Troublesome Topic: Life Lessons from the Burnt Offering

Lesson 9 of 9

The burnt offering was a dedication of self to God, demonstrated by a gift of something valuable.

Since Jesus’ death and resurrection, we do not need to offer the sacrifices prescribed by the Law that was given through Moses, but we do need to learn the principles taught by those requirements. We, like they, need to dedicate ourselves to God, and we should demonstrate it by how we live.

So what are some things we can give God as gifts that demonstrate our desire to be fully committed to Him? Here are some ideas:

> Time:  The Israelites were required to give something that was common, that everyone had, yet it cost them something. For us a corollary might be time.

> Something you enjoy:    This could be novels, good TV shows, favorite activities.

> Food:   As American Christians we don’t do enough fasting, probably because we are on the go too much and need fuel to keep going. Fasting is the ultimate in pausing and resting.

Oh, but wait, I almost forgot about Lent. During Lent many people choose to give up something, and often it is a type of food. Oh, now I just remembered that before Lent many people pig-out on the thing they will “give up,” and when Lent is over, most people go right back to their normal way of life. So, that probably doesn’t really count.

For the Israelites life was hard; they had few luxuries which they could easily afford to give up. When they made a burnt offering of gratitude it cost them dearly. Gratitude was expected to be a way of life. This gratitude was expressed through dedication and surrender. Every burnt offering was a greater sacrifice for them than anything I have ever heard of being given up for Lent. God expects costly sacrifices of us just like He did of the ancient Israelites. The only difference is that He lets us choose what we want to give, whereas they did not have very much choice in the matter (they only had options when it came to making vows.) Unfortunately, we often take that liberty as meaning that we don’t need to do anything special to show God our devotion. So we do nothing.

> Money:   For some, money is the easiest thing to give. Not that it is easy, but it is easier than giving our time. I recommend that you commit to giving more of your money regardless of how much you now give. It is a joy and a source of freedom to give above the tithe.

> More time:  Americans find it hard to give time. We are too busy trying to find meaning in life through a series of meaningless activities, and busy striving to satiate our insatiable appetites for thrills and entertainment. So discipline yourself to enjoy more time with God, and then add even more time to that.

The next lesson in the short and mid-length series on covenant is Love Your Neighbor.

The next lesson in the full series on covenant is The Ashes of a Red Heifer.