Blemished Sacrifices

Here I’ve been working my way through the Old Testament, and I come across this very short—but powerful—book, Malachi; the last of the old testament prophets. All four chapters have something remarkable to say, but the second half of chapter one really jumped out at me.

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ You place defiled food on my altar. But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty. “Oh that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offerings from your hands. My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you profane it by saying of the Lord’s table, ‘It is defiled,’ and of its food, ‘It is contemptible.’ And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty. “When you bring injured, crippled or diseased animals and off them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.” (Malachi 1:6-14)

Now, you may be wondering okay, ‘what does she get from that? It’s about sacrificial offerings, which we no longer must do.’ Yes, but here’s my question…do you offer God your best? Do you offer Him your most precious time and energy, or does He get the leftovers? Do you offer Him your first fruits, your very best, or does God get your injured, crippled and diseased?

Some of the ladies at church, have been working our way through, Tammie Head’s bible study—Duty or Delight—and as I read these verses in Malachi, I realized that the Israelites Malachi was speaking to, didn’t delight in serving God; they felt it burdensome. Serving God ought not be a burden, but a delight…an honor! We’re serving the King of Kings! The God of Heaven and Earth! The God who loves us so dearly that He sent His one and only Son into this world to suffer and die for our sake; because He wants to be our most trusted and dearly loved friend; the lover of our souls! He deserves our VERY BEST in everything, because He is the great king, and yet, He loves even the lowliest and most sinful of us all! How amazing is that!? What king/queen do you know that cares about people at the individual level? Who actually goes out of their way to build a personal relationship with each one of us? ONLY ONE and His name is Yahweh.

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It’s About a Relationship, Not Spirituality

I recently came across a letter that I’d written to a friend of mine last year. He’d made a comment about being “spiritual” that just sat with me the wrong way. I felt like he just didn’t “get it;” which, I feel may be the case with a lot of people, so I decided to share my letter with you all.

That’s just it. It’s not about being “spiritual.” It’s about having a relationship with someone who cares about you and loves you so much that He sent his only son to die on the cross for you. He’s my best friend and knows everything about me; things that nobody else in the world knows. He forgave me for things that I’ve done in my past, before I could even learn to forgive myself. It took me a long time to get where I am—and I still have a long way to go; it doesn’t come overnight, and I, too, struggle with doubt every once in a while. But there’s so much freedom and joy that comes from being able to give over all your fear, anxiety, frustration, shame, and doubt to someone who loves you unconditionally and has so many promises for us when we turn to Him. Remember, the Israelites were God’s chosen people, but they struggled repeatedly because they kept putting their faith in things other than God. God gave them all these promises if they stayed true to Him, but He also provided a list of curses if they turned from Him. That’s why Israel lost just about everything!

Lately, I’ve been reading the book of Psalms, but I keep coming across the same thing in all the Old Testament. We, as human beings, have a hard time being obedient and submissive. We think that to submit makes us weak. That’s why we have a hard time working under other people and being told what to do as children and teens; the same goes for us, as children of God. When we ask God for help or to provide something for us, and he gives us a “no” response or doesn’t respond quickly enough for us, we don’t want to hear it! We want to do what we want to do, when we want to do it. But if we just submit and accept His “no” answer or wait around for Him to respond, he rewards our faithfulness and gives us even greater responsibilities and gifts.

Now, I’m not saying that we should be obedient to Him just because He’ll provide us with rewards. It has to come from your heart. You know how when you like/love somebody you want to spend as much time with them as you can? That’s how our lives should be. We love the Lord, so we spend as much time with Him, so that we can get to know Him better. And you know how married couples start to look alike over time? The other thing that comes from spending a lot of time with that other person is that we slowly start to look alike. That’s when and how our lives are transformed and we begin to see the world as He does. Then the desire to see His will on Earth and spend even more time with Him, becomes even greater!

Justice & Love

I find it extremely difficult to understand why some individuals believe that because God is full of love and mercy, that He’ll simply overlook our sin.

I mean when you look back at the history of the Israelites, God punished them for their sins! And not just once or twice, but over and over again (because they were hard-headed–not much different from you and I).

God laid everything out for them in Deuteronomy 28:

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock–the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from seven. The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you. The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in his ways. Then all the people on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. The Lord will grand you abundant prosperity–in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground–in the land he swore to your forefathers to give you. The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.

However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him. The Lord will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land ou are entering to possess. The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The Lord will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed. The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.our carcasses will be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away. The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind.  At midday you will grope about like a blind man in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do: day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you…

That’s not all of it, but it you get the gist; it continues, naming curse after curse that will come upon the Israelites for forsaking the commands of the one true God. If God could allow all these bad things occur to the Israelites because of their sin, why wouldn’t He be a God that would do the same to the rest of us?

Justice is defined as the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness. Therefore, because God is truly just, He shows impartiality to all mankind; He is unbiased.

Nobody is perfect and our sin separates us from God.  But God sent His son–Jesus–into the world for ALL mankind, in order to restore that broken relationship with God, which we were meant to have from the very beginning. Why? Because He loves every single one of us, and wants a personal relationship with each of us.