February 7: offering (Leviticus 4-6; Acts 14)

The book of Leviticus is when reading through the Bible becomes a challenge. So much of what we read seems foreign to our experience and lacking in any relevance. But it is important to remember that what we are reading was not at all abstract. This was vital to being in a relationship with God.  This system of sacrifices may appear legalistic but was not intended to be so. In fact, Jesus was critical of those who abused this system and made it legalistic. The offerings were to be made to God flowing freely from grateful hearts. How to do this was not left to human design but by divinely given instruction. For an offering to mean something it must cost something.

When I read these chapters, I am tempted to picture one huge barbecue at the Temple or imagine how much time I would need to spend at the Temple to account for everything intentionally and unintentionally done to break some law or command. But then, I am missing the message. I think of Psalm 8:1 – LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! I am so grateful for all that God has done and is doing. How can I say thanks? How can I respond to all that God has done? How can I remain close to God today and always? How can my attitude toward God influence my interactions with everyone else? Leviticus shows a way.

There will be another way. As we will read (in June) in the letter to the Ephesians: Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  Jesus will be the atoning sacrifice once and for all. Not that his sacrifice will put an end to offerings. On the contrary, today I want to offer God my best. I want to bring an offering that costs me something, that has value.  LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

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