Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews. More specifically today’s passage is found in verses nineteen through thirty-nine of this New Testament book. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:19-25).
“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witness: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the LORD. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:26-39).
When you come to the tenth chapter of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews you will find one of the most intense passages of Scripture in the entire Bible. There is such incredibly powerful language contained within this passage and we would be incredibly wise to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are presented in this passage of Scripture. Upon beginning to read the words which are found in the tenth chapter you will find the author writing of the law having a shadow of the good things to come and not the very image of the things and how it can never with those same sacrifices which they offered continually year by yea remake those who approach perfect. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous truth surrounding those words for within this epistle the author makes it very clear that both the Law and the sacrifices were imperfect in the lives of those who wished to be truly redeemed and justified in the sight of the living God. As you read the words which are found in this epistle you will find the author writing and declaring that the high priest under the Old Covenant had to enter into the Holiest of All once a year with blood to make atonement for himself as well as for the people. What makes this truly interesting when you think about it is when you consider the fact that the high priest would have to do this work and ministry every year on the Day of Atonement and it was a continual process year after year. What’s more is that if you read the words which describe and speak of the Old Covenant you will find the author writing how the priests continually offered sacrifices upon the altar which were brought unto them by the people. Day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year.
I sit here today thinking about the incredible reality surrounding the Tabernacle, the Law and the sacrificial system which was present under and during the days of the Old Covenant. The more you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more you can and will encounter the powerful truth that under the Old Covenant continual sacrifices were needed to be brought by the people that sacrifice might be made for their sins. Of course we know and understand there were other offerings and sacrifices which the children of Israel offered during the days of the Old Covenant—both during the days of the Tabernacle from the forty years in the wilderness to the time the Temple was built during the days of Solomon and during the days in which the Temple stood upon the Temple Mount on Mount Moriah in the city of Jerusalem. From the time of Moses until the time of the Babylonian captivity offerings and sacrifices would be offered upon the altar in the midst of the outer court of the Temple. There was a brief period of seventy years when sacrifices would indeed stop for the children of Israel would live in captivity and exile in the land of the Chaldeans. For seventy years the Temple of the LORD which stood in the midst of the city of Jerusalem would lie in complete ruins having been destroyed by the Babylonians when they invaded the land of Judah and the city of Jerusalem. For seventy years the Temple would lie in complete and utter ruins in the midst of the land of Judah with the altar being non existent among the people of God. For seventy years neither priest nor Levite performed the ministry of the altar and of the Temple because of being strangers and exiles in the land of the Chaldeans.
With this being said, however, it’s important to recognize and understand that once the seventy years ordained and appointed by the living God for their captivity and exile the children of Israel would be restored to their own land. After seventy years had been completed the children of Israel would be returned and restored unto their own land under the leadership of individuals such as Joshua the high priest, Zerubbabel the governor, Ezra the priest and Nehemiah. Moreover there were certain prophets of the LORD who would prophesy among them during those days—namely, Haggai and Zechariah. How absolutely incredible it is to read the words which are found in the prophetic books of Haggai and Zechariah as well as within the books of Ezra and Nehemiah themselves and how during the days of the returned and restored exiles—not only would the Temple of the Lord be rebuilt in the midst of the city of Jerusalem but the altar would be restored and rebuilt among them in their midst. This is something we dare not and must not miss for from the time of Ezra the priest until the time of the destruction of the second Jewish Temple in the year 70 A.D. by Rome sacrifices would be offered upon the altar. We know that sacrifices would have been offered upon the altar for during the days of the Lord Jesus we find Jesus entering into the Temple and witnessing the commercialization of sacrifice and offerings. Jesus would enter into to the temple and would see the money changers, the tables of money and the offerings and sacrifices available to the people which were commercialized and merchandised. How incredibly unique and interesting this truly is when you take the time to think about it for on the one hand it reveals the sacrifices and offerings took place during the days of the Lord Jesus but also that during those days sacrifice and offerings had been commercialized and turned into profit and business. Pause for a moment and ask yourself if this is something that is present and manifested among us during our own generation today—the commercialization, the merchandizing and the monetizing of the sacrifices and offerings presented unto the living and eternal God.
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the incredible fact that with the exception of a seventy year period of time in exile and captivity sacrifices and offerings would be absent from among the people of God. Even during the four hundred silent years I would dare say that sacrifices and offerings were offered unto the living God for the prophetic book of Malachi presents us with a powerful warning concerning the sacrifices and offerings which were offered unto the living and eternal God. The prophet Malachi prophesied nearly a century after the children of Israel were returned and restored unto the land of promise and yet they had lost sight of what it meant to truly worship the living and eternal God through their sacrifices and offerings. The prophet Malachi rebuked and corrected them concerning their sacrifices and offerings for they would offer unto and before the LORD that which was not pleasing nor acceptable in the sight. Essentially that which they did was cut corners as it pertained to sacrifice and offering and chose to offer unto the living and eternal God that which was not pleasing nor acceptable in his sight. The words which we find in the prophetic book of Malachi are incredibly unique in that they reveal the dangers of wrong sacrifice and offering in the sight and presence of the living God and bringing unto the living and eternal God that which is not holy, that which is not acceptable and that which is not pleasing. What’s more is that during this time the words which the prophet Malachi prophesied and spoke unto the children of Israel echoed words which the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah declared unto and among them during his generation. In fact I am convinced it is necessary to consider the following words which are found in the prophetic book of Malachi as well as the words which are found in the prophetic book of Isaiah. Consider if you will the words which are found in the first chapters of both the prophetic book of Malachi as well as the prophetic book of Isaiah:
“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? 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. 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. But now entreat God’s favor, that He may be gracious to us. While this being done by your hands, will he accept you favorably? Says the LORD of hosts. Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, so that you would not kindle fire on my altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts. Nor will I.accept an offering from your hands. For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name shall be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. But you profane it, in that you say, The table of the LORD is defiled; and its fruit, its food, is contemptible. You also say, Oh, what a weariness! And you sneer at it, says the LORD of hosts. And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand? Says the LORD. But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and takes a vow, but sacrifices to the LORD what is blemished—for I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and my name is to be feared among the nations” (Malachi 1:6-14).
In order to help you understand this all the more I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to three distinct Old Testament passages of Scripture found in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The LORD through His servant Moses was very specific concerning the sacrifices and offerings which were offered unto Him in His sight and presence and emphatically declared unto them concerning those sacrifices which they ought not to present unto Him as offerings and gifts. I am convinced we must needs consider these words for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth that is found in the prophetic book of Malachi and the offerings and sacrifices which were offered during those days. This is imperative for us to recognize and understand for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the sacrifices, gifts and offerings which were to be offered unto the living and eternal God. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in these passages of Scripture beginning with the twenty-second chapter of the Old Testament book of Leviticus:
“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to Aaron and his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say to them: Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, who offers his sacrifice for any of his vows or for any of his freewill offerings, which they offer to the LORD as a burnt offering—you shall offer of your own free will a male without blemish from the cattle, from the sheep, or from the boats. Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it shall not be acceptable on your behalf. And whoever offers a sacrifice of a peace offering to the LORD, to fulfill his vow, or a freewill offering from the cattle or the sheep, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it. Those that are blind or broken or maimed, or even 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. Either a bull or a lamb that has any limb too long or too short you may offer as a freewill offering, but for a vow it shall not be accepted. You shall not offer to the LORD what is bruised or crushed, or torn or cut; nor shall you make any offering of them in your land. Nor from a foreigners hand shall you offer any of these as the bread of your God, because their corruption is in them, and defects are in them. They shall not be accepted on your behalf. And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: When a bull or a sheep or a goat is born, it shall be seven days with its mother; and from the eighth day and thereafter it shall be accepted as an offering made by fire to the LORD. Whether it is a cow or ewe, do not kill both her and her young on the same day. And when you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, offer it of your own free will. ON the same day it shall be eaten; you shall leave none of it until morning: I am the LORD. Therefore you shall keep my commandments, and perform them: I am the LORD. You shall not profane my holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 22:17-33).
“All the firstborn males that come from your herd and your flock you shall sanctified to the LORD your God; you shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. You and your household shall eat it before the LORD your God year by year in the place which the LORD chooses. 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. You may eat it within your gates; the unclean and the clean person alike may eat it, as if it were a gazelle or a deer. Only you shall not eat its blood; you shall pour it on the ground like water” (Deuteronomy 15:19-23).
“You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God a bull or sheep which has any blemish or defect, for that is an abomination to the LORD your God. If there is found among you, within any of your gates which the LORD your God gives you, a man or a woman who has been wicked in the sight of the LORD your God, in transgressing His covenant, who has gone and served other gods and worshipped them, either the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded, and it is told you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel, then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones. Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death. On the testimony of one witness. The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you” (Deuteronomy 17:1-7).
It is quite clear from the words which are found in these passages of Scripture that when the LORD God gave the children of Israel the statutes, the commands and the decrees concerning the sacrifices, the gifts and the offerings He was very careful to instruct them concerning what was acceptable and what wasn’t acceptable in His sight. The LORD God was very specific with what would and could be offered unto Him in His presence and upon His altar for His altar was not to be polluted nor defiled with sacrifices which weren’t acceptable before Him in His sight. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for the words we find in these passages of Scripture are at the very heart of what the living and eternal God was speaking unto the children of Israel through His servant Malachi. Through His servant Malachi the living and eternal God emphatically declared that they were polluting and defiling his altar by offering upon it their defiled and polluted sacrifices. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is there was a line of defense between the people and the altar. If you read and study the Old Testament sacrificial system you will find that the priests of the living and eternal God were essentially mediators between the people of God and the altar. The priests who were ordained and appointed by the living God were indeed the front line defense between the offerings, gifts and sacrifices the children of Israel brought unto the LORD and it was up to them to determine whether or not that which was brought unto them was acceptable to be offered upon the altar in the outer court. What makes this all the more compelling is when you take the time to think about the fact that the priests should have either approved or disapproved that which was brought to them based on the command of the living God. On the one hand the people themselves should have known what was acceptable and pleasing in the sight of the living God while on the other hand the priests themselves should have also known what was acceptable—and not only known what was acceptable but also rejected that which violated the commands, statutes and decrees of the living and eternal God.
I sit here today thinking about the tremendous responsibility the priests had from the times of Moses and Aaron in the midst of the wilderness all the way through the time of the priests which were spoken of during the days of Malachi. The priests were not only responsibly for knowing the Law and what was acceptable and what was unacceptable in the sight and presence of the living God as well as being able to reject any offering or sacrifice that was not pleasing nor acceptable in the sight and presence of the living God. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for while it is indeed true the people themselves should know the commands, statutes and decrees of the living God the priests shouldered and bore an even greater responsibility. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it is for the priests had a tremendous burden upon their shoulders during the days of the sacrificial system to not only know and understand the Law and what was commanded by the living God but also be able to reject anything that was defiled, polluted and unacceptable from being offered upon the altar. The question I have to ask is who bore the greater responsibility concerning that which was polluted and defiled being offered upon the altar—the people themselves or the priests. In all reality I would dare say the priests should have known better and were indeed guardians of the altar to prevent that which was defiled, that which was polluted and that which was unholy and unacceptable in the sight of the LORD from being offered upon the altar. This is why the living and eternal God asked who among them would shut the doors of the Temple that polluted and defiled sacrifices would not be offered upon His altar. What we must needs understand and recognize is that it was the priests who bore the greater responsibility for what was offered upon the altar for they were essentially guardians of the altar and should have sent people away who attempted to bring offerings in the sight and presence of the living God which was defiled and polluted.
The more I think about this the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the need for guardians of the altar among us within our generation. There is a great need for men and women to know what is acceptable and pleasing in the sight of the living God. We would be incredibly naïve to think that we can offer unto the LORD our God that which is defiled, that which is polluted and that which was unacceptable in the sight and presence of our God. Remember when Ornan the Jebusite tried offering David everything needed for a sacrifice and offering at no cost and David refused to offer unto the LORD that which had not cost him nothing? Remember during the days of the LORD Jesus when sacrifices, gifts and offerings were being commercialized, merchandized and monetized by the money changers and those who sold in the court of the Temple and how people could get away with attempting to offering unto the living God something which did not come from their own flock(s) and herd(s)? I am absolutely convinced that we as the saints of God must needs know and understand that which is acceptable in the sight and presence of the living God within our generation. What’s more is we must in fact be guardians of the altar and ensure that that which is polluted, defiled, unholy and unacceptable is not offered upon the altar of the LORD. Oh while it is indeed true that a way has been made through the blood of the LORD Jesus into the Holy of Holies and that we can freely come into the presence of the living God it is also true that we must come with that which pleases and that which is holy and acceptable in His sight and presence. Having said this I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints of Rome as well as the words which are found in the second chapter of the prophetic book of Malachi:
“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. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
Consider here the words found in the second chapter of the prophetic book of Malachi concerning the corrupt priests which were present among the children of Israel more than a century after the returned from the land of their captivity and exile and were once more dwelling in their own land:
“And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. If you will not hear, and if you will not take it to heart, to give glory to my name, says the LORD of hosts, I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to heart. Behold, I will rebuke your descendants and spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your solemn feasts; and one will take you away with it. Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, that my covenant with Levi may continue, says the LORD of hosts. My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, and I gave them to him that he might fear me; so he feared me and was reverent before my name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and equity, and turned many away from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But you have departed from the way; you have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts. Therefore I also have made you contemptible and base before all the people, because you have not kept my ways but have shown partiality in the law” (Malachi 2:1-9).
Please don’t miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to that which is acceptable in the sight and presence of the living God in regards to sacrifices, gifts and offerings. There is a great need for us as the people of God to know and understand that which is acceptable in the sight and presence of the LORD our God for it brings us face to face with what we are indeed bringing unto Him when we appear before Him. It was the living God who ordained and appointed that no man should appear before Him empty-handed and must always bring something with which they approached Him. It was the LORD who ordained and appointed man to appear before Him three times a year and each time to bring a gift and offering with them. No man was to appear before the LORD empty-handed and must needs always have a gift or an offering to present to Him. With this being said, however, it is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand that we must needs be aware of that which we are indeed bringing and offering in the sight and presence of the living God. We as the saints of God must needs understand and acknowledge that which we are bringing before Him in His presence and must needs recognize if we are bringing that which is indeed acceptable in His sight. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which I spoke of earlier within the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah. I am absolutely convinced there is a great need to recognize and pay attention to the words contained within this passage of Scripture for they bring us face to face with a problem that was present during the days and generation of Isaiah concerning the gifts and offerings which were brought unto the living God as well as the celebration of the festivals and feasts which had been ordained and appointed by the living and eternal God. Consider the following words which are found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah beginning with the tenth verse of the first and opening chapter:
“Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah: To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me? Says the LORD. I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. When you come to appear before me, who has required this from your hand to trample my courses? Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feats my soul hates; they are a trouble to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek Justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:10-17).
Pay attention to the words which the LORD through the prophet Isaiah declared unto the children of Israel in this passage of Scripture. When speaking through His servant Isaiah unto the people the living and eternal God declared unto them that He had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. Moreover the LORD also emphatically declared unto the people that He did not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. Before returning to the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to a pattern and theme which started emerging within Scripture beginning with the words Samuel declared unto Saul after his disobedience and rebellion to the word and command of the living God. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding that which was truly pleasing and acceptable in the sight and presence of the living God. Beginning with the words Samuel the prophet spoke unto Saul king of Israel we begin seeing and noticing a pattern emerging within Scripture concerning the sacrifices, gifts and offerings the people of God would indeed bring and present unto the living and eternal God. I am absolutely convinced we must needs consider the words which are connected to this pattern and theme for they help us to understand just how absolutely incredible and amazing the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus truly was on our behalf. What’s more is the words directly linked and connected to this pattern and theme help us to understand the words which are found in this New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews who would have had an understanding of the Law—and not only the Law but also the commands, statutes, decrees and what was holy and acceptable in the sight and presence of the living God. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in various passages of Scripture beginning with the fifteenth chapter of the book of First Samuel:
“Now the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying, I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following me, and has not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night. So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul went to Carmel, and indeed, he set up a monument for himself; and he has gone on around, passed by, and gone down to Gilgal. Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD. But Samuel said, What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen I hear? And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed. Then Samuel said to Saul, Be quiet! And I will tell you what the LORD said to me last night. And he said to him, Speak on. So Samuel said, When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the LORD anoint you king over Israel? Now the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed. Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD”? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD? And Saul said to Samuel, But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalekites; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrificed to the LORD your God in Gilgal. So Samuel said: Has 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 heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king” (1 Samuel 15:10-23).
“For you do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it: you do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).
“I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are continually befofre me. I will not take a bull from your house, nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I Know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is mine, and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (Psalm 50:8-15).
“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice” (Proverbs 21:2-3).
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them. Yet they did not obey me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers” (Jeremiah 7:21-26).
“With what shall I come before the LORD, and boy myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:6-8).
It is absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which were found in these passages of Scripture which were found in the Old Testament for they are themselves referenced by the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews. In fact in this very chapter which is before us we find the author of this epistle calling the attention of their audience to the futility of the sacrifice and offering of of bulls, goats, rams, lambs and the like. Throughout the epistle the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews sought to bring them into the place where they recognized the supremacy of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that to obey is better than sacrifice, however, we must needs recognize that there was something that was better than any sacrifice offered by the priests upon the altar during the days of the Tabernacle and the days of the Temple. As you read the words presented within the epistle written unto the Hebrews you will find the author continually and repeatedly emphasizes the supremacy of the sacrifice and offering of the Lord Jesus. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how incredibly important it truly is for there is something that is better than the sacrifice of bulls and goats. In fact Scripture makes it perfectly clear that there are indeed two things which are better than the sacrifices of bulls, goats, rams and that which was ordained and appointed through Moses in the Old Testament in the wilderness. If you read Scripture carefully you will find that obedience itself is better than the sacrifice and offering of bulls, goats and rams, however, you will also find that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is better than the blood of bulls, goats and rams. What this symbolizes and suggests is that the ultimate and supreme sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross coupled together with our obedience, faithfulness and righteousness produce something incredibly powerful within our lives.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding this for it brings us face to face with the intrinsic link and connection between our obedience which is better than sacrifice and the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our obedience, our holiness, our righteousness and our faithfulness is more important and more valuable than the offering of bulls, goats, rams and the like, however, our obedience is not greater than the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. The sacrifice and offering of the Lord Jesus gives more credibility, worth and value to our obedience for it is our obedience which He truly desires and delights in. The living and eternal God was indeed pleased with the sacrifice and offering of His Son and it is His offering that made a propitiation and atonement for our sins and granted us access to the Father. With this being said, however, we must recognize that the sacrifice of the Son in and of itself is not enough. The sacrifice and offering of the eternal and only begotten Son was enough to satisfy the requirement of the justice, the holiness and righteousness of the living God. The sacrifice and offering of the eternal and only begotten Son was enough to satisfy the requirement for atonement and propitiation for us in the sight and presence of the living God. The sacrifice and offering of the Son was enough to bring us into right relationship, fellowship and communion with the eternal and living God, however, we must not neglect the responsibility we have to respond to that sacrifice and offering through our obedience. It is the sacrifice and offering of the eternal and only begotten Son of the living Good that gives value and worth to our obedience—especially if it is mixed together with the obedience, the faithfulness and humility of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact I would like to draw and call your attention to certain passages found in the epistles and writings of the apostle Paul concerning this sacrifice of the eternal and only begotten Son of the living and eternal God:
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift or righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as through one man’s offense judgment came to call men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by on man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:6-21).
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which he made us accepted in the Beloved. IN Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:3-14).
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants or promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:1-18).
“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservants, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:1-11).
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His Cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became minister” (Colossians 1:9-23).
There is a great need for us to recognize and understand the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth concerning the sacrifice of the Son. The four New Testament gospels each present us with the sacrifice which the eternal and only begotten Son of the Father offered once and for all for our sins. It was by and through His sacrifice that atonement and redemption were made for us. It was through the sacrifice of the eternal and only begotten Son of the Father that access has been made to the Father which is in heaven and seated upon the throne. With this being said we must needs recognize that this one sacrifice made by the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God was supreme and rendered the offering of the blood of bulls and goats irrelevant and no longer of any value. With this being said it’s important to recognize that during the days of the Old Covenant obedience was of more value than the blood of bulls, rams, goats and the like. Scripture made it abundantly clear that obedience, faithfulness, righteousness and holiness in the sight and presence of the living God was of greater worth and value than all the sacrifices one might offer upon the altar at the hands of the priests. If one wanted to truly please the living and eternal God the single greatest means and method of doing that was to walk in obedience to His commands, His statutes, His decrees and what He has written and spoken. Through Jeremiah, Isaiah, Micah we learn that obedience is better than sacrifice and it didn’t matter how many sacrifices were presented upon the altar. At the end of the day to obey was better than sacrifice and to heed better than the fat of rams—a reality which was emphatically declared by the prophet Samuel unto Saul king of Israel.
With this being said I find it absolutely necessary to bring you face to face with the incredible truth that if obedience was better than sacrifice during the days of sacrifice then how much more is it better than sacrifices now that the ultimate sacrifice has been made once and for all? What’s more is that if the sacrifice and offering of the Lord Jesus Christ nullified and rendered the sacrifices and offerings of bulls, goats and rams ineffective and irrelevant than how much more is our obedience of greater worth than sacrifices which are no longer required. During the days of the Old Covenant the children of Israel offered sacrifices through the priests upon the altar, however, when Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice he did away with such sacrifices and offerings through His blood. This is important for us to recognize and understand for in the New Testament we are not called to offer the blood of bulls, goats and rams upon the altar in the sight and presence of the living God. There is no longer any need for us to offer bulls, goats and rams in the sight and presence of the living God for Christ was the ultimate sacrifice and His blood was shed for the remission of sins. This is something which warrants strong consideration on our part for it calls and draws our attention to that which is of utmost importance under the New Covenant in the sight and presence of the living God. The sacrifice and offering of bulls, goats and rams are no longer required which means that the obedience that was spoken of during the days of the Old Covenant has replaced such offerings and sacrifices in our generation. We have not been called to offer sacrifices of bulls, goats and rams upon the altar anymore and we have instead been called to walk in obedience in the sight and presence of the living God. In fact it is the sacrifice of Christ that adds value and increases the worth of our obedience for when our obedience meets his sacrifice we experience a measure of fellowship, communion and relationship with the eternal Father who is in heaven. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the tenth chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews:
“For the Law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshippers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you have prepared for me. IN burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you had no pleasure. Then I said, Behold I have come—in the volume of the book it is written of me—to do your will, O God. Previously saying, Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin you did not desire, nor had pleasure in them (which are offered according to the law), then He said, Behold, I have come to do your will, o God. He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made his footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put my laws in their hearts, and in their minds I will write them, then He adds, Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:1-18).
As I bring this writing to a close I find it necessary to call and draw your attention to the words I mentioned earlier about Christ’s sacrifice and the shedding of His blood gives value and worth to our obedience. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand that we have not been invited to continue the offering of the blood of bulls, of goats and of rams. We have not been called to present sacrifices according to the Old Covenant and the sacrificial system that was given to Moses atop the mountain of God in the wilderness. What we have instead been called and invited to do is walk in obedience, faithfulness, righteousness and holiness in the sight and presence of the living God. With this being said it must be understood that it is the death and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus together with the person, presence and power of the Holy Spirit that allows the ability to walk in such obedience and holiness in the sight and presence of the living God. This is something we dare not and must not miss for the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote of Christ that He learned obedience through the things which He suffered. Christ learned obedience through the things which He suffered and it is through and because of His suffering and death we have the strength to be able to walk in obedience and holiness in His sight and presence. Christ’s sacrifice and the offering of His own blood not only provided the remission of sins but it also cleansed and washed us that we might walk in obedience and faithfulness in the sight and presence of the living God. It was Christ’s sacrifice that gives us the strength and the power to be able to be sons and daughters of the living God and to walk in obedience and holiness in the presence of the living God. With this being said it’s absolutely necessary we recognize and understand the responsibility and danger we have within our lives to walk in full and complete obedience and holiness in the sight and presence of the living God.
Having said this I find it absolutely necessary and imperative to leave you with the words which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote in the fifth, sixth and tenth chapters of this epistle. The words we find here are incredibly necessary for us to pay close attention to for they bring us face to face with the responsibility we have within our lives to walk in true obedience and holiness in the sight and presence of the living God. There is a great need for us to recognize and pay attention to these words for they bring us face to face with the incredible responsibility of what we have indeed been called to do within our lives as the saints of God and those who profess to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The words we find within these chapters are incredibly unique and necessary for us as the disciples of Christ to pay close attention to for they provide us with a strong warning concerning how we are to live our lives and conduct ourselves in this generation in the sight and presence of the living God. It is with this in mind I leave you with the following words which are found in this New Testament epistle beginning with the fifth chapter:
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by random of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).
“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward Gd, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:1-8).
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, f or He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the LORD. And again, The LORD will judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you and compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:19-39).