This semester in seminary is Old Testament 1, so I’ve been spending a lot of time in the first few books of the Old Testament and reading thru them for my personal Bible reading plan as well. (Also, we are going thru Genesis as a family, so us Ruel’s are all about OT lately)
Fresh from reading thru Leviticus with all the exacting specifics on sacrifices, I was struck by what I read in Psalm 50 this morning —
I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
(Psalm 50:9-15 ESV)
In Leviticus, God spends chapter after chapter giving exact details for the sacrifices that he requires, but then in Psalms he says basically “keep them. I don’t want them.” Why? The Bible is clear that Jesus fulfilled perfectly the Old Covenant, thus animal sacrifices are no longer required because of the perfect one time sacrifice of Jesus for sin. (Check out Hebrews 10)
But let’s look at 2 other things from this passage, as we can still get trapped into empty religious activities as if what we do for God makes us who we are in his eyes — not true!- (1) don’t let yourself think for a second that God actually needs them – v10-12 above make this clear – he doesn’t need anything. (2) what is more important than outward actions is the state of our hearts – v14 says “offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving…” v15 “call upon me in the day of trouble.” In other words, be thankful in your soul to God and show that with your daily actions that you value, cherish, honor him above all else in your life. How do we practically do that? Well, who or what do you run to in the day of trouble? Do you freak out? Worry? Get depressed? Turn inward? Lash out at others in anger? Or do you show in whom you really trust by calling upon Him in trouble and knowing in faith he is in control over everything and is working his plan for your good and his glory? He promises that he will delivery you and it will be for his glory. These are the sacrifices that God actually wants – not empty outward religious activities.