What kind of sacrifice does God require?
I was reading the Bible this morning and I came across a passage of scripture in the Proverbs that kind of stopped me in my tracks. The passage was from Proverbs 22:27. This is what it says, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination. How much more when he brings it with evil intent?” Now, there are a couple of things that you need to know about why this particular passage stopped me as I was reading the Bible this morning.
Number one, you need to know I am doing a reading plan in the Bible right now that has me reading from various points of Scripture at the same time, and that these passages are always moving around on this Bible reading plan. It’s very common for me to be reading one day in Proverbs 22 or 21 and also be reading in Psalm 51 and also be reading in 1 Samuel 2 and also be reading in Luke 8 and the wonderful natural byproduct of reading that way is that you are reading passages of scripture on a certain day that you may have never read on the same day before in your life. You may have never read Proverbs 21 on the same day that you read 1 Samuel 2.
There is a theological school of study called hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is the science of Bible interpretation. Hermeneutics is the methodology that helps us understand.
One of the big tenants, if you will, of hermeneutics is to let scripture interpret scripture. This meaning if you’re reading a passage of scripture and you’re having a difficult time understanding it, it’s a good idea to turn to some other passages of scripture that deal with that same topic. This allows us to see what they have to say or if that might amplify the thing that is kind of hard for you to understand in the original passage that you were studying.
So, reading the Bible in various places is a very sound way of reading the Bible.
There were four reasons why reading this passage stopped me in my tracks. Number one, it says that the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination. The word abomination is a strong word. And that was the first thing that stopped me. Anytime we see words like despicable, deplorable, abomination, despise, this is something that God hates, it’s a good idea to perk your
ears up and pay attention to what it is that’s so abominable to God. And in this passage, there are two things that are abominable to God.
One is when a wicked man brings sacrifices to God. That is to say someone who is characterized by wickedness and not by following God and not by hungering and thirsting after obeying him, but just a wicked man who’s playing religious games and trying to gain from them when he brings sacrifices. That’s an abomination because he doesn’t have his heart in it.
The other thing that this passage says is abominable is when he brings it with evil intent. In other words, when this wicked man brings this sacrifice with evil intent, such as to deceive somebody or to deceive God or to coerce God into doing something for him or to fool somebody or to earn something, that’s an abomination.
Earlier in the morning, I had been reading in 1 Samuel 2:12, “Now, the sons of Eli, were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come while the meat was boiling with a three pronged fork in his hand and he would thrust it into the pan. All that the fork brought up, the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, ‘Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.’ And if the man said to him, ‘Let them burn the fat first and then take as much as you wish,’ he would say, ‘No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.’”
I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say that the way these sons of Eli, the sons of the priests, were treating the sacrifices of God were contemptible and an abomination to him.
It was the sacrifice of the wicked in action. That’s what this passage kind of describes for us. So that was the second reason that I was stopped in my tracks when I read about the wicked sacrifices of God being an abomination.
Number three, I was sharing the gospel with a young man yesterday, and one of the things that he was telling me was, “I have tried so hard to please God. I have tried so hard to
know him and he just seems like he’s not there.” Let me say in all compassion, I understand what it means to feel frustrated when it seems that God is cruelly and callously not answering our prayers, or not showing himself to us. And in this young man’s life, one of the things that he was saying was, “I have tried to show God that I am good enough for him to pay attention to me”.
One of the things that I was able to say to him was, “I’m sorry to say this, but trying hard to earn your salvation, or to earn your righteousness, or to please God because of your goodness, It’s offensive to God. It’s the same thing as a wicked sacrifice. It is trying to do something to curry favor and manipulate God into thinking that you’re good when really there’s nothing in you that merits God’s favor. The only favor that we enjoy from God is that which He bestows upon us freely out of His grace through His Son, Jesus Christ. That is where our favor with God comes from. To try to coerce God into thinking we’re good, I shouldn’t say it’s an abomination because the scripture doesn’t say it’s an abomination, but I think that it is offensive to God for us to try to earn our salvation and earn our place in His heart.”
And the last reason, the fourth reason why I was stopped in my tracks by this particular passage of scripture was because I had also been reading recently in Psalm 51, that beautiful Psalm of David, where he’s so honest with God and one of the things that he says in Psalm 51:16-17 is, “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it. You will not be pleased with burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart. Oh God, you will not despise.” This is what God desires. He desires humility, brokenness, and contriteness. He desires for us to yield to him and to place our faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and not in our own merit, like this young man was indicating yesterday, that he was placing some of his faith in his own ability to please God.
This is essentially tantamount to the sacrifice of the wicked. And this is why it’s good news. The good news is you don’t have to do all that. You don’t have to please God. The good news is you don’t have to work hard and strive after those things. You can simply trust that God
has done it all for you through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the one who restores us to the right relationship with the Father. And it’s not because of anything that we have done or can brag about, but it’s because of his good grace alone.
As PassionLife travels the world, we interact with women, men, and families who have spent a lot of time in brokenness and contrition over their own affiliation with abortion, whether it be actively or passively, which puts almost all of us in the same boat. If you think about the sacrifices of God or a contrite and broken heart, you can’t restore yourself to the right relationship with God by trying hard. You can’t do it by sacrifice other than to sacrifice your faith and your will to trusting God for his deliverance. That’s what PassionLife preaches. And we’re thankful that you are part of the team that sends us out to preach this message of hope and good news.