An Acceptable Sacrifice
July 1, 2008

C. R. Oliver

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July 1, 2008

An Acceptable Sacrifice

And fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread.

Judges 6:21
The quote above is in response to Gideon's Offering.

Much has been made of Gideon's fleece testing, while little has been said about his offering. When the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him that he would save Israel, he wanted to make sure that it was God speaking to him. So, he told the Angel to wait until he could prepare an offering. The Angel instructed him to place the meat and bread upon a certain rock and pour away the liquid. The poured out liquid was a sign, similar to the drink offering, that it could never be retrieved. As the Angel touched his staff to the offering, fire came forth from the rock. Nothing remained of that offering. Nothing could be retrieved from it; none of it was consumed by the Angel. It was consumed by the fire. Through this fire, God revealed Himself. God was speaking.

There probably are a few upon the earth who know that the passage in Paul's writing to the Romans is actually connected to Gideon's fire. Romans 12: 1, 2 says:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1-2
Some may know that the "proving" Paul is talking about is the sort of testing that Gideon did. They may even understand that real sacrifice is neither the meat of animals nor the bread of ovens, but is their own bodies. They fully and willingly offer themselves to be consumed by His fire from THE ROCK. If no modern ones exist, it is comforting to know that some Old Testament characters were accustomed to the fire!

Was it not the task of the Old Testament priest to offer holy fire before God during the meat offerings? Was it not God who answered by fire in the Holiest Place, thereby accepting the blood? Such reciprocity was a form of spiritual communion and communication on a visual and visible level. Neither party could possibly doubt that what they saw, through their mutual fires, was anything other than covenant. Today, that sort of reciprocity still exists, but on a different level. In the non-visible place of the heart, sacrifice of spirit, mind and body take place through the baptism of fire. It is yet a mutual act. At the Temple altar stood a priest offering holy fire and raising holy hands, while at the atonement altar, the Holy God was accepting a holy sacrifice through His descending fire. Moses understood this.

Moses, along with his multitudes, heeded the command of the Lord and offered fire offerings that were described as "a sweet smelling savor to God."
And Moses burned the whole ram on the altar. It was a burnt sacrifice for a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD, as the LORD had commanded Moses.
Leviticus 8:21
Paul took this example and urged the saints in Ephesus to identify with Moses and offer a sacrifice that would exceed the whole burnt offering. It was to be the sacrifice of self. Their sacrifice would also be a "sweet smelling aroma" to God, just as Christ's was.
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Ephesians 5:2-3
There it is--the connection between the Old Testament sacrifices and the New Testament ones. One was a single offering for the multitudes, while the other is a multitude of single offerings comprising a spiritual multitude. There can be no other form of Christian unity. The only unity recognized in heaven is that which forms a "sweet smelling aroma." (Any attempt to obtain unity through man's agenda is apart from God and will resemble the "strange fire" offerings of Nadab and Abihu. The smell of that sacrifice reeked of human burning flesh.)

Paul stated it best when he compared his personal sacrifice for the Philippian saints in terms of community. He did for them what they gladly would have done for him.
I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
Philippians 2:17
In that same book, two chapters later, Paul attested that indeed they had already sacrificed in material ways for him. (How strange to hear, from pulpits and lecterns, one verse of great promise expounded upon without the predicating verses just before it. How strange to see included in sermonic soliloquies, "My God shall supply all your needs," apart from the mention of a "sweet smelling" sacrifice preceding it.)
Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:18-20
Philippians is not the only site for this kind of sacrifice. No more powerful giving of self can be found than what is spelled out in the book of Hebrews. Speaking of Jesus' supreme sacrifice, in Old Testament terms, the author introduced scripture which points the way for every believer and his/her commitment to sacrifice.
Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
'Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.
In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.
Then I said, "Behold, I have come--
In the volume of the book it is written of Me--
To do Your will, O God." '
Hebrews 10:5-7
Is this not the service of every saint? Should this not be the expression of everyone who names The Name? Shouldn't every saint have as his own testimony, "In the volume of His book, it is written of me-to do Your will, O God." When all the saints have spoken these words, and truly mean them, a glorious church will be ready for presentation.

The glorious church unity of the upper room bunch found their sacrifice of self and agenda met by fire resting on their person. An acceptable sacrifice is always met by fire. It is the loss of fire in pulpit and pew which has left a generation without example.

Those searching for the missing elements in the congregations of the Twenty-first Century had best look no further than to the loss of the "fire of acceptance" from God. In this, the church has erred. (Countless times in the Old Testament, offerings were made that consumed the offerer, because the offering was an affront and stood unacceptable to God.) As simplistic as it may sound, a repeat of "the failure offerings" noted in the Old Testament will draw the same answer in the New Testament. A brief review is sufficient to prove this point: Three unacceptable offerings in the Old Testament.
  1. Cain's unacceptable offering in Genesis. Able's sacrifice of fire was acceptable, while Cain's (unauthorized offering) brought forth a murderous heart, distance from God and a continuous unacceptable attitude toward his fellowman. (If this sounds familiar as a descriptor of the modern church, so be it.)

  2. Nadab and Ahihu's unacceptable profane offering (Leviticus 10:1-3).
    Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. And Moses said to Aaron, 'This is what the LORD spoke, saying:
    "By those who come near Me
    I must be regarded as holy;
    And before all the people
    I must be glorified. "
    So Aaron held his peace.
    (Nadab and Abihu offered a sacrifice that God did not call for. Profane meant "unholy" and there is a principle related to sacrifices that must be adhered to, the offerer must be "holy."
    A statute forever in your generations concerning the offerings made by fire to the LORD. Everyone who touches them must be holy.
    Leviticus 6:18)
  3. Three of Moses' accusers had unacceptable offerings (Numbers 16:27).
    Korah, Dathan, and Abiram offered censors filled with unacceptable fire. After they were destroyed by the earth opening, their censors were gathered, but the strange (unacceptable) fire was scattered abroad, then the fire of God came forth from heaven and destroyed their followers (all 250 of them). Strange fire went up and judgment fire came down.
This brief study reveals much about the nature of offerings and sacrifices. It shows how "unacceptable offerings" are judged and how "acceptable offerings" are blessed. It emphasizes the holy and underlines the error of sacrificing with the wrong intent.
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; How much more when he brings it with wicked intent!
Proverbs 21:27
The intent of the sacrifices offered to God is perhaps the most important element in garnering the fire of favor from Him. Many an Old Testament offering wound up being little more than those sacrificed to idols and God knew the difference.

The church, though, has a sacrificial mandate given to it by Peter. Its demand is simple and direct and absolute.
You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:5
Nothing is accomplished by the church, nor can it be, without spiritual sacrifice. These sacrifices are to be orchestrated through the Great High Priest, Jesus. The Holy Spirit draws the believer to the altar and, whether through command or gratitude, the offering is proposed and given. Much has been made about how saints are kings and priests, but little has been certified of their spiritual duties before God. Nearly every example in the Old Testament shows sacrifice being made by both groups (Kings and Priests). Samuel, David and Solomon, to name three, continually offered up sacrifices to God. Some commanded for special occasions, some for direction and guidance, some out of love and gratitude, but all with the mandate of David, "I will not offer up a sacrifice that costs me nothing."

Yes, there are sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving among the ranks of believers, but what of the "greater sacrifices," the ones that make spiritual high places quiver and quake. What sacrifices are being made that shake the domain of idols and cause fear to rise in the hearts of God's enemies? Can one accept the mantle without the mandate?

When Paul used terms bearing Old Testament references in Romans and Philippians, he did so as a Jewish Rabbi applying rules of acceptable sacrifice. He applied them to the church. The church is currently in a dangerous position as it offers up its corrupted versions of "sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving." The church is in grave danger when it offers at the altar of God, a profane message, held in unholy hands. The church is in trouble when it moves according to its own agenda, as opposed to God's will, while holding a communion cup in one hand and bread in the other.

Surely the Lord is not pleased with sacrifices and burnt offerings, but there are sacrifices to which all saints must give and keep giving throughout their walk with God. If the church is to become the "house of sacrifice" as was said of Solomon, then it must give the "acceptable" offerings. In the following passage is the exact missing sacrifice that is not found in modern worship and must be restored at all costs. Such sacrifice will be met with renewed Holy Ghost fire!
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart--
These, O God, You will not despise
Psalms 51:16-17

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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Die Sohn Zadoks

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