For the week of March 31, 2001 / 7 Nisan 5761
Torah: Vayikra / Leviticus 1:1 - 5:26
Haftarah: Isaiah 43:21 - 44:23

God's Pleasure

It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the LORD (Vayikra / Leviticus 1:17).

In this week's parsha we read how certain sacrifices were "a pleasing aroma to the LORD." That means that something can please God. What a concept! The Master of the Universe, the creator of heaven and earth responds to certain things with pleasure. God really liked those sacrifices.

I don't know why he liked them. I don't understand sacrifices. I can't relate to the slaughtering of animals as part of religious rituals. But instead of getting into the details of sacrifice, I want to think about God's response. He liked it.

God is not an indifferent being. He doesn't just exist in some otherly place detached from our affairs. We can connect with God through the things that we do. Some people so focus on how God's relationship with us doesn't depend on our deeds that we forget that he does respond to what we do.

The rules regulating the sacrifices seem to be more about how to do these things than whether or not to do them. How we do what we do makes a difference to God. When we do what he wants in the way he wants, he likes that. I think then it is fair to say that if we don't do what he wants, or we do what he wants in ways contrary to his, he doesn't like it.

Those who know the Messiah know that our acceptance is in him and what he has done. We know that our own deeds don't merit anything in God's sight. On the contrary, our deeds prove our inability to truly please God. Our lives demonstrate our guilt. But this truth is about our general condition. No one has the ability on their own to please God sufficiently to resolve their guilt. Yet this doesn't mean that nothing we do ever pleases him.

God longs to find pleasure in his children. It grieves him when we do our own thing to our detriment. He wants to see us living good and prosperous lives. He longs to bless us. But for that to happen we need to be doing those things that give him pleasure.

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