I heard the title line in a song this more. “This shall please the Lord more than sacrifice.”
What will please the Lord more than sacrifice?
I knew the song was taken almost directly from Scripture, so I googled those words. They’re from Psalm 69:31, though in the Psalm the sacrifice is specified (ox or bull).
So what does Psalm 69 say will please the Lord more than sacrifice?
Praising his name with a song and magnifying him with thanksgiving (v. 30).
That was interesting to me, as I’ve always considered Old Covenant animal sacrifices as typifying praise and thanksgiving (as well as other things). Here, though, the psalmist talks about both and says praise and thanksgiving please the Lord more.
There are other things that please God more than sacrifice. We all know the verse that says that obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22). We are not always so aware, however, of how thorough a picture Psalm 51 gives us of God’s view of sacrifice.
Psalm 51 and Sacrifice
Psalm 51 was David’s psalm of repentance for the incident with Uriah and Bathsheba. (We usually only mention Bathsheba, but David murdered her husband Uriah as well.)
David had sinned, but he tells us that God did not want sacrifice. Offering a sacrifice would have been no problem, but God wanted something more.
What did he want?
First, he wanted “truth in the inward parts” (v. 6). I take this to mean honesty down inside. “Don’t fool around with me, David; I am God. Tell the truth, and make your wickedness known because I know it anyway.”
Second, he wanted brokenness and sorrow over the sin honestly acknowledged. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and contrite heart” (v. 17).
All these are priorities to God over sacrifice.
Why am I writing this on Passover (“Easter”)?
Actually, I wasn’t thinking about the fact that this was Passover when I wrote the above. It just came up because of a song.
Now that my mind has returned to what day it is, I do want to use the above to talk about today.
The sacrifices of the Old Covenant are typical of many things, including the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to deliver us from sin, from death, from the world, from the powers of darkness, and from ourselves.
If we make the connection between the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of animals under the Old Covenant, then we need to make the connection between the relative importance of sacrifice for sin as well.
Today, we have an absolute emphasis on the death of Jesus as it applies to the forgiveness of sin. If you were to ask a Christian what the Bible says about the death of Christ, he would tell you that the Bible constantly says that Jesus died for the forgiveness of sins.
The problem is, that’s only partially true. Romans 8:3-4 says that Jesus died to deliver us from Romans 7, the slavery to sin that Paul calls “the law of sin and death.” Romans 14:9 says that Jesus died so that he might be our Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says that Jesus died so that we would not live for ourselves but for him. 1 Peter 1:18-19 says that he died to purchase us. 2 Peter 2:1 says that Jesus died to purchase the false teachers, though it does them no good because they “deny the Lord who bought them.”
Finally, and more to the point, 1 Corinthians 5:7 says that Jesus died to be our Passover.
If you remember, the Passover lamb was not sacrificed for sins. He was sacrificed to deliver entire households from the messenger of death.
Note: Please don’t read all this wrong. The apostles do tell us repeatedly that Jesus died for our sins (e.g. Eph. 1:7) and even that our sins are still cleansed by his blood (1 Jn. 1:7). I’m just trying in a small way to display more the facets of the multifaceted diamond that is the Atonement, the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the center of time and history.
The Passover meal was eaten with staff in hand, shoes on, and robe pulled up and cinched (“loins gird”). It was the last step in the deliverance from Egypt, and it was followed by a long trek through the desert that ended with entrance into a promised land that had to be slowly cleansed and overcome.
If we are aware of what we are entering into when we partake of the Passover lamb, then let us rejoice! A promise awaits us of a land flowing with milk and honey, and today we are delivered from bondage so that we may enter into it! We are not going to be transported there, and even when we get there, there is work to do. This is not bad news. This is good news! We are given a land to possess, and we will plant our fields, build our cities and houses, plant our vineyards, and we will create a place upon which the glory of the Lord shall shine. The Passover is a day of great dread and importance, but it is a day of great triumph over the mighty kingdom that has held us in bondage!
But don’t be fooled. Many who survived Passover by the blood of the lamb were slain in the wilderness by God himself. They received no promised land, and it is not just the writer of Hebrews, but Paul—the writer of Romans—who tells us that we should pay attention to their example (Rom.10:5-6).
Now all these things happened to them for examples, and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the end of the age has come. Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. (Rom. 10:11-12)
I’m traveling today. I got up this morning, and I went to the hotel’s breakfast. The news was on. After writing about Passover earlier in the week, it was fascinating to me the first things I heard on the news.
First, I was told that the pope got up and conducted an Easter service. He spoke about the resurrection, then moved on to other things. After that news announcement, they brought on a theologian. I don’t know what denomination he was from, but he sounded Protestant. He talked about Easter, and said it was a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, while Good Friday was the celebration of his death.
Yes, that is how it is now, but it was not always so. In the early days of the church, this was simply Passover, whether celebrated on Sunday or on the exact day of the Jewish Passover.
And, since I was asked earlier in the week, yes, it’s not simply Passover. Christ is our Passover, the fulfillment and fullness of the lamb and feast of Passover.