God gave of what he had, so that we could fully give ourselves to him
Sacrifices - What Gives?
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying "Give Aaron and his sons this command: 'These are the regulations for the burnt offering: The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and the fire must be kept burning on the altar.'" (Vayikra/Leviticus 6:1-2 [English: 6:8-9])
For most of us, the concept of sacrifice is a foreign one. We do not find ourselves involved in any way with offering to God of animals, grain, and so on. Yet sacrifice is a central element of the Torah and one that has ongoing relevance to us.
While under the New Covenant, sacrifices of this nature have become redundant, there is much to be learned by studying them. Let's look at one basic concept that will help us better relate to God and to life.
The sacrifices prescribed by the Torah for individuals were to be taken from things the people themselves already owned. When you sacrificed something, you gave of what you yourself had. In fact, provisions were made for the poor so that they too could give of what they had. You could not borrow something to sacrifice or offer something on behalf of someone else.
And so, when an offering was made, you were giving back to God that which God had first given to you. Whatever benefits were derived or obligations were met as a result of a particular offering, you were always acknowledging, consciously or unconsciously, that God had a right to what you possessed.
Grasping this concept enables us to relate to our possessions in the way God intends. We often define ourselves by what we have. While the rich may be the objects of resentment, we tend to have the highest regard for those with the most material goods. Don't we refer to these people as "well off," even though they might be miserable? Parting with our stuff forces us to find our identity and well-being elsewhere.
We also believe that our possessions are for us to do with as we please. Children learn the meaning of "mine" from a very early age. Yet the very first chapter of the Torah establishes our role as stewards of the planet. God is the possessor of everything. We are called to care for, not own, things. How easily we fool ourselves! Unless we learn this lesson, the more things we have, the more they will possess us. The sacrifices of the Torah release our grip on what we have. Giving back to God helps us realize that we do not depend on what we own as we thought.
By calling for sacrifice, God exercises his claim upon more than just our possessions. He is claiming us. The whole purpose of the Torah was to restore people to right relationship with God. What happened in the garden of Eden was a misuse of God's provision. Our first parents failed to accept that we have no right to do with the creation whatever we please - a lesson we still have trouble learning.
God wants us to give ourselves to him in every way. He is not really interested in our stuff. He wants us.
God knew the only way to bring us back to himself was through sacrifice. The ancient offerings never made that much of a difference. So God himself offered his own sacrifice: his Son, Yeshua the Messiah. God gave of what he had so that we could fully give ourselves to him.
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