Now that we are in the season of Lent, we begin to prepare ourselves for Good Friday that we might participate in Easter Sunday. So I will try to show some of those Sacrifices that Israel would have made in the Old Testament and how they are fulfilled in the Sacrifice of Jesus in the New Testament.
According to Dr. Brant Pitre, there were 5 different kinds of sacrifice in the Old Testament. Out of the five different kinds, there are three that express communion with God and two that restore communion with God.
Now it appears as though these five different sacrifices were used during Israel's liturgical year, but they could also be used by individuals as well.
I think here is a great place to make a note about these sacrifices. These sacrifices were used to either express a relationship with God or restore a relationship with him. Either way, there is implied that you do have a relationship with him or you once did and now you want to gain back what you have lost.
Now at Mass, it is no coincidence that we say the creed before we are called to receive communion.
What we are doing is professing belief in what has been revealed and belief in the One from whom it came, and then we are uniting ourselves to the source of that creed, namely God, who revealed it.
I liken this to a wedding (which every Mass is a participation in the wedding feast of heaven) and at a wedding you have two parts, the vows and the consummation of those vows.
But what if one person in the party didn't mean all of the vows that were spoken, or they just refused to say them, but they still wanted to consummate the marriage. This would be an invalid marriage.
In some sense, the same thing is true with non Catholics receiving communion at Mass. Maybe they don't agree with all of the creed but they want to receive Jesus in communion. While it seems "unfair" or "mean" that we ask them to refrain from receiving communion, we just say that they need to be IN COMMUNION before they receive communion. If you are not in agreement, it is as if you are saying something with your lips that you aren't saying with your heart, and the Bible warns against this.
The three sacrifices that expressed communion were the 'whole burnt offering', the 'bread offering' and the 'peace offering'.
These three sacrifices can be found in Leviticus 1, 2, and 3.
A "whole burnt offering" is when you took an unblemished male lamb and burnt the whole thing up to God. This signified a complete surrendering to God. It is this kind of sacrifice that the Israelites would offer two times a day in the morning and evening sacrifices.
The next one is the "bread offering' found in Leviticus 2. Now in Leviticus it talks about bringing grain and wheat to the priests, but I am pretty sure that this is in the form of bread. Sometimes it says to make them into wafers. The priest would then put oil on this in the shape of a "T". Wine was also poured out in this sacrifice.
Now the significance of this is giving a gift of thanksgiving to God.
This bread is what was kept in the temple in Jerusalem and was used at priestly ordinations.
And a surprising place to find this was Malachi 1:11
Malachi 1:11 "For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations," says the LORD of hosts.
Now when it says grain offering, it is speaking of the bread offering. Don't we people of the nations bring what looks like a "bread offering" to the Lord?
Finally, the 'peace offering" was to offer a sacrificial communal meal with God.
What you would do is offer to God an unblemished animal along with food and drink.
This is the sacrifice that the ancient rabbi's said would be the only one that would be celebrated after the Messiah came.
So in brief, we have thanks, complete surrender, and communion being offered up to God, which are elements of the one Eucharistic sacrifice that we offer to God at Mass, not in three separate sacrifices, but in one sacrifice.
I'll post on the last two types of sacrifices that restore communion with God next week.