Hear, O My people, and I will speak O Israel, and I will testify against you. I am God, your God! I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are continually before Me. I will not take a bull from your house, nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, Or drink the blood of goats? Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Highest. Call upon Me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” —Psalm 50:7-15
“Hear Ye, Hear Ye!” God is speaking! He calls His people to listen as He testifies against them. He qualifies His position as Judge and says that He will not rebuke them for their sacrifices or burnt offerings but reminds them that they are missing the point. Those weren’t intended to be ritualistic we’d better-do-this-or-else actions. He wants their hearts! He wants them to trust and believe in Him. He wants to be able to reward good works that are done in faith in Him! He reminds them that they aren’t offering anything to Him that was theirs, to begin with because He already owns everything!
Many pagan religions taught that meat that was offered to idols was actually eaten by the pagan “gods.” God straightens them out on that point, and tells them that even if He were ever hungry, He wouldn’t come to them, because as the true God, He didn’t need to!
“Burnt offerings and blood offerings” could be seen as the equivalent of church attendance and tithing now, and God tells them, “I’m not rebuking you for doing what you’re supposed to do, but you don’t get rewarded for doing what you ought to do!” Since we’re of Christ, we should live as He did. He died to sanctify us, so let us live a sanctified life. Don’t live for this world but for the next one, and don’t forsake or ignore sharing with others even if you get hurt because these are the things that please God.
Remember: God didn’t save us to serve us. He saved us to serve Him! And it should be a blessing and a joy when we consider all that He’s done for us. To hear some preachers talk you’d think that one day we’ll give God a performance review instead of Him giving one to us. They act as if God is sitting on His throne just waiting for us to give Him orders (accompanied by our “faith,” of course) that will produce the lifestyle that we feel we’re owed. Let’s look at this God’s way: Hebrews 12:28-29 tells us, “Since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” And yet, Jesus came to serve and not to be served. This wasn’t to set a pattern for how we should expect the Lord to respond to us. It was to be an example of how we are to be servants of God and of one another! We cannot give our orders to God. We’re always going to be servants, and servants will never be greater than their master.
And, for the record, going to church is not serving God. Paying tithes is not serving God. These are acts of obedience to God’s Word, and we should expect NO reward for doing these things. The works that He will reward are described in verses 14-15 of today’s reading, and it’s more the attitude than the act that is in view. If we give Him thanks, serve Him, trust Him, and watch His deliverance, we will thus glorify Him!
Excerpt from “Beside Still Waters” now available on Amazon.