In baseball, they have a play that’s called a Sacrifice fly. If a runner is on 3rd base, and there are less than 2 outs, the batter will get the signal to try to hit the ball deep into the outfield, knowing that the ball will be caught and he will be out. But he sacrifices himself, so that his teammate can score a run. Parents will often sacrifice their time and money so that they can provide a better future for their children, perhaps saving up for them to go to college, or the trip of a lifetime after they graduate. On battlefields where our troops are fighting, you hear stories about men who throw themselves onto a grenade, sacrificing their own life, in order to save the lives of fellow soldiers. Sacrifice… it’s a word we don’t hear much about unless it’s associated with heroism and heroic efforts.
In the Old Testament sacrificial system under the Law of Moses, God instituted the practice of animal sacrifice because of sin. An animal’s life is sacrificed for the benefit of the person bringing the sacrifice. The theological term for this benefit is called atonement. Exodus 29:36 says, “Sacrifice a bull each day as a sin offering to make atonement.” Atonement means to make payment, or to make amends. In the English language, “atone” was formed from two words: “at one”. For atonement to take place – to be “at one” with God – there has to be a sacrifice. God is reconciled to us and we are reconciled to God through a sacrifice. Through Jesus sacrifice on the cross – and our faith in him – we become “at one” with God the Father.
Another type of sacrifice is found in the New Testament book of Hebrews chapter 13 “therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise” (v15) When it says a sacrifice of praise, where does the sacrifice part come in? It’s not really a sacrifice to praise the Lord on Resurrection Sunday (or any Sunday) along with everyone else who’s here. But it’s much more a sacrifice to praise the Lord when the world is pressing in on you and everything is going wrong in your life.Do we praise the Lord then? That’s a sacrifice of praise. The OT Prophet Habakkuk wrote these beautiful words:
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
That is a sacrifice of praise!
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