Exodus 27:1-8, Part 2. It is the posture of the heart that God sees, not the size of the offering

Exodus 27:1-8, Part 2. It is the posture of the heart that God sees, not the size of the offering

Background

The Bronze altar is the second most important furniture in the Tabernacle. It was on the bronze altar that animals were slaughtered and burned as sacrifices to God. When a sacrifice is offered, an aroma rises from the worshiper to the Lord. The Lord smells the aroma and responds to the offerer according to the posture of his heart. Leviticus records,

And the priest shall offer up in smoke all of it on the altar for a burnt offering, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord. – Leviticus 1:9.

To the righteous, He responds with gifts and blessings for the world. But to the wicked, He responds with disdain. The righteous are those who do what is right, who puts the interests of the community before their own. But the wicked are not concerned about God’s plans, and they put their wellbeing before others. Today’s devotion teaches us: It is the posture of the heart that God sees, not the size of the offering.

Truth

It is the posture of the heart that God sees, not the size of the offering.

One day, Jesus was looking at the people putting gifts into the temple treasury. In the midst of them, He saw the rich and a poor widow. Jesus praised the widow despite her minuscule offering because she gave out of her poverty. But Jesus had no commendation for the rich because they loved the praises of men more than the praises of God. Jesus said,

“Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.” – Luke 21:3-4

Therefore, it is the posture of the heart, not the size of the gift or your abilities that God is concerned with.

How does God respond to the offerings of the wicked?

Many offer expensive gifts to exact concessions from God. Jeremiah’s words contradict popular teachings that purport sacrifices as sure instruments of appropriation of God. Judah was at the brink of an invasion by the Babylonians because of their sins. They thought they could offer gifts to God in exchange for forgiveness and favour. Because of their hypocrisy, God hated the incense that was imported from Sheba and sweet cane from a distant land. God said to Judah,

Because they have not listened to My words,
And as for My law, they have rejected it also.
“For what purpose does frankincense come to Me from Sheba
And the sweet cane from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable
And your sacrifices are not pleasing to Me.” – Jeremiah 6:19b-20

Instead of accepting their hypocritical worship, God vowed that Judah would be chastised by a foreign nation. Many today offer their time, money, and even their bodies to serve God. But God rejects them because they harbour mixed motives and are self-serving. Paul said,

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:3

The wicked offer sacrifices in exchange for God’s forgiveness and favour. But the righteous offer themselves as a living sacrifice to do God’s will while asking for nothing in return. How does God respond to the sacrifices of the wicked and the righteous? Proverbs says,

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight. – Proverbs 15:8

How does God respond to the prayers and sacrifices of the righteous?

Indeed, God responds favourably to the prayers of the righteous. Despite no sacrifice is offered by the righteous one, yet God listens to him. Such a one is Noah, to whom God said,

“Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time… For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.” – Genesis 7:1,4.

God had intended to preserve Noah’s family and destroy the rest of the world by flood. He gave Noah grace, divine wisdom and power to build such a huge structure that could sustain life. After the flood came and subsided, Noah built an altar to the Lord. Noah prayed and sacrificed a clean animal of every kind. Genesis records God’s response to Noah’s prayer and sacrifice,

The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.
“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
And cold and heat,
And summer and winter,
And day and night
Shall not cease.” – Genesis 8:21-22

What specifically did Noah ask? Obviously, he asked for God to never wipe out the earth again. God listened to Noah’s request because of the kind of person that Noah is. Indeed, God will never resist the prayer of a righteous man who gives himself unreservedly to serve God (see James 5:16). Today, we live with the assurance that there will not be sudden disasters on a global scale. After that, God commanded a blessing upon Noah as He first did for Adam,

And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. – Genesis 9:1-2.

Noah had effectively turned generations of curses into a blessing for humanity. Because of Noah, humanity can start afresh with God’s bountiful grace.

How does God respond to the prayers and sacrifices of New Covenant believers?

Jesus came in the flesh by giving up His heavenly privileges to suffer pain and injustice. Not only that, but He also sacrificed His human ideals preferring to obey God. When evil men condemned Him to the cross, He did not require justice to be done to His tormentors. Instead, He prayed and asked the Father to forgive the sins of the world. What seemed like a hopeless and foolish decision to give Himself up became the turning point of humanity. God heard Jesus’s prayer, saw His sacrifice and smelled the aroma. God exalted Jesus and released humanity from condemnation. Subsequently, Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit with great power to regenerate and heal the world of sicknesses and poverty.

Today, as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus and yield our hearts and bodies to God, we become a sweet aroma rising up to Him. When God smells the aroma, He will release the nations from condemnation and save them. How does God do that? By empowering the sons of God with divine love, wisdom and authority. The Apostle Paul said,

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. – Ephesians 5:1-2

As we imitate Christ’s manner of living, we begin to do what Noah and Moses could not; which is to facilitate the ministry of the Spirit. What Noah and Moses did is merely to preserve the lineage of the righteous. And at the right time, the Messiah may come to save humanity. As we walk in love and give ourselves as a gift to the nations, Jesus pours out His spiritual gifts on us. And great signs and wonders will follow us to save the children of the nations.

Application

  • From a scale of 1 to 10, how kind are you towards ungrateful and self-centred people?
  • From a scale of 1 to 10, how much anger do you harbour in your heart?
  • From a scale of 1 to 10, how willing are you to allow God to interrupt your life with His plans?
  • From a scale of 1 to 10, how willing are you to help people who need longer-term care?
  • From a scale of 1 to 10, how concerned are you for the state of the world today?
  • From a scale of 1 to 10, how willing are you to step up to do God’s work?

Regenerate your heart daily through the Spirit and let your aroma rise to God. Be faithful in using the gifts of the Spirit to help those who are in need. And expect God to use you powerfully to do His work.

Dear Lord, I am determined to follow in your footsteps. To be kind and merciful to evil men. To forgive those who treated me unjustly. To allow you to execute your plans through me. To help those who need longer-term care. To be willing to step up to the challenges of your ministry. Fill me with your Spirit and empower me with wisdom and divine authority. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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