Last week, in Lessons from Ezekiel's Temple,
Part 12a, we discovered that God desires our sacrifices, but in order to
present them to a pure and holy God, we must make sure that we, as the
givers, are also pure. We do so by allowing Jesus' blood to cleanse us,
and by allowing the Holy Spirit to help us separate ourselves from our
pet sins, to humble us before God, to grow our faith, and to be
obedient. Only then will our sacrifices be acceptable in His sight.
Today's lesson takes a look at the preparation of our sacrifices:
"This is the place where the priests will cook the guilt offering and the sin offering and bake the grain offering, to avoid bringing them into the outer court and consecrating the people." (Ezek 46:20 NIV)
When God asked the people of Israel to bring
sacrifices to the Lord, there was a distinct difference between what the
people brought and what actually went on the altar. The people were
asked to bring animal or grain sacrifices: Bulls, lambs, goats, kids,
doves, fine flour, etc. But the priests then took those sacrifices and
prepared them. Some parts of the sacrifice were burned on the altar.
Others were used by the priests for food. Others were eaten by the those
who gave the sacrifice.
The description of the preparation of the sacrifices was very specific. For example: "From the fellowship offering he is to bring a sacrifice made to the Lord by fire: its fat, the entire fat tail cut off close to the backbone, all the fat that covers the inner parts or is connected to them, both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the covering of the liver, which he will remove with the kidneys. The priest shall burn them on the altar as food, an offering made to the Lord by fire." (Lev 3:9-11 NIV)
I could fill pages and pages with similar examples taken straight from the books of Moses, but the point is, what God received looked very little like the gift that was given!
Ezekiel describes many rooms set aside for
preparing the sacrificial offerings (see Lessons from Ezekiel's Temple,
Part 10B), and the concept of the preparation of the sacrifices reminds
us that when God asks for our sacrifices, our only job is to give. He
will then take our humble gifts and mould them and change them into
something beautiful, into something that can be used as a tool in His
The tendency, however, is to expect God to accept our sacrifices just as we present them, and to be hurt when He doesn't. It is important to remember that it is only when our sacrifices are stripped of our flesh that God can use them to His glory.
Some years ago God told me to write an Easter play to be presented at the church I was attending at the time. I obeyed. I spent hour upon hour writing and rewriting it, planning the music, picking the actors, and I'm sad to say, even casting myself as one of the key characters. In the end, I was quite proud of my work, and I was sure that the congregation would be blessed by my efforts.
But something happened. When I presented my
script to the church, I was asked to team up with someone else and
produce a play together. My partner had her own ideas about how the play
should look, and she proceeded to write her own version. In the end, the
two were merged together, and the end product looked nothing like what I
had envisioned. Then, as if my sacrifice hadn't been "prepared" enough,
I was asked to be the director of the play, and not a lead character!
In the end, the play turned out to be truly beautiful, and it was a major blessing to the people of my church. God took my sacrifice, stripped it of my pride, and turned it into something that would shine for Him!
That solo you wrote for yourself might be sung by someone else, but had you not given it, it would never have been a blessing!
The time you offered to hand out food at the local soup truck, but instead you were asked to call volunteers and organize everything, you gave of what you had, and God turned it into something He could use!
And what about those pies you baked for the church bake sale that didn't sell? When your labor of love ended up being given to the poor family in the church who didn't have money to buy a pie, your sacrifice was used to glorify the name of the Lord!
The point is this: When God asks us to give, that is exactly what we must do. And once the gift is in His hands, we must trust Him to use it to the utmost of His glory, even if the final product looks nothing like what we gave! After all, the fatty tail and the fat from the kidneys doesn't look much like the animal, does it?
Enough to ponder, but do ponder this: When we are called to sacrifice, we must be aware that our gifts to God will be molded and formed in His hands so that the end product may look little like the initial gift. Nevertheless, the initial gift was a necessary part of the final product!
Join us next week for another important lesson from Ezekiel's temple: Lessons from Ezekiel's Temple, Part 13: Living Water
God bless each of you as you seek to draw closer to Him!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org .