This verse may at first seem like an Old Testament commandment that has little relevance for Christians today. I would submit, however, that it is a commandment of God that has much relevance for God’s people of all generations.
Let’s start by asking why God would require the Israelites to sacrifice only oxen or sheep without any physical defects when they made a sacrifice to God. What difference did it make to God since the animal was going to be killed and cooked or burned up anyway?
While there are several theological principles you could derive from this Old Testament commandment, here’s the one I want to address:
The fidelity of the sacrifice indicates the fidelity of the sacrificer.
If God didn’t designate any standards for the livestock the Israelites should use in a sacrifice, then which ones would they choose to sacrifice? That’s right, the ones with blemishes or defects! The ones that were the most convenient for them to use for a sacrifice.
But God wanted the best ones, the ones that required a sacrifice on the part of the sacrificer.
Sure, God is holy and worthy of animal sacrifices without blemish or defect. But, maybe God wasn’t so concerned about the quality of the animal that was being sacrificed as He was about the condition of the heart of the person making the sacrifice.
Fidelity is the strict observance of promises or duties. We generally use the term “fidelity” as a condition of a marriage relationship. The expectation of a marriage is conjugal faithfulness–that each marriage partner will not engage in sexual relationships with other people.
God demands fidelity in our relationship with Him–absolute allegiance, complete loyalty, total devotion.
With God, you’re either all in not in at all!
Jesus commented on this subject at length. But, one of His more relevant and memorable declarations was this: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21,ESV).
God doesn’t just want your best effort, He wants your best you. And, that’s given by making God’s will the main priority of your life.
The fidelity of a priority is easy to measure–the amount of time and/or money one spends trying to accomplish a priority provides excellent metrics.
In other words, the things that are really important to us are those things on which we spend our time and money.
What’s really important to you (your treasure) will be an indicator of where your heart is. And, what you spend your time and resources thinking about and doing are indicators of what’s really important to you.
Unfortunately, in our busy world we may often find ourselves practicing a religion of convenience rather than living a life of absolute allegiance to God.
We do God’s will to the extent that it is convenient for us, but it never really becomes the driving force of our lives. Then, we never really experience the reality of God’s care and provision over our lives because too many other priorities prevent God’s kingdom from becoming the authentic priority of our lives.
For the kingdom of God to come into our lives, then the kingdom of our lives has to go.
We must eliminate priorities that only allow us to do God’s will when it is convenient and let God’s will rule completely–even inconveniently–over our lives!
The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:17, NIV)