I can’t say enough good about Toby Sumter’s book Blood-Bought World. It’s easy to read, punchy, and packed full of wisdom. Below is a section in which he talks about worship as “sacrifice:”
“The Bible says that Christian worship is sacrificial. Going back to tabernacle and temple, God has always been approached through sacrifice. Sacrifice points to the need for the shedding of blood to take away sin (Heb. 9:22). Sacrifice points to communion through the meals that were shared in God’s presence (Exod. 24:11, Lev.7:11-15). Sacrifice points to the way God is determined to receive us by His grace as we are, but also how He refuses to leave us the way we are.
When a worshiper draws near to God in worship, he leans his hands on the head of the animal, confessing his sins and identifying with that animal (Lev. 1:4). Then the animal is killed and cut into pieces and arranged on the fire on the altar (Lev. 1:5-9). Paul exhorts the Romans to offer their bodies as living sacrifices, which is their reasonable priestly service (or liturgy).
He is saying that as we offer our bodies in worship and obedience to Christ God is transforming us from glory to glory. Sacrifice points to the way God takes us and cuts us and transforms us through the cleansing and testing fire of His Spirit until we become a sweet-smelling aroma in His presence. Sacrifice ultimately points to Jesus, who is the end of all bloody sacrifice, but who also fulfills all of the sacrifices. In Him, we offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name (Heb. 13:15).
This is why many have noted that different parts of the traditional worship service roughly correspond to the main three sacrifices: the sin offering, the ascension offering (whole burnt), and the peace offering. In Jesus, we draw near and confess our sins and are assured of forgiveness (sin offering). In Jesus, we ascend into the heavenly places to Mount Zion where we are transformed by the Word read and proclaimed from glory to glory (ascension offering). Finally, we sit down to feast with the Lord like the elders of Israel of old on Mount Sinai. We eat bread and drink wine in peace because our sins are forgiven, and we have been made kings and priests to our God (peace offering).”