‘When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?’ says the LORD. ‘Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and my name is to be feared among the nations’.
Malachi 1:13b-14 (NIV)
Read: Malachi 1
Consider: God has much to say about sacrifice in the Bible. It is easy to presume that sacrifice was for Old Testament times and was abolished in the New Testament. In many ways this is true, but we must remember that Jesus and the Apostles lived during a time when the temple sacrifice was still practised. Even by the time of Jesus’ life, God had declared openly his dissatisfaction with the sacrificial system. For example in Hosea 6:6 it says:
‘For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.’
Hebrews 9 and 10:1-18 take the sacrificial system and speak of Jesus as the once for all time sacrifice for sins. It is argued in Hebrews that the once a year sacrificial system for sin by the high priest was ineffective. This means that the sacrifice for sin envisaged in the OT is no longer needed, and we do not need to practise sacrifice in this way.
Returning to the reading in Malachi, what are we then to make of this passage, bearing in mind that we no longer need to offer a sacrifice for our sins? It would be too easy to discount this passage as not relevant to us as Christians today. However, if we look more carefully at the passage we can see that it can apply to us being willing to give God our best, rather than second best. Best here means the best we can give in terms of our time, talents and money. God does not want the dregs of our life, what is left over after we have fulfilled all our other obligations. He wants the best of our life.
Ultimately God wants our very best – us. He wants our lives completely, as it says in Romans 12:1 – ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.’
Are you prepared to offer God your best?
Pray: Father, may we never be satisfied with giving you second best. May we be prepared to offer ourselves to you unconditionally. Amen