Friday, April 15, 2011

Temple sacrifices?

Matt 21:18-22

18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, "Let no fruit grow on you ever again." Immediately the fig tree withered away.

20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither away so soon?"

21 So Jesus answered and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done.  22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."

It's hard for us to understand the importance of the temple sacrifice, in 2011.  Jesus was angry and cleared the temple of all money changers.  He was angry because the sacrifice was to be the way for man to confess his sin to God and find forgiveness.  Man was to offer the best animal from his livestock to God- and God in turn would forgive and bless him.  The chief priests ignored God's Word, telling people to come to the temple and purchase a sacrifice to offer to God.  It was not a sacrifice for the buyer, other than financial. They even painted over blemishes in the animal offered.  It was like they didn't take God seriously.  Like a confession done as a requirement, rather than from the heart.  Meaningless to God.  They were "blind guides."

Sacrifice began in Genesis with Cain and Abel.  Both brothers brought an offering to God.  Cain grabbed some fruit and presented it to God and He didn't respect it.  Abel brought the firstborn from his flock and God respected it.  For Abel it was truly a sacrifice offered in faith, for Cain it was an item on his To-Do list.
Genesis 4:2-7
2 Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

6 So the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it."

An astounding sacrifice was asked of Abraham.  To me, it illustrates how seriously God took a sacrifice.  Abraham was willing to give anything to the Lord, even his beloved son.  It is also similar to the sacrifice of God's Son, "Jesus."  The sacrifice for all of mankind.
Gen 22:1-14
1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!"
And he said, "Here I am."
2 Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."

6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!"
And he said, "Here I am, my son."
Then he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"
8 And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together.
9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!"
So he said, "Here I am."
12 And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."
13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, "In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided."
The thicket where the lamb was found, had thorns.  Jesus was forced to wear a crown of thorns before His crucifixion.  Some say His crucifixion took place at the exact same spot as Abraham's sacrifice, on Mt. Moriah (the location of Jerusalem today). 

While Jesus was in the Temple, He was challenged by the chief priests, elders, Pharisees, and Herodians.  He spoke to them in parables. Matthew, Chapter 23 records the words Jesus used to describe what these men had done.  In these verses, He reveals His broken heart for Jerusalem, the Jewish people.
Matt 23:37-39
37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  38 See! Your house is left to you desolate;  39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"

When they left Jerusalem, Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple.  In 70 AD, the Romans completely destroyed it- animal sacrifices by the Jewish people stopped.
Matt 24:1-2
24 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

Jesus was anointed for His burial.  I think most Christian women love this story.  It is one of the major roles a woman had in Jesus ministry. Sometimes when I mess up, I imagine crying at Jesus' feet.  But if I were a disciple, I would feel frightened, and confused by this.  Here was their Master being anointed for... Burial?  Judas' heart is on display.  His attitudes are becoming more obvious.  The other disciples may have been annoyed at his comment at such a solemn moment, or confused themselves.
John 12:1-8
1 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. 3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
4 But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said, 5 "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.
7 But Jesus said, "Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial.  8 For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always."

It's important to note that the Old Testament of the Bible was written in ancient Hebrew.  The New Testament was written in ancient Greek.  The Bible was not written by one man.  Yet it tells one story that fits together like a picture puzzle.  The story of God's immense love for us, the provision for our salvation from sin, Jesus.  The only way to describe it is the inspired Word of God.


  1. You're welcome! Sorry for the long posts- I'm hoping they'll get shorter as I move through the story.