And what about how we live? Do we live worthy of the sacrifice Christ made for us? I’ve included a clip from the movie Saving Private Ryan that always serves to remind me of that question.
Leviticus 1 & 2
Do you offer God your best?
Our Once and for All Sacrifice
Well, here we are starting a new book. Leviticus is the third book of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), also called the Books of Moses.
Three of the themes which run through this book are: God’s holiness, mankind’s sinfulness and the need for a sacrifice. Of course, the sacrifices offered here in Old Testament times were only temporary coverings for sin. They point to the ultimate sacrifice Jesus Christ, the only sinless, perfect, once and for all, sacrifice.
What We Offer in Return
I noticed several things as I read these two chapters. First, twice in chapter one the Israelites were told to bring an animal “without blemish.” These were to be the best of the herd or flock. They were not to say, “Well, we might as well sacrifice this one, he’s probably not going to make it anyway.” They were to give Him their best.
What do you offer up to God? Is it the things you really don’t care about anyway? Or do you say everything I have is Yours, Lord? I’m willing to lay down anything You ask me to lay down?
Do you offer Him the best? The best of your time (often first thing in the morning)? The best of your resources or just what’s left over? The best of your talents?
What do your offer Him in the way of worship? Do you worship wholeheartedly in every area of life or are there rooms in your heart and life where you worship self or some other idol?
The next thing I thought about was in verse 14, “And if … his offering to the Lord is of birds …” This was the offering of a poor man. It was also the offering that Joseph and Mary brought on the eighth day after Jesus was born. In and of ourselves, none of us has anything worthwhile to give God, but His grace is already more than enough. He’s just asking us to give what we have out of our love for Him.
I was struck again by how much preparation went into the sacrificial system of worship.
Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
How much time do you take to prepare your heart for worship, to make sure the sacrifice you offer is clean by confessing any sin? How much time do you take to ask Him to open your heart to His truths, to convict you of sin, to show you where you need to change and grow?
A week or so ago we read about the sacrifice required before Aaron and his sons were ready to go into the Holy of Holies. It was messy and bloody.
Offering ourselves as living sacrifices can be messy and bloody, too, as we allow the Holy Spirit to wield that sharp two-edged sword on our hearts!
Today’s Other Readings:
After crying out to God is verses 1-21, the Psalmist lifts his heart in praise. We, too, after we’ve cried out to God for His deliverance, need to do the same. Ultimately, we must leave the answers to our prayers and the timing to Him and begin to praise Him in faith and trust.
On Loving Death
Help us, Lord, to not let pride and love of self keep us from seeing Your outstretched arm and Your voice of wisdom in our lives.
Verse 36 says, “But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.”
Matthew Henry says, “They love that which will be their death, and put that from them which would be their life.” We can see this clearly in the lives of people who practice what we might consider “big sins” as a lifestyle like substance abuse, violence, homosexuality, or adultery.
But what do I love? What do you love which brings death? Do we love holding on to our right to be sinfully angry even though it leads to the death of a relationship? Do we hold on to what someone did to us and our unwillingness to forgive? Do we hold on to some secret sin or our self-righteousness? Do we hold on to some “freedom” which pulls us away from our times of worship and study?
What are you holding on to?
No Other Way
If you haven’t already read this passage, read it carefully and thoughtfully. If you have, please go back and read it again. Put yourself there, as they mocked Him, slapped and punched Him, and hit Him with a reed. Put yourself there, watching the scourging as that whip dug into his back ripping out the flesh of our sinless Savior. And finally, as they drove the nails into His hands and feet and hung Him there naked.
He submitted to that for you and for me, because there was no other way!
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Occasionally, I think of the scene from the movie Saving Private Ryan where Captain Miller (Tom Hanks) is dying and he speaks to Private Ryan (Matt Damon) for the last time. If you don’t know the story, Captain Miller and his men are tasked with finding Private James Ryan, whose three brothers had been killed in combat. In the process many good men die so Private Ryan’s family won’t suffer the ultimate loss of losing all their sons.
Captain Miller tells Ryan, “Earn this … earn it.”
Late in life James Ryan travels to France to visit the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial and pay his respects to Captain Miller. This is the scene:
I can’t think of that scene without thinking about the price that was paid for us, so we could live, not just physically, but spiritually and eternally. Thankfully we can’t and don’t have to “earn it,” but are we living in a way that shows our gratitude and is worthy of His great sacrifice?
Or do we hold on to the sin from which He paid that horrible price to set us free?
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called (Eph. 4.1).
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