And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. – 1Sam. 1:11 KJV
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The mere mention of the word “sacrifice”, to some people brings to mind fetish practices or acts made in honour of the non-Christian gods. This definitely is very false as nothing in the meaning of the word limits its use to such acts alone. Sacrifice may indeed involve the shedding of blood but such shedding was the hallmark of the worshippers of the Christian God called Jehovah, until Jesus Christ came and offered the ultimate sacrifice that stopped individual Christians from performing similar sacrifices of their own on every occasion that it was required, as stated in the old testament ordinances.
The truth is that the Christian today cannot frown at such sacrificial acts, as such is enjoying and will always be a beneficiary of such an act through the shedding of blood of Jesus Christ on Calvary, even though, he/she is not expected to offer fresh ones. However, that ultimate sacrifice will never stop the Christian from offering sacrifices based on another definition of the word, which says it is, the act of giving up something of great value for the sake of other considerations. The Christian will always be expected to make such sacrifices, usually referred to as sacrificial offering, not only for one another but also in their relationship with Jehovah, especially when there is the desire to promptly trigger Him into granting a wish.
Such sacrifices, similar to the one made by Hannah in Shiloh (1Sam. 1:9-28), as cited in the scripture that is the foundation of today’s Devotional, makes the individual give up something that is very dear in order to please a fellow brother, or more importantly, Jehovah. Hannah no doubt needed a child desperately, but Jehovah too needed a male to replace Eli as Priest, so it became a meeting of interests when she decided to offer the son she was desperately requesting from Jehovah back to Him, for His exclusive use, should He grant her request. Jehovah did not just grant her request on that occasion, after many years of fruitlessly journeys to Shiloh and presentation of similar demand, albeit, without the vow, but also acknowledged and accepted her offer, going further to give her another six children – 1Sam. 2:5. She had asked for only one and had gotten seven.
Truth is that sacrifices do work and remain very effective, but those making it must meet the specific conditions for each sacrifice, before it can achieve its purpose. Many Christians today offer what is not a sacrifice, believing that they are offering sacrifices, whilst some do offer sacrifices in deed, but the result of such sacrifices is not what was desired, as several conditions for offering an acceptable sacrifice were contravened. There is the need to make it clear that offerings, especially the one made voluntarily cannot be regarded as sacrifices, and so should not be expected to yield a reward similar to what sacrifice will yield. An accepted offerings will surely open doors, but that will still not make it a sacrifice.
At this junture, there is the need to emphasise that due to the death of Christ on the Cross at Calvary, there is no further need for the shedding of blood by anyone seeking to offer sacrifice. Hannah did sacrifice her son to Jehovah in Shiloh, by dedicating him to Jehovah for His exclusive use, an act that opened the door of greater blessings for her, but did not have to shed his blood. So, what were the major features of her sacrifice?
- She offered what she desperately needed. That she had been making the request for many harvests did not restrain her from offering the same item she had always requested. She could have offered anything else during the vow making moment, but rather chose to return that same desperately required item to the Lord. In doing that, she did not mind depriving her self of the comfort that the child she obviously wanted, would bring.
- She offered what Jehovah desperately needed. Even though she may not have been aware of the need of Jehovah for a replacement for Eli, she allowed her prayer to be led by the Spirit and so was able to act, even though unconsciously, in His Will.
- The offer was made freely without coercion. She was indeed desperate to have a child but no one forced or blackmailed her into taking the step she took. It was purely a voluntary act on her part.
Though Jehovah may not always need a son to be offered as a sacrifice as in the case of Hannah, there are so many other desires of Jehovah, the implementation of which He is desperately looking for someone to do on His behalf.
Implementing those actions on his behalf will definitely attract rewards from Him, especially if He commissioned the individual to do so. Knowing such desires of His and being in a position to offer them freely in the course of presenting a request to Him will definitely fast-track the receipt of a positive response to such requests, but giving up such desires when the one giving them up, also desperately needs what is being given up is the real deal as that is the sacrificial act. In such circumstances, and barring the contravention of any or all of the following conditions, the receipt of a positive response is not only assured, but will be prompt and rapid. Below are some of these conditions ;
- The purity of what is being offered. Samuel was quickly brought back to the Lord before the possibility of his getting involved in acts that are defiling to his projected role. No matter how much what is being offered as sacrifice meets the desire of the Lord, its purity is very important to Him as a clean god will never accept and unclean offering. Just as He told the Israelites through the Prophet Jeremiah, He will not allow Himself to be associated with negative gifts or acts – Jer. 7:9-10.
- The value of what is being offered. The value here is not restricted to financial only but in relation to how much it means to the giver and how much it ranks with meeting the desire of Jehovah. The item of sacrifice may be small in value before men but may be huge before the Almighty God because of its effect on the giver. The case of the Widow and her offering towards the building of the temple quickly comes to mind here – Lk. 21:1-4. Men may equally consider the item as huge but it may not carry the same value with the only One whose opinion matters, that is Jehovah.
- The intention of the one who is offering the sacrifice. Being able to bring an offering that will meet the desire of Jehovah, may not successfully achieve the desire of the giver if the intention for having that desire does not have the approval of Jehovah – James 4:2-3.
Indeed people bring offerings to the Lord which will definitely attract some rewards from Him but sacrificial offerings are those that are made under the above conditions and meet the divinely set standards. When sacrifices are made in such a manner, they do not need to be accompanied by long prayers as the act instantly triggers Jehovah into action.
However, only the one that knows the mind of Jehovah, either directly by hearing from the Holy Spirit, or indirectly by intuition, like the case of Hannah, or by hearing through His messengers can know the what, when, where and how of such acts. He hardly makes demand or has need for such, so the one in a position to do so should always consider him/her self lucky as it remains the Master Key that opens His treasure box. Be willing to make yourself available for His use like Jesus Christ did (Jn. 10:18), and be on the lookout for such opportunities, grab them with both hands when they arrive and you too can have for yourself a name that that is associated with the Grace of God in all situations – Phil. 2:8-11. May God afford us the opportunity to offer acceptable sacrifices to Him in Jesus name. Amen.