Then what’s the point of the Mosaic Law? Why are those chapters describing the sin offering and the guilt offering and the peace offering and the thank offering in the Bible?
Undoubtedly there are many reasons, but one certainly is that an understanding of the system of sacrifices gives us a picture of offering up to God that which pleases Him.
Always the requirement of sin has been shed blood. Adam and Eve sinned, and God covered their nakedness with the skin of an animal—an animal that had to die. From that point on, men offered sacrifices to God. Spilling the blood of an animal was part of worship. Noah, Abram, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and on, the people of God built altars and made sacrifice to God.
And then Christ.
Jesus died once for all, the just for the unjust. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. As a result, we’re free from the need to offer sacrifices over and over so that we may be in right relationship with God. Because of His grace and forgiveness, Jesus became the final sacrifice. His blood is sufficient to save, and no other sacrifice is necessary.
Then what are these sacrifices of praise and thanks? I wrote a post on this topic back in March entitled “Praise Is More Than Positive Thinking” but I think the topic is worth revisiting.
Scripture makes a case for the fact that God is delighted by our sacrifices. Paul equates the monetary donations he received from the church in Philippi with “a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice.” Not to him. Their giving to Paul was a form of worshiping God.
The writer of Psalm 107 said
Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
And tell of His works with joyful singing. (v 22)
Because he coupled “sacrifices of thanksgiving” with telling of His works through song, I suspect the former isn’t referring to the animal sacrifices but actual verbal expressions of thanks.
The writer to the Hebrews clearly was referring to words:
Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. (13:15)
Paul identified thanking God as something consistent with His will:
in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:18)
Amazing, isn’t it, to think that we can be sure we’re praying according to God’s will if we’re thanking Him. I mean, how many times do we think, if only I knew what God wanted me to do. Well, there it is. God’s will is for us to thank Him.
I was feeling a little peevish this morning. I was on my way to the grocery store and stopped for some breakfast at a fast food place. I decided to treat myself to a combo! But the attendent was trying to over charge me and couldn’t seem to understand what I was ordering. I got a little brusque with her and even said I’d leave if they didn’t have the combo I requested at the posted price.
When I reached the window I was starting to wonder if she might not be new to the job. She kindly asked me how many creams and sugars I wanted for my coffee, but when she brought them, I had to request a stirrer. She came back with one and apologized, “All I could find was a straw.” Well, the stirrers at that restaurant do have straw-like properties, but now I was sure she was new. So my peevishness turned into guilt. And as I was eating, I wondered why I hadn’t at least apologized for being short with her.
What a bad morning!
Except, not really. I started thinking about events that had happened before I reached the fast food place, and I began thanking God for them. And as I type, I can thank God for His forgiveness for my shortness with that fast food server. How kind of Him to not treat me the way I treated her.
Sacrifices of thanksgiving?
One more point. I posted on Facebook just this week how much I appreciate people who share my posts. If I feel that way, why wouldn’t God? When we praise Him or thank Him, we are recognizing who He is and what He’s done.
Without question, what we do can please God:
Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. (1 Thess. 4!)
So too, our words, our praise, our thanks can be pleasing to God—a fragrant aroma, an act of worship, a sacrifice of thanksgiving.