In the Bible a sacrifice is an offering which presents divinity by way of expiation or propitiation, or as a token acknowledgement or thanksgiving; to immolate on the altar of God, in order to atone for sin, to procure favor, or to express thankfulness. All in all, there is no success without sacrifice. Oftentimes, some people are called to give up more than others; however, in the end, everyone must sacrifice something at some point. Sacrifices are instructive as well as worshipful. They are usually accompanied by prayer, devotion, and dedication.
Christians must realize that their faith is a faith of sacrifice. Christianity is rooted in the Old Testament – which is a book full of laws and commands that deal with sacrifices. We see the fulfillment of those sacrifices in the New Testament, and they call people of God to make sacrifices of themselves.
The idea and process of sacrifice is scattered throughout the Bible. There are hints of sacrifice as far back as Genesis. If you’re interested in doing more research on specific instances of sacrifice, here are some of the most read entries of sacrifice:
- Genesis 3:21: God provides coats of skin for Adam and Eve
- "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.”
- Genesis 4:2-5: sacrifices are offered by Cain and Abel
- "Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.”
- Genesis 8:20: sacrifice offered by Noah
- "Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.”
- Genesis 12:7-8: sacrifice offered by Abraham
- The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.”
Other sacrifices offered by Abraham can be found in: Genesis 13:4; 18; 22:13.
- Genesis 26:25: sacrifices offered by Isaac
- "Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.”
- Genesis 31:54: sacrifice offered by Jacob
- "He offered a sacrifice there in the hill country and invited his relatives to a meal. After they had eaten, they spent the night there.”
Other sacrifices offered by Jacob can be found in: Genesis 33:20; 35 1-7; 46:1.
- Genesis 1:5: sacrifice offered by Job
- "God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”
Another sacrifice offered by Job can be found in Genesis 42:8.
- Exodus 3:18: God delivers Israel from Egypt so that they may go and offer sacrifice to him.
- "The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God.”
Other text on this sacrifice can be found in Exodus 5:3; 17:15.
The law of sacrifice in the Bible doesn’t specify a particular code of sacrifice; however, throughout the books there one will find the burnt offering, the guilt offering, the sin offering, and the peace offering. Even though there aren’t real guidelines, we know that there is some significance associated with the respected offering. This is evident when you read the story of Cain and Abel. God didn’t think their sacrifices were equal. In fact, God rejects Cain’s.
To truly live out of the law of sacrifice according to the Lord’s plan, would be to put things of the kingdom first in one’s life and give them the absolute highest priority. However, if you put everything into perspective, you’re probably thinking that it isn’t possible. To provide for oneself and their family, they must work, and earn an honest living. These obligations are actually part of the Lord’s plan. Therefore, sacrifice is really putting aside material items and other things that are purely for pleasure and self-satisfaction. If society would sacrifice self interest in favor of the welfare and happiness of their neighbors, the world would fulfill the law of sacrifice. The Lord tells us repeatedly to love thy neighbor.
Nonetheless, the theme of sacrifice constitutes Christianity. While Christianity didn’t come into the world to proclaim a new morality, it came to proclaim the real sacrifice for sin which God provided. The law of sacrifice is a prominent topic throughout the Bible.