As we wrap up this series on modern day sacrifices, it is extremely important to note this last point: “…the most holy offerings—including the grain offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings—will be most holy…” (Numbers 18:9 NLT).
In one word, the offerings were considered—“holy”!
This isn’t a new idea. In Part 5 of this series, entitled “Perfect? Did You Say Perfect?”, we saw that only animals without blemish were to be given to the Lord. We also saw, from the story of Cain in Genesis, that the offerings were to be God-ordained (See Genesis 4). This point is further illustrated in one more sad story: “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu … disobeyed the Lord by burning before him the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded.” (Leviticus 10:1 NLT).
We get further insight into just why this “wrong kind of fire” was so offensive to God in Moses’ response: “This is what the Lord meant when he said, ‘I will display my holiness through those who come near me. I will display my glory before all the people.’” (Leviticus 10:3 NLT)
Such an explanation may not have made sense to you and me, but it made sense to Aaron, for after this explanation, “Aaron was silent” (Lev. 10:3b NLT).
The take away on this is simple: Our sacrifices are serious business! We cannot bring a Holy God sacrifices of our own volition! Our sacrifices need to be what He has pre-ordained, and they need to be given in the way God has directed us to give them. We need to understand that God is Holy and His precepts must not be taken lightly, for the consequences of such sacrifices is…Death! “So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned [Nadab and Abihu] up, and they died there before the Lord.” (Leviticus 10:2 NLT).
Just an Old Testament story? Not applicable to modern-day sacrifices of time, talent, resources, worship and praise?
Take a quick look at Acts 5. Ananias and Sapphira promised to give back to the Lord everything they received from the sale of their land, but when they were not serious about their promise, their sacrifice became unholy: “Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?…You have not lied just to human beings but to God.’ When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died.” (Acts 5:3-5 NLT). Verse 10 records the same thing happening to his wife, Sapphira.
Unfortunately we are all guilty of giving “unholy” sacrifices to the Lord, but before you are struck with fear, before you decide that giving any sacrifice might be full of risk, consider that these two stories were turning points in the Bible. In the case of Nadab and Abihu, the temple services were just being established. In like manner, the story of Ananias and Sapphira also took place as the early church was just being established. These seemingly unfeeling and harsh punishments on these four people were meant to set guidelines that all further sacrifices could be modeled after.
The truth of the matter is, our God is gracious. We see this in His response to Cain, the first to offer an unholy sacrifice to the Lord: “Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’” (Gen. 4:6-7 NLT). We then see God, in His loving kindness, extending mercy to the first murderer: “When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” (Genesis 4:12 NLT). And when Cain, whom God had every right to kill outright for his double sin, had the audacity to complain about God’s punishment, we again see God extending His mercy and His grace: “’Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.’ Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.” (Genesis 4:15 NLT)
Despite how it may seem in the stories of Nadab, Abihu, Ananias and Sapphira, God isn’t in the business of striking sinners dead. He is in the grace business. Any doubt about that must flee at the mere thought of the cross. Nonetheless, we are called to be serious in our sacrifices, to remember that God is holy, and our sacrifices are not to be taken lightly. In order to do so, we must do everything in our power to:
a. preserve the essence of God’s commands in our sacrifices by ensuring they are pure. We do this by confessing our sins, repenting, putting away our guilt, pride, contempt, etc., and by ensuring that we have reconciled with those who may have something against us;
b, ensure that our offerings are for the Lord and for the sustaining of His workers, and when we are privileged to partake in some of our own sacrifices, that we share these liberally with all humanity;
c. ensure that our sacrifices reflect Jesus and influence the world for God’s kingdom;
d. recognize our dependency on God and on His Spirit.
When we are serious enough to consider all of the above, we can be certain that our sacrifices of time, talent, resources and worship will be considered “holy” before a “Holy God”!
This is the final part of the “What’s in YOUR Sacrifice mini-series. Our hope and prayer is that this series has inspired you to give back to the Lord in your time, talent, resources and praise, and to do so in a way that is most pleasing to Him!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two adult boys, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, The Illustrator, a four-times-a-week internet newsletter, and the Sermon Illustrator website, all with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the entire “What’s in YOUR Sacrifice?” miniseries, please click here!)