Wednesday, 23 January 2019
In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure. Hebrews 10:6
Burnt offerings (actually, the word holokautóma signifies not just a burnt offering, but a whole burnt offering) and sin offerings were prescribed by the law. In fact, detailed meticulous instructions were given in the law in order to properly conduct the entire rite, from selection of the animal though to its final disposal. And yet this verse says they weren’t pleasing to God. There are two reasons for this. First, they only anticipated Christ’s sacrifice. They were found pleasing only in the sense that they looked forward to Him, but of themselves, they brought no pleasure to the Lord.
And secondly, fault rested with the people because of how they presented them. This is seen, for example, in the words of the prophet Micah –
“With what shall I come before the Lord,
And bow myself before the High God?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
Ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” Micah 6:6, 7
There, the prophet asks the people a set of rhetorical questions. The questions included those things prescribed in the law to be given as offerings – in massive quantities. Then he adds in his firstborn as a potential offering. This doesn’t necessarily mean human sacrifice. He might be speaking of the dedication of a child to the Lord, like Samuel’s mother did – giving him to the service of the Lord all the days of his life. But all of these offerings, even a firstborn, were insufficient. Micah then answers –
And so Jesus came, showing us how to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. The giving of these sacrifices, without an accompanying heart for the Lord and a proper understanding of what the sacrifices signified, defeated the purpose of giving them. One does not simply buy off God with such an offering, but he is to demonstrate true remorse for sin and a desire to act properly before Him in the future.
Life application: The Bible gives outward commands to be followed in the Law of Moses, but it expected the people to have an inward change which accompanied the outward rites, rituals, and commands. However, the law was such a burdensome yoke, that the people were weighed down with meeting its strict demands, and they failed to take to heart the lessons it was intended to show them. Only in the coming of Christ do the things of the law finally make sense. And at the same time, they only make sense in relation to His fulfillment of them. Who on earth would want to go back under the mandates of the law, which Christ fulfilled and set aside through His more perfect work and sacrifice? Think! And then rest in Christ alone for your justification before God.
Lord God, surely You are worthy of our full devotion. Help us to follow in Jesus’ steps and to not stray from acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly in Your glorious presence all the days of our lives. Keep us from being haughty or proud as we pursue You! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.