It would be good for everyone to grasp the real meaning of the word sacrifice, as it is something very misunderstood nowadays. In order to do this, let’s travel back in time and return to the original idea of sacrifice that came from God Himself. Sacrifice in the spiritual sense, means a lot more than just paper on the altar. Instead it’s the person’s whole life. But let’s first understand an important fact.
The definition of the word “sacrifice” in the Oxford dictionary reveals a fact that can help us understand common errors on this subject.
Sacrifice: Offering made to a deity in a ceremony. Renouncing voluntarily or by force something that is owned. An act of slaughtering an animal or person or surrendering a possession as an offering to a deity. Spirit of sacrifice, tendency to sacrifice for others without personal gain.
However, the word “sacrifice” in Hebrew (korban, le-hakriv) comes from the same root of to draw near, come close to, to become intimately involved in a relationship with someone. This should be the real intention of the one who sacrifices. It’s a shame that no word in the English language can adequately express the profound meaning of the word “korban” (בהקר) in Hebrew. Nowadays we use the word “sacrifice” for lack of another word that carries the same meaning of this Hebrew word.
But it’s not only a problem with translation. If you change the word, you change its meaning also. And if we change the meaning, we no longer understand what we are doing when we sacrifice to God.
The idea of “sacrifice” in English points to letting go of something of value, in order to receive something else of greater value, or an unconditional action for someone or something we want to conquer. But this has no connection to the original word “korban”. First of all, “korban” is a word that doesn’t carry the connotation of giving a gift or an offering. This is because in the Jewish understanding, to give something to God means that one feels superior to Him. Who are we and what do we really have to offer to the most high? Just like David said when he and the people presented their sacrifices to God to build the temple:
But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You.” 1 Chronicles 29.14
The real meaning of the word “korban” is used exclusively in the Bible in Hebrew to demonstrate the relationship of man drawing near to God. In other words, to really understand the meaning of the word sacrifice, we have to understand its Biblical root first. If the definition of Korban means “to draw near” or “coming closer”, then the objective of the sacrifices in the Temple is nothing less than dedicating one’s life to someone much higher than us. A human being drawing near to the Fountain of all life. Do you know what this means? The sacrifice in the Temple didn’t have the connotation of giving something or losing something of value, but of total surrender for a total closeness with the Creator.
Just like King David prayed in Psalm 73.28 But it is good for me to draw near to God – for those who are thirsty, proximity to God is the truest, most pure and most sublime expression of the word sacrifice.
Without this closeness to God, which is what gives true meaning to life, the person has no direction, seeking for a reason to live in things that offer them a temporary comfort, just like money. The person feels like a mere animal, empty in the very thing that makes different from animals: their soul.
Those who surrender through a sacrifice/drawing near, are like the lamb that was consumed by fire on the altar. And what happens on the altar also happens in the mind and in the heart of the one who gave the lamb.
Prepare yourself for the great day – the day where everyone will be able to enter in the Temple of the Most High to present themselves before Him as a perfect sacrifice. But this time, not just for a closeness like it happened in the past, but so that the Holy Spirit can take possession of their lives completely.
Coming soon – the inauguration of the Temple of Solomon.
Oh, what a day!