As time went by, the system of sacrifice was abused, and the prophets began to cry out for new sacrifice. Isaiah expresses it most clearly:
“’What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?’ says the LORD. ‘I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats… Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me!... Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows” (Isaiah 1:11-17, NLT).
This new understanding of sacrifice as both a ceremony for forgiveness and also an ongoing way of life reaches its climax in Isaiah’s four songs (Isaiah 42, 49, 50 and 52-53) about God’s servant. These songs present a Person whose life is characterized by love, justice humility, suffering and sacrifice.
The fourth song, Isaiah 52-53, describes the appalling suffering of the Servant who, though innocent, is treated as a sinner punished by God and condemned to die a shameful death. It shows that all this is the Servant’s voluntary offering for sinners, whose sin and guilt He takes onto Himself. “He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed” (53:5); “He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels” (53:12).
The song shows that, by a previously unimaginable act of power, God accepts the sacrifice of the Servant and brings about the salvation for many people. This song points to Jesus, the Suffering Servant. In fact all of the Old Testament sacrifices point in some way to Him.
Now, today, it’s time for us to turn our attention to Jesus Christ, because it is by the shedding of His blood that we are forgiven. And it is in the example of His life that we see the power of true forgiveness in action. No more the old system of sacrifice needed for the forgiveness of sins – not that it wasn’t important back then, but it’s no more valid – for Jesus have died on the cross and rose again as the living sacrifice to redeem us sinners back to Himself. In responds to God’s grace and mercy, we ought to: “Give up your evil ways (Repent from our sins). Learn to do good (Be Christ disciples). Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows (Walk the faith).”
No more animals or ceremonials sacrifice require for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus Christ “our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time” (Hebrew 10:12, NLT). This is His actions of grace and mercy. What are your actions of thanksgiving and faith? How to you celebrate this new ceremony for forgiveness and for an ongoing way of life in Christ? Do you repent from your sins? Do you follow Christ’s commands and His examples? Do you love people, seek justice, help the oppressed, defend the cause of the defendless, fight for the rights of the voiceless? Do you walk the faith? Ask yourself.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.