SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Verse 6 mentions "burnt offerings and sacrifices." In the preceding books of the Bible, we've seen the Israelites instructed on sacrifices they were to make to atone for their sins and to worship God.
- Verse 6 also mentions "tithes and special gifts." Part of worshipping God is giving Him a tithe (ten percent) of what you bring in. The idea is that everything belongs to God, so you are not actually giving to Him, but giving back to Him. He requires ten percent, so giving the tithe is not a "gift." Anything above ten percent would be considered a "special gift."
- Verse 8 uses the phrase "as we do here today" (verse 8). The Israelites had been wandering through the desert. Now that they were moving into a permanent home Moses was establishing permanent practices of worship, which would differ from what they had been doing while traveling.
- Verses 16 and 24 say "you must not eat the blood." Atoning for sins required the substitution of a life for a life, and thus the shedding of blood (see Hebrews 9:22). The blood shed in the sacrifice of an animal was the symbol of that animal's life, so it was considered sacred (see Genesis 9:5-6). All of this pointed forward to the blood Jesus would shed for us. It was only through shedding His blood that Jesus could redeem us (see Hebrews 9:12-14).
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- This chapter is primarily about worshiping God in a way He considers appropriate. Moses warned the people about the temptations to worship in a way that felt right to each individual, or in a way that others in the culture chose to worship. But God is God and gets to decide how He wants to be worshipped. (By the way, the Israelites did not heed Moses' warnings and chose to worship God in ways God did not accept, and suffered the consequences for it.)
- Today we have the same temptations. We may choose to worship God in the way we want to, rather than the way He commands. (For instance, God tells us to worship Him by singing, but we may not like singing. God tells us to give Him back ten percent of our income, but we don't want to tithe. God tells us to worship Him by keeping our bodies pure, but we may want to do things with our bodies that God prohibits.) Or we may be influenced by our culture's views and practices. (For instance, we may adopt commonly accepted views, even though they directly oppose what God teaches.)
- If, like the Israelites, we do not heed the Bible's warnings and refuse to worship God as He wants, we may think we'll be fine, but the truth is we'll suffer consequences for it. (The irony is that, when things go wrong for us because we're not worshiping God and living the way He wants us to, we often blame God for how our life is going.)
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- From what you know of the Bible, where are you ignoring what God says and worshipping Him or living the way you want, or the way everyone else does? What are you doing that God says not to do? What are you not doing that God says you must do? And in what ways might you be suffering for it, even if you may not have made the connection? (For example: Maybe you're disobeying God by not giving Him your "tithes and special gifts," and perhaps your finances are a disaster. And it could be that you've prayed that God will help you financially, or even been angry at God for "letting you" get into such a bad financial state. But the truth is that your bad financial state is a natural consequences of you not doing with your money what God has commanded. It's not God's fault your money is a mess, it's your fault for not obeying God.)
- What will you do about it? Ask God to help you.