Offerings vs. Obedience
Reading: 1 Samuel 15:1-23
"In which is the Lord delighted: sacrifices or obeying His voice?...
To obey is better than sacrifice" (1 Sam 15:22)
Missionary T.G. Ragland (1815-1858) is one among those who testified through life that obedience to God is better than offerings. When he was the Treasurer of Friends Fellowship of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) at Cambridge University, God called him to go as a Missionary to India. He implicitly obeyed. For Christ's sake he was beaten, ill-treated and humiliated. Yet he established Christian witness in more than one thousand villages in South India. He fell and died on Indian soil like a grain of wheat.
King Saul stands out in the Scriptures as a monument of disobedience. In the battle against the Amalekites, Saul obeyed the Lord only partially. Incomplete obedience is disobedience. He spared the best of the animals for himself as against the Lord's command to utterly destroy all. When confronted by prophet Samuel, Saul duped that those animals had been spared in order to sacrifice to the Lord. Instantly Samuel challenged him, "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice!" (1 Sam 15:22,23). Nothing offends and provokes God like setting up our wills in competition with His.
Christ entered the world with a commitment to His Father: "Sacrifice and offering You do not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me... Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God" (Heb 10:5-9). Even if the offerings are made "according to the Law," they cannot replace obedience (v8). The offering of Christ's body on the Cross was the culmination of a life totally lived out in obedience to God (Eph 5:2).
The second great commandment equal to the first commandment is to love others as ourselves. But with all hatred, anger, jealousy, unforgiveness, backbiting and lying we dare to walk boldly to the altar with our offerings. God cannot be bribed. He totally rejected the first offering of the first son of the first parents. He has never changed. He does the same today unless we exhaust all possibilities to live in peace with all men (Mt 5:23,24; Rom 12:18).
Marital unfaithfulness means disobedience to a covenant. Unless we break extramarital relationships mercilessly, God will have no regard for our offerings (Mal 2:13-15). When spouses obey God and walk in His ways, love between them will be supernaturally natural!
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