Waynedale United Methodist Church
Saturday, October 20, 2018
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

April 22, 2018 Sermon

“Worship as Sacrifice”
Leviticus 2:1 – 7, 3:1 – 5
Ted Jansen April 22, 2018 Waynedale UMC
 

1.)        God’s Design is God’s Desire.  

You might find it challenging to discern God’s desire as we look at the system that God designed for sacrifices. You might have more questions than answers as we explore the Old Testament and make some applications. You might be struck by the amount of description related to the blood and guts of animals and sacrifices. 

            I think the first time I read the Old Testament I was struck by all three aspects. The thing that impacted me was the description of the blood and guts. I thought why is this all in the Bible and what does this have to do with me today?        

 

2.)        How have you experienced the blood and guts of animals?  If you have a farming background growing up on a farm you have some experience. You are familiar with the sounds, sights and smells of work with the blood and guts of animals.  

            Years ago I was “hired” as a fundraiser for the youth group. A local farmer bought my services and I had the opportunity to clean a hog barn with a power sprayer, watch as some bulls were castrated and de-horned. I gained a very “earthy” perspective of life on a farm after that experience. For a kid who grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia that was quite an education that day. Perhaps you have some stories.    

            So, as we read the words in Leviticus we read with an earthy perspective on what is going on. We also ponder what is the desire of God in the design of the sacrifices?    

 

3.)        As we look at the biblical account of what is involved in the five different sacrifices let me describe them.   

The sacrifices were to be offered on the bronze altar. (Refer to insert.) The bronze altar was approx. 7.5 foot by 7.5 foot and 4.5 foot high. You get a sense of how big it was. The bronze altar was what you saw first when you came into the tent of the meeting.   It declared the importance of sacrifice, offering something, to God when you entered the tabernacle. Let’s look at the five sacrifices.     

           

4.)        a.)        The burnt offering is the first sacrifice mentioned in Leviticus 1. This involved an unblemished male animal that was completely burned up and consumed by fire. There was nothing to be left. 

b.)        The grain offering was a flour offering given in a ceremonial way on the bronze altar and then able with the remainder of the flour or baked cakes to be enjoyed and eaten by the priests and others. This was mentioned in Leviticus 2.   

c.)        The peace or fellowship offering was a sacrifice of part of an animal on the bronze altar. The rest of the animal could be cooked and enjoyed by the priest and others. This was mentioned in Leviticus 3. 

d.)        The sin offering was the sacrifice of an unblemished animal. Part of the animal could be cooked and given so the priests to eat and enjoy.   This is mentioned in Leviticus 4. 

e.)        The guilt offering was the sacrifice of unblemished ram on the bronze altar. Part of the animal could be consumed by the priests. This is mentioned in Leviticus 5.    

 

5.)        Do you have any idea what is the desire in the heart of God behind the sacrifices that have been described?  

            I believe the answer is this; Relationship. The five different sacrifices involve a path, a plan, to a closer relationship with God and one another.    

            Why do I say that? I believe that because of what God told Moses in Exodus and what I understand the meaning of the five sacrifices. 

The scripture that Moses recorded from God in Exodus is this. “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8) God desires to be among us and in relationship with us. 

These different sacrifices have a relational aspect to them that will draw us closer to God.       

 

6.)        God can draw closer to us as human, His creatures that He created. But we cannot draw closer to God on our own merit. We are not holy or eternal. We need a provision, a path, for the relationship to be close. God’s provision for us in our relationship was through the substitution of animals. When an animal was sacrificed, by the command of God, it was a substitute for our lives.   God wanted us to know the price of life to be in a relationship with God.     

            The blood of the animals was their life. When you had blood, you had life. When the blood was shed or poured out there was no life. In Leviticus 17:10 – 12 we read this. “‘I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.  Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may any foreigner residing among you eat blood.”

God does not want the Israelites to eat or drink blood. Blood is life.   

So, when blood was shed it reminded the person that a life was sacrificed. Life was given so a new life with God could be made right.         

The book, “Rose Guide to the Tabernacle,” mentioned these aspects of our relationship with God as they relate to the sacrifices. A relationship with God was closer because of 1.) obedience, 2.) trust, and 3.) repentance that the sacrifices involved. (page 32)

            When we listened to and obey we are closer to God. When we trusted God and used one of our precious lambs we relied on God who would provide more lambs.   When we show that we are sorry for our sins and let our sorrow cost us something God draws closer to us.     

            So, as we look at the five sacrifices may we discover a God who loves us and wants to be with us, in a relationship with us.    

 

7.)        Here are insights into God’s desire that the sacrifices focus on.  

a.)        We need to dedicate our lives to God. That is what the aspect of the burnt offering was about. The entire animal was consumed, given to God. We are called to give of ourselves each and every day to God. We need to surrender ourselves to God.    

            God desires not just a little bit of our heart, a little bit of our money, a little bit of our time, a little bit of our lives. God wants to be in relationship with all of us. We are invited to be as dedicated to God as God is to us.    

            b.)        We need to have thankful hearts. This is the aspect of the grain offering.   We are drawn closer to God when we are thankful. When we give thanks to God each day or several times a day, we are closer to God.  

            I find it very interesting that the grain offering was one that could be shared and enjoyed with other people. The grain was not to be burned up. When you are thankful to God it is designed and desired to share that thanks to God with others and enjoy a meal.    

            A practical way to live this out is when you share thanks, say a prayer, before a meal do it out loud so you can share your blessings with others.    What are you thankful for today?  

            c.)        We need to acknowledge that we have fellowship with God, that we are at peace with God.   The peace offering was a portion of meat that was roasted and could be eaten by others.   This offering was a declaration that you are blessed and in a good relationship with God.      

            The song, “It is well with my soul,” represents the peace offering.    

            d.)        We need to be forgiven by God when we sin. This is the sin offering.   This involves sacrifice that costs us something.   God allows us to be forgiven and restored in our relationship. The price of a life provided for us allows us to be given another chance with God.    

            e.)        We need to be forgiven by others. We have sinned against others and others have sinned against us. The guilt offering focuses on this relational aspect. There are other things that are called for in Leviticus to make things right between people. But we realize that to make things right between people who have been hurt is a common commitment to be people of forgiveness under the forgiving love of God. 

The needs of the heart that God addresses are our need; for dedication, for thanks, for peace, and for forgiveness (from God and for God). 

 

8.)        Can you imagine a relationship where you could not give your entire life to God to serve, worship and adore?   You could only give God a little part of your life or none of it at all. You would only serve yourself.   

Can you imagine a relationship with God where you could not say to God; “thanks” for all that you have done for me?  

Can you imagine a relationship where you could not experience lasting, peace with God?  

Can you imagine being in a relationship and never having a chance to be forgiven by God for the sins you have committed?   You would have this huge burden upon your soul and spirit. 

Can you imagine a relationship where you would never have a way to be forgiven for the things you have done to hurt others, or have a way to forgive others? You would hold emotional pain the rest of your life and never have a way to say, “I forgive you.”  

            Can you imagine a world and relationships like that?      

             

9.)        The sacrifices that we have learned about might seem very out of touch with our world and our worship. But when we gather together to give thanks for bread and share fellowship together does that remind us of anything?  

When we think of the blood of an unblemished lamb that was shed does that remind us of anything? What about when we think of a life that was completely consumed? Or a sacrificed life that allows us to be forgiven and help us forgive each other. Do the sacrifices give us any insights into our life of faith?     

Jesus Christ connects in a powerful way to the sacrifices that God commanded Moses to have. In Hebrews 9:14 we read these words. “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”      

 
 
 

Image result for altar of sacrifice pic

Burnt          Dedication of life           Leviticus 1
Grain          Thankfulness and Praise         Leviticus 2
Peace          Fellowship and Friendship      Leviticus 3
Sin              Forgiveness by God                Leviticus 4
Guilt           Forgiveness by/of others         Leviticus 5
  

Take My Life and Let it Be (Written by Frances Havergal, 1873)

 

1 Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee. Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in endless praise, let them flow in endless praise.

 

2 Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love. Take my feet and let them be
swift and beautiful for thee, swift and beautiful for thee.

 

3 Take my voice and let me sing always, only, for my King. Take my lips and let them be
filled with messages from thee, filled with messages from thee.

 

4 Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold. Take my intellect and use
every power as thou shalt choose, every power as thou shalt choose.

 

5 Take my will and make it thine; it shall be no longer mine. Take my heart it is thine own;
it shall be thy royal throne, it shall be thy royal throne.

 

6 Take my love; my Lord, I pour at thy feet its treasure store. Take myself, and I will be
ever, only, all for thee, ever, only, all for thee.