Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Thinking of Mixing Sin With Your Sacrifice? Don't, says God in Exodus

Exodus 34:25-26

"You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread, nor is the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover to be left over until morning.
"You shall bring the very first of the first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk."

Thoughts on the Passage

Leaven depicts "sin" in Scripture. And the point God is making here is simply this, and yes, I'm taking some liberty here.  He's, in essence, saying, "Don't you dare mix your act of sacrificing to Me, your act of worship, with anything that smacks of sin or the world."  I don't think we've heard Him well enough on this point as we continue to bring "leaven" into our sacrifices. Our minds could go to what goes on in our services today under the excuse of trying to be attractive to the unchurched.  Or, I think of our act of tithing -- "not unless we can get a tax receipt for it".  I'm sure you could come up with other examples.

But let's not blame the 'church' when it comes to how we worship. What really matters is the attitude of our hearts. How do I worship and sacrifice for God, even in the presence of leaven?   And let's not ignore the legal opportunities for greater savings when it comes to getting tax receipts for our charitable donations. What matters is that when I see a need that God has moved me to address, will I do it gladly, even when there is no tax receipt?

God expects, nay, demands our very best -- the first of the first fruits of our labor. Not the leftovers; not the slightly marred; not the seconds. He is to have our very best. Explaining what this meant for the Israelites, David Guzik says that when Israel came into Canaan, "they had a special responsibility to make a firstfruit offering to God, in addition to their regular firstfruit offering (Exodus 23:16)." Giving to God first and giving Him our best is rightfully demanded from us.  In so doing, we recognize God as the One who provides us with everything.

The last phrase of this passage is a reference basically repeating the command in Exodus 23:19 when the Israelites were instructed not to copy any of the practices of the pagan Canaanites. Guzik believes this one, in particular, had to do with a cruel pagan fertility ritual the Cannanites observed. [Matthew Henry says it may have been that the Israelites had seen the Egyptians do this back in Egypt.]

The bottom line for us today is this: Are we true followers of the Divine Creator and Great Provider and Protector, or do we dabble with activities that belong to His adversary, especially in our worship and sacrificial living for Him?

If the latter, what is it that you or I can do today to more clearly establish us as a true follower?

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