What Does God Really Want From You?

Do you ever read something in the Bible that makes you do a double take? Something you had no idea was part of the holy word of God?

If you ever read through Leviticus and Numbers you'll probably have many of these moments.

Photo Credit: Tom Thai (Creative Commons)

One such instance is the abrupt mention of testes in the twenty-second chapter of Leviticus. At first glance it seems bizarre and not important, but though it may not seem to apply to 21st Century Christians, I assure you that the principle behind it will never be irrelevant.

Sacrifice Is Still Relevant

The verse in question relates to Jewish practice of animal sacrifice. God gave Moses guidelines for beasts that are unacceptable as an offering:

You must not offer to the Lord an animal whose testicles are bruised, crushed, torn or cut. Leviticus 22:24

Who said the Bible was lacking in imagery? This is one of many Mosaic regulations for sacrifice.

But I know what you’re thinking. We don’t sacrifice animals. How is this relevant?

Sure we don't offer sheep, goats, or rams like Old Testament Jews did. Instead we now offer ourselves. As Paul wrote:

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. Romans 12:1

The New Covenant in Christ supplanted the Old therefore we no longer have to offer animals for sacrifice. Yet in view of God’s mercy, now we offer ourselves instead.

Your Best May Be Weeds

Why wasn’t Israel allowed to offer animals with bruised testicles?

It’s simple really: an animal with damaged reproductive organs had little value. What good is a bull without balls?

Why offer to God something that has no value to you?

The fact of the matter is that God cares more about the intent of your heart than the caliber of your offering (Hos. 6:6, Mark 12:41-44). So even though your best may be rubbish, God still treasures it because He knows it comes from the heart.

Ska band Five Iron Frenzy wrote a moving song called Dandelions that tells the story of a boy giving yellow weeds to his mom as a gift. Rather than rejecting them as worthless, she cherishes them:

She holds them to her heart, keeping them where they'll be safe, clasped within her very marrow, dandelions in a vase. She sees love, where anyone else would see weeds. 

God wants your best, even though your best may be weeds. He wants your firstfruits (Proverbs 3:9), all your heart, soul and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5), and your unblemished sacrifices (Leviticus 22:20).

But he does not need sacrifices any more than a mom needs dandelions:

I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. Psalms 50:9-10

He does not need them. He doesn’t get hungry. Yes, He likes the smell, but don’t you think he could manufacture that on His own? He created the animals. He created the smell itself!

photo by Meiying Ng

Why then did He command sacrifices from Israel at all?

Sacrifice was primarily to atone for sins but also to set Israel apart from other nations. Sacrifice was a matter of obedience, but it was also a way to honor God.

What Do You Value?

Yet despite the specific regulations against the practice, Israel began offering blemished animals for sacrifice. And God called them out on it through the prophet Malachi.

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? Would he accept you? Malachi 1:8

God has a way of exposing our priorities.

Would you offer a ball-less goat to your governor?

Would you routinely show up late to your job and do substandard work once you get there?

Of course not. If you did, it wouldn’t be long until your boss fired you. But you value your job. You value your paycheck.

Do you value God?

In view of His mercy we should instead offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, emulating Jesus who was the unblemished Lamb of God.

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