“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” Proverbs 21:3 ESV
The first seven chapters of the book of Leviticus talk about the five types of offerings. Of the five types, all but one, the grain offering, required animal sacrifice. Why was this needed? It was a reminder of the cost of sin, and man's fractured relationship with God. The sacrifice had to be without blemishes indicating its purity. While the sacrifice was an important part of their religious practice, it wasn’t God’s whole plan. While the surrounding nations were following false gods, offering human sacrifice, and reveling in immoral practices, God provided Israel with laws for leading righteous and just lives setting them apart. The problems arose when they neglected to follow the laws but continued with the sacrifices. They were going through the motions without having a true change of heart. It’s like repenting for something, and then repeatedly going out and doing the same thing over and over with no intention of changing. Thanks to Jesus’ surrender of his own unblemished life the need for animal sacrifice has been removed. However, God still expects us to live righteous and just lives. Like Israel when we fail to do this we get into trouble.
God, we thank you for the gift of your son who became for us the unblemished sacrifice. Please help us to lead the righteous and just lives you require of us. When we see injustice let us not be shy about speaking out. When we are tempted by the wrong let us do what is right. Help us, God, to be a people set apart. Amen.