2014-02-08 - Sacrifice
After the Exodus from Egypt, the people of Israel developed an organized system of sacrifices, according to God's commands found in the Book of Leviticus. The first seven chapters of Leviticus describe a detailed sacrificial system. Five types of basic sacrifices are found. The first, the burnt offering, was the sacrifice of an animal, to restore one's relationship with God because of some sin. The second, the grain offering, was given from the harvest of the land, to thank God for the blessing of the harvest - and as an expression of devotion to God. The third, the peace offering, was the sacrifice of an unblemished animal, for an unexpected blessing, an answer to prayer, or general thankfulness to God. The fourth, the sin offering, was made to purify oneself from sin. The fifth, the guilt offering, was to restore the sinner and to repay the offended party.
Over time, the system of sacrifices lost its significance with the people of Israel. The prophets accused them of not performing the sacrifices with faith, confession and devotion. The people thought the act itself ensured forgiveness. They were making the sacrificial offering with their hands and not their hearts.
Micah, the prophet, addressed this issue around 700 B.C. Micah said that God was not as interested in the physical act of sacrifice, as He was in the life and belief of the one making it.
Micah 6:6-8: "With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted god? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (NIV)
God is asking the same things of us today. God wants us to acknowledge our sins and ask Him for forgiveness. Then He wants us to act with justice, to show mercy, and to follow His commands. God wants a personal relationship with us. We don't have to follow a complicated set of rules and practices; we just need to follow God in our hearts.
Richard Moser, Jr