It is often tempting to cut corners. A high school student might read the CliffsNotes version of A Tale of Two Cities instead of slogging through the entire novel. A carpenter might not use all the safety features on his table saw because it is quicker to use it without them.
In today’s reading, the Lord warns Israel against cutting corners in worship. For burnt offerings or offerings to fulfill a vow, the worshiper must present a male without defect from the cattle, sheep, or goats (vv. 19–20). For a fellowship offering, a male or female animal was acceptable, but it must be without blemish (v. 21). This was a problem in ancient Israel. The prophet Malachi admonished, “When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you?” (Mal. 1:8). In optional sacrifices like freewill offerings, some deformities were allowed (v. 23).
Another way Israel might have tried to save money would be to offer a newborn animal that had not yet cost anything to feed or care for. Moses instructs that the animal must be at least a week old (v. 27). God is to be treated with reverence and respect. Offering only the best sacrifices reminded Israel of the holiness of God (v. 32).
Today’s passage reminds us that Jesus was also the perfect sacrifice, “you were redeemed...with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18–19). In response, we offer ourselves to God as a “living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Rom. 12:1).
>> What should be the focus of worship? It is not that we walk away feeling satisfied, or even worse, entertained. The most important part of worship is that it is acceptable and pleasing to God. Worship like that will be the most satisfying to us as well.
Father, draw us closer. May we know You so well that we delight in the psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs that please You. Draw us closer in our worship; draw us closer.