What we think is best for us may not be:
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road towards the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle. – – Exodus 13:17-18
God doesn’t ways work in the way that seems best to us. Instead of guiding the Israelites along the direct route from Egypt to the promised land, he took them by a longer route to avoid fighting with the Philistines. If God does not lead you along the shortest path to your goal, don’t complain or resist. Follow him willingly and trust him to lead you safely around unseen obstacles. He can see the end of your journey from the beginning, and he knows the safest and best route.
When did the Hebrews leave Egypt? There are two theories. The early theory says the exodus occurred around 1446-1445 B.C. The late theory suggests the exodus happened between 1300 and 1200 B.C. Those who hold to the earlier date point to 1 Kings 6:1, where the Bible clearly states that Solomon began building the temple 480 years after the Hebrews left Egypt. Since almost all scholars agree that Solomon began building the temple in 966, this puts the exodus in the year 1446. But those who hold to the later date suggest that the 480 years cannot be taken literally. They point to Exodus 1:11, which says that the Hebrews built the store cities of Pithom and Rameses, named after Pharaoh Rameses II, who reigned around 1290 B.C. Regardless of which date is correct, the fact is that God led the Hebrews out of Egypt, just as he had promised. This showed his great power and his great love for his people.
Why it is important to give God our best:
..you must present a male without defect from the cattle, sheep or goats in order that it may be accepted on your behalf. Do not bring anything with a defect, because it will not be accepted on your behalf. When anyone brings from the herd or flock a fellowship offering to the LORD to fulfil a special vow or as a freewill offering, it must be without defect or blemish to be acceptable. Do not offer to the LORD the blind, the injured or the maimed, or anything with warts or festering or running sores. Do not place any of these on the altar as an offering made to the LORD by fire. You may, however, present as a freewell offering an ox or a sheep that is deformed or stunted, but it will not be accepted in fulfilment of a vow. You must not offer to the LORD an animal whose testicles are bruised, crushed, torn or cut. You must not do this in your own land, and you must not accept such animals from the hand of a foreigner and offer them as the food of your God. They will not be accepted on your behalf because they are deformed and have defects.’ “ – Leviticus 22:19-25
Animals with defects were not acceptable as sacrifices because they did not represent God’s holy nature. Furthermore, the animal had to be without blemish in order to foreshadow the perfect, sinless life of Jesus Christ. When we give our best time, talent, and treasure to God rather than what is tarnished or common, we show the true meaning of worship and testify to God’s supreme worth.
Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to the LORD your God. – DEUTERONOMY 17:1
The fact that this command was included probably indicates that some Israelites were sacrificing imperfect or deformed animals to God. Then, as now, it is difficult and expensive to offer God our best (i.e., the first part of what we earn). It is always tempting to shortchange God because we think we won’t get caught. But our giving shows our real priorities. When we give God the leftovers, it is obvious that he is not at the centre of our lives. Give God the honour of having first claim on your money, time, and talents.
“A son honours his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honour due to me? If I am a master, where is the respect due to me?” says the LORD Almighty. “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name.
“But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’
“You place defiled food on my altar.
“But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’
“By saying that the LORD’s table is contemptible. When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty. – MALACHI 1:6-8
God’s law required that only perfect animals be offered to God (see for example Leviticus 1:3). But these priests were allowing people to offer blind, crippled, and diseased animals to God. God accused them of dishonouring him by offering imperfect sacrifices, and he was greatly displeased. The New Testament says that our lives should be living sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1). If we give God only our leftover time, money, and energy, we repeat the same sin as these worshippers who don’t want to bring anything valuable to God. What we give God reflect our true attitude toward him.
©KingsWay International, 1973.