Ezekiel 21:1-32; Hebrews 10:1-7; Psalms 107:1-3; Proverbs 23:22
NT: “Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the reality itself of those things, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year. Otherwise, wouldn’t they have stopped being offered, since the worshipers, purified once and for all, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in the sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, as he was coming into the world, he said: You did not desire sacrifice and offering, but you prepared a body for me. You did not delight in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings. Then I said, “See — it is written about me in the scroll — I have come to do your will, God.”” (Hebrews 10:1-7 CSB)
Though the sacrificial system was set up by God through the law that He gave to His people through Moses, sacrifice was not God’s ultimate desire. The sacrificial system was a necessity for God to be both just and merciful. God established that the consequence for sin was death: “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die (Genesis 2:16-17).”” After Adam (and Eve) disobeyed God, God was merciful to them by allowing an animal to die in their place and cover their nakedness, their shame and their sin. Though the sacrificial system was provided, God’s ultimate desire was for obedience, not sacrifice.
Throughout the bible, there are several times where that truth is communicated – that God does not ultimately want sacrifice… that obedience is better than sacrifice. One of those places is Psalm 40:6-8: “You do not delight in sacrifice and offering; you open my ears to listen. You do not ask for a whole burnt offering or a sin offering. Then I said, “See, I have come; in the scroll it is written about me. I delight to do your will, my God, and your instruction is deep within me (Psalms 40:6-8).”” More than sacrifice, God wants us to have listening ears to hear His word. Instead of burnt offerings, the Lord would rather have us delight to do His will. The writer of Hebrews quoted that passage from Psalm 40 here to basically say that Jesus was the fulfillment of that scripture. David wrote it, but Christ fulfilled it. A body was prepared for Christ, and He came and was born into that body. As a man, He fully listened to the Lord and completely obeyed God’s will – even unto death.
The sacrificial system was established because of our disobedience. However, the sacrificial system could not remove sin, it could only temporarily cover sin… and the fact that sacrifices had to continually be made underlined our problem with sin and the lack of a suitable solution. But through Christ’s obedience, a way was made for us to be made righteous. As Paul wrote, “For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous (Romans 5:19).” Christ’s act of obedience was truly better than all of the sacrifices and burnt offerings that had been made up to that point. And because of Christ’s act of obedience, we can be freed from sin by faith and given the grace to walk in the same obedience by grace.
Psalms: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord proclaim that he has redeemed them from the power of the foe and has gathered them from the lands — from the east and the west, from the north and the south.” (Psalms 107:1-3 CSB)
Because of Christ’s obedience, we can be redeemed. As we simply place our faith in His act of obedience, we are redeemed. As recipients of Christ’s redemption, we should give thanks to the Lord and proclaim the good news of our redemption to all who will hear. In fact, Christ commissioned us to do just that. Will we be obedient to the One who saved us through His obedience?
Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your obedience that was much better than the sacrifices of bulls, goats, rams and lambs. It was Your sacrifice, born out of Your complete obedience, that made a way for sin to be removed from my life completely. Help me now, as I place my faith in You, to walk in the same obedience that You walked in – an obedience that is willing to sacrifice all for Your purposes and Your glory. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.