It All Points to Him, Part 1
Deuteronomy 17:1 You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God a bull or sheep which has any blemish or defect, for that is an abomination to the LORD your God.
Passages such as Deuteronomy 17:1 can seem either obscure beyond understanding or appear to be an Old Testament law that we don’t have to pay attention to anymore (and therefore don’t have to meditate on). Or it could be seen as an example of something God asks us to do that’s practically impossible—such high standards!
Yes, it was a real Old Testament directive. Animal sacrifices to God had to be without blemish. In fact, the priests also had to be without blemish (Leviticus 21:16-23) as well. The Israelites were to be reminded regularly of the holiness and purity of God, even His perfection.
Can you imagine the work that went into this—having to check over each animal to make sure it didn’t have any defects? Depending on the condition of one’s heart, that activity could have been a burdensome, even irritating, task. On the other hand, it could have been a joyful search for the right sacrifice to please the Lord.
What is your attitude toward the commandments of God? To love one another, to forgive, to bear one another’s burdens, to give, to be sexually pure, to not give sinful expression to your anger, to prefer others above yourself? Are some of His commandments grievous to you? Do you see them as limiting, restricting your freedom and self-expression? Does God temporarily become a hard taskmaster to you at these moments, asking too much or acting like a killjoy?
Or do you see His commandments, even the ones difficult for you to do, as loving sacrifices to God? Of course, we aren’t sacrificing for sin here, as the ancient Israelites did. We’re merely sacrificing the desires of our flesh for pleasure or self-expression. We do it to please our God, to show Him gratitude for salvation and to demonstrate our love for all He has done for us and Who He is to us. Do we see that His commandments are not difficult, but are meant to protect us, and to ultimately be a blessing to us?
What commandments are hard for you? What words of God chafe at you? What gets you mad at the Lord? Take another look at those, and see if there is more understanding you can get by a study of the Scriptures. Don’t read just one or two, but look at other scriptures in other parts of the Bible to get more insight into some of the reasons for it. Talk it out with someone who doesn’t have such a hard time with that particular commandment, and see if you can receive something from them.
God’s commandments are meant to be a joy: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (I John 5:2-3). They also have incalculable benefits (see Psalm 19:7-11). Let God get a hold of your heart in the areas that don’t see that yet.
Prayer: Lord, what You tell us to do is for Your glory, but it’s also for our good. Help me to see that in the areas that I don’t. Cleanse me and touch my heart that all my rebellion to Your Word will eventually dissolve in the knowledge of Your love and care for me.