Let me start from the outset by saying that the Christian God is NOT a God of contraction. If we read the Word of the Father in His Holy Bible and find contradiction, it is we who do not understand. Our God has no contradiction.
Dictionary.com defines “myopic” in three ways: 1) near-sighted, 2) unable or unwilling to act prudently; short-sighted and 3) lacking tolerance or understanding; narrow-minded. I guess we all suffer from myopia at times.
So often we Christians “un-crucify” Jesus and in doing so deny Him the free forgiveness and grace He is offering us. Instead, we still feel obliged to work out our own salvation by the works of our own hands. We keep thinking that if I sacrifice just a little more, I will accomplish “it”.
This is not what the Bible, the inerrant Word of the Lord, is telling us. Our Lord God is NOT interested in sacrifices for their own sakes. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). He tells us again so clearly in Isaiah 57:15 “For so says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity; whose name is Holy; ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, even with the contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones’.”
Our God wants us to come before Him and worship in spirit and in truth. But our worship is not intended to make us comfortable or pleasing to ourselves. Our worship is to focus on Him and Him alone. This means to have a clear conscience of having done that which we are called to do. Jesus tells us this clearly Matthew 5:23-24 that “if you offer your gift on the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” But later in v42-43 Jesus also spells out clearly that we are to serve others as our normal duty, not as a special “calling.” He warns us: “For I was hungry, and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in; I was naked, and you did not clothe Me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.” That is the path to hell.
First Samuel 15:22 tells us very clearly what we need to do, as “Samuel said, Does Jehovah delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice! To listen is better than the fat of rams!”
Let us look at two well known examples, one from the Old and one from the New Testament.
Abraham obeyed the Lord when nothing in His instruction could have made any sense to Abraham at all. In Genesis 22:2 the Lord spoke to Abraham and “said, Take now your son, your only one, Isaac, whom you love. And go into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will name to you.” But Abraham trusted the Lord and simply did that which the Lord was calling him to do. He obeyed, he simply obeyed. And as he obeyed, just as he moved to plunge his knife into the heart of Isaac, “the Angel of Jehovah called to him from the heavens and said, Abraham! Abraham! And he said, Here am I. And He said, Do not lay your hand on the lad, nor do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only one, from Me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked. And, behold, a ram behind him was entangled in a thicket by its horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son” (Genesis 22:11-13).
Abraham only discovered the lamb after he raised his newly sharpened knife over the heart of his son Isaac: the son for whom he had waited 100 years and the son whom the Lord had promised to an aged couple. But it was not over for Abraham, for “the Angel of Jehovah called to Abraham out of the heavens the second time, and said, I have sworn by Myself, says Jehovah; because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only one; that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the seashore. And your Seed shall possess the gate of His enemies. And in your Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:15-18). All because he simply obeyed God and put God first in his life.
In the New Testament, we find Simon Peter in Joppa, on the rooftop of a house by the seaside owned by Simon, a tanner. Simon Peter was in prayer and hungry as the Lord sent him a vision of vessel, like a sheet, containing all sorts of reptiles, birds and animals. Then “a voice came to him, saying, Rise, Peter! Kill and eat! But Peter said, Not so, Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean” (Acts 10:13-14). The vision was repeated a second and a third time, and while Peter mulled over this vision of the Lord in his head, the “Holy Spirit said to him, Behold, three men are looking for you, Therefore arise and go down and go with them without doubting, for I have sent them” (v19-20).
Peter left Joppa with the three visitors and returned with them to Caesarea where Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian cohort and to any Jew, an “unclean” person, explained the Lord’s arrangements for their meeting. “Then Peter opened his mouth and said, Truly I see that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he who fears Him and works righteousness is accepted with Him” (Acts 10:34-35). This laid the opportunity for Peter also to see the correct interpretation of the vision. All food was from God. It also enabled him to recall Jesus’ teachings from Mark 7:15-17 that “there is nothing from outside a man which entering into him can defile him. But the things which come out of him, those are the ones that defile the man.”
Thus the apparent contradiction for Simon Peter was removed when he understood the love God has for all mankind: Jews and Gentiles. As Simon Peter obeyed the Lord and entered the house of Cornelius, an action forbidden to a Jew, the Lord opened his eyes, his mind and his heart to the new things which the Lord was doing for all the peoples of the earth. But only when he obeyed, was the apparent contradiction demolished for him.
Father, I thank you for this teaching which you have provided for me. I pray that as I step out in faith and obey You in all things and at all times and before all people, that you will continue to reveal Yourself more and more to me. Lord I want and need close, close relationship with you. Oh Lord, You are all I need. Take me, change me and use me for the glory of Your Kingdom. I pray this Lord in the name of Your Son, my Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Amen and Amen.