Obedience in Offerings
Posted October 23, 2022
Lesson 8 Fall Quarter
Lesson Text: Leviticus 22:17-25, 31-33
Golden Text: Leviticus 22:31
Our lesson this week continues our look at instructions that the Lord gave to the children of Israel to follow. Last week’s lesson took a look at the Lord’s instructions for the Day of Atonement which had instructions for Aaron’s offerings to the Lord along with the congregation of Israel on that specific day. Our lesson this week will focus more on the offerings of the people that were commonly done.
God’s Instructions for Offerings
Before we jump into the scripture for our lesson this week, I want to touch on offerings and what they meant. When we think of offerings, our mind typically goes to the collection plate but that’s not what these offerings were about. Offerings were made to the Lord on an altar and they were essentially a sign of prayer or worshiping the Lord.
So far in our recent lessons, we have seen three types of offerings – burnt offerings, peace offerings, and sin offerings. Burnt offerings were made to the Lord as a sign of being committed to God. Peace offerings were a sign of communion (fellowship) with the Lord. As we saw last week, sin offerings were offerings that were made for atonement of one’s sins.
Of the utmost importance was not profaning one’s offering to the Lord. A profane offering was one that did not please the Lord and would have terrible consequences for the one that profaned the offering. Two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, profaned their offering to the Lord and died because of their profane offering (Lev. 10:1-7). King Saul profaned his offering to the Lord and had his throne taken away from him (1 Sam. 13:1-15).
Instructions Intended for All
Our lesson opens with the Lord having instructions for Aaron, his remaining sons, and all the children of Israel about their offerings of sacrifice.
Again, in our lesson last week, we saw that it was just Aaron that made offerings on behalf of himself and all the congregation of Israel on the Day of Atonement. However, in our lesson this week, we will see that offerings could be brought forward by anyone when it came to the more common offerings that regularly took place.
The Lord, we will see, had instructions for “whatever man of the house of Israel” and, even more interesting, were for the “strangers that lived in the land (v.18). There has always been this misconception that the “God of the Old Testament” was not open to other nations of people outside of the children of Israel. Scripture actually shows us that God had a strong desire for those of other nations to come to Him.
When we went over the Lord desiring to give Israel the law, we saw that God had a desire that the children of Israel, by keeping His commandments and law, would become a kingdom of holy priests (Ex. 19:6). What this meant is that God desired for the children of Israel to be holy examples for other nations and to then serve them; teach the other nations God’s commandments and law so that they could also become holy.
The strangers of the land that are mentioned here are those that had come to accept the Hebrew faith in God. Something that I mentioned in earlier lessons for this quarter is that when the children of Israel were freed from the bondage of Egypt, there were slaves of other nations that joined them in being freed. So, God was certainly open to others that were not of Israel being able to believe in Him, even in Old Testament days.
Offerings without blemish
We will also notice in that verse that these instructions were for freewill offerings; a form of peace offering that was done by free will – voluntarily (v.19). Something that I mentioned in my sermon last week is what Paul said about giving to the Corinthians; the Lord loves a cheerful giver and does not want anyone to give grudgingly (2 Cor. 9:7). So, these offerings were done out of one’s choosing opposed to some required regulation.
The first of the instructions for the freewill offering was that this offering was to be a burnt offering – meaning it was to be burnt completely by fire (v.18). The second of the instructions that we see here are that people were to bring for their offering male cattle from sheep or goats that were without blemish (v.19). Now, why do you suppose that these offerings were supposed to be without blemish?
Let us consider, again, what these types of offerings were supposed to mean. Peace offerings were offerings of fellowship with the Lord and a burnt offering was a sign of being committed to God. When we combine that information with what we now know about freewill offerings being done by one’s free will, we get the sense that this was about one’s faith in the Lord. These offerings were brought forward by those that genuinely believed in the Lord.
So, one who genuinely believed in the Lord, would bring forth the best kind of offering they possibly could; this reminds me of Abel who brought forth his best. Even though this offering had nothing to do about their sins, this was still an offering being given to the Lord.
The defected offering
The last thing that anyone would want to give to the Lord was something that defected – with physical blemishes. God instructed that whatever animal of the sheep and goat had a defect should not be offered to the Lord because it would not be accepted (vss.20-21).
What was considered a defective offering? God does touch on what He considered to be physical blemishes that the people should shy away from using in their offerings. Cattle that were blind, broken, maimed, had an ulcer, eczema or scabs is what God instructed the people not to use (v.22).
Now, there was an exception to the kind of defect that could be overlooked by the people. The Lord instructed that if there was either a lamb or a bull that maybe had too long of limbs or too short of limbs could be used as freewill offering. However, if one came to the Lord to make a vow by a freewill offering, they should not try to use a lamb or bull whose limbs were too long or too short; an offering made for a vow needed to have no blemishes (v.23).
In the next verse, we will see that the Lord continued in His instructions about what would make an offering a defective offering. God said if the animal was bruised or crushed, it would be considered defective and should not be used. If the animal was torn or cut, it would be considered defective and should not be used (v.24).
On top of this, even though there were foreigners who had committed their way of living to the Lord, there were several others who were not committed to God. God instructed the children of Israel and the strangers in the land that were committed to God, not take from a foreigner’s hands (v.25). The reason being is that those people were sinners that made no offerings to the Lord nor was committed to Him; so, they were blemished and anything they gave to the people would be defective.
Keeping God’s instructions
Our lesson begins to close out with the Lord saying to the people, “you shall keep My commandments, and perform them … You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel (vss.31-32).”
Something that I do want to point out about this statement from God is that the Lord considered His instructions as commandments. When we think of God’s commandments, we often think of just ten, but the Lord had several commands, statutes, and instructions that the children of Israel were to obey.
If the people truly desired to follow the Lord of their own free will, which God certainly desires, then they should have been willing to obey His instructions. The same holds true for all of us that choose to genuinely believe in the Lord; we should be willing to keep His instructions. The instructions that we have from the Lord are summed up in loving the Lord with our whole heart and then sharing that same love with all people.
We should do our very best to keep God’s instructions because of all that He has done for us; He loves us and our free obedience in return is a sign that we love Him. The Lord closes out our lesson this week by sharing this same sentiment with Israel when He says, “I am the Lord who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt (v.33).”