Covenant by Sacrifice
On the day of judgment, God will gather to Him those who have made a covenant with Him by sacrifice. I find this description of God’s people very interesting. As Christians living in a free country, many of us probably have no idea what it is like to have a covenant with God by sacrifice. We read about sacrifice in the Old Testament starting as early as Genesis 4 (blog post on this: The Heart of the Worshiper and My Brother’s Keeper). I guess you could argue that when God clothed Adam and Eve garments of skin in Genesis 3:21, it is also a reference to the sacrifice of the animal that the skins originally belonged to and foreshadowing to the need of someOne to die in order to cover us sparing us the consequences of our sins (discussed in more detailed in my post someOne is coming). But many of us today are not familiar with sacrifice, especially not in regarding our relationship with God. Many seem to believe that God has gotten nicer over time. It is as if God has transitioned from our heavenly father to our heavenly grandfather. Yet here in Psalm 50, when Asaph prophetically describes the day of judgment with God coming and a fire devouring before Him (Psalm 50:3), God gathers before Him those who made a covenant with Him by sacrifice. So I ask you this question, is God going to be calling only those who lived before the death of Jesus on the cross? Do you think all of God's people may have made a covenant with Him by sacrifice? I believe we have, before the death of Jesus animals were sacrificed pointing forward to Jesus, and we live sure of our salvation because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, so clearly a sacrifice is involved. Now I would like to ask you, if you believe that people had to sacrifice from the fall all the way to the death and resurrection of Jesus, at which point God made an incredible sacrifice sending His only Son and also Jesus in laying down His life for humanity, and now we no longer need to sacrifice? Everyone else had to sacrifice, but not the modern Christian correct? Because surely you would agree that the early Christians, persecuted by the Romans, surely had to make sacrifices for their faith. Maybe you are beginning to get a feel as to where I am going with this. I am not talking about sacrifice as a way of atoning for my sins, that would never work, I am talking about sacrifice as an aspect of my covenant with God, as a response to His love towards me. Allow me to elaborate.
Let us make this very clear, God does not need your money. We should not give, donate, return our tithes because we think that somehow God would be poorer, or hungry, or go through any kind of need without our gifts. The Bible is clear that God is the creator of everything, out of nothing (Hebrews 11:3, Genesis 1:3, Psalm 33:6,9). Therefore, He has no need of anything material we could give Him. What God cares about is our heart. (Heart of the Worshiper)
What God desires is for us to reflect His character. God loves, and God gives, and He wants us to also give freely. Think about when God called Abraham. God called Abraham to bless him and make him a blessing, in him the whole world would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3, blog post Called by God). Based on these texts, my understanding is that when you use the blessings you have received from God to bless those around you, you are essentially telling God that you are safe to bless. By this, I mean that you are telling God that He can trust you with His blessings because you will be generous in sharing with those around you. You are demonstrating to God that He can partner with you in order to bless those around you, just like God did with Abraham. You are actively showing God that His blessings will not be hoarded or used for self-glorification.
I love how Paul describes what I would like to label as a “theology of the cheerful giver.”
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written:
“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:6-15 NKJV
That’s powerful stuff, and there is more, this time from the Old Testament.
Malachi says something similar but with much stronger language.
8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.
11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the Lord of hosts;
12 “And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
According to Malachi its pretty straight forward, God blesses and gives you a choice of how you will handle His blessings, and your management of His blessings will impact your future blessings.
Just to clarify a point that might be misunderstood. Your gifts do not purchase blessings. Your giving should be a cheerful act of worship as you reflect God’s character, one of love and generosity. Should your heart be int he wrong place, God will take no pleasure in your gifts or your worship. Rather your worship and your gifts become offensive to God.
11“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?”
Says the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle.
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
Or of lambs or goats.
12 “When you come to appear before Me,
Who has required this from your hand,
To trample My courts?
13 Bring no more futile sacrifices;
Incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.
14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts
My soul hates;
They are a trouble to Me,
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers,
I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood.
16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
17 Learn to do good;
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
20 But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Your gifts ought to be a natural unfolding of God’s will in your life. Your gifts only please God when your heart is with Him, otherwise, it becomes legalism.
God is here for you.
He wants to save you.
Call upon Him.
Then remember to glorify Him as you live your life.