Friday, July 15, 2011

The Absurdity of Our Sacrifice

Trying to stick with my daily Bible reading plan... (I use the ESV reading plan in the back of my ESV study Bible) I've been reading through Micah - love the Old Testament! These verses struck me:

Micha 6:6-8

"With what shall I come before the LORD,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with

burnt offerings,

with calves a year old
?

Will the LORD be pleased with

thousands of rams
, with

ten thousands of rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"

He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?"


The last verse is a familiar one, but what struck me reading through it this time were the verses about the types of sacrifice. Do you notice the increasing "weightiness" of the sacrifice? Should I bring burnt offerings? young calves? thousands of rams? ten thousands of rivers of oil? my firstborn, the fruit of my body? Can you sense the almost desperate attempt to purchase from God the forgiveness of his sins? He is in essence asking "What will it take to enter your presence. What can I give you God, that will make me good enough to be near you?"

While all this sounds absurd, I am asking myself, "Do I believe sacrificing things or self can pay for my sins and appease God? Do I believe that the things I do make God love me more, or at least be angry with me less?

How does this work itself out today? It's silly to think that I would bring thousands of rams as a sacrifice. But what are the ways I try to "buy" my acceptance with God? For me, I think of all the ways I try to "live up" to the standards set forth in God's word - the older encouraging woman displayed in Titus 2, the commands to be submissive to my husband and respect him; the instruction to training children in Deuteronomy, or the example of the heart of worship by Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. I bring to God the sacrifice of my attempts to do all these things, perfectly, and all the time. I say attempts because hard as I try, I miss the mark. When I fail I say to myself, I'll do better next time, I'll do more, I'll really knock it out of the park with my obedience next go around - just wait Lord - you'll see...

hahahaha - I'm laughing as I write, because deep down I know it will never be "enough". How good do I have to be?

This is why the sacrifices mentioned in the Micah passage are so ludicrous. It is ever increasing, but never enough.

So, what now you ask?

Jesus.

When I read:

"shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"

I am reminded that Jesus is the firstborn son. God gave his firstborn for OUR transgressions, the fruit of his body for OUR sin to save OUR souls.

Reading this passage reminded me that all of my attempts to earn God's favor are unnecessary. Jesus has earned God's favor on my behalf. He was the perfect, ultimate sacrifice - it is finished! What freedom! What liberation! Jesus came to set captives free! What you and I could never do, Jesus has done for us! Halleluiah - What a Savior!

Bask in God's grace and these precious truths:

"But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Hebrews 9:26

"And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God" Hebrews 10:10-12

"For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name." Hebrews 13:15

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