Gleanings – When Sacrifice is Offensive

Hebrews 10:1-10

“Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired.”

The sentiment is expressed in a variety of places including the Old Testament. See for example Psalm 40:6, Isa. 1:11, Amos 5:21-24, and Micah 6:6-8.

What does it mean? Let us take God at his Word. “The multitude of your sacrifices – what are they to me?”

God does not need our sacrifice. He has been offered enough throughout the ages. And sacrifice was never what he wanted. Well at least not if they did not reflect a person’s heart. The outward offering is meant to reflect an awareness of sin, remorse for it and a desire to take up the human side of the covenant again. There is the sign and then there is the sentiment.

From Psalm 51:17 the sentiment is “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, o God, you will not despise.”  In verse 19 we hear “THEN there will be righteous sacrifices (emphasis mine).” The outward follows the inward otherwise the outward is not righteous. More likely it is an act deemed by the prophet a “filthy rag.” It is a religious observation that Paul would later call “a form of godliness” (2 Tim. 3:5) that denies the Power to which the form points.

We are a church going people here in the US. Weekly, many offer, as asked, a “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” to the Lord (Psalm 50 and Hebrews 13:15). Often the worship is exuberant. Such worship blesses me especially the spirited singing (to the chagrin of those in close proximity) of both great hymns and contemporary choruses. But beneath them, all sacrifices of praise, should be, must be, a broken and contrite heart lest our sacrifice becomes an offense to God.

Do we grieve daily for the brokenness around us? Even if we ourselves manage to avoid sin today, are mindful and distressed by the pain and heartaches of those having the sins of the fathers visited upon them? Rarely do I meet a person that a 15 minute conversation will not reveal the presence of such pain. This breaks the heart of God. It should break ours. If it doesn’t, what are we offering him? The outward sans the inward, a filthy rag?

A broken and heart contrite does not preclude joy and exuberance. In fact, such a heart leads to it. For it is out of the condition that breaks the heart that we are being redeemed.

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