The Joy of Sacrifice
[Thought questions for Sacrifices October 16, 2013]
1. We will return. Three days and many steps after God’s command to offer his son, Abraham stood where he could see the mountain. It was here Abraham puts a voice to his own faith as he speaks to the two young men who came with them. God would, indeed, provide. Gen. 22:5 He told them that he AND the lad would return to them. Centuries later the same tone was heard by the fiery furnace. God is able, “but if not they were ready to die. In answer to the question, where is the lamb? we hear the answer..God will provide himself a lamb. That was a promise we can see in the shadow of the cross, when God provided….Himself, THE Lamb. What is the unspoken promise of God’s command to Abraham to offer his son? Can we hear God’s sometimes unspoken promises as we follow His commands?
2. He provides. One of the highest compliments for a father in many cultures is that he is a good provider for his family. Our Creator gives us the first glimpse of the God who provides. He provides the world, then moves in a little closer to provide the garden. He provided the solution to the sin problem. How do you see God, as provider during the Edenic period? Abraham understood the God who provides. He also understood the sacrificial system, as did his son Isaac. What part of the wilderness sanctuary service is seen in this pre-figuration sacrifice? What are the parallels between the cross and the sacrifice at Moriah? What has He provided for you in all areas of your life?
3. Unblemished. How many of us would like to receive a gift for our birthday or a special day and find that it was damaged, dirty, or just a left over? Not many. Exodus 12:5 says the animal sacrifice should be young and without blemish. Abraham was, in the times in which he lived, a rich man. It would have been a simple matter for him to offer any number of unblemished animals to God. Why Isaac? Isaac did not fit the description given of the requirements for a sacrificial animal. Whom did Isaac represent? Was Isaac to be a sin offering, an offering of dedication, or another offering? What do you do when God asks a seemingly unreasonable sacrifice of you?
4. The Mystery of redemption. What is the most mysterious aspect of redemption? Is it fair for the God of all to be forced into submission to the ravages of sin? Or was He? The Israelites were in danger, we are told, of assuming that the sacrifices they offered were sufficient in and of themselves. What else was needed? What was the ultimate sacrifice that would destroy sin in all its manifestations? Why were other sacrifices called for by God?
5. Me, a sacrifice? In the book of Romans, Paul pleads with the believers in the early Christian church to present their bodies a living sacrifice to God. What does that mean to you? If you rushed off the edge of a bridge and plunged to your death, would that be a living sacrifice? If you spent your life in joyful praise to God, meeting the needs of those around you, would that be a living sacrifice? What is the most painful aspect of giving yourself as a living sacrifice to God? Why is it worth it?
6. The goal of the sacrificial system. If there is but one goal of the entire sacrificial system, what is it? Why doesn’t God require the sacrificial offerings of animals today? Wouldn’t that remind us of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross? Were God’s people in the wilderness saved the same way you and I are saved? How should you and I participate in the sacrificial system today?
7. The challenge of being a living sacrifice. Was Jesus a living sacrifice? Does He offer guidance and support for you and me so that we will follow His example? Can God remove every sin from our lives? Then why do we keep sinning? Why doesn’t God give up on us reprobates? Why does He keep loving us? Can we stop sinning? If not, what is the answer to the sin question in our lives? A member’s lips trembled as she said, “I in Him, and He in me.” Is that the answer?