Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Memorial as a Communion Sacrifice

One Scriptural passage that has really helped me to
appreciate tonight's upcoming Memorial of Christ's
death on Nisan 14 is 1 Cor 10:18:

"Look at that which is Israel in a fleshly way: Are
not those who eat the sacrifices sharers with the

When posing this rhetorical query, Paul alludes to the
OT practice of communion sacrifices. One can find a
lovely description of such offerings in Leviticus
7:1-38. I want to briefly recount what that Biblical
chapter says and apply it to Paul's words found in 1
Corinthians 10:18ff.

The communion sacrifices were peace offerings designed
to restore a broken relationship that might obtain
between God and His ancient worshipers. It was a holy
presentation to Almighty God (YHWH), and when offering
a communion sacrifice, the Israelites were fittingly
obligated to give their best to Jehovah (YHWH).

Leviticus 7:28-30 mandates that one presenting a
communion sacrifice to Jehovah should offer the 'fat
upon the breast' to Him as a wave offering.
(Leviticus 7:30 briefly explains what a wave offering
entailed.) In addition to offering the fat and the
blood to YHWH or Jehovah(Leviticus 7:33), the one presenting
peace offerings to God was also commanded to give 'the
right leg' of his sacrifice as 'a sacred portion' to
the officiating priests. Furthermore the High Priest
and his sons were to have a share in this communion
offering. What a privilege all those who offered
communion presentations enjoyed! Paul aptly stated
that those who sacrificed upon the altar in Israel became
(by means of their respective gifts to God) sharers in the altar.
But how does this Levitical practice apply to
Christians today?

As Paul intimates, the Lord's Evening Meal (1
Corinthians 11:20) is the antitype of the OT peace
offerings. Just as ancient worshipers of God brought
their sacrifices to Jehovah in order to repair a
breach that might have obtained between themselves and God,
so anointed Christians (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 1 John 2:20, 27)
annually observe the Memorial of Jesus' death
in order to memorialize how God repaired the
figurative breach between God and sinful humanity and
thus fully reconciled humans to Himself.

Anointed Christians share in the antitypical communion
meal by figuratively partaking of Christ's blood (the cup of wine)
and his sacrificed body (the bread). The emblems at the Memorial
are symbols of the reality effectuated by God
through Christ. Yet those who partake of the cup and wine
today nonetheless share with God's altar as they partake
of a meal (in effect) with Jehovah, His High Priest
(Jesus) and other fellow anointed ones (i.e. underpriests).
It is still an inestimable privilege to have a figurative
meal with God. Anointed Christians therefore esteem
the undeserved kindness that has been shown to them
through the Son of God's ransom sacrifice. However,
they are not the only ones who benefit from being
present at the yearly communion meal.

The great crowd of other sheep who possess a hope of
living forever, while not partaking of the emblems and
thus sharing in the altar, still have their
appreciation for Christ's sacrifice deepened as they
listen to the discourse given about Jesus' death and
watch the symbols of his death being passed around the
Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. I thus hope that everyone
attending the Memorial this year reflects on what Christ's death
means in terms of a communion sacrifice. May you all continue to grow
in love and appreciation for Jehovah and His Son.

Brotherly love,

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