Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sacrifice--2

This continues my thoughts about sacrifice. What does the ancient idea of sacrifice have to do with our lives today? I'm working on figuring that out.

Why sacrifice an animal? The concept of blood sacrifice is far from the understanding of us modern-minded folk. Sin was and is serious, leading to separation from God—blood was required. The Bible says life is in the blood, so blood had to be shed--the giving of a life, from a perfect animal—setting up understanding for the time centuries later when God would sacrifice his son, the perfect lamb, the lamb of God.

Throughout the Old Testament, God repeatedly told his people that animal sacrifices were good, but he would really rather see them heed his word (1 Samuel 15:22). He wanted them instead to be merciful and to acknowledge him as God (Hosea 6:6). He wanted them to first have a spirit that was not self-righteous but "broken," alive and open to him, grieving over their sins (Psalm 51:17). He wanted them to be faithful and fulfill their vows to him (Psalm 50:14). And sacrifices were fine as pledges or cleansing--as long as their hearts were right, as long as their need for his forgiveness was sincere.

But Old Testament people were much like us: sinful, inconsistent, unfaithful creatures, self-centered and too self-reliant. Their hearts were often wrong, like ours. And, fiercely independent like us, they tried hard to solve all their own problems and fulfill their own needs.

So when the time was right, God sent the ultimate sacrifice, the perfect unblemished lamb, Jesus Christ. He died at three o’clock in the afternoon, and when the shofar sounded that day, many understood the implications of the death of Jesus, the lamb of God. Through Jesus' blood, the tables were turned. God did a sort of divine switch on man, making the sacrifice himself out of his immense love for us, and everything changed.

This sacrificial lamb rose again, conquering death and giving hope and life to humanity. According to the new covenant, the covenant of grace, people did not need to make any more animal sacrifices, which they could not often get right, anyway. The punishment they deserved because of their sins was cancelled; they were forgiven and the huge burden of guilt laid on them by the requirement of periodic animal sacrifices was lifted. All they had to do was accept his love, his awesome, intense love. "Awe" in Hebrew means "heavy." And his love for us is, in both that language and today's slang, "heavy."

1 comment:

Nancy Kirk said...

Judy--are you by any chance originally from California? I grew up with some Callarman's---Roy--he was a friend of my brother. My maiden name is Floyd. Could you email me at nk1354@cox.net?

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