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What the Bible says about Spiritual Sacrifices
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Leviticus 23:35-37

The holy days and their offerings are shadows of good things to come (Hebrews 10:1). The offerings especially are indicative of many aspects of Christ's conduct and attitudes while serving God. We are to imitate Him (I John 2:6). Understood correctly, they represent the spiritual manner in which we are to observe these days.

Numbers 28:16—29:40 lists all the offerings to be made at the feasts. One can quickly see that more offerings were required for the Feast of Tabernacles than all other festivals combined. This ought to indicate what God expects regarding our conduct during the Feast of Tabernacles. He requires that we offer ourselves as living sacrifices so that it be most fruitful spiritually. It should be both a spiritual and physical feast whose fruit is rejoicing and learning to fear God as a result of the sacrifices done with understanding and a good attitude. This cannot be forced. It is the fruit of a right approach and use.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Amos 5 and the Feast of Tabernacles

Numbers 29:12-13

That is typical of what God requires on every one of the festivals except for one thing—the number of sacrifices required. The Feast of Tabernacles is a type, a symbol, of the Millennium, of the rule of God on earth. What we see here is a requirement to give offerings during the Feast of Tabernacles. What is so interesting is that the Feast of Tabernacles requires more sacrifices than all the other holy days combined! Far more! There were 172 animals sacrificed during those seven days.

Since the Feast of Tabernacles represents the Millennium, and the priest stands for us, and his major responsibility is to make offerings on behalf of the people before God, does that not picture how big our responsibility will be during the Millennium? There will be more sacrifices, more priestly work for us during that time than at any other period in God's plan.

Physically, the Levitical priests offered animals. In the Millennium, we will not be sacrificing animals. We need to understand what a priest does so that we understand sacrificing. A priest does a lot of it, and during the Millennium, there will be a need for a great deal of spiritual sacrificing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Preparing to Be a Priest

Psalm 107:21-22

Thankfulness is offered as a spiritual sacrifice. It is given in combination with other spiritual sacrifices. As a spiritual sacrifice, thanksgiving can be offered in the form of a prayer and/or praise. Prayer, praise, and thanksgiving are almost inseparable, and they are most often offered together. Thankfulness is a peace offering (Leviticus 7:11-13). It produces peace (I Timothy 2:1-2).

Martin G. Collins
Thankfulness

Isaiah 43:22-24

Compare this with I Peter 2:5 and 9 and the responsibility of the church: 1) to bring sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ and 2) to proclaim the praises of God.

Peter sees the church as part of the fulfillment of this prophecy—focusing on a people who will truly serve and glorify God in contrast to disobedient Israel. The church is a forerunner of what is to come. This also confirms, in a general way, that we have been formed for the purpose of proclaiming His praises, which is what a priest does! Thus, Peter writes that we are to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

This priesthood is not yet fully formed, but rather, it is one that is being formed. As such, we nonetheless are expected to perform certain functions in preparation for our formal installation that will not occur until Christ returns and establishes the Kingdom of God on earth. Then, that priesthood will appear suddenly, fully formed.

God has spent 6,000 years forming it. We are called to be kings and priests (Revelation 5:10). And even now Peter makes sure that we understand that we are already a priesthood—a priesthood in training.Yet, even though we are in training, we have priesthood responsibilities, for he says in verse 5 that we are—now, presently—to offer up spiritual sacrifices.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part One)

Romans 12:1-2

Sacrificial living in submission to God's will pleases Him. In this case, God is interested neither in Christ's death nor ours but how we live life. Worship is our response to God, and real worship is the offering of our everyday life to Him. Loyal devotion given to please God in every labor of life is the most satisfying and acceptable response we can give God. Peter concurs with Paul, writing in I Peter 2:4-5, "Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Two): The Burnt Offering

Romans 12:1-2

Paul exhorts us to consider a principle that applies to two areas of priestly conduct, offering sacrifices and praising God. In Greek, the emphasis in verse 1 is on the word "therefore." Why? Because Romans 12:1 begins the summary of the practical application of the principles, the teachings, the instruction that Paul gives in the first 11 chapters. He is preparing to draw practical conclusions to all the doctrinal things he taught, that is, about justification, sanctification, our calling, and the Holy Spirit, including the glorious things about Israel and what will happen in the future. It is as if he is saying, "In light of everything that I have given you thus far, here's what you are to do, priests! Sanctify yourselves by being a living sacrifice."

He means that, due to God's great gifts to us, it is "reasonable" for God to expect us to sacrifice ourselves. Sometimes modern Bibles will render this word as "spiritual," which is a correct alternative. The Greek word underlying it appears only one other time in the Bible, and in that place it clearly means "spiritual." Here, though, it means "reasonable," that it is right that we should be a sacrifice. It is logical, rational, to do this.

The "therefore" brings an exciting conclusion to his thought. He is saying that everything we do, every activity in all of life, is to be an act of worship in service to God. Everything! We are to live our lives as living sacrifices—except on those days that we want to do our own thing? No, not at all. God owns us, and He wants our lives lived all the time—every day, 24/7—as a living sacrifice. We are to sacrifice our lives to Him because it cost the life of His Son to give us the privilege of drawing close to Him.

So, He has every right to ask this of us. It is logical. It is rational for Him to demand it of us. In this case, even as Jesus is portrayed in the offerings of Leviticus 1-7, we, as His brethren, are both the priest making the offering and the offering that is being sacrificed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
New Covenant Priesthood (Part One)

Hebrews 13:10

This altar is God's table. We are fed spiritual food from this spiritual altar. Jesus said in John 6:63, "The words I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." The priests were permitted to eat of the peace, sin, and trespass offerings. Thus those who serve at the altar are fed at the altar. We are now part of a spiritual priesthood. It is our responsibility to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:5).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Six): The Sin Offering

Hebrews 13:15

Praising God is a spiritual sacrifice. Sincerely offering praise to God is an acceptable sacrifice that pleases Him. Praise is a form of spiritual worship that helps us stay focused on God.

It was the continual responsibility of the Levitical priesthood "to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening" (I Chronicles 23:30). Also, David organized the Levites in "their duties (to praise and serve before the priests) as the duty of each day required" (II Chronicles 8:14). Whole families of the tribe of Levi were set apart to praise God in the Temple through vocal and instrumental music (I Chronicles 25).

King David set us an example. He praised God seven times each day (Psalm 119:164). The principle here is that we should be praising God continually or be prepared to do so at any time, not a specific number of times a day. Oftentimes, if we do something by rote, its meaning and sincerity suffer greatly.

Martin G. Collins
The Sacrifice of Praise

1 Peter 1:15-16

God demands that those who are associated with Him, those set apart by Him to be a dwelling place for His Spirit, be holy as He is holy. This means that we must become, not merely set apart, but set apart and clean. We are entering the area of Chrisitian conduct, and our separation is away from those who are not clean, not pure spiritually as God is.

We see the implied meaning of sanctification coming into play, because in order to be a suitable dwelling place for God, we have to become holy as He is holy. We have to become holy, then, in the sense of clean—a clean life, as well as clean in our sacrifices. I Peter 2:5 says that we are "to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."

We have to be holy in the sense of clean living, and our sacrifices need to be acceptable. This deals with being made holy by Jesus Christ, that is, through His work made possible by means of the blood of His sacrifice as a man, as well as His continuing work of sacrifice as our High Priest before God as our Mediator and Intercessor.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sanctification and Holiness (Part 1)

1 Peter 2:5

Between AD 63-67, the apostle Peter was inspired to write to the "elect" who were dispersed throughout Asia Minor—and to us today—that Christians are to offer up spiritual sacrifices and proclaim the praises of God. We are in training now, learning how to be priests of God for His spiritual priesthood, and a primary reason is to offer up spiritual sacrifices. A spiritual sacrifice is an act of giving up and offering to God our time and effort in a way that is pleasing to Him.

What makes a spiritual sacrifice acceptable to God? Is it merely the sacrificing of our time and effort? No, it is more than that. Comparing the sacrifice of Noah to the hypocritical sacrifices of the children of Israel shows that the attitude and righteousness of the offerer is important to God (Genesis 8:20-21; Amos 5:21-27). A spiritual sacrifice must be offered in an attitude of obedience, humility, and reverence.

Martin G. Collins
The Sacrifice of Praise

1 Peter 2:5

It helps to consider the word "house" in I Peter 2:5 meaning something a bit different from the common definition. Most commonly, we think of a building people live in. Here, "house" can just as easily mean "dynasty," as in the "house of David."

God is building us up into a dynasty, a spiritual house, a spiritual Family, one that we know will last forever. Verse 5 adds that God is forming us into a holy priesthood, the purpose of which is to offer up acceptable spiritual sacrifices to God through Christ. Verse 9 confirms that we are already a royal priesthood. This is especially important in light of the sacrifices, because those sacrifices were the activity of the priesthood under the Old Covenant.

Those priests went through the entire ritual physically. God does not require us to follow those procedures, yet He does require us to understand the spiritual concepts and apply them to the best of our ability. Why? Because we are being built up into a spiritual Family whose function is to glorify God by offering spiritual sacrifices that He will accept.

We must not allow ourselves the liberty of detaching ourselves from this by saying, "Well, that is really interesting information and nice to have, but of what value is it?" It is of great value, as the prophet Malachi clearly shows. In Malachi 1:6, God chastises the priesthood for the irresponsible manner in which they were carrying out their charge from God: "'A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence?' says the LORD of hosts to you priests who despise My name." Those are strong words for failing to offer sacrifices pleasing to God.

The priesthood may not have come to a deliberately reasoned conclusion that the worship of God was something unimportant, but their inner disrespect surfaced in their slipshod and lackadaisical approach. God says He looks on the heart (I Samuel 16:7), and His evaluation of their performance is that they considered their responsibility of offering sacrifices to Him to be shameful. Their real problem lay in their heart. Distracted by concerns they considered more important, their goal of being a whole burnt offering dedicated to God became a secondary occupation for their attention and energy.

The focus of their attention may easily have been given to functions and duties considered normal, everyday concerns, not sin per se. Nevertheless, these things are of lesser importance than fulfilling their charge from God. They reply to God in a manner that can be interpreted as offended surprise, asking, "In what way have we despised Your name?" God replies that the food they offered on His altar was defiled (Malachi 1:7).

Recall that a basic feature of the offerings is of God eating a meal. The altar is His table, and the sacrifice is His food. The fire consuming the offerings pictures God devouring it. As a result of "eating" the meal, He is satisfied just as we would feel a sense of well-being following a fine meal. God, however, is not satisfied with the sacrificial "meals" the priests of Malachi's day offered; He complains of their poor quality. They give Him no satisfaction and are not acceptable.

The quality of their offerings had become so poor as to be downright evil. The priests would never have served such blemished beasts to a leader they could see, but they gave them to the invisible God. Their faith was so weak that He was not only out of sight, He was almost completely out of mind (Psalm 10:4)! They had no thought of the greatness of His power; His merciful, loving providence; the desire of His concern for their well-being; or of His nearness to them. They apparently never gave it much thought that He was aware of all they were doing!

King David was cut from an entirely different bolt of cloth. The books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles clearly portray the external flaws in his behavior. We see his lust and adultery, his scheming deceit in conspiring to have Uriah die in battle, his childrearing errors, and his mistakes within the intrigues of government.

Like us, David was encompassed with human nature. In principle, we do many of the same things as he did, and also like him, it is an ever-present reality. It can break out at any time we get far from God and let our defenses down. However, in the Psalms we receive insight into his heart. In them, we see the real man, the one after God's own heart, and this forms the basis of God's judgment of him.

Malachi teaches us that we must strive to offer to God the best we can. Not everybody is the same. Each of us has our own package of abilities, intelligence levels, and skills. We have different attitudes about things and circumstances. We have been reared in different kinds of environments, and so our attitudes toward things are not always the same. We have different sins and weaknesses to overcome.

On the one hand, the ideals of the offerings are shown in the life of Jesus Christ, but on the other is the reality of what we are. We do not come anywhere near the ideals; we are frequently unstable and inconsistent. God nonetheless wants the general trajectory of our lives to be consistently aimed toward achieving them.

We all have our peaks and valleys. God is not overly concerned about the occasional valleys we go through as long as we are consistently bouncing back, making strenuous effort to bring the very best offering we possibly can into God's service. This approach will work to produce the maturity God desires to see in us; the image of Jesus Christ will be formed. This attitude will produce the satisfaction in God and us that is the fruit of the peace offering.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Five): The Peace Offering, Sacrifice, and Love


 




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