April 29, 2023
- By Ed Powell
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"For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6
We are so prone to follow the same steps as Israel in the days of Hosea. They rested continually in their sacrifices and burnt offerings, when God desired acceptable services of faith and love. God was not looking for faithful religious practices, but a personal committed relationship that was founded upon a devotion and love to Him.
Under the Law and under the gospel, God has abundantly made clear His regard for the ordinances He has instituted. But the acceptance of these depends on the manner in which they are offered and the spirit in which they are performed. God looks at the motive and the attitude of the worshiper, upon the heart. If a contrite spirit is lacking, He values nothing that such a one may present. Look what God says in Isaiah 1:13, 14: "Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New moons, sabbaths, and convocations--I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them." Why? God saw that their heart was idolatrous and sinful, greedy and selfish, apart from Him.
In no other place is this more specifically addressed than when Samuel confronted Saul. God told Saul to go and utterly destroy the sinners--the Amalekites--and fight against them until they were consumed. Samuel says to Saul, "Wherefore didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord?" Saul seeks to justify his disobedience by desiring to offer God sacrifices of the best of the sheep and oxen he had captured. Samuel rebukes Saul and says, "To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of lambs. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry" (1 Samuel 15:22, 23).
Can you think of anything more blasphemous than offering to God a sacrificial offering of that which He had commanded Saul to utterly destroy? What arrogant disobedience--not only rejecting God's word to him but also rejecting God Himself. God brought His judgment upon Saul as Samuel spoke, "Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath rejected thee from being king." What a price to pay for not walking in obedience to God!
Let me ask you: Do we not approach the same measure of disobedience when we come to worship Him when there is sin in our hearts, when there is pride and a haughty spirit of self-centeredness, when our walk is inconsistent with the word of our testimony, when there is an unforgiving spirit within our hearts? Oh that we might prepare our hearts before we come to Him in praise and worship. How needful it is for us to have the attitude of David when he wrote, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23,24). True faith, exercised from a heart constrained by the love of God, is the "sacrifice of thanksgiving" that pleases and magnifies His Name. The performance of ceremonies ordained by God, offered in humility, purity, and zeal, will bring us to God and God to us. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise" (Psalm 51:17).
© 2007 by Ed Powell. Used by permission.
This page was reprinted by permission from: http://www.litmin.org/dare.php?date=2023-04-29
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