Summary: Just as the aroma of the Old Testament sacrifices pleased God, so our sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving and service can be a sweet aroma to God, continually giving him delight.

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A Thanksgiving Sacrifice

11/23/08 AM

Text: Hebrews 13:15


As a nation we will be celebrating a holiday this coming Thursday, the fourth Thursday of November. This holiday is one of the few which has not been over-run by commercialism or watered down by secularism, though not for lack of trying. The holiday in question is Thanksgiving Day, of course. This holiday has a checkered history in our nation. The popular story of the Pilgrims feasting with the natives of the New World is not exactly accurate but what is verifiably true is that the early explorers and settlers of our nation have a history of setting aside time to specifically give thanks to God.

The earliest written record of thanksgiving to God in America occurred in Texas on May 23, 1541 when Spanish explorer, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado held a service of thanksgiving with his company of men after finding food, water, and pasture for their animals in the Panhandle.

There is in fact only one letter, written by a man of Plymouth by the name of Edward Winslow, which records the Pilgrim feast of 1621 but in the letter Winslow gives praise and speaks of the goodness of God and makes clear that the feast was to rejoice in the gathered harvest.

There are many other recorded days of thanksgiving in our history but an annual national observation of Thanksgiving Day would not begin until 1863 and it would be 1942 before the day was set to the fourth Thursday of every November. Despite the history, one thing is clear: from the earliest days of our nation, God’s people in this land have given Him praise and thanksgiving, which brings us to the text of our lesson:

Hebrews 13:15 (NASB) Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.

I.Through Him

A.Jesus our High Priest

1.The Jews approached God by the blood of the sacrifice and by the ministry of their high priest.

a.Burnt-offerings, sin-offerings, and trespass-offerings, were all on account of transgression against God, and were designed to temporarily remove transgression.

b.Read Hebrews 10:1-4

2.Our High Priest, Jesus, made the perfect blood sacrifice to fully and finally satisfy the Divine justice of the Father.

a.Read Hebrews 10:8-18

b.The Jews also had a type of offerings called “peace-offerings.” They were designed not to produce peace or friendship with God, but to preserve it. (Leviticus 7:11)

c.One who made a peace-offering was regarded as one who was a friend with God, and the sacrifice was brought voluntarily as a means to continue themselves in the friendship and favor of God or as a sign of thankful acknowledgment for favors received.

3.The need for sacrifices of atonement is no longer necessary but there still remains the opportunity and expectation for us to offer “peace-offerings”, our spiritual sacrifices to God.

II.Continually Offer Up a Sacrifice

A.Of praise to God

1.The scriptures are full of admonitions and commands to praise and give thanks to God.

a.2 Samuel 22:50 (NASB) “Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the nations, And I will sing praises to Your name.

b.1 Chronicles 16:8 (NASB) Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples.

c.Psalms 7:17 (NASB) I will give thanks to the LORD according to His righteousness And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.

d.Psalms 9:1 (NASB) I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.

e.Psalms 117:1 - 2 (NASB) Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples! For His lovingkindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD is everlasting. Praise the LORD! (Quoted by Paul in Romans 15:11.)

f.1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB) in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

g.Ephesians 5:19-20 (NASB) speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;

2.It is recorded in the Talmud (which is a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, customs, and history) that, in the time of the Messiah, all sacrifices, except the sacrifice of praise, should cease.

a.(Vayikra Rabba, sect. 9, fol. 153, and Rabbi Tanchum, fol. 55: “Rabbi Phineas, Rabbi Levi, and Rabbi Jochanan, from the authority of Rabbi Menachem of Galilee, said, In the time of the Messiah all sacrifice shall cease, except the sacrifice of praise.”)

b.It was the point of the writer to the Hebrews, in effect, quoting the authority of one of their own maxims that the time of the Messiah had come; that Jesus was that Messiah; and that the Jewish sacrificial system was now abolished except the sacrifice of praise.

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