After being cast out of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were instructed about proper worship and the offering of the firstlings of their flocks. Their obedience to these commands brought additional instruction and enlightenment into their lives as told in Moses 5:6-8: “And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. And the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore”. The angel taught Adam that his animal sacrifice would serve as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for us and therefore it should be done in the name of Christ.
In Abraham chapter one, Abraham is bound and prepared to be sacrificed by the false priests of Pharaoh. As they were about to take away Abraham’s life, he is saved by the Lord. Many years later, Abraham is commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham prepares to sacrifice Isaac, however just as he is about to take his son’s life God provides a ram to be sacrificed instead. We can see that Abraham has now been subject to human sacrifice in position as a father and as a son. Few others, if any, would be able to comprehend Christ’s sacrifice perspectives of both the Father and the Son. In reference to the story of Abraham and Isaac, Elder Dallin H Oaks said: “This story…shows the goodness of God in protecting Isaac and in providing a substitute so he would not have to die. Because of our sins and our mortality, we, like Isaac, are condemned to death. When all other hope is gone, our Father in Heaven provides the Lamb of God, and we are saved by his sacrifice”.
After leaving Egypt, the Israelites were given the Law of Moses: a collection of written laws given by the Lord through Moses as a preparatory gospel to bring the people to Christ. The law was fulfilled at the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Christ gave the law in the first place, it was He who had the authority to fulfill it. In John chapter 19 we can read an account of Christ’s crucifixion and his last words: “It is finished” indicating that the law was fulfilled with his death. There is also indication in Alma 34 that Christ’s sacrifice would fulfill the law. Verses 13-14 read: “Therefore, it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice, and then shall there be…a stop to the shedding of blood; then shall the law of Moses be fulfilled…And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea infinite and eternal.”
Section 135 of the Doctrine and Covenants is an account of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. Verse three brings to attention the great sacrifice of the Prophet: “Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fullness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gather many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!”
In a talk entitled “The Law of Sacrifice” Elder M Russell Ballard further teaches us about sacrifice, and what Christ wants us to do today. “After his mortal ministry, Christ elevated the law of sacrifice to a new level. In describing how the law would continue, Jesus told His Nephite Apostles that He would no longer accept burnt offerings but that His disciples should offer ”a broken heart and a contrite spirit”. Instead of the Lord requiring our animals or grain, now He wants us to give up all that is ungodly. This higher practice of the law of sacrifice reaches into the inner soul of a person.
“We should understand that the law of Moses is not the same thing as the law of sacrifice. While the law of Moses was fulfilled, the principles of the law of sacrifice continue to be part of the doctrine of the Church. The primary purpose of the law of sacrifice still is to test us and assist us in coming unto Christ. After the Savior’s ultimate sacrifice, two adjustments were made in the practice of this law. First, the ordinance of the sacrament replaced the ordinance of sacrifice; and second, this change moved the focus of the sacrifice from a person’s animal to the person himself.”
I am grateful for the teachings of our prophets and the sacrifice given by Christ. He is our Savior and will lead the way for us to follow. What are you most thankful for?