In the Old Testament sacrifices were given regularly for sins, these sacrifices mostly consisted of animals. But not just any animal, there were rules as to what kind and what condition the animal was to be in. If the animal did not meet the God’s requirements He would not accept it as a valid sacrifice, it was actually quite insulting to do so as you’ll read.
Leviticus 22:22 – ‘Those that are blind or broken or maimed, or have an ulcer or eczema or scabs, you shall not offer to the LORD, nor make an offering by fire of them on the altar to the LORD.
Deuteronomy 15:21 – “But if there is a defect in it, if it is lame or blind or has any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the LORD your God.
However, we find during Malachi’s ministry some Israelites were offering just that – blind, sick, and lame. This is a terrible thing first of all they are disobeying the Law they claim to live by, second they are not sacrificing anything worth anything to the Lord, but being lazy and selfish, third they are unaware that they have offended the Lord.
6 – “A son honors his father, And a servant his master. If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the LORD of hosts To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’
7 – “You offer defiled food on My altar, But say, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’ By saying, ‘The table of the LORD is contemptible.’
8 – And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, Is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?” Says the LORD of hosts.
“In what way have we despised Your name?” they ask as if completely unaware that they have done something that contradicts their covenant with God at the very core. Under the Old Covenant sacrifices were given as a sign of devotion to God and to pay for sins (Lev 4:35,5:10, Heb 9:22). Now that we live under grace, or the New Covenant, we don’t offer stuff or do things to be forgiven (Eph 1:7, Col1:14). If we did this (as some do) that would mean salvation is by works which clearly is not the case (Tts 3:5, Eph 2:9, Rom 10:10). However we do things and offer ourselves as a response to God’s great mercy displayed to us by the atoning death of Christ on the cross.
Rom 12:1 – 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.
You, the Sacrifice
So what are you giving? Romans 12:1 uses the imagery of the sacrifices made in the Old Testament but makes the clarification that now we are on the altar offered to God, not for forgiveness but in thanks. How much of yourself have you offered willingly to God?
If you could picture it what would be on the altar? Just your Sunday mornings? Just your public life? Maybe your good times are given to God but not your hard times? What about your private life? Your thought life? Your time spent on the internet, TV, and weekends?
When I went to Germany for ministry work I was told not to cross my silverware on the plate after finishing my meal and leaving because it was a sign to the server that you were very displeased by the meal and service. This is similar to what the Israelites did to God, they had been delivered from and blessed so much but were still ungrateful and disobedient towards God.
Revelation Inspires Response
So what is your response to what all God has done for you? If there is no response or if it is half hearted and reluctant I ask that you examine your knowledge and revelation as to what God has done for you.
While speaking to an unbelieving friend in High School about Christianity she asked me “Why should I accept Jesus or believe in God?” I replied “Because of all the things He’s done for you” she quickly responded “What has God ever done for me?” I was amazed at the realization that she didn’t have a clue as to what God had done for her in providing salvation, forgiveness, the Holy Spirit, and the Word. I wonder if Christians suffer from this same lack of revelation as to what God has done for them. If the general populace of Western Christianity is lacking in an understanding of what God has done than that would explain the lack of devotion and response to God’s work. When you realize what God has done you will have an opportunity to respond. The greater the revelation, the greater the potential response on your part. How has your response been lately?