The Perpetual Sacrifice

God has constructed Christianity on the template of Moses. For this reason we can see the roots of our faith in metaphoric images manifest in Hebrew theology.

The communion sacrifice (also called the 'peace-offering') was widespread, not just among the Hebrew tribes, but throughout many parts of the ancient world. It was a sacred banquet at which the worshippers ate one portion of the victim, and gave the other portion, the blood and the fatty parts, over to God because they were considered the very life of the animal sacrifice, and as such, far too holy to be eaten .

Communion seems to have been "the most commonly celebrated sacrifice in ancient Israel and the central rite of her feasts. Since it was a meal 'shared' with God, it expressed better than any other sacrifice the union of God with his faithful."

Jesus structured His sacrifice on the cross around this meal. Instead of serving Himself to the people as a meat offering, however, He chose to do so in the form of an oblation. The oblation in Hebrew theology was the grain offering. He did this by lifting up bread at the Last Supper and telling His disciple, "This is my body. And by telling them to "do this in remembrance of me," he guaranteed the institution of the Eucharist or communion ­ a perpetually offered remembrance of the sacrifice that gives us life eternal.

"If anyone offers the Lord an oblation, his offering is to consist of wheaten flour on which he is to pour wine and put incense. He shall bring it to the sons of Aaron, the priests; he is to take a handful of the wheaten flour and oil and all the incense, and the priest shall burn it on the altar as a memorial, a burnt offering whose fragrance wll appease the Lord." (Lev.2:1-2)

"The remainder that is left of the oblation is to revert to Aaron and his sons; a most holy portion of the burnt offerings of the Lord." (Lev. 2:3).

"Every oblation, mixed with oil or dry, is to revert to all the sons of Aaron without distinction." (Lev. 7:10).

In the Greek Bible, the remnant set aside is termed the "azkarah" ­ a holy reminder.

In Hebrew liturgy the communion oblation has two parts, the body and the blood. But we can see in the Hebrew template of the communion sacrifice that the body itself has two parts as well ­ the victim's actual body and the azkarah or "reminder" of that body which reverts to Aaron and his sons as a reminder of God.

Thus in the sacrificial liturgy part of the faithful eat the actual body of the victim while others partake of the symbolic portion that has been set aside for that purpose. In this way the entire comunity of God are brought into the one same perpetually offered sacrificial remembrance service which joins us all in the Lord's Last Supper.

When the two parts of the victim's body are unified in this way, the Eucharist applies to all Christendom at once. God has drawn us all to Himself through the one same sacrifice ­ His Peace Offering to the entire world.

As we saw above, the blood of the victim was considered too holy for consumption and was therefore set aside for the deity (for God). In Hebrew theology, as shown above, the blood was considered the very life of the animal that was sacrificed. In the perpetual sacrifice of Christ, God has turned the offer around and presented it to us ­ so that His very life might enter into us and give us eternal life in Himself.

We have learned through the Holy Spirit that this perpetual sacrifice is the life of the world. As long as it is offered, the world will continue to live. If it is taken away, as, indeed, it will be someday, the wrath which it has kept at bay will return and consume the world.

This, too, is prescribed in the Hebrew liturgy. In the Old Testament if the communion offering is not eaten, it must be burnt up (Lev.19:5-6). That fire comes down from God out of heaven. True to the scriptures it will happen on the "third day".

As we can see, there are two structures in Christ's sacrifice, the metaphoric description ascribed to Moses and the reality which all that symbolism meant to convey toward our understanding.

In the Law of Moses there were two priesthoods. One for the inner chamber of the temple and the other for its outer chamber. The Holy Spirit inspired the formation of these two priesthoods so that they could officiate in the offerings of the two holy elements of the sacrificial food offered to us by Jesus Christ.

One form of this food is consecrated by the ministers in church when they offer us the bread and wine of communion; and the other is consecrated by ourselves when we live the Gospel.

That is why two priesthoods are needed. One to officiate over the physical sacrifice and another to officiate over its spiritual counterpart.

The bread and wine, themselves, symbolize the two parts of the offering.

The transubstance of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus signify the transubstance of the offering from a physical element into a spiritual one.

The Hebrews tried to effect this same kind of transubstance by burning the offering and letting the smoke of its incineration waft up to heaven through the air like an ether.

But God wanted us to understand from the physical offering that we needed to hear His word and put it into practice in our lives. That is the spiritual transubstance He was looking for, because this understanding and the actions that springs from it effect the only kind of spiritual transubstance that actually produces eternal life.

The light that enters us is like that of an invisible candle burning within us ­ a flame of life-giving energy sparked by the Holy Spirit. That light in our hearts, the word of God, makes us sons of the light. It is a flame invisible to all except by the reflection of behavior. "By their fruits you will know them."

In fielding two priesthoods under Peter, Christianity holds again to the Mosaic template. The highest priesthood is internal and encompasses us all (1 Peter 2:9), while the lower priesthood is liturgical and can be seen in the services of the various churches.

Both are vital. Together, the foods of the two sacrifices associated with each priesthood constitute the complete feast of heaven. While the consecration and offering of the bread and wine of communion perpetuates the treaty and protects the world from the wrath, the consecration of the Gospel into our daily lives, is the spiritual food that builds our invisible bodies in heaven.

Many churches believe that when the bread and wine are consecrated by the priest they are transubstanced into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, so that those who partake of the sacrifice actually take Jesus into their bodies in food form.

The spiritual sacrifice works the same way, only better. In it, when we take the gospel into our hearts and live it's commandments in our lives, we indeed bring Jesus into our soul in a form that is identical to the actual food of heaven, a food which is transubstanced within us spiritually into a growing eternal body.

The physical food feeds a physical body which is destined to wear out, but the spiritual food feeds the developing embryo of our new body which we will wear in God's new kingdom. Therefore the second food feeds us eternal life.

The sacrifice of Jesus, then, is manifested in a different way by each of the two priesthoods.

The Jews had two priesthoods, but they only had one food. Theirs was a food of the outer chamber.

The food of the inner chamber did not arrive until Jesus brought it. And when He did, he transformed the liturgy.

He conferred the higher priesthood on those who transubstanced His Gospel into action in their lives -- sending the Holy of Holies into the hearts of every believer. This is the priesthood of Peter and it is the fulfillment of the priesthood of Aaron.

In the book of Hebrews it is written that "no one has the right to go into the sanctuary as long as the outer tent remains standing because none of the gifts and sacrifices offered under these regulations can possibly bring any worshipper to perfection in his inner self; they are rules about the outward life, connected with foods and drinks and washing at various times, intended to be in force only until it should be time to reform them." (Heb.9:8-10).

Christ has clearly shown us that the church service, despite its immense holiness, saves no one. It can, and does offer a reprieve, but it cannot save.

It is only our own personal relationship with Jesus and his word which determines our salvation.

When Moses set up the priesthood, it's specific function was to transform food from one substance into another. This is also why God has made us a part of his royal priesthood -- so that we are able to transform the holy food of heaven (the Gospel) into new eternal bodies so that we can live in heaven.

Flesh and blood cannot live in heaven. So the transformation is essential. And it involves a worship service that can only take place inside ourselves.

God has made each one of us a part of His royal priesthood just for this purpose-- so that we can transubstance the Gospel into spiritual flesh by living our lives in it's directives.

That is why the Holy Spirit had divine food occupy such a prominent position in the Mosaic liturgy and that is also why it was accorded so much importance in Christianity by Jesus at the Last Supper. (Lk.22:19-20).



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Chapter 10, "The Peace Treaty"

 

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E.C.S.Leavenworth III; Goodnews Christian Ministry.