Exodus 29:38-43. 38 “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old day by day regularly. 39 One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. … 42 It shall be a regular burnt offering throughout your generations at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the Lord, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. 43 There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory.
Every day began with an offering to God. And every day ended with an offering to God. Two burnt offerings a day on the altar. A daily re-enactment of the covenant ratification at Sinai. Blood was shed and sprinkled on the people as they promised to obey all that God commanded (Exodus 24). Now here in the tabernacle courtyard the people will be reminded of the covenant every morning and every evening throughout the generations.
These daily offerings were the basis of God meeting with and speaking to the Hebrews. Keep sacrificing and God will keep showing up. Keep offering and God will keep talking.
What you may or may not know is that the tabernacle will become the temple. And the temple will go through a whole lot of historic drama. Solomon’s Temple will be destroyed by the Babylonians. The “Second Temple” will become Herod’s Temple and it too will be destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. And with this destruction came the end of burnt offerings.
So does that mean no more meeting with God? No more hearing from God? This is why today many Jews will stand on the Temple Mount and weep.
But if you are a regular reader of this blog here’s what you know – the tabernacle, the priests, and the twice daily burnt offerings are all a picture. A shadow reality meant to point us to an ultimate reality. The reality of Christ and his union with us. The reality of a New Covenant that is far superior to the old.
The Old Covenant said that IF you offer burnt offerings twice a day THEN God will show up and meet with the people and talk to them. But the New Covenant says that BECAUSE Christ is our final burnt offering on the altar of God THEREFORE God will never stop meeting with us and never stop speaking to us.
This is the great promise of union with Christ. God’s eternal presence and God’s forever voice. Not contingent upon our daily sacrifices. Contingent upon Jesus’ once for all time sacrifice. God meets with us each time we open our hearts to him in prayer. He speaks to us each time we listen to his word and his Spirit as the mind and affections of Christ in us. God is WITH us because God is IN us.
So if burnt offerings are just a shadow does union with Christ end our daily offerings? Actually quite the opposite. Christ’s final sacrifice for sins allows us to offer our entire lives as a sacrifice to God. Not to remove sin, but because sin has been removed. Not to earn God’s presence, but because we have God’s presence. Not to hear God’s voice, but because we have heard God’s voice. Not from slavery but from freedom. With faith as the final motivation. A faith that pleases God, believing that we no longer need a sacrifice therefore we can BE the sacrifice.
Hebrews 13:12-16. 12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
Romans 12:1. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
The gratitude motive can get old. Why not try the faith motive?
Now our daily offerings are the sacrifices of praise, thanksgiving, honor, and sharing. They are the sacrifices of doing good. Something we could only hope to do if we have actually been made good by the indwelling life of Christ. They are the daily offerings of faith. Not just gratitude, although gratitude is important. But gratitude falls short of trusting who we ARE and stays stuck on just what has happened to us. Faith trusts a new identity. A new life.
What will your life look like today? From morning to evening and all throughout, will you present your life to God as a living sacrifice? Will you do good today? Will you share what you have? Will you find ways to continually praise God? Will you walk by faith? Or will you live for yourself? Chasing shadows while the reality lives in you waiting to be expressed as the light of God in a dark world?
“To live is Christ” means the final sacrifice for sins has been offered by Christ, but this does not end our daily offerings. Our lives are now the living sacrifice that responds to God’s grace in faith filled worship. Worship that praises, shares, honors, and does good as Christ lives in and through his people.