Scripture reveals there are basically two types of thanksgiving. There is the regular or routine thanksgiving and there is the worship or devotion thanksgiving known as the ‘sacrifice of thanksgiving’.
The regular or routine thanksgiving is the type of our day-to-day thanksgiving unto God for the mundane things of life which we include in our daily prayers, before and after meals or in our conversations and in anything we do telling God “thank you, Lord.” This type of thanksgiving can be done by anybody, anywhere and anytime. It is usually of short duration.
The scripture makes references to “sacrifice of thanksgiving” both in the Old and New Testament (Psalm 50:14; 107:22; Hebrews 13:15). In the Old Testament, it is called a peace/fellowship offering and was among the five animal sacrificial offerings enacted by God for worship by the Israelites His covenant people. It is a type of thanksgiving to be carried out in addition to the routine thanksgiving. It is an advanced and elaborate form of the thanksgiving done in the place of worship, the Tabernacle. It is a thanksgiving accompanied with an animal offering and other gifts. It is an occasional voluntary, time-taking and outstanding thanksgiving celebration for specific special favors and mercies received of the Lord as enumerated in Psalm 107. It is a joyous celebration done with singing, dancing, playing of musical instruments in the context of organized public worship in the Tabernacle according to the demand of the law in Leviticus chapter 3 and 7 with strict laws and presided over by a priest (Leviticus 7:12-15).
It is called a fellowship/peace offering because it is an offering which the offerer who is in fellowship with God brings to express gratitude and praises to God and fellowship with others. It is the only offering that the offerer and those who are ceremonially clean around him could eat from. The obligations and the laws of the fellowship/peace offerings are given in Leviticus chapter 3 and Chapter 7:11-39. According to Leviticus 7:11-16, the peace offering is divided into three parts according to purpose namely: a) thanksgiving offering v.12 – This is for expression of gratitude to God for special and specific favors such as deliverance from sickness, trouble, or death or for a spectacular blessing received from God, b) vow c) voluntary offering.
It is an offering only those that have already offered other sacrifices such as guilt, trespass offerings could offer and only those who are ceremonially clean could eat from. It is the only sacrifice that the offerer and members of his family could eat from. It is a sacrifice God has great delight in. It involves setting aside quality time, a day or even days, bringing an oblation of a perfect animal or more, and other things to appreciate God for His specific goodness and mercies some of which was enumerated in Psalm 107. No petition whatever is made on such occasions, only thanksgiving and praises. King David, Solomon, and Hannah are among the individuals that practiced this.
The sacrifice of the peace offering is of great relevance in that it is a prototype of the supreme peace sacrifice of Jesus the perfect Lamb of God, the Prince of Peace. It points to the peace and reconciliation and fellowship we have with God based on Christ’s death on the cross (Colossians 1: 20).
In the New Testament, the sacrifice of thanksgiving is also a sacrifice enacted by God for the spiritual Israelites, those who have experienced His gracious salvation through His son Jesus Christ and have been made kings and priests unto our God to celebrate His eternal love, mercies and goodness continually, Hebrews 13:15. But unlike that of the Old Testament that was a part of the animal sacrificial ritual system involving animal sacrifices and other gifts rituals, the New Testament sacrifice of thanksgiving does not involve any animal sacrifice but a continuous day to day offering of fruits of our lips (genuine thanksgiving and praises from the depth of our hearts) and cheerful voluntary giving through Jesus Christ to God, Hebrews 13:15. This is because Jesus Christ by His once-for-all sacrificial death and resurrection has fulfilled all the demands of not only the laws of the peace sacrifice of thanksgiving but also all the laws of the sacrificial ritual systems.
What is now left is the continuous sacrifice of thanksgiving which is the response of our love, faith, and obedience to God for freely giving us everything that pertains to life, and His unspeakable gifts of His son Jesus Christ for our salvation and all that He accomplished for us. By all standards this should be a joyous celebration done with singing, dancing, playing of musical instruments in the church, in the privacy of our rooms, or among family members. It could be accompanied with voluntary but generous gifts out of love and gratitude. It could be done anywhere.
The real idea behind this type of thanksgiving is God’s desire that we spend quality time worshipping Him with thanksgiving and praises regularly for who He is and all that is ours through Jesus.
However, the simple fact that it is referred to as a sacrifice to God still makes it a sacred offering. This implies it is something to be offered to God in the beauty of His Holiness. For this reason, only the thanksgiving offering made by someone that is a genuinely born-again Christian is acceptable to God.
From what has been written above, we realize that the sacrifice of thanksgiving is not just a religious ritual of talking, giving, dancing, and singing, but a serious act of worship from hearts full of gratitude and love as led by the spirit of God. Our Lord Jesus Christ and Apostle Paul showed us perfect examples of this type of New Testament Sacrifice of thanksgiving.
“By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruits of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased (Hebrews 13:15-16).
GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I.