Ever since man sinned, God has been exacting a
sacrifice from man. These sacrifices have been required as a penalty for
sin and an offering unto God. Man has come to look for a reward for his
sacrifices. Oftentimes the sacrifices are made with the hope of reward.
The sacrifice loses its sting in the anticipation of a reward. A patient
goes to the operating table and willingly sacrifices a limb or an organ
in order to be relieved of pain and prolong his life. The hope of reward
is present as the sacrifice is made. One wonders if there had been any
sacrifice if there had been no sin. One also wonders if there had been
any reward if there had been no sacrifice.
The First Sacrifices
When Adam and Eve sinned, it cost them the Garden of
Eden. They were separated from the tree of life, gave up their state of
innocence, and became guilty before God. Little reward came to them.
They gained a knowledge of sin. Their "eyes" were opened and they were
"as God, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:5 ASV). "And Jehovah God
said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil"
(Gen. 3:22 ASV). This knowledge was the reward that followed that
great sacrifice. The reward was not commensurate with the sacrifice that
The first sacrifice as made by man in worship to God
is recorded in Genesis 4. Cain and Abel stood at the first altar
that we read about in the Bible and made their respective offerings.
Cain sacrificed "of the fruit of the ground," and Abel
"brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof" (Gen.
4:4-5). Cain pleased himself in his sacrifice, but Abel pleased God,
for he made his offering by faith. "By faith Abel offered unto God a
more excellent sacrifice than Cain" (Heb. 11:4). The reward that
Cain received was his banishment and punishment. Abel's reward was the
blessings of Jehovah. Both these worshippers received their just
recompense of reward.
In God's dealing with man, He has called upon man to
make sacrifices and He has instructed man as to the kind of offerings
which He will receive. Man knew the kind of sacrifice that would bring
to him a blessing. He also knew the kind that would bring condemnation.
God has required certain animals to be offered to Him
as sacrifices. The blood of these animals represents the life. When they
were offered according to the will of God, the worshipper was blessed.
When they were offered according to the wisdom of man, man was
condemned. Only "clean animals" were permitted to be sacrificed. The
hope, reward, and fear of punishment were impressed upon the children of
Israel by means of their sacrifices. Certain portions of the sacrifice
were placed upon the altar and burned. Other portions of some sacrifices
could be eaten by the worshipper.
The rewards of these sacrifices encouraged obedience
upon the part of man. The animal sacrifices were slain and offered unto
Jehovah. In a sense, the animal took the place of the worshipper. Hands
were laid upon the head of the animal and it was appointed as a
substitute for the worshipper. Man is a sinful being and is worthy of
death because of his sin. But in His goodness and mercy, God accepted a
substitute and permitted man to sacrifice an animal instead of dying
himself. Here we see not only the sacrifice made by man, but we see the
goodness and mercy of God in permitting man to offer a substitute for
his own life. In this way, God prepared the mind of man for the coming
Christ As A Sacrifice
In the wisdom of God, the idea of a sacrifice has
been impressed upon man. The need of a sacrifice or substitute for
sinful man is made clear throughout the Bible. Christ came on a mission
of love to offer Himself a sacrifice for the sins of the world. "Even
as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and
to give his life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:15). "For
there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man,
Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:5-6).
Hence Jesus has become the propitiation for the sins of the world.
"He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also
for the whole world" (1 John 2:2).
Christ has become the Lamb of God slain from the
foundation of the world; He has become the great sin offering for the
world. The rewards of His sacrifices cannot be estimated. The redemption
of the human family, the salvation of souls, has become a measure of the
reward to those who will accept Him. The condemnation of the unbeliever
becomes the reward of those who reject Him.
As we read the Bible, we see the blood of sacrifices
running from the first altar to the shed blood of Christ on Calvary. The
red blood of sacrifice runs through the whole fabric of God's dealings
with man. We rejoice in the atoning blood of our Lord. The rich rewards
are received by the faithful in heaven. Many blessings cluster around
the faithful life in the service of God here and the heavenly home
awaits them hereafter. The sacrifices and rewards of Christ become the
measure of the blessings of man.
The Sacrifice Of Christians
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies
of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to
God, which is your spiritual service" (Rom. 12:1 ASV). In order to
receive the many rich rewards that come from the sacrifices of Christ,
we must make sacrifices ourselves. The sweetest joys that we may have as
heirs of the eternal kingdom will be experienced in our suffering and
sacrificing for our Saviour. "Blessed are ye when men shall reproach
you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely,
for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in
heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you" (Matt.
One cannot live for Christ without suffering for Him. We must die to
sin, be buried with Him in baptism, in order to be raised with Him to
the reward of a new life. "We who died to sin, how shall we any
longer live therein? Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized
into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore
with him through baptism unto death: and like as Christ was raised from
the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in
newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness
of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection;
knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of
sin might be done away, that we should no longer be in bondage to sin;
for he that hath died is justified from sin" (Rom. 6:2-7 ASV).
Throughout the above quotation we have a vivid
picture of the sacrifices that Christians must make and the rewards
which follow those sacrifices.
Sacrifices For Others
The review of sacrifices is not complete without a
brief consideration of vicarious suffering. In every form of nature we
have examples of sacrificing for another. The old plant dies in order to
produce another seed. The parent animals sacrifice and die for the
reproduction of their young. Our mothers step down into the very jaws of
death that we may be born, and they suffer, serve, and sacrifice that
children may be reared.
The Son of God died that we might live. All present
life exists because of the death of some other life. It seems to be a
law of our being to suffer and sacrifice for others. We become more like
Christ when we sacrifice for others. "Now I rejoice in my sufferings
for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the
afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the
church" (Col. 1:24 ASV).
Jesus rejoiced in suffering and dying for others. We
are to run with patience the race that is set before us, "looking
unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that
was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down
at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2).
Articles by H Leo Boles
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