Daily Devotional

"Sacrifices"

  


Psalm 50:12-15 - If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are Mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.

God gave the Israelites precise details concerning the sacrifices and offerings He required of them. He told them the kinds of animals or birds that were acceptable and just how the various creatures were to be offered on the altar. The sacrifices were given to atone for the sins of the people. God said, "The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life" (Leviticus 17:11). This is what He wanted His people to do, yet in our psalm God seems to reject those detailed sacrifices and asks, "Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?"

In the same psalm, God explains, "Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you" (Psalm 50:8). The people of Israel continually offered the required sacrifices. If the sacrifices were correctly done, then what was missing? What does God expect? He desires obedience, grateful praise, and trust in His promises as the ever-present help and Savior of His people. Yet He asks what we, as sinners, cannot give. We do not obey His Word and will as we should. We are often ungrateful for His gifts and we place our trust in our own abilities rather than in our Lord. Death is the penalty we deserve for our sins. Only a blood sacrifice can atone for sin, as the writer to the Hebrews explains, "Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins" (Hebrews 9:22b).

Those carefully detailed Old Testament sacrifices pointed ahead to the one perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus our Lord. God sent His Son to be our Savior and "we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:10b). We are sanctified, that is, made righteous in the sight of God, because Jesus suffered and died on the cross, shedding His lifeblood to atone for the sins of the world. On the first Easter morning, Jesus, the perfect Lamb of sacrifice, was raised up in triumph over death.

We are united to Jesus in Baptism, buried with Him and raised to new life. Redeemed and forgiven, we are "living stones," built up in the Holy Spirit "as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:5). As God's holy priests, we offer to Him the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise, of trust and thanksgiving, daily sacrifices that glorify our God and Savior.

WE PRAY: Almighty God, accept my grateful prayers and praise in Jesus' Name. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.

Reflection Questions:

1. Have you ever made a sacrifice that wasn't received with the gratefulness you expected?

2. Why did God give such specific instructions on the sacrifices that were pleasing to Him?

3. How did Old Testament sacrifices offered for the people's sins point to Jesus and His sacrifice?

AUGUST  16

"No Longer Exiles"

  


Isaiah 66:18b, 19b-21 - The time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see My glory ... And they shall declare My glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to My holy mountain Jerusalem, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the LORD.

Do you know what an exile is? It is someone who lives far away from home, who can never go back. My husband is an exile of sorts; he fled Vietnam as one of the boat people, and he has never returned. It might not be safe for him to go home again. But I know that he misses his first country very much.

It's a special kind of grief, living in exile. Many ancient people used it as a kind of punishment, the pain goes so deep. And the people of Judah had good reason to know that pain. They were scattered when Jerusalem fell, and their enemies took them far, far away and scattered them among the nations. They never expected to see home again.

But now the Lord announces a miracle: the exiles will come home again. And not by their own efforts, either. Their enemies, the very nations who enslaved them, will carry them back to the Lord as offerings. They will come home to be priests of the Lord, serving the God who redeemed them. They will be home—this time, forever.

Coming home where we belong. This is what the Lord wants for you—for me—for all of us. The whole human race has been exiled since very early on—ever since we rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden, since we turned our backs on Him and tried to build a life without Him. But now we know: there is no such life. The Lord is our life, and our home, and our happiness. How we need Him!

But we cannot go back by our own effort. The trip is too far; the road is too rough. We need carrying. We need someone to fetch us, to heal our wounds, to bring us home again. And that is what Jesus has done for us.

He left heaven and went searching for us, lost as we were. He called us back to the Lord with everything He said and did. And because He knew that words wouldn't be enough, He lay down His own life to bring us back to God—to carry us safely to the Father, forgiven and loved and home again. Now everyone who trusts in Him is home, home forever—living with the everlasting, joyful life of the Savior who rose from the dead to make us God's own.

WE PRAY: Thanks be to God! Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.

Reflection Questions:

1. Do you know anyone who lives far from the place they were born? How do they feel about that?

2. If you live far from your first home, what do you miss about it?

3. When you feel far from God, how does Jesus comfort and bring you home?