When the Hebrew people first started following God out of Egypt they really did not know a lot about him or his expectations. They had lived for hundreds of years under pagan leadership with many gods including the Pharaoh. Most of you know the whole story of how they wandered through the desert whining and complaining almost the whole time. “Where is God? I want to go back to Egypt. Give us something to worship we can see!!!” Yes, whining. When they are called the “children” of Israel it was no exaggeration. Anyone who has taken an extended car ride with multiple children understands what Moses was putting up with. These biblical descriptions were accurate!
At one point during their journey God called their leader, Moses, up to a mountain top to write down some instructions. These were the 10 commandments as well as all the laws and rules governing the worship of the one, true God. While Moses was on the mountain the first time, he was gone for an extended period of time. So, bored and a little scared, the people brought gold jewelry to Aaron the priest and he made a “god” from the gold – the infamous golden calf. They figured worship was owed to this God that brought them out of Egypt. And in the context of the pagan worship they grew up around, it probably made sense to create one to look at. But this was not the case. When Moses came down the mountain and saw the debaucherous “worship” going on he threw the commandments on the ground and demanded repentance from everyone. The unrepentant were killed. Now that’s a tough crowd.
The whole question of what real worship of this God looked like plagued the children of Israel for a long time. . It really all started with Cain and Abel bringing two different offerings to God way back in Genesis. Cain’s offering was not accepted but Abel’s was. Neither offering was the wrong stuff, but something was different between the two. Even when the Books of the Law were complete and the Hebrews had the whole counsel of God’s commands (613 of them), they still had problems following them.
Rules for the worship of God are still discussed today around the world. Everyone wants to do the right thing and say the right words. There are even ridiculously vicious arguments about the beautiful worship of God. The paradox of trying to love God and dislike our fellow humans exists throughout religions of every kind. So it begs the question -
What do I, a mere mortal, have to offer to this great and awesome Deity? Actually, you have quite a lot. I want to play off the Levitical laws regarding offerings to help us better understand God’s desires regarding worship.
Lev 2:1-10 2 “When you present grain as an offering to the LORD, the offering must consist of choice flour. You are to pour olive oil on it, sprinkle it with frankincense, 2 and bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests. The priest will scoop out a handful of the flour moistened with oil, together with all the frankincense, and burn this representative portion on the altar. It is a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the LORD. 4 “If your offering is a grain offering baked in an oven, it must be made of choice flour, but without any yeast. It may be presented in the form of thin cakes mixed with olive oil or wafers spread with olive oil. 5 If your grain offering is cooked on a griddle, it must be made of choice flour mixed with olive oil but without any yeast. 6 Break it in pieces and pour olive oil on it; it is a grain offering. 7 If your grain offering is prepared in a pan, it must be made of choice flour and olive oil. 8 “No matter how a grain offering for the LORD has been prepared, bring it to the priest, who will present it at the altar. 9 The priest will take a representative portion of the grain offering and burn it on the altar. It is a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the LORD. NLT
Don’t you just love Leviticus? It is so rich and full of expression and meaning, or you may wonder why we are there right now. The fact is we all have something to offer God. What you offer him will not be the same as what I offer. We offer praise to the Lord for his character. We offer thanks to the Lord for his mighty deeds and blessings. We offer surrender to the Lord for each segment of our life. We offer our time, talents and giftedness to be used for his glory. You and I have a lot to offer. So what’s the difference? The difference is condition of Abel’s offering rather than Cain’s. The difference is the words in the passage of Leviticus.
The difference is the quality of what we are offering. This is not a quality of comparison with other people, but the quality of what is available to each person. You see not everyone had the best lambs or flour or wine. Not everyone could cull a sacrifice from a stable of champion, purebred animals. But everyone did, and does, have a best of that they can offer. Everyone has the ability to give their best. Whether it is time in prayer, singing, teaching, dancing, acting, loving, caring, sharing, administrating – whatever our giftedness is, we should bring our best. It is the choice offering that is special to the Lord.
It is the choice sacrifice that smells so sweet to God. Next time you have a chance to be used by God ask yourself this simple question, “Did I give a choice offering to God today?” Only you and God will know the answer. The fact that you are even willing to ask the question will automatically put your best efforts to the forefront. Go ahead – give him the choice offerings from your life today.