Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7 ESV
The book of Leviticus is all about sacrifice. It tells you what is acceptable to be offered to the Lord, when offerings are to be brought before God, and how they are to be treated once they’re at the altar. For some, Leviticus is just a book filled with gore and blood. They read about the sacrifices and fail to see the love of God that runs throughout the narrative.
I’m with you, the first few times I tried to read Leviticus, I didn’t get it either. I couldn’t understand why the Bible would focus so much on killing animals. But I had completely missed the point. The book of Leviticus is a call to holiness. It was an invitation to draw closer to God so He could bless us in all the ways He wanted to.
Leviticus 1-7 contain detailed instructions on the different kinds of sacrifices that were required. As you learn more about the sacrificial system that was formalized in the desert of Sinai, a number of things become evident.
1. Sacrifices were voluntary. God did not compel anyone to bring a sacrifice. God educated the Israelites on what He expected but He didn’t force anyone to bring an offering to His altar.
2. An offering should be perfect. Depending on the type of offering or transgression, a different type of animal may be required. But one thing that remained constant: the animal had to be spotless and without blemish. The sacrificial system pointed to the perfect sacrifice of Christ.
The Israelites would look for the very best animal they had which met the criteria. They wouldn’t be thinking about the cost or even the loss of the animal. They would be thinking, “My God is so awesome that all he wants from me is a single lamb or a bird.” God didn’t exclude those who couldn’t afford a lamb either – they could bring a turtledove or a pigeon.
3. The sacrifice was personal. An offering had to cost something. A person couldn’t bring someone else’s animal to the altar as a sacrifice for their sins. No, the animal had to come from their own flock or had to be purchased with their money. The sacrifice had to cost them something.
God was not concerned with the sacrifice as much as he was concerned about the condition of the heart of the person giving the sacrifice. God wanted his people to be so deeply affected by their separation from Him that they would willingly, even eagerly, go into their personal stock to find a lamb to be offered.
Today, we don’t have to offer up a burnt offering to the Lord. Jesus came and died for our sins and through Him, we have reconciliation with the Heavenly Father. We are called instead to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is how we worship (Romans 12:1).
It’s about the heart.
Are we worshipping Him as He deserves to be worshipped? Are we living our lives so that God can be praised? Is your heart in the right place?
Take a few moments to consider the heart behind your sacrifice. Then when you’re through, bring your gift to the altar. He’s waiting.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. My heart isn’t always right and I don’t always do those things that please you. Forgive me for those times when my offering was less than you deserved and help me truly worship you in spirit and in truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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