What is a Real Sacrifice? Stop Wasting Your Money and Energy!
There was a plague in Israel. The Lord had sent an angel of death to strike the people – King David’s dire choice over two other very distressing options, because he thought, “The Lord’s mercies are great, so let me not fall into the hands of man.” Truly, the king knew his God, because at some point, as the angel made to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord saw it and relented.
“Enough!” He said.
The plague was abated. Something else stopped with the plague – King David’s deep mental distress. There! He looks up and sees the angel of the Lord, who had been striking the people, standing at the threshing floor of Araunah/Ornan, a man from Jebus. Gad, the prophet, is ordered by the Lord to tell David to build an altar, on Araunah’s threshing floor. David approaches Araunah [whose 4 sons see the king and his servants coming and scamper for their lives], and asks to buy his land. Araunah says, “Who am I to sell something to the king? Please sir, take it for free. And take everything else that you would need to offer your sacrifice, for free.” David responds, “No. I insist on paying. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, and neither will I offer burnt offerings which cost me nothing.”
David pays Araunah for his land, and then offer sacrifices to God there. Later, after David’s death, his son, Solomon, builds the temple of God right there, on that land. [See 1 Chronicles 21, and 2 Samuel 24 for the full details of this story].
Centuries and centuries later, David’s statement to Araunah has been used to back up a doctrine about painful sacrifices. It has been quoted by preachers to make people give or sow seeds far beyond their means, because [they insist that] sacrificial giving MUST be painful. But what does the Bible really say?
A sacrifice by its very nature will cost you something.
In the Old Testament, under the law, a sacrifice was an animal that a person gives up. A whole burnt offering means you burnt up the whole animal, but very few times was a whole burnt offering given under the law. Most of the sacrifices were not whole burnt offerings. An Israelite would bring an animal, and the Levites would assist him, and they would slit its throat. The Bible gives us some specifics, certain parts that would go to the priests or the family of the priest [the book of Leviticus has a lot of details on this].
In every sacrifice, there’s a portion that goes to the priests. It may be a grain offering, or a peace offering, a drink offering [wine] or a burnt offering. If it was a grain offering, the offering would be of fine flour mixed with oil and frankincense (See Leviticus 2). They would take a part it and throw it into the fire, and it creates an aroma that was symbolic and pleasing to the Lord. But in Numbers 18, Deuteronomy 18 and other parts of Scripture, God had said very clearly that, “I have appointed the priests to collect offerings on my behalf.” (Numbers 18:8-9). So the majority of the sacrifice goes to the priests. They take it home; that’s where they eat from, that’s their food, their source of income, that’s how they are cared for. I don’t know how they preserved the meat because they didn’t have a fridge. I don’t know, but you can be sure that the priests were the healthiest looking people at the time because they ate so much meat. I know many people don’t think of it, but they ate so much meat because the people continually brought meat to them.
There were all sorts of sacrifices, not just the ones given during the festivals. There were sacrifices given at different times. So the animals would be killed and the priests would cut out their own part of the animal. The Bible says that all the fat belonged to the Lord (Leviticus 3:16). So all the parts with fat were removed and put into the fire, to fuel the fire. The oil from the fat, sometimes, is interpreted to mean the anointing. In Isaiah 10:27, where the Bible says that the anointing shall break the yoke, the actual word for ‘anointing’, or ‘oil’ is ‘fat’. So the English Standard Version of Isaiah 10:27 says, “The yoke will be broken because of the fat…” But don’t let that get you confused or bother you. And by the way, do you know that fat is bad for your health? So God in His wonderful wisdom was always thinking of us. He asked that the fat be burned so the people would not eat it. He is wise.
After the fat is taken out, as well as the part that belongs to the priest, the rest of the animal is burnt. It is burnt in fire till it is black, charred; till it is charcoal. As it burns, they scrape off the charcoal, and they keep burning the thing till it’s all gone. It seems like an utter waste right? That’s why spiritual things are foolishness to natural people.
People ask: “How could you give like that? How could you give that up? How could you spend one hour singing/worshipping? Two hours? Three? Just lifting your hands and saying, ‘Oh God I bless You, oh God I love You, oh God You’re wonderful, oh God You’re…’” People express shock at those who spend long hours in church meetings, worshipping, or studying the Bible.
If you think like that, let me show you how you have been hoodwinked.
The same people who say that, “You cannot give God that which does not cost you,” will take that which barely costs you from you. Money costs you [when you give money], because you would have kept that money and spent it on yourself. So it cost you when what you gave could have been used to get you a new shirt, a new pair of jeans, a new pair of shoes, and so on. That money you gave, is a sacrifice because it has cost you something. Even if it cost you 50 naira, it cost you. That is what it means to say, “I will not give the Lord that which does not cost me something.” It is what David meant when he said, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” [2 Samuel 24:24, 1 Chronicles 21:24].
Listen, “I will not give the Lord that which is not a sacrifice, or I will not give the Lord that which does not take away something from me” does NOT mean, “I will not give the Lord that which does not break my back.”
Some sacrifices may break your back [really cost you a lot], but I’m saying that it doesn’t mean that every time you give God something, it broke your back [the giving really hurt you or impacted on your resources]. Do you understand? It doesn’t mean that every time you give the Lord, you must make sure you give the Lord that which causes you pain; that all your giving must be a painful sacrifice. That’s not what that Scripture means. That it cost you something does not mean it has to hurt you.
Have you ever given someone something before and it didn’t hurt you at all? Does it hurt you all the time when you give? Are you in permanent pain every time you give, even when you paid someone’s fare in a bus? Likely not.
You are not in pain, but it cost you something. That’s what David meant. He did not mean that every time you have to give to God the sacrifice must cost you pain. It’s not true.
David was a king. He was very wealthy. He provided the things that were needed to build the temple [1 Chronicles 22:3, 14; 29:2-5]. Do you think he felt the 600 shekels of gold he paid Araunah? Many of us are unaware that David was rich. He was very wealthy, but he was a classic example of a proper Christian. Nobody knew of his wealth. We don’t talk about David’s wealth. He was so rich, but he lived for God and so everything he owned, he dedicated and consecrated to God. He did not act as though he owned anything; he did not use his riches for himself. He kept them for the building of God’s house. That’s the wisdom David had, unlike Solomon.
Okay, you may say that Solomon had finished building the temple and could now afford to store up wealth. However, he could have shared his wealth with other people; he could have done some more good things with his riches. Solomon is also a picture of the age that follows this age we are in, where we will have an abundance and excess. Solomon means peace; he speaks of the Prince of Peace. So his time was a time of peace. The Bible says that in his time, silver was as common as stones (2 Chronicles 1:15, 2 Chronicles 9:27, 1 Kings 10:27). He is a picture too, prophesying of the messiah.
Sacrifices by their nature will cost something. If it doesn’t cost something, it’s not a sacrifice. Therefore, you cannot take someone else’s property and give it as a sacrifice. This is the same even with offerings. If you attended a church meeting and you are told to turn to your neigbour [and ask them to give you an offering] if you don’t have an offering, because you have to have an offering, and so you take from your neighbour [and gave], just know that you didn’t give anything. Every time you got money from your neighbour [I don’t mean your parents, I mean your neighbour, someone who sat beside you in a church meeting] to give as an offering, you didn’t give anything. That is not a gift. It was not an offering from you, because it didn’t cost you anything; it cost your neighbour. Your neighbour just doubled his offering [what he gave plus what you gave on his behalf]. The spirit realm sees where the offering came from. It didn’t cost you anything.
Do you see the mindset behind the above scenario? We say, “I will not give the Lord that which does not cost me anything?” and yet we happily give money that we got from a neighbour, doing the opposite of what we say. You see how we [Christians] are?
So, what happens is that a preacher wants extra money and he knows how to get it, and so he sends you to your neighbour and thus increases the income he would receive, because if you didn’t take from your neighbor, you wouldn’t have had an offering to give. Say it’s a very small congregation, for example, there would have been an offering of say, N3200. But by the time you got money from your neighbour, there would be an offering of N3800 or N4500. The offering has been increased. This is the sense in it; the deceit in the Church of God.
When people in the Church of God come with a kind of sense, just know that at the end what will happen will be what happens in the streets of the world. Already it has been happening for a long time. It has been happening for decades, and this is why many people leave the church.
Actually outside this country, Nigeria, many people are so dissuaded and discouraged about Christianity. They do not believe that there is anything real. Many people think that Christianity is all a facade, a show, a scam.
Now another thing to note is that this teaching about not giving that which does not cost you to God doesn’t just stop there. It goes ahead to say, “Make sure you don’t give without attaching something to it [your offering].” Have you ever heard this: “Make sure you attach something to that offering and don’t come to the Lord without an expectation”? But when you lift up your hands to sing and worship God, aren’t you giving the Lord that which cost you something?
You see, you are not giving freely when you are attaching something to your gift. So when you worship God and attach something to it, what you are actually saying in your heart [as you sing and worship] is this: “We will sing, we will sing… God you’re seeing, I’m singing… I’m just standing here doing nothing but raising my hands to You… and I bring my praise and offerings unto my King… But it’s not for free. Make sure You answer my prayer request. We will sing… God I’m singing. We should have stopped since but we are still singing, we will sing… Take this worship as an offering, but just know that it is not for free. Unto You I bring my car, my health, my wife.. our praise… my children that are not yet born, and I give them all as an offering unto the king… O God you’re seeing. Answer my prayer.”
That’s not a sacrifice. You were praying, you were begging Him, you were looking for something. You were not giving freely, you were transacting business: “When the praises go up, the blessings come down,” that’s why you were praising. If there were no blessings attached, would you be singing [with the same fervency you did]? No, except maybe for the joy of a lovely song.
Therefore, most people have almost never given God a sacrifice, because a sacrifice doesn’t come back. It’s a sacrifice; it’s a loss that doesn’t seem to make sense. Under the Law of Moses, a sacrifice was an animal that was burnt and burnt until all of it was gone. And you would go to a priest [whose head’s shape you may not even like], handed over your animal to him, and left, walked away. You should only do this out of obedience to God. That is why it’s a sacrifice.
Some preachers say things like, “We are coming together for a praise night, this night. As we are here today, the power of God will move, and you will not go back the same.” But what do they mean by, “We will not go back the same,” Why? How? This is based on the teaching that when you give God something, you must collect something back. If you think like that, then you don’t understand the concept of sacrifice. A sacrifice doesn’t come with the mindset that says, “God you’ll give me back what I have just given you.” God did not call you to give sacrifices; He called you to obey Him. And you obey God and bring sacrifices because He says that you should bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord (Hebrews 13:15).
The Bible says, “I was glad when they said let us go to the house of the Lord,” and “I will enter His gates with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 122:1, Psalm 100:1-4).
Thanksgiving, is it for the future or for the past? What do you give thanks for? Do you just walk across people on the road and say ‘thank you’ to them? You say ‘thank you’ after they have done you good. So thanksgiving is typically for things done in the past; for things that God has done for you. Enter His courts with praise, say this is the day that the Lord has made (Psalm 118:24). You come to the Lord blessing Him because He deserves to be blessed. He deserves worship, not just for something that He does or not.
As a congregation, we offer pure sacrifice to God, not a sacrifice with ulterior motives. We have multiple worship meetings where we just worship the Lord, and no one makes a single request to Him. There is no connection between worshiping and praising God, and wanting something. Yes, some people are the small children (that is spiritually), who go like, “Daddy has promised that anytime we sing well, He will buy us biscuits.” Please, I am not talking about people like that. If you are like that, don’t worry, continue. But I hope that you will grow to the place where your offerings are not driven by motives but by a pure appreciation of your King.
So, a child of God who should have grown up and become mature is singing a worship song, and all that they can think of is, “I got an ‘A’ in Agricultural Science, God You are great. And in Economics too; You are great. I see Your hand in my academics; You are great. You are great. In my family, You will heal my mother; You are great. Everything written about You is great.” And the passion with which the song is sung all has a purpose. That is, you may see two people singing – one with ulterior motives, and the other, without – and in fact, the one with motives was singing louder. In the spirit realm, he is singing and actually saying this: “I’m thinking You’re great, but I’ve not seen it yet, because my mother is not healed yet. But I believe that as I sing and say these things, you will heal her, okay? Because that’s what they said. Let me see if it’ll work. So I’m pressing the right buttons.”
And the other person’s voice may not be as loud, but he is actually praising God. In the spirit realm, his voice is loud. They both have words coming out of their mouths.
This is why you must be washed by the word of God. It changes you; it makes you repent, changes your thinking and helps you to live properly (Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 4:23, Colossians 3:10, Titus 3:5). You do things the right way, and worship God in an acceptable way (John 4:23-24).
– Pastor Ita Udoh
14th October, 2018
© God’s Lighthouse 2018.