of various commands regarding offerings and sacrifices. If you are anything like me, the temptation is to skip over these particular chapters. After all, they are detailed descriptions of what was to happen during the Old Covenant era. What possible relevance could it have for New Covenant Christians?
Of course, the idea of sacrifice is also mentioned in the New Covenant (See Romans 12:1). Thus, if sacrifices are still relevant for the New Covenant era, then perhaps there are some truths in the books of Moses that can be gleaned to help us with our modern-day sacrifices! This will be the subject of the following 7-part series, entitled: “What’s in YOUR Sacrifice?” that will be appearing in the Nugget over the next three weeks.
Today we will take a moment to define what new Covent sacrifices are supposed to look like.
The afore-mentioned verse from Romans tells us to: “…give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” (Romans 12:1 NLT).
Let’s remember that Paul is writing to Jewish people who are very used to offering animal sacrifices to God. Paul is helping them understand that God still wants sacrifices, but He wants those sacrifices to be alive! The only true response to the mercy and grace God has shed on all of us is for us to give ourselves completely to Him to be used for His purposes!
This is a pretty broad command, and the writer of Hebrews goes on to break down the sacrifices for us: “Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.” (Hebrews 13:15 NLT). Our praise, therefore, is considered a New Covenant sacrifice. When we praise and worship Him, when we give Him the thanks He is due, we are offering sacrifices to our God.
Hebrews spells this out further: “And don’t forget to do good…” (Hebrews 13:16a NLT). When we do good deeds, we are not only following Jesus’ example on Earth, but we are giving sacrifices to God! The same verse goes on to say, “…and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.” (Hebrews 13:16b NLT). Not only are we asked to do good and follow Jesus’ earthly example, but we are asked to share what we have with those in need.
Doing good and sharing with those in need can be done in so many ways; but I would like to propose that these fall into three primary categories: Sacrifices of resources, of time and of talent.
Sacrifices of our resources: The first thing that comes to mind when we think of our resources is our money. Yes, the tithe system was meant to support the Old Covenant, but the fact that we are under the New Covenant does not exonerate us from giving our money back to God. A quick read through the book of Acts drives this idea home, especially since the early church did not limit themselves to 10%, as was required under the Old Covenant. Rather, some of them gave everything they had! We are, therefore, to give to God what He puts on our hearts: “You must each decide in your heart how much to give.” (2 Cor. 9:7a NLT).
Our “resources”, however, are not limited to money. We may have a car that can be used to get our neighbor groceries. We may have extra food in our pantries for the homeless man down the street. We may have clothing that we no longer need. Basically, whatever material things we have that can be used to do good and share with those in need can be considered a sacrifice of our resources.
Sacrifices of our time: Sometimes we are asked to give our time to the Lord. We do this when we listen to someone in need. We do so when we lead out in a small group or pray for someone.
Sacrifices of our talent: Sacrifices of talent refer to when we use our talents for the Lord. Maybe you sing or play piano or guitar. When these talents are done to praise God, either privately or publicly, you are giving of your talent to the Lord. Maybe your talent is with wood working. When you agree to fix the fence of your elderly neighbor, your are sacrificing your talent. Maybe you sew or knit or crochet. You are sacrificing your talent when you make something for someone in need.
There are many other examples, too many for this devotional. Basically, however, whenever we give of what we have, be it our resources, our time, our talent or our praise, we are presenting New Covenant sacrifices to our God!
There is one more important point to consider: Sometimes we find ourselves limiting our sacrifices to giving money in church. When we read through the books of Moses, however, we note that the people were required to present a variety of different sacrifices (burnt offerings — Lev. 1:3-17, grain offerings — Lev. 2, sin offerings — Lev. 4, peace offerings — Lev. 4 & 7 and guilt offerings — Lev. 5:14-6:7). God requires the same of us! He wants us to give sacrifices in all of the categories!
On Thursday we will begin this study on gleaning clues from the Old Covenant sacrificial system that can help us in our modern-day sacrifices. Join us on Thursday for Salt? Or Yeast? What’s in YOUR sacrifice? Part 1.
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two adult boys, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, The Illustrator, a four-times-a-week internet newsletter, and the Sermon Illustrator website, all with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the entire “What’s in YOUR Sacrifice?” miniseries, please click here!)