You are my sin offering
You are my first-fruits offering
You are my only offering
And I am free to offer up
Everything I have
When all I have to offer up
Some theology goes with this poem, I think: Correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that, in the Old Testament, there were three basic kinds of sacrifice.
First was the sin offering, where an offering was made in substitution for what was owed to God. I commit a crime; I deserve punishment. The ideal repayment is that some or all of me must be destroyed to atone for my trespass. The sin offering made a substitution for my own life by offering up something to be completely destroyed in my place, the ideal example being a perfect, spotless, male yearling lamb.
The second kind of offering was the first fruits offering, where an offering was made in kind as a token of what was owed to God. The basic idea was that everything I have comes as a freely given gift from God. If it belongs to God, by all rights, I ought to give it to him. Unfortunately, the laws of nature (and of giving) prove that I can’t. If I give everything I have to God, and he keeps it all, I will die. This would sort of defeat the purpose of God providing for me in the first place. There’s also the scriptural principle that you can’t give more than God. He has assured us that he will abundantly return our gifts to him, so attempting to literally give everything to God simply leads to this vicious cycle. The solution is to give to God a portion (say, a tenth) of what he has given you, the first fruits of what you have gained from His benefits.
The third kind of offering is the wave offering. This offering has nothing to do with what is owed to God. This is the only truly free-will offering because it can only happen once all your real debts to God have been paid. If a person finds that he is particularly grateful to God for something, he finds some way to symbolically represent the thing that he is grateful for. He goes to the temple and he waves that symbol before the altar in the shape of a cross. It is entirely a ritual act, and has no value outside of its symbolism.
The cool thing is, two out of three of these offerings are covered by the of Jesus Christ. I think everyone who is basically familiar with the concepts of Christianity is aware that Jesus on the cross is the ultimate and final expression of the sin offering. The same goes for the first-fruits offering, in most ways. (I hesitate to say in the area of finances. That just occurred to me. Must think through…) There are scriptures (I forget where) that say that Jesus, as the first man that ever lived a wholly righteous life has become to God a kind of first-fruits of the sons of God that the whole earth is waiting for. Also, Jesus said that “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and perishes, it yields no fruit. Jesus would be the seed that was planted, and he would be the first fruits of the harvest that is to come at the end of the age.
What can be left for us, then? Jesus said that the law prophesied until John and that not a jot would pass away from the law until all was fulfilled. (please forgive me for the lack of references. I’m doing this on the fly.) It would be a very easy thing to say that, if the laws of about sacrifices were a prophecy, then when that prophecy was completely fulfilled, then the sacrifice would pass away. Jesus was our sin offering, and lo-and-behold, all sacrifices for sin, the whole world over, have passed away. (I know, I can’t exactly say the same for the first fruits offering. I’ll leave it be for now. I don’t have time to properly do research.)
The only offering that’s really left for us is the wave offering, and what is every act of worship, but a symbolic act of gratefulness to him. Literally, worship is the only thing we have left to give Him…
It’s an interesting idea, anyway. That’s the sort-of theological basis for the first stanza. The second part is just a statement of fact: I can only give everything to God once I have laid aside everything I have, so that Jesus is all I have left to give Him.
Yeah. And it sounds so much better in poetry.