If Only I Could Remember it All [Part 1]
By Alan Wright — March 07, 2018
Are you ready for some good news?
An ancient Jewish scholar’s midrash (commentary) stated: “All offerings are annulled with the coming of the Christ except the offering of thanksgiving.” It’s utterly fascinating.
Today’s Text: “So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. … Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” (Hebrews 13:12–15, ESV)
As we continue our new radio series, “God Moments,” we explore today one of the most intriguing shadows in the Old Testament – the mandated ceremonial offerings.
According to instructions in Leviticus, there were five basic types of offerings:
- Burnt offering – worshipers offered a costly animal and no one ate it
- Grain offerings – worshipers brought grains and unyeasted breads, the priests ate a portion of it
- Peace offerings – there were three kinds: the free-will offerings, vow offerings and the thanksgiving offering
- Sin offerings – worshipers brought a sacrifice as payment for sin
- Trespass offerings – like the sin offering, but enacted by worshipers specifically in the case of monetary fraud
The entire religious and cultural life of Israel revolved around these offerings and sacrifices. You could think of an offering as the general heading and the sacrifice of an animal as a subheading of that. In other words, an offering might refer to grain or an animal. A “sacrifice” referred to a live animal being slain.
The system of offerings and sacrifices was a gift from God to the people so that they could be assured that, temporarily, they were in right standing with God. Envision a minimum payment on a credit card. If you pay a portion of the debt, the lender will allow you to continue in good standing for another month – but it doesn’t mean the debt has been paid.
The offerings and sacrifices were all temporary provisions until the coming of Jesus, who fulfilled them on our behalf. No animal need ever be sacrificed again. There is no need to make a minimum payment on the credit card if the whole amount has already been covered.
But, according to Jewish midrash and the author of Hebrews, there is one offering that is still acceptable (and only one!): the offering of thanksgiving. It’s all we can do. He paid it all. All we can do is say “Thank you.” And that’s the Gospel!