Hey folks. Sorry I missed last week. I wasn’t able to get to my computer much. It’s amazing how busy we make the holidays. I’m also finding out how difficult it is to break some bad habits of inconsistency, but we’ll get there. For the next couple of Tuesdays, I’d like for us to look at an aspect of sacrifice.
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22.
This verse has always interested me. Here we have an entire nation of people, created by God, and given a very extensive list of sacrifices to offer to Him. Whole burnt offerings, peace offerings, wave offerings, grain offerings, and on and on. And yet here is one of their most revered prophets and leaders telling their king that God would rather have obedience than sacrifice.
Is that truly what God wants? If that’s the case, why set up all the sacrifices? Let’s look at some scripture and see what God says.
“If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the Lord. Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He shall kill the bull before the Lord; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting. And he shall skin the burnt offering and cut it into its pieces. The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay the wood in order on the fire. Then the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat in order on the wood that is on the fire upon the altar; but he shall wash its entrails and its legs with water. And the priest shall burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the Lord.” Leviticus 1:3-9.
The entire book of Leviticus is about the offerings and sacrifices which God gave to the Israelites along with other rules for living. Each one had a specific purpose which was listed with the offering. But why have sacrifices at all? Do they have a more general purpose?
In Genesis, God made it clear that sin would bring death. After Adam and Eve sinned and consequently died spiritually, God had to initiate His redemptive plan. His first act on their behalf was to kill innocent animals to provide them with skins to cover their nakedness. Innocent blood was spilled for man’s iniquity.
And that has always been the requirement for sin. Blood for blood. Life for life. But there was a problem. Animals aren’t human. So the blood of animals could not take away the sins of man.
“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” Hebrews 10:4.
It would take a perfect human to live a sinless life and die in sinful man’s place to pay for sin. Which is exactly what Jesus Christ did. The only begotten Son of God came to earth as a human, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross to pay the penalty for mankind’s sin. Once for all time, for all sin.
So what of the animal sacrifices? They pointed to the time when Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, would be sacrificed for everyone. They taught man to look forward to the arrival of the Messiah.
They were also a teaching source of the holiness of God and of obedience to Him. God was very specific about how each of the sacrifices and offerings to Him were to be made, down to the most minute details. This expressed to the people their sinfulness, God’s great power and holiness, and what it was going to take to bring them together.
“but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20:6.
“Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always.” Deuteronomy 11:1.
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15.
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” John 14:21.
We show love to God through our obedience to Him. By following God’s instructions regarding His sacrifices, the people were not only expressing their love for Him, but they were learning about their need for a savior and how much God loved them by eventually sending an ultimate sacrifice for their sins.
We see that God teaches us that our sin must be paid for with a blood sacrifice, the life of an innocent for that of the guilty. And that man’s obedience to follow the rules God set for offering sacrifices showed our love for Him.
So why did Samuel tell King Saul that obedience was better than sacrifice? We’ll look at that next week. If you want a heads up, check out Psalm 40:6, Psalm 51:16-17, Matthew 9:13 and 12:7, Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:8, and Proverbs 21:3 and 27.
See you next time!
Do you know Jesus? Do you have a personal relationship with Him? According to scripture, all anyone must do is recognize their sin condition, realize that Christ died to pay for that sin, and ask Him to save them from it. Salvation is a gift of grace we receive by faith. Meet Him today! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need more information.
Thanks for stopping by! Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think!