- Will the Lord be Pleased with Thousands of Rams? – The Bible teaches much about forgiveness and how it is intimately associated with blood atonement. But why blood atonement? In Lev 17:11 we find this principle, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul”. In Heb 5:1 we learn the purpose of burnt offerings and sacrifices, “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins …”. Nonetheless, all of those sacrifices commanded by God in the Old Testament merely served as sign posts to illustrate a deeper spiritual reality which was yet to appear, the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb 10:8-10), as we find stated in Gal 4:4. What is the meaning of these “burnt offerings and peace offerings”? Undoubtedly they speak of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who had to become sin offering for His people, and then had to endure the flames of God’s eternal justice on their behalf. He was the “burnt offering” to redeem wicked, rebellious sinners. He was forsaken by His Father and became a curse in order to mediate an eternal peace between Holy God and fallen man. Heb 10:8 declares, “Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein” and Isa 53:10 asserts that God is pleased with only one sacrifice, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him [Lord Jesus]; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”
Mic 6:6-8 “Wherewith shall I come before the, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
Heb 10:1-4 “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”
Gal 4:4 “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
Heb 10:8-10 “Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he [Lord Jesus], Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
- To Obey is Better than Sacrifice, and to Hearken than the Fat of Rams – Jer 7:22-23 is an astounding declaration of the value of obedience which God desires above anything we might offer Him. This agrees perfectly with the New Testament admonition found in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments”. Obedience is the thrust of the statement we find in Luke 6:46, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say”? Another very significant example for the necessity of obedience is found in 1 Sam 15:19-23 where Saul, the first king of Israel (who was not a saved man), is being reproved by God through the prophet Samuel for his sin of disobedience. Firstly, 1 Sam 8:7 highlights the gravity of rejecting God’s Word (the Bible), which is tantamount to rejecting God, as Israel desired for a human king (foolishly coveting what other nations had) as opposed to the perfect King and Lord Himself: “And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them”. The life of King Saul, Israel’s first king, is a sad, but provocative, account that illustrates the importance of true obedience as opposed to a false sense of obedience. Many aspects of King Saul’s life and rule were not unlike other non-Christians who appear outwardly to be highly moral. However, in this account (and others) he displays a critical lack of understanding the fundamental principles of obedience as he succumbed to self-deceit, blaming others, and stubbornness. Toward the end of his life he even consulted a medium, thus violating God’s law which he, as king, was responsible to enforce. This grievous sin speaks of his utter disregard for the Word of God: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry”. His life is a warning to all of us who claim to be a believer to take a long, hard look at how we measure up to the Bible. On the other hand, the Lord Jesus was the epitome of obedience, as Heb 5:7-9 affirms. Indeed Christ came to fulfill all righteousness – every jot and tittle that the Law of God demanded. As the perfect Man and “God in the flesh” he perfectly obeyed His Father in thought, word, and deed. It is only by the obedience of Christ that anybody can be saved, as Rom 5:19b asserts: “… so by the obedience of one [Christ] shall many be made righteous”. Apart from Lord Jesus, who else can obey? Those who do come to salvation by God’s grace alone (Eze 36:26-27) hear His voice and subsequently obey, as John 10:27 indicates, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me…”. It should be carefully noted that obedience is a result of salvation, as are all other Christian “virtues”. Before Salvation one is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins under just wrath of God, according to 2 Thes 1:8 (and a plethora of other passages), “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Notice how God connects the idea of “knowing God” (that is, having a relationship with God) and “obeying the Gospel” (which in actuality is the entire Bible, or the “Law of God”, or the “Covenant”). After salvation God continues to work in the life of the child of God to mold them into likeness of Christ, in accordance with Php 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure”.
Jer 7:22-23 “For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.”
1 Sam 15:10-12, 17-23 “Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying, 11It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night … the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? 18And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed 19Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD? 20And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites 21But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal. 22And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”
Heb 5:7-9 “Who [Lord Jesus] in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he [Lord Jesus] were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”
Eze 36:26-27 “A new heart also will I [God] give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”
- The Sacrifices of God are a Broken Spirit: a Broken and a Contrite Heart – We read in Isa 66:2, “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word”. Who is this person described as “poor, of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word”? This person is found among those to whom Luke 1:50 refers, “And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation”. Those whom God has saved, or reconciled, have a deep fear and sensitivity to God’s Holy Word, the Bible, because they are fully aware that His Word is an extension of God Himself. When we become saved, we also become “Just” in God’s eyes because we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. And only God can humble someone. For each child of God, humility is not an option but a way of life, as God indicates in Isa 57:15. It is God who enables those who first obtain His mercy through salvation to reflect His merciful nature towards others. 1 Pet 2:10 explains who those people are, “[Believers] Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God:which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy”. In other words, those who “obtain mercy” (salvation) are called “the people of God” (believers), and God gives His people the ability to “love mercy” according to Mic 6:8. Although believers do not have the authority to forgive sins, they do have a duty to share God’s mercy with others by proclaiming the True Gospel of grace so that God may forgive their sins, if it is His will to do so. The Gospel is the “power of God unto salvation” according to Rom 1:16. We read in Pro 14:21, “He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he”. Our “neighbour” is our fellow man, and those who are spiritually “poor” are unsaved. We believers have mercy on our unsaved neighbors by giving them the Gospel. Have you obtained God’s mercy so you can obey God’s commandment to “be merciful” that we read in Luke 6:36? “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful”.
Psa 51:16-17 “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
Isa 57:15 “For thus saith the high and lofty One [God] that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
Mark 12:30-31 “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:33 “And to love him [God] [obedience – loving God is keeping commandments] with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour [showing mercy] as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
Mic 6:6-8 “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? 7Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?