Hebrew Word Study – Sacrifice – Zabach זבח Zayin Beth ChethThe Strangest Things Happen on the Way to Revival.
Psalms 51:17: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
I have always found this verse to be very curious. How are a broken spirit and contrite heart made into a sacrifice? By English definition, a sacrifice is surrendering a possession as an offering to God or to a divine or supernatural figure. So if you suffer a loss that leaves you with a broken spirit and heart you can use that as an offering to God. Such a deal. A broken spirit and a broken heart cost nothing and who would not want to get rid of it. Here we find that God is going to accept it as a sacrifice.
Well, maybe there is something more here in the Hebrew. The Hebrew word for sacrifice is zabach which refers to a burnt offering. In the Ugaritic and Aramaic, the word is used for slaughtering an animal to feast upon. The emphasis is on the slaughter and not the sacrifice. By slaughter, I mean to kill for food, which a sacrifice is eventually used however zabach is also used for just slaughtering an animal for dinner to provide nourishment. Thus, what the Psalmist is saying is that a broken spirit and broken and contrite heart is a slaughter of your spirit and heart with the purpose of nourishing the Spirit of God to accomplish His work. You could read this as: “The nourishment of God is a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart.”
Now before I go any further we need to define what a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart is. The word broken in Hebrew is shavar which is in a Niphal form as a participle. That is sort of rare. As a Niphal it is reflexive so one breaks his own spirit only as a participle he keeps breaking his spirit. Shavar means to break into pieces. In Akkadian, it means to destroy or ruin. The word for spirit is a surprise because it is the word rauch which is often a reference to the Holy Spirit. Although there are many other possible uses for rauch and it really depends upon the context as to what definition you would use. In this context, it would almost certainly refer to the seat of one’s emotions. In other words, you are emotionally broken. Have you ever had your emotions broken to pieces through rejection, disappointment, failure, or some other circumstance? I recently republished my book: “The Strangest Things Happen on the Road to Revival.” In that book I recount the point just before revival broke out when I was really broken in my spirit, I just felt like a total failure and there was nothing I could do but just give up. That became my zabach, sacrifice or the slaughter of pride, hopes, personal dreams, and passions. That nourished or feed God’s Spirit to do things He could not do because my pride and self-sufficiency were blocking Him.
The word contrite is dakah which is a word for being crushed, depressed, and/or humbled. When I reached the point where I could not do anything in my power, everything seemed like it was totally out of control and I could not control the circumstances, I found that I was broken in spirit and humbled in my heart. All I could do was offer to God my failures and inability to accomplish anything and that was when He could finally take over and you will have to read the last chapter of my book to find out what happened. I called it a revival.
I recently read something interesting in the Talmud Sanhedrin 43b with regard to Psalms 51:17: “At the time when the temple was standing, whoever brought a burnt-offering received the reward of it, and whoever brought a meat-offering, received the reward of it; but those who are humbled and broken were accounted by the Scriptures as one who offered every kind of sacrifice at once.” The greatest sacrifice we can offer God is to allow Him to humble our hearts. How does He do this?
II Corinthians 4:7-12: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.(8) [We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair;(9) persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;(10) Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (11) For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (12) So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
We can bring all the gifts we want to God, pay our tithe, go to church, study the Word of God but the greatest sacrifice we can give is to just step out and serve God. If there is any pride or anything of trusting in ourselves God will deal with it. In my book, I describe how I was troubled, but not distressed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed. In other words, God allowed me to go through the type of difficulty that had the potential of crushing me so He can strip me of all my trust in myself so that my congregation could see my trust was in God alone.
If you want revival, you might have to be willing to suffer a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart before it comes. But take it from one who has been through it, I can honestly say, I would do it all over again for the joy that awaited me at the end of that road to revival.
God is a Person who has revealed Himself as a Trinity in unity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three Persons and yet but one God. (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 8:6)
The Bible, including both the Old and the New Testaments, is a divine revelation, the original autographs of which were verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21)
Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, which to say, He is Himself very God; He took upon Him our nature, being conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary; He died upon the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sin of the world; He arose from the dead in the body in which He was crucified; He ascended into heaven in that body glorified, where He is now, our interceding High Priest; He will come again personally and visibly to set up His kingdom and to judge the quick and the dead. (Colossians 1:15; Philippians 2:5-8; Matthew 1:18-25; 1 Peter 2:24-25; Luke 24; Hebrews 4:14-16; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 11:15-17;20:4-6, 11-15)
Man was created in the image of God but fell into sin, and, in that sense, is lost; this is true of all men, and except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God; salvation is by grace through faith in Christ who His own self bore our sins in His own body on the tree; the retribution of the wicked and unbelieving and the reward of the righteous are everlasting, and as the reward is conscious, so is the retribution. (Genesis 1:26-27; Romans 3:10, 23; John 3:3; Acts 13:38, 39; 4:12; John 3:16; Matthew 25:46; 2 Corinthians 5:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10)
The Church is an elect company of believers baptized by the Holy Spirit into one body; its mission is to witness concerning its Head, Jesus Christ, preaching the gospel among all nations. (Acts 2:41; 15:13-17; Ephesians 1:3-6; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Matthew 28:19-20)