In the Old Covenant, a sacrifice of obedience, bringing flesh and blood to the Lord, was required in order to draw near to God, yet in the New Covenant, sacrifice is still required to enter into the presence of God. What’s the difference? Today, the “flesh and blood” sacrifice that draws you near to God and that draws God near to you is you. In Psalm 50:14-15 the Lord said this to Asaph: “Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Sacrifice a thank offering to God, and pay your vows to the Most High, and call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will glorify Me.”
Here’s a little backstory:
Once sin entered into the world through Adam, God immediately enacted His plan of redemption so that His people could once again be close to His holy presence. He made a covenant with Israel, but because of their endless sin and corruption, they could not enter into His presence. The rituals, moral purity laws and feasts of sacrifice were set into motion in order to allow a sinful people to draw close to a holy God by recognizing, remembering and relating to Him through sacrifice which covered their sin through actions of holiness.
God does still want a flesh and blood sacrifice, but instead of sin and obligation as the motivating force, it’s freedom thanksgiving.
On the other side of that relationship was God desire to draw near to His people. To do that, He established the priesthood – a set apart group of people whose purpose was to worship Him and to help Israel better understand what holiness would look like when lived out as a part of every day life. These complex steps and complicated laws governing sacrifice and worship covered the sin and impurity of God’s people but they still had to be repeated over and over for centuries – until Jesus Christ came, once and for all, as the ultimate sacrifice allowing all who receive Him as the Son of God to be covered by His blood. Because of Jesus Christ, God no longer requires worship, but He does absolutely desire it.
Paul wrote, “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship.” (Romans 12:1) The author of Hebrews said, “Through Him, then, let us continually offer to God the sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15) These two New Covenant verses show that there is always a physical expression of the body that empowers the spiritual act of worship. So, yes, God does still want a flesh and blood sacrifice, but instead of sin and obligation as the motivating force, it’s freedom thanksgiving. Gratitude is the point of origin for all worship. Here’s a challenging thought: Without thanksgiving and sacrifice to the Lord in the moment of your worship, it’s not actually worship according to His own definition. It all comes down to three things: Willingness, gratitude and relationship. You’ll willingly worship a Savior you truly love and to whom you are truly thankful.
Love pushes us past our boundaries. Love empowers us to do things we thought we wouldn’t do. Love forces us to think about someone other than ourselves. And now you have the heart of worship.
Thought for today
Never anywhere in Scripture has God demanded worship. In fact the requirements of worship were not to benefit Him- He doesn’t need our worship to be God! The requirements of worship were set into place to enable God to work the lives of His people. Yet, He has always wanted it. He created it with a purpose. He attached worship to blessings and promises. He has beckoned for it, desired it, but never demanded. Why? Because worship must be a willing act of the heart. You cannot worship the Lord if your heart isn’t in it. Will you always feel like worshipping? No. That is your point of sacrifice- worship anyway and require of your soul to bless the Lord. Will you always sense God’s presence as you worship? No. But we get so caught up in the feelings of worship that we forsake the faith of worship. Worship is about Jesus Christ. Here’s the thing about sacrifice, in the words of Jesus, “…the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) It takes boldness to push past your boundaries, but when love is what drives you, nothing is impossible unless you make it so! The “heart of worship” is a good place to start your worship, but the “sacrifice of praise” is a physical expression of a heart condition. Remember, He loved you first. This is how you express your love to Him in return! <3