Category Archives: Offering Sacrifices

Obedience Is More Pleasing Than Sacrifice

Whether or not we argue or rationalize that we obeyed YHWH is not what is important, as Saul found out in 1 Samuel 15. What is important is how YHWH judges whether or not we obeyed Him. It is more than partial obedience He expects, especially when He has instructed us clearly. He expects obedience on the what and the how. There are consequences.

He values obedience more than sacrifice. That goes today as well as it did a few thousand years ago. Maybe today instead of animal sacrifices it might look a little more like someone choosing to live a lifestyle that is not aligned with all that YHWH teaches us, but excusing it as providing money they can donate to church or help others with in His name. There are many ways this may play out in our lives today. If we are not careful, we can rationalize many things using His name.

Another example would be those who celebrate common cultural “Christian” holidays like Christmas and Easter that include many pagan elements and very few truly Biblical ones, but we say that we are celebrating in His name.  He would rather us worship Him in His ways, biblicaly, without rationalizing why we accept pagan rituals that were developed to worship false gods. It does not matter that we say we are doing it for Him. It matters how He judges it to be in terms of obedience or rebellion to His instructions.

1 Samuel 15

Saul’s Disobedience

      1Then Samuel said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the words of the LORD. 2“Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. 3‘Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

      4Then Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, 200,000 foot soldiers and 10,000 men of Judah. 5Saul came to the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the valley. 6Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart, go down from among the Amalekites, so that I do not destroy you with them; for you showed kindness to all the sons of Israel when they came up from Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. 7So Saul defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as you go to Shur, which is east of Egypt. 8He captured Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. 9But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.

Samuel Rebukes Saul

      10Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying, 11“I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands.” And Samuel was distressed and cried out to the LORD all night. 12Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul; and it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself, then turned and proceeded on down to Gilgal.” 13Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the LORD! I have carried out the command of the LORD.” 14But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?” 15Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.” 16Then Samuel said to Saul, “Wait, and let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.” And he said to him, “Speak!”

      17Samuel said, “Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the LORD anointed you king over Israel, 18and the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.’ 19“Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD?”

      20Then Saul said to Samuel, “I did obey the voice of the LORD, and went on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21“But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”

22Samuel said,
“Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.

      23“For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
He has also rejected you from being king.”

      24Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice. 25“Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me, that I may worship the LORD.” 26But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.” 27As Samuel turned to go, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. 28So Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you. 29“Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” 30Then he said, “I have sinned; but please honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and go back with me, that I may worship the LORD your God.” 31So Samuel went back following Saul, and Saul worshiped the LORD.

      32Then Samuel said, “Bring me Agag, the king of the Amalekites.” And Agag came to him cheerfully. And Agag said, “Surely the bitterness of death is past.” 33But Samuel said, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hewed Agag to pieces before the LORD at Gilgal.

      34Then Samuel went to Ramah, but Saul went up to his house at Gibeah of Saul. 35Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death; for Samuel grieved over Saul. And the LORD regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Doing What the LORD Commands You Is A Big Deal

Most of us may be tempted to make excuses for Saul in this situation we will read about. We may be tempted to empathize with him. We may say his disobedience was “understandable”. However, we should check ourselves. The LORD says otherwise, and so rather than focus on thinking “God is harsh”, we should know that “God is just” and we should seek to learn from this episode.

Doing what the LORD commands you to do is a big deal, even if you think it will not work. It is a matter of faith in God vs. yourself. Wait on the LORD, even when you may begin to worry that you need to get involved and do it your own way with intent to accomplish what the LORD has called you into.

Another key concept to pay attention to is that the consequences are declared by the LORD through Samuel long before they are enacted in a tangible way in which Saul can see them. Consequences from our Father are not always immediate.

1 Samuel 13

War with the Philistines

      1Saul was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty two years over Israel.

      2Now Saul chose for himself 3,000 men of Israel, of which 2,000 were with Saul in Michmash and in the hill country of Bethel, while 1,000 were with Jonathan at Gibeah of Benjamin. But he sent away the rest of the people, each to his tent. 3Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” 4All Israel heard the news that Saul had smitten the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines. The people were then summoned to Saul at Gilgal.

      5Now the Philistines assembled to fight with Israel, 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and people like the sand which is on the seashore in abundance; and they came up and camped in Michmash, east of Beth-aven. 6When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait (for the people were hard-pressed), then the people hid themselves in caves, in thickets, in cliffs, in cellars, and in pits. 7Also some of the Hebrews crossed the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead. But as for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

      8Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. 9So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. 11But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, 12therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.” 13Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14“But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

      15Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men. 16Now Saul and his son Jonathan and the people who were present with them were staying in Geba of Benjamin while the Philistines camped at Michmash. 17And the raiders came from the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual, 18and another company turned toward Beth-horon, and another company turned toward the border which overlooks the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

      19Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears.” 20So all Israel went down to the Philistines, each to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, and his hoe. 21The charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to fix the hoes. 22So it came about on the day of battle that neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan, but they were found with Saul and his son Jonathan. 23And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Do Not Put Your Children In Higher Priority Than YHWH

1 Samuel 2 is filled with significance. We began 1 Samuel with Hannah praising YHWH for giving her a son as she follows through to dedicate him to the LORD’s service at the temple. Through strong faith she was joyful and trusting in the LORD’s plans for Samuel. She still came to him and provided him new clothes annually and she was blessed with quite a few additional children.

In contrast, we see Eli’s sons committing rebellious and deeply offensive acts before YHWH. Eli rebukes, somewhat lightly, and does not really deal with the situation. At that point, the LORD determines that he is no at fault as well as his sons for not resolving the situation. As the Creator puts it, Eli has put his corrupt sons above YHWH himself. We can read then the repercussions of this in the chapter. They are significant. Though Eli rebuked his sons, he was light and did not stop the offensive behavior. It was not enough. In the end, he did not do his sons any favors either. They would have done better with more consequences from Eli and perhaps had more likelihood to repent.

If there is one message to take from this chapter, and there are actually a handful, let us remember that we are to hold YHWH in higher regard and priority than our children. Of course, we also see the LORD will discipline those of his people who rebel openly against him and defile his name. We do not always see the discipline or identify it as discipline, but all of us face judgment ultimately before him. Many of us also face consequences in our lives as a result of sin and we may not even connect that the sin is the cause. Let us be humble before the LORD, ask him to show us our sin and to help us repent from it.

1 Samuel 2:12-36

The Sin of Eli’s Sons

      12Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the LORD 13and the custom of the priests with the people. When any man was offering a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand. 14Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. Thus they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest meat for roasting, as he will not take boiled meat from you, only raw.” 16If the man said to him, “They must surely burn the fat first, and then take as much as you desire,” then he would say, “No, but you shall give it to me now; and if not, I will take it by force.” 17Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for the men despised the offering of the LORD.

Samuel before the LORD as a Boy

      18Now Samuel was ministering before the LORD, as a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19And his mother would make him a little robe and bring it to him from year to year when she would come up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the LORD give you children from this woman in place of the one she dedicated to the LORD.” And they went to their own home.

      21The LORD visited Hannah; and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew before the LORD.

Eli Rebukes His Sons

      22Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 23He said to them, “Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people? 24“No, my sons; for the report is not good which I hear the LORD’S people circulating. 25“If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the LORD desired to put them to death.

      26Now the boy Samuel was growing in stature and in favor both with the LORD and with men.

      27Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Did I not indeed reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in bondage to Pharaoh’s house? 28‘Did I not choose them from all the tribes of Israel to be My priests, to go up to My altar, to burn incense, to carry an ephod before Me; and did I not give to the house of your father all the fire offerings of the sons of Israel? 29‘Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling, and honor your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel?’ 30“Therefore the LORD God of Israel declares, ‘I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father should walk before Me forever’; but now the LORD declares, ‘Far be it from Me—for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed. 31‘Behold, the days are coming when I will break your strength and the strength of your father’s house so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32‘You will see the distress of My dwelling, in spite of all the good that I do for Israel; and an old man will not be in your house forever. 33‘Yet I will not cut off every man of yours from My altar so that your eyes will fail from weeping and your soul grieve, and all the increase of your house will die in the prime of life. 34‘This will be the sign to you which will come concerning your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: on the same day both of them will die. 35‘But I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and in My soul; and I will build him an enduring house, and he will walk before My anointed always. 36‘Everyone who is left in your house will come and bow down to him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and say, “Please assign me to one of the priest’s offices so that I may eat a piece of bread.”’”

The Old and The New – Let’s Study Carefully

Hebrews 9 continues to build upon the them from the preceding chapters of Hebrews. Yeshua has died and shed blood for the atonement of our sins. He is now our high priest, not on earth like the Levites, but actually in the presence of the LORD in heaven. His blood was sufficient once and for all and we do not need to continue with sacrifices for atonement for sin. The author reminds us the role of the Levites and the tabernacle relate to or reflect the heavenly things. By understanding the physical (e.g. the role of Levites and sacrifices) in our relationship with YHWH, we then are better able to understand the spiritual (Yeshua’s sacrifice and role as high priest).

Let us keep in mind, however, that these chapters of Hebrews are specifically focused on the priesthood and on sacrifice for atonement of sin. This is the focus of these chapters when referencing the “old” and the “new” covenant. In fact, Hebrews 8:10 emphasizes that this is not a change in YHWH’s law in its entirety.

      10“FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL
AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:
I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS,
AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS.
AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD,
AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.

If the laws had changed, it would not say “I will put my laws into their minds…” but rather it would refer to a change or new laws. It does not. The “new” in this context is that YHWH will help us to live out his laws by putting the same Law in our minds and hearts. I believe this is a reference to the gift of the Holy Spirit which is available to help us now.

This is important context as we read in Hebrews 9 about the “old” and the “new”.

Hebrews 9

The Old and the New

      1Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. 2For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. 3Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, 4having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat; but of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

      6Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, 7but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. 8The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, 10since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.

      11But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

      15For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. 18Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. 19For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20saying, “THIS IS THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT WHICH GOD COMMANDED YOU.” 21And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. 22And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

      23Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. 26Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

A Priest On The Order of Melchizedek

Hebrews 7 proclaims that Yeshua has become our high priest. He is of a different order than the Levites. He was undefiled, perfect, yet he died for our sins. He has served as our sacrifice. The writer of Hebrews points out that this is a change in priesthood, not an elimination of it. Yeshua is greater than the Levitical priesthood. He further makes the point that elements of the law associated with the priesthood change.

Let us pause and take a bit of caution, however, before proceeding. Some will immediately jump to the conclusion that the entirety of the Law is gone and no longer needed. This would contradict what Yeshua himself said in Matthew 5.

Matthew 5:17-19

      17“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19“Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

So, are we left with contradiction and confusion? No. The writer of Hebrews 7 clarifies what he is referring to later in the chapter. He specifically calls out daily sacrifices for atonement of sin as no longer being necessary because of the administration of the priesthood being transitioned from Levitical priesthood to that of Yeshua. It is solely about the administration of the priesthood that the law has been, in part, fulfilled through Yeshua. Now we look back to his death as sacrifice for our sins instead of daily animal sacrifices. What is interesting to consider is that the writer seems to specifically omit other sacrifices that were offered to YHWH for things such as thanksgiving (Lev 7:16-18), peace (Lev 7:11-15), or praise (Lev 19:23-25) and there is no mention of grain offerings (Lev 2:1-16). His focus here is on atonement for sin, which is now accomplished through Yeshua. Truly, it always has been. The animal sacrifices for sin looked forward to, or foreshadowed, the death of Yeshua as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

Hebrews 7

Melchizedek’s Priesthood Like Christ’s

      1For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. 3Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.

      4Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils. 5And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham. 6But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises. 7But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater. 8In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. 9And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

      11Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? 12For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. 13For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. 14For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. 15And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, 16who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.

17For it is attested of Him,
“YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER
ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.”

18For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 19(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. 20And inasmuch as it was not without an oath

21(for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him,
“THE LORD HAS SWORN
AND WILL NOT CHANGE HIS MIND,
‘YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER’”);

22so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

      23The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

      26For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Whom Does YHWH Choose?

The story of Gideon is remarkable, but sometimes we can focus on the broad picture of what is recorded about Gideon and miss some of the details. For example, let us not miss how dramatic it must have been for Gideon to come face to face with an angel of the LORD who delivered him a message from YHWH. We see also that Gideon went quickly to prepare a offering, without being asked.

Another key message I want to highlight today is that we should be very careful when we have a tendency to make assumptions about whom YHWH would choose to deliver a message or to give a spiritual gift (perhaps like prophecy). YHWH often chooses those whom people would not choose. King David (smallest and youngest of his brothers) is one example… and Moses (a murderer who had run away from justice) is another. We see in Judges 6 that Gideon is yet another that man would not pick.

Judges 6:11-24

Gideon Is Visited

      11Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. 12The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior.” 13Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” 14The LORD looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” 15He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” 16But the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” 17So Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me. 18“Please do not depart from here, until I come back to You, and bring out my offering and lay it before You.” And He said, “I will remain until you return.”

      19Then Gideon went in and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour; he put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, and brought them out to him under the oak and presented them. 20The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And he did so. 21Then the angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. 22When Gideon saw that he was the angel of the LORD, he said, “Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face.” 23The LORD said to him, “Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die.” 24Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and named it The LORD is Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

Let us be very slow in judging what type of person or what background they should have in order for YHWH to use them. Often he chooses those that man would not to better demonstrate his glory. Of course we should still test everyone and what they say or teach against scripture.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Are God’s Ways Really That Odd?

Growing up in a society that has truly rejected much of God’s word, it is not surprising that much of what God instructed us to do would seem odd to me when I first read or studied it. I am accustomed to hearing people dismiss as “odd” the customs and guidelines that God set aside in instructing His people for what holidays to celebrate and how. Today’s brief scripture in Exodus is not the best place to get the details about what God tells His people to do in regards to holidays, or more accurately “holy days”. However, it is one of several places in His word that instruct us in His desires for how we should celebrate and why. (For those who are unfamiliar, the Feast of Unleavened Bread immediately follows Passover.)

Exodus 23:14-19

Three National Feasts

      14“Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. 15“You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. 16“Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field. 17“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD.

      18“You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor is the fat of My feast to remain overnight until morning.

      19“You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God.
“You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of its mother.

Are God’s instructions really that odd? Let us compare them to our common cultural holidays and see if they are really that unusual.

Worldwide people celebrate Christmas with a tremendous focus on pagan symbols and traditions. Mistletoe is supposed to make us kiss someone, anyone, if we stand beneath it? Parents lie to their children about Santa Clause and flying reindeer… even going to the extreme to deceive them by leaving out carrots, milk or cookies at night and eating some of them? At Easter we are supposed to paint eggs and hide them? We are supposed to dress up as monsters at Halloween and go door to door threatening people that we will play tricks on them if they do not give us free candy. All of these are just simple examples of pagan traditions that simply are not questioned when it comes to celebrating holidays. But seemingly God’s instructions to celebrate holy days strike people as odd and outdated. As a matter of fact, some of you are probably angry just reading this article where I question these common and accepted traditions.

I challenge any who claim to follow Christ to truly spend time in prayer and personal reflection considering which of these types of celebrations are truly odd and which are actually holy and set apart for God’s purposes.  Just because we are used to it, or our parents and grandparents and neighbors do it does not mean it honors God.  Let us look to God’s instruction for what we should and should not do rather than looking to people. Just because we “have always done it” a certain way does not make us right.

Once we awaken to the benefit of celebrating YHWH’s holy days, we can start to have a good discussion about how to do so.  We will not be able to do animal sacrifices, nor will we need to try. Even for those who do not believe that Christ fulfilled this part of the law, we can not do the sacrifices YHWH’s way without the temple and the Levitical priesthood. But there are fun and meaningful ways to recognize and celebrate YHWH’s holy days that can draw us nearer to him and each other.

Here are a few resources where you can learn more about the Moedim, the Creator’s calendar (often called the “Jewish” calendar), and given this time of year, Passover in particular.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Give Thanks To The Lord For He Is Good!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Psalm 107

BOOK 5

The LORD Delivers Men from Manifold Troubles.

      1Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

      2Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary

      3And gathered from the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.

      4They wandered in the wilderness in a desert region;
They did not find a way to an inhabited city.

      5They were hungry and thirsty;
Their soul fainted within them.

      6Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble;
He delivered them out of their distresses.

      7He led them also by a straight way,
To go to an inhabited city.

      8Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!

      9For He has satisfied the thirsty soul,
And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.

      10There were those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death,
Prisoners in misery and chains,

      11Because they had rebelled against the words of God
And spurned the counsel of the Most High.

      12Therefore He humbled their heart with labor;
They stumbled and there was none to help.

      13Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble;
He saved them out of their distresses.

      14He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death
And broke their bands apart.

      15Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!

      16For He has shattered gates of bronze
And cut bars of iron asunder.

      17Fools, because of their rebellious way,
And because of their iniquities, were afflicted.

      18Their soul abhorred all kinds of food,
And they drew near to the gates of death.

      19Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble;
He saved them out of their distresses.

      20He sent His word and healed them,
And delivered them from their destructions.

      21Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!

      22Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
And tell of His works with joyful singing.

      23Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters;

      24They have seen the works of the LORD,
And His wonders in the deep.

      25For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind,
Which lifted up the waves of the sea.

      26They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths;
Their soul melted away in their misery.

      27They reeled and staggered like a drunken man,
And were at their wits’ end.

      28Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
And He brought them out of their distresses.

      29He caused the storm to be still,
So that the waves of the sea were hushed.

      30Then they were glad because they were quiet,
So He guided them to their desired haven.

      31Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!

      32Let them extol Him also in the congregation of the people,
And praise Him at the seat of the elders.

      33He changes rivers into a wilderness
And springs of water into a thirsty ground;

      34A fruitful land into a salt waste,
Because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it.

      35He changes a wilderness into a pool of water
And a dry land into springs of water;

      36And there He makes the hungry to dwell,
So that they may establish an inhabited city,

      37And sow fields and plant vineyards,
And gather a fruitful harvest.

      38Also He blesses them and they multiply greatly,
And He does not let their cattle decrease.

      39When they are diminished and bowed down
Through oppression, misery and sorrow,

      40He pours contempt upon princes
And makes them wander in a pathless waste.

      41But He sets the needy securely on high away from affliction,
And makes his families like a flock.

      42The upright see it and are glad;
But all unrighteousness shuts its mouth.

      43Who is wise? Let him give heed to these things,
And consider the lovingkindnesses of the LORD.

Indeed, reflect on how YHWH has delivered you in your life as well as how He has delivered those recorded in Biblical history. Perhaps, also, you can reflect on times of difficulty that perhaps He brought on you or allowed in response to your rejection of Him and His word. He is loving and kind and gracious to those who seek Him and cry out to Him for deliverance.

Let us give Him thanks and praise!

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Receive Your Inheritance

It is often tempting for us to judge how much our loving Father has blessed us by counting up how much money or land we have. Further, it is very easy to view the mission or work that He may call us to as a burden or chore that distracts from what we want to do, especially if it prevents us from earning as much money as we otherwise could.

A close look at Deuteronomy 10 reminds us that the Lord sees it differently. YHWH is just. He set apart a portion of inheritance for each tribe of Israel. All but one tribe received land as inheritance. Levi received no land, but rather their inheritance was in their relationship to the Lord…specifically in relationship to serving the Lord. Keep in mind also that the Lord chooses what inheritance to give to which of His children. The children do not choose their inheritance, only whether or not to receive it and with what attitude.

How many of us today would receive the Lord as our inheritance as  cheerfully as we would receive land and money?

Deuteronomy 10:6-9

   6(Now the sons of Israel set out from Beeroth Bene-jaakan to Moserah. There Aaron died and there he was buried and Eleazar his son ministered as priest in his place. 7From there they set out to Gudgodah, and from Gudgodah to Jotbathah, a land of brooks of water. 8At that time the LORD set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to serve Him and to bless in His name until this day. 9Therefore, Levi does not have a portion or inheritance with his brothers; the LORD is his inheritance, just as the LORD your God spoke to him.)

It is a difficult question for many to answer for themselves. Would I, or will I, cheerfully accept a call to serve the Lord as blessing worth as much or more than financial blessings? Many receive such an inheritance today and go into missions, ministry, or other activity in service to the Lord. Often they make less money, but serve the Lord closely. The rest of us have the opportunity to support them financially, similar to how YHWH supported the Levites through the tithe from others.

Pray for the Spirit to guide you either in answering the call to serve the Lord or in helping others who do so. Keep in mind, even if we are not called to full time ministry or missions, we all still are called to serve Him where we are and be obedient to His instructions. We are to let our light shine before men.

Matthew 5:14-16

      14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The Lord Wants Our Hearts

The Lord wants our hearts. He wants to walk in close relationship to us. This is why He sent Yeshua to die for us when sin entered the world. He wants to make a way to reconcile His people to Him. His desire for His people is not new with the New Testament. He has always looked forward to this reconciliation through Christ. The sacrifices and offerings in the Old Testament simply foreshadow the ultimate sacrificial lamb, Yeshua. They remind people of their sin and that sin is punishable by death. They remind people that they need to repent and come humbly before Jehovah often for forgiveness and reconciliation.

The death of Yeshua is sufficient for all time for all people for all sin. We no longer need sacrifice animals, but rather admit we are sinners in need of a savior, accept Yeshua as our Lord and Savior, repent and believe that Yeshua died for our sin, ask the Lord to forgive us, and repent or change our lives to be more in line with His instructions.

However, we can see through the Old Testament how many times Jehovah emphasized certain holy days for His people. The emphasis was on reconciliation with the Lord and a series of offerings with a range of symbolic meaning (worth studying at least for surface level understanding), and time. Jehovah often called His people to special Sabbath days of rest so they could focus on Him and their relationship with Him rather than remain busy in their every day life. He has not changed His instructions for recognizing Sabbath days, whether they are weekly or associated with specific holy days. To truly honor the Sabbaths that He instructs, allows us time to focus on our relationship with Him and with fellow believers. These are worth celebrating.

Numbers 29

Offerings of the Seventh Month

     1‘Now in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall also have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work. It will be to you a day for blowing trumpets. 2‘You shall offer a burnt offering as a soothing aroma to the LORD: one bull, one ram, and seven male lambs one year old without defect; 3also their grain offering, fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for the bull, two-tenths for the ram, 4and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs. 5Offer one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you, 6besides the burnt offering of the new moon and its grain offering, and the continual burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offerings, according to their ordinance, for a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to the LORD.

      7‘Then on the tenth day of this seventh month you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall humble yourselves; you shall not do any work. 8‘You shall present a burnt offering to the LORD as a soothing aroma: one bull, one ram, seven male lambs one year old, having them without defect; 9and their grain offering, fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for the bull, two-tenths for the one ram, 10a tenth for each of the seven lambs; 11one male goat for a sin offering, besides the sin offering of atonement and the continual burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offerings.

      12‘Then on the fifteenth day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work, and you shall observe a feast to the LORD for seven days. 13‘You shall present a burnt offering, an offering by fire as a soothing aroma to the LORD: thirteen bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs one year old, which are without defect; 14and their grain offering, fine flour mixed with oil: three-tenths of an ephah for each of the thirteen bulls, two-tenths for each of the two rams, 15and a tenth for each of the fourteen lambs; 16and one male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering, its grain offering and its drink offering.

      17‘Then on the second day: twelve bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs one year old without defect; 18and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams and for the lambs, by their number according to the ordinance; 19and one male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink offerings.

      20‘Then on the third day: eleven bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs one year old without defect; 21and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams and for the lambs, by their number according to the ordinance; 22and one male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering and its grain offering and its drink offering.

      23‘Then on the fourth day: ten bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs one year old without defect; 24their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams and for the lambs, by their number according to the ordinance; 25and one male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering, its grain offering and its drink offering.

      26‘Then on the fifth day: nine bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs one year old without defect; 27and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams and for the lambs, by their number according to the ordinance; 28and one male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering and its grain offering and its drink offering.

      29‘Then on the sixth day: eight bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs one year old without defect; 30and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams and for the lambs, by their number according to the ordinance; 31and one male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering, its grain offering and its drink offerings.

      32‘Then on the seventh day: seven bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs one year old without defect; 33and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams and for the lambs, by their number according to the ordinance; 34and one male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering, its grain offering and its drink offering.

      35‘On the eighth day you shall have a solemn assembly; you shall do no laborious work. 36‘But you shall present a burnt offering, an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD: one bull, one ram, seven male lambs one year old without defect; 37their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bull, for the ram and for the lambs, by their number according to the ordinance; 38and one male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering and its grain offering and its drink offering.

      39‘You shall present these to the LORD at your appointed times, besides your votive offerings and your freewill offerings, for your burnt offerings and for your grain offerings and for your drink offerings and for your peace offerings.’” 40Moses spoke to the sons of Israel in accordance with all that the LORD had commanded Moses.

I encourage you to pray and study the meanings of the different holy days, offerings as well the designated Sabbath days. Challenge yourself to observe the Sabbath days Jehovah instructed. Your relationship with Him will grow as a result.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.