Oh, not my baby, my sweet lamb!
Deuteronomy 8:2 And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.
Psalm 51:16-17 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Proverbs 17:3 The crucible is for silver and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.
Hosea 6:6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Mark 7:20-23 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.
Mark 12:30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
I was one of the most self-centered, selfish people I knew, although I didn’t realize it. I thought I was a pretty good and generous older sibling, a loving and caring daughter and granddaughter, a hard worker, and had started earning some money toward clothing and things when I was twelve. But then I met the Lord, really met Him. This time it was not glancing up at the fresco on the church ceiling and seeing Him looking down, this was the humbling knowing I was a wretch, and even a wretch like me He saved. I truly did not know what all of that meant. But for sure, it was humbling—embarassing.
As I took and watched various programs and classes, the Bible became clearer to me. I still wish I had grown up in a bible teaching church rather than a rule based one, but perhaps this way, my thirst for knowledge is deeper. So many things I did not understand—and yes, I am sure my frustration with not clearly recognizing some of what was being discussed in the bible, made me want to give up. But I continued to watch Dr. Charles Stanley, Dr. David Jeremiah, and Joyce Meyer. I could usually relate to Joyce Meyer as I recognized her nasty, grumpy moods, and feeling like her hubby was wrong when it was her! It was like having an older sister, I never knew or communicated with! But it was both eye and mind opening, and what a relief. Those teachers made it so I could open the Book and see what I could interpret and get on my own.
One of the areas that used to bother me was the command to sacrifice animals for sins. So often I was horrified—and very relieved—I did not live during that time. I will never understand how they were able to get the animals where they needed to have them to be slaughtered. Blood, a lot of blood, is a very foul and distinctive odor, and all animals rebel against it. It invokes fear, and a means of doing anything to escape, to flee. They are terrified. The oxen must have been the first prodded rodeo beasts ever! But all those animals would have been balking and bawling to escape – it’s an instinct for them.
I didn’t for the longest time understand God’s need to have innocent animal blood shed in such a horrific manner. Yes, a relatively fast death, but still the animal knows something dreadful is coming, its throat is slit, and the blood spews forth. Now weakness, and the animal falls to its knees, still trying to struggle. I still am so very relieved I never saw it—my mind is graphic enough.
Then. . . I finally got it. We get attached to animals—not all, but even farmers may have favored cattle—heifer, bull, sheep or lamb. People are caretakers for these animals, and some touch your heart and you get attached. How awful to have and raise a beautiful lamb, care for it, and then it is sacrificed.
But that’s the point. God wants our heart, our obedience, our humility. He doesn’t want the animals killed and burnt, the grain and oil offerings. He wanted the people to realize an innocent animal was being destroyed because of their sin, their atonement. The innocent animal was being given for THEIR sin, certainly not for the animal’s sin. I can’t even imagine animals sin–they live and graze with other animals. They are not out to “better” someone else, to be in any competition. They have no pride or arrogance. But this sweet and innocent creature was being slaughtered for YOUR or MY sin. Death was the payment for sin, and we all sin.
God already knew we all had selfish hearts and minds, and He had given us the ability to choose, and most chose to sin and fill their selfish, sinful desires, so God demanded a sin offering, some death must occur. But God wanted us to be appalled at it, the slaughter of an innocent animal, throat being slit and the blood gushing out, while the animal struggled to continued standing, then down to the knees and soon, stillness–death. That should have been you–you should have died for Your sin. God wanted us to realize our mistakes and choices were costing an innocent animal its life. Sin is costly and deadly.
I am glad I finally had my eyes opened and realized God wanted us to see the significance of an innocent being’s death and why. ‘Maybe that will make them think.’ He must have thought and wished. Yet we are a hard-headed bunch and can sometimes continue making wrong choices, selfish choices. I am sure these deaths, these offerings did change some habits, some sinners’ hearts.
As His Word says over and over, throughout history we continued to mess up quite significantly.
God sent Jesus who all the Israelites were waiting for so they could be free—could finally fight and win their way from oppression, over taxation, be out of anyone else’s rule—they could govern themselves. Afterall, they had been waiting for the Messiah. He would come and He would be the King. They had read about the Messiah coming, but they did not understand who and what the Messiah was and would be. Jesus was anything except a violent man. He showed love, peace, patience to all—except those moneychangers in the temple– but He made time for all. Jesus, the Messiah, listened and taught, healed all who came to Him. And He gathered a following, but He was not the leader of war they were expecting. He taught through example, with patience, love, and gentleness, offering another way to live. He showed them how to live with their hearts—giving, sharing, helping, loving, and teaching, and healing, and spreading His good news.
And that’s the point. God wants our minds and hearts to seek Him to learn who He is and to sacrifice out sinful desires to be close to Him, to be obedient to Him. He sent Jesus to show us the way, the best Way to live and love others, and I think there are many who successfully work toward that goal. But we are still left with pride and selfish hearts, so that part of our life needs to be examined daily to see where we might have to confess because of a sinful, prideful choice. We are living according to God and Jesus IF God has our whole heart. It’s a battle inwardly oftentimes between giving our whole heart and doing at least some of what we want.
But God rewards more in unexpected ways when we give our entire heart to Him and His wishes for us. We always win if we follow Him fully, even if, at that moment, we feel as though we have lost out on something. Try it and give Him your full heart. I’m betting you will be overjoyed at the blessings He bestows on you.
Thank You, God, for all the teachers and classes I have taken which have helped open my eyes and mind to better understanding and getting to know You better all the time. Thank You for all You have given for me and ‘mybellaviews.’