Another crucial word in the context of the offerings of the OT, of course, is the word sacrifice. The Hebrew is zāḇach (H2076), which means “to slaughter, to kill, to offer, to sacrifice.” While at times it refers to killing an animal simply for food (Deu_12:21; 1Sa_28:24), it is used mainly for the slaughter of animals for sacrifice, either to the true God or even a false one (Jdg_16:23; 2Ch_28:23).
Why was sacrifice required? Because the result of sin is death (Rom_6:23; Jas_1:15), and the only thing that can pay the price of sin is blood—“without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb_9:22; cf. Lev_4:20). It was, therefore, the Lord Jesus who was the focal point of the entire sacrificial system. Everything pointed to Him, for He would be the perfect “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Joh_1:29), it was He who would “save his people from their sins” (Mat_1:21). It was, in fact, the OT Passover itself that pointed to “Christ our passover” (1Co_5:7), whose “precious blood” is “as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1Pe_1:19).
What has happened to the old system? Heb_8:13 declares, “A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” Chapters 9 and 10 detail how the Mosaic system, from symbols to sanctuaries to sacrifices, vanished. In fact, that system began to decay when Israel rejected Christ (Luk_19:37-44) and finally disappeared with the destruction of the temple in AD 70. The Mosaic system was but a “shadow of good things to come” (Heb_10:1, emphasis added), but Jesus is the substance.
Does all that mean there is no kind of sacrifice today? No, but all sacrifice we offer to God is living. No longer is there the dead sacrifice of the Old Covenant, rather the dynamic sacrifice of the New. That’s what Paul meant when he wrote, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Rom_12:1) and what Peter referred to as he wrote to Christian Jews, As “[living] stones, [you] are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1Pe_2:5). Our entire lives now—all we do and say—are living sacrifices to God.
Scriptures for Study: Read the following verses, noting what kind of “spiritual sacrifice” each emphasizes: Rom_15:16, Eph_5:2, Php_4:10-18, Heb_13:15-16; Rev_8:3.