Summary: God’s grace - same yesterday today tomorrow
† In the name of Jesus †
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Is it a paradox?
Sacrifices “commanded” and 1 Samuel 15:22
Sacrifice a “term” of covenant
THere seems to be an idea out there, that God’s grace is different in the Old Testament, than it is in the new. The idea seems to be that God in the Old Testament is a God of wrath, and a God’s who must be appeased. Compare this to the God of grace in the New Testament, God the Father who sent Jesus to die for us, even before we were born, even while people were still dead in sin.
It seems a great paradox, for God, scripture teaches, is not a God who changes, yet people will claim that He does, for He is different in His covenant to Israel, then He is in His new covenant to the church.
One of the reasons for this, I believe, is a misunderstanding of the sacrificial system, the offering of oxen or goats or sheep, to be sacrificed, and burnt. Rather than see these grace filled events as gifts from God, they were turned into traditions. Traditions that were legalized, and whose meaning and significance became lost. So lost, that we find God tired of them! Hear His words.
11 "What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. Isaiah 1:11 (ESV)
22 And 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 listen than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV)
Have you ever felt that your worship was dry, that it was lacking something? Does it ever seem as dry, as if you are just going through the motions? That our liturgy has become more about the ritual. Maybe, going back to one of the first worship services of God’s gathered people, seeing what they saw, hearing what they heard, we too, can realize the incredible blessing, as we celebrate the ultimate sacrifice, and realize that the blood of our covenant, is the blood of Christ, shed for us.
We start with the word,
The covenant that describes the relationship
Relationship between God and His people, relationships of the people
The people receive, with one voice!
The apostle Paul, in the 10th chapter of Romans, tells us that faith comes by hearing the word of God., from those entrusted and sent to preach it. In the middle of the Sinai, at the foot of a mountain, the descendants of Israel heard Moses proclaim the words of God, given for them. That is the scene in our Old Testament reading today. Look at your bulletin and read verse 3 along with me.
3 Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, "All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do."
Starting in chapter 20 with what we call the Decaloque, the Ten Words, commonly referred to as the 10 Commandments, , we find those words of God. Words that are more than “commandments.” Words that describe life, lived properly, as God intended for us to live. These words starting with,
2 "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 "You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:2-3 (ESV)
describe the incredible relationship, between God, and His people, and their relationship to each other. A relationship, as all live in fellowship together, without the complication of sins, or sinfulness. Even when sin, or accidents mar the relationships, the words, the rules determined how to restore those relationships.
It was laid out before them there, as it would be, every time the law was read. But this time, their reaction betrayed a layer of excitement – as they realized – we are not alone, but we walk through life with our God.
And their voices, as one, the Bible says, rejoices in agreement with these words. Given the promise of an incredible life, a life with God, they energetically rejoice and agree to the words that God proposes to them.
Now the sacrifices – confirming the Word
Burnt offerings- acknowledging the forgiveness of sin
Peace offering – acknowledges the fellowship and the blessings of that fellowship -
Why? The cost – paid – by God….
It is the next morning, after writing down the words of God, that the service is prepared for, a service celebrating the covenant relationship between God and His people. The altar is set up, and the pillars, and the young men, the acolytes prepare the offerings, both the burnt offerings and the peace offerings. It is the blood of the cattle, the animals sacrificed, that is given to Moses, in large basins. We don’t know how many cattle, how many basins of blood, but it was a large amount, enough to cover the altar, and to be sprinkled on the people.