How many ways are there to worship God? How many different components are there to our worship?
I ask these questions in light of the sacrifices and offerings we’ve begun reading about at the beginning of Leviticus. Moses records 5 primary types of sacrifices in these opening chapters: burnt, grain, peace (fellowship), sin and guilt. Each of the sacrifices stood for something. Burnt offerings were a complete sacrifice, nothing was left or eaten, it belonged entirely to God and symbolized the complete devotion of the giver. The reason for the grain offering is not stated, although it may have been a recognition of God’s provision through the harvest of the land. Peace offerings were given to recognize the relationship the Israelites had with God and offer thanksgiving to him. Sin offerings were given in order to atone or make right any sin the offerer may have committed. Finally, guilt offerings were given mainly with the idea of making restitution for wrongs.
These were the basic sacrifices in the sacrificial system God institutes for Israel. A couple of things to keep in mind as you read on. First, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. The sacrificial system taught the Israelites the importance of recognizing and dealing with sin; and it demonstrates that God provides a way to deal with sin. This is the same premise as is taught in the New Testament, only the recognition of sin and the atonement for it come in light of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
Second, keep in mind that these sacrifices were to be outward signs of inward devotion and a heart that desired to be right with God. It doesn’t matter what religious practice we undertake, or what offerings we bring to God, it means nothing if our hearts are hard toward Him. Hosea 6:6 outlines this for Israel and for us. The sacrifices are not what God really desires. The devotion of the Israelites (and us) is what God desires.
Back to my questions. The offerings and the sacrifices that we read about in Leviticus, like I mentioned yesterday, are really there as record keeping for Israel. The permanent statutes of their official sacrificial system. So what do we take from these things? I’ve been pondering what these sacrifices and offerings say about worship. When we worship, corporately or privately, do we consider all of the various dimensions of worship. Do we take time to deal with sin or guilt? Do we take time to offer up thanksgiving and have relational time with God? Do we take time to consider if our offerings are truly sacrificial; meaning do they actually cost us something? A great example of this is in 2 Samuel 24 when David insists on paying for components for a burnt offering because it didn’t mean anything if it was free.
While the physical sacrifices and the offerings laid out for us in Leviticus may mean nothing to our modern physical worship, they may mean something to how we relate to God, and why we worship and the motivation of our hearts in all of that.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Leviticus 5-7