Summary: Looking for some last-minute gifts to give in these last days before Christmas? The Lord has some gift ideas for you: The Perfect Body, and the Perfect Vacation.
It’s crunch time now. Once church gets out, you will have three and a half days to finish your Christmas shopping. Maybe all of your shopping is done. But I’m willing to guess there are a few of you out there who have some names on your list that are still present-less. Perhaps you’ve already been to Wal-Mart, and Borders, and the Mall, and Best Buy, searching for that perfect gift to jump out at you…but you haven’t found it yet. And with time running out, you’d probably be open to suggestions at this point.
Well, you’ve come to the right place. God has some last minute gift ideas for you. But these gifts you won’t find in a department store, you won’t find in a catalog, and you won’t find them on Amazon.com. The Lord has two gift ideas: 1: The Perfect Body, and 2: The Perfect Vacation.
Yeah, you heard me right. God thinks that a perfect body would be the ideal gift to give at this time of year. Now we aren’t talking about a membership to Bally’s Swim and Fitness that will give you this perfect body. We aren’t talking about a clinic that will perform surgery to try to make your body perfect. And we aren’t even talking about changes in your diet that will promote a perfect body. Because none of those things can bring lasting effects, can they? Show me a perfect body from 50 years ago, and I’ll show you a body that is displaying limitations today.
But it isn’t God’s fault. In fact, it was the Lord who designed human bodies to be flawless in their form and function. A few thousand years ago, God designed two different models of human bodies. The Lord made a rugged, heavy-duty model, and he called that Adam, and then he designed a beautiful, more sensitive, and slightly smaller version, Eve. And these first two models of human bodies were perfect. They didn’t need to consistently go to the gym or visit a plastic surgeon. But they were perfect in another, more important way. They didn’t only have a perfect appearance, but they also acted like they were perfect. They always treated each other with kindness. They were never selfish, but they loved God their Maker more than themselves. But boy, did those two perfect models mess things up. So much so that there has never been a perfect body since. Human bodies not only do a lousy job staying in the prime of life, but they all are tainted by sin.
That’s why God decided to give the human race another chance. He was going to design another model, prepare another perfect body, and fill that body with the Son of God. Listen to the way that our text explains it, “When Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me.’”
Remember the story of Adam and Eve’s first child, Cain (who was also the first murderer)? How would you sum up Cain’s view of sacrifices and offerings to God? Imagine that you are an employee with an unpleasant and demanding boss. You might try to soften your boss up by giving him a Christmas gift. That’s how Cain felt about his offerings. Cain didn’t particularly like God. Cain didn’t see God as someone fair. He was just going through the motions of whatever it would take to get on God’s good side.
God didn’t want those kinds of offerings. No sacrifice that any person could give God would be enough to take away sins. So why did God command the Israelites to perform sacrifices of animals day after day, year after year, century after century? Our text clearly says that those offerings couldn’t fix the sin problem of human beings, “sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them,” but then the reading goes on, “although the law required them to be made.” When you look in a mirror, you see that you have a big strand of hair sticking straight up. Without the mirror, you’d never notice it. It is the same with the law of God. These sacrifices showed the people that there was something that matter with them. Every time they went to the priest with an animal as the offering for their sins, and every time the priest took a knife a slit the throat of that innocent lamb, and every time they caught a whiff of a foul odor as the carcass of that innocent lamb was burnt on the altar…the average Israelite would understand sin, and its penalty. Those sacrifices couldn’t take away sin, but they were a great illustration of the need for a Savior from sin. The Israelites were left with the unmistakable message, “that should have been me having my throat slit. That should have been me burning in the fires of hell.”