In the days of Moses, the offering was a very integral part in the lives of the people. Although there were different types of offerings and sacrifices that took place, Leviticus 9 and 10 speak of three specific types of offerings. They were sin offerings, fellowship offerings, and burnt offerings. When Moses summoned the people on the eighth day, they presented these offerings to the Lord in accordance with God's prescribed way of offering each sacrifice. Moses instructed Aaron to tell the Israelites to bring certain animals for the different sacrifices that would take place that day. He followed with the statement, "For today the Lord will appear to you." Wow! Imagine the picture of God's actual presence being there. I tend to envy those in the Old Testament who actually met and talked with God, and who experienced Him in various ways that aren't experienced today. When everything was in place, Leviticus 9:23-24 says, "Moses and Aaron went into the Tent of Meeting. When they had come out, they blessed the people and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell face down." What a sight it would have been to witness the events of that day! The people were obedient to God as they upheld His prescription for the sacrifice of offerings.
In the first verse of chapter 10, the two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, decided that they were going to present their own offering to God. They concocted a blend of incense in their censers and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord. I'm sure it seemed to be a good idea at the time. What was the result? The two were consumed by fire and died before the Lord. I don't read that these two sons of Aaron had wrong intentions in their hearts. We don't know why they did what they did. It seems hard for us as Christians to think that God would do something so drastic and unloving to two men who wanted to offer an offering to Him. When the two sons were lying dead before the people and the Lord, God said, "Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all people I will be honored."
I have to retract my statement of envy for living in those days. I would probably fall into the same fate as Hadab and Abihu. Sometimes we think that we are doing a great thing for the Lord when in fact we aren't. We feel that by giving our tithes God is pleased even though we may hold a bit of resentment for having to do it. Do we give with hearts that are pure? Do we give in a way that honors the Lord or do we toss it in the plate and hope that God is pleased with us?
I'm grateful for the blood of Jesus that has paid the final atonement for our sins.
If I had to live in the days of Moses, I would undoubtedly go broke with sacrificing animals. How awesome a God to pay for our sins. Not with an animal, but with His own son. That is the ultimate sacrifice that will never be outdone, because there was nothing left under heaven or earth to redeem man. Why is it that we know it, we understand it to a degree, and yet we take it so lightly? When I give of my tithes and offerings I want it to be a large part of my worship experience. I want God to know that I am grateful for His providing for me from day to day. I want to place my offering in the plate as a meaningful gesture of worship and not hope to be able get it ready before the plate passes me by and then sit in smug self-satisfaction as if I had done God a favor. Is the giving of our tithes and offerings a true worship experience for you? Is it for your church?
I doubt if God will ever consume us with fire for treating the offering as a mere component in the service or a time to collect the operating expenses of the church. I am grateful for His grace in my life that allows me to fall and yet He still loves me. However, I also want to be all that He wants me to be. I want to be faithful in all He gives me and obedient to all that He has called me to do in my life. As I look for ways to better present our gifts to the Lord during the worship times, I pray that each of us will examine our hearts concerning this matter. Are we sincere in our wanting to give to the Lord? Do we honor the Lord with our tithes? Do our people see the offering time as a part of the worship experience? Do they understand that it is a very important step of faith in our growth as believers?
I pray that we will step back and take a good look at how we conduct our offerings in worship.
Many churches make it a wonderful time of worship. It is my desire that we will not treat it as a social time to talk to our neighbors as someone plays music, but that it will become a time of true giving through prayer and quietness as we sit before the Lord giving Him thanks for all He has done in our lives. As we present to Him a small portion of what He has given us, I pray that God will be honored because our hearts and our finances are focused on Him. It means more to me when a person hands me a gift in person than it does to receive one in the mail. I believe that God wants us to come to Him and as we stand before His very throne, He wants us to present our offerings to Him in a spirit of worship.
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