Sunday, March 22, 2009

What is Better than Sacrifice?

"... Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice ..." 1 Samuel 15:22 

In the very beginning God gave the first command to mankind, which is very simple and known to all. It is, not to eat the forbidden fruit. It appears so trivial not warranting any serious consequences. But for God, it was so serious that He pronounced death on the first couple for disobeying that command. Then God gave 10 Commandments which also spelled out clear death warning if anyone disobeys even one of them. Why? We wonder God is so serious of His commands? Because His commands are His very person! It is defying God's Sovereign authority when His commands are not kept. Great men in the history of the Old Testament failed in small things yet forfeited God's best plans and great blessings for them. For example, Moses. When God told him to speak to the rock to get water in the wilderness, he was so wrathful that he had struck the rock with his staff! Though water came out as per God's Word, Moses was barred from entering Promised land for which he led the Israelites enduring so much pain and harassment. God is really serious of what comes out of His mouth and it can not go back in vain, without accomplishing its intended purpose, says Isaiah the prophet.

1. Sins of Commisison: Saul was the first king of Israel, asked by people and anointed by Samuel and empowered by God. After some years, something happened to Saul and he was not serious to keep God's commands to the letter. In 1 samuel 13, Saul offered sacrifice which was not his duty to do. God rejected Saul because He saw that Saul despised God's ordained order. Today, many do the same. Doing what is not their work to do. Usurping on other people's duties. It is happening in family life and in professional life. The result is confusion and failure. We need to allow others to fulfill their roles and responsibilities as much as we do our own. Success lies in doing what is committed to your own trust to the best of your ability.

2. Sins of Ommission: In 1 Samuel 15, we read that Saul was commanded to utterly destroy the Amalekites, enemies of Israel. But again, listening to people's wishes and his own desires, Saul kept back some good lot from the animals to sacrifice to the Lord! And he thought that he accomplished fully what was commanded of him by God. Samuel reminded him that God was not happy with what he has done, though Saul's intentions were apparently good. This was the last nail to his own coffin. God finally declared His decision to remove Saul from Kingship and appoint another (David) who was 'a man after God's own heart.' What a tragedy! So simple yet so serious! We are expected to do fully what is expected of us without any prefix or suffix! Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else! Only and fully what God commands! 

Many think sacrifice has much value. But to get blessings, obedience comes first and foremost and leads to success and exaltation. Think! What you value and appreciate most in your own life? To obey the laws? 

In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus reiterated the same truth. In Matthew 7:21-23, He said, just by saying Lord, Lord, no one can enter God's Kingdom, but by doing His Father's will. Even doing miracles will not get a ticket to heaven but only doing what is pleasing to the Lord. 

In John 14:15, the Lord gave the supreme test for His true followers, "if you love me, keep My commandments." In the OT, the motivation to obey was fear of God's judgment but in NT it is love for the Lord. Love is more powerful and supreme and permanent. Lord Jesus brought this love that enables anyone to keep God's commands. Once you experience God's love in Christ on the cross, you want to obey whatever He says because you want to love Him more. 1John 4:19, we love Him because He first loved us. Amen. 

Be Encouraged.

A. Othniel 

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