3 Key Lessons from Burnt Offerings – Am I giving my offerings in vain?

It is often said that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. To be candid, I had no qualms in allowing the Book of Leviticus to remain concealed to me. I simply had no interest in reading about all the laws of the priests, the laws of the offerings, and laws concerning the feasts. I justified my lack of interest by accurately reasoning that all its laws were fulfilled by Jesus Christ and that they were no longer relevant for today.

Sadly, I continued in this attitude for years until a few months ago when God spoke into my heart as I was meditating on 1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9)

That morning, as I was saying “I am a member of a royal priesthood”, I heard a voice say: “Well, if you are a priest, how do you know if you are performing your priestly duties?”  Try as I might to brush off that voice, I could not. It was too late! God already had my attention.

He further told me that morning that He wanted me to read Leviticus – a book that pertains to the priests. He asked me how I would be able to truly serve his people if I did not know what my duties were as a priest.

The next morning, I opened my bible to 1st chapter of Leviticus fully expecting God to reveal a few things to me. He did not disappoint!

Everything that God has written in His word is good for us to know and understand.

Here are a few lessons from that 1st chapter of Leviticus

Lesson 1: God will never ask us to do what He is not willing to do BUT will do more than He asks us to do

…If His offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish… (Leviticus 1:3)

The children of Israel were required to offer a male animal without blemish to make atonement for their sins (by the laying hands on the animal that was to be slaughtered), but God offered up His own spotless Son so that all of our sins would be laid on Him.

Also, while man’s sacrifice only offered temporary atonement for sin, God’s sacrifice offered permanent atonement for sin.  Hence, God’s sacrifice was not only greater but much more powerful in what it achieved.

The truth is that it is too easy to mope around belly-ache about the things God has called us to sacrifice. In those instances, we should remember that our sacrifice is just a stop-gap for what He is going to do in our lives.

When God asks us to do something that is difficult for us, it is because He is going to do something much greater and much more significant that will bless our lives.

Lesson 2: Only those things we do willingly is acceptable to God

…When any of you bring an offering to the Lord…he shall offer it of his own free will… (Leviticus 1:2-3)

The children of Israel were required to bring their burnt offerings willingly. In fact, this was the second requirement to make an offering acceptable as a sacrifice – the first was the animal had to be without blemish, and the third was the person had to lay hands on the animal.

Hence, only those offering of obedience (works of obedience) were acceptable IF they were done out of a willing heart.  Why? This is because true obedience comes out of love (see John 14:15), and true love is something that is offered out of free-will.

The bible says that the sacrifices acceptable to God are a humble spirit (see Psalm 51:17). It does not say that the offerings acceptable to God are a humble spirit. In other words, what we do is what we offer! But what we offer only becomes acceptable to God as a sacrifice when it is done willingly (out of a humble and willing heart).  

Our offering of obedience is acceptable to God as a sacrifice ONLY when done out of a willing heart. Moreover, only those offerings acceptable to the Lord result in His favor.

If God has called us to do something, we might as well benefit from it by resolving to do it willingly out of love. That comes as we explore God’s heart to find out why he wants us to walk the path He has for us.

Lesson 3: God desires our best! He does not want us to give Him someone else’s best

The children of Israel had the option of offering a bull, a goat or sheep, or birds as burnt offerings. This reveals to us that God will not ask us to bring more than we can afford to bring. If we are able to bring a bull, then that is what He wants, but He will not despise those who only have the ability to bring a pigeon!

Conversely, if we can afford to bring a bull but decide to bring a pigeon, God knows it and is not well pleased. This is one of the lessons Jesus teaching His disciples when he pointed their attention to the woman with the two mites.

Hence, God does not compare anybody’s best to our best.  All God wants is our best! Therefore, we should never compare our best to anyone else’s. It only results in pride or jealousy. 

We must keep our focus on giving God our very best – no matter what that looks like.

Similarly, it is foolishness comparing our current ability to be obedient to God to someone else’s ability! We place ourselves in a position to receive God’s best by offering Him our best!

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