In my reading of Exodus, I’ve been noticing different things than the previous times I’ve read it. The Bible isn’t something we read just once and capture everything we need. Many details and ideas seem to come forth each time through, probably due to more information about the rest of God’s story as well as our own personal experiences.
This time, one thing I noticed was the amount of animals they were called to sacrifice. Loads and loads of animals; and always the best ones too, nothing lame or unsightly. I know sometimes we think about this in the context of giving our best to the Lord, but that can be rather lofty and hard to grasp and hang on to.
I was thinking about the Israelites though, and how hard all those animals must have been to give up. We might complain because we have to stop what we’re doing to get to church. Or maybe we’re not overly enthralled with the money we are “losing” when we donate. Maybe giving our best can be kind of annoying or even aggravating. But we’re probably not facing the possibility of going hungry because of it.
Then you throw in how hard that must have been, physically and logistically! Right now, I can give my church some paperwork and they’ll happily automatically deduct my gift from my bank each month. The only work I have to do in that instance is fill out some paperwork. Killing an animal is a LOT more work, and a LOT messier. There are no flies or blood slicks as a result of my giving now.
Sometimes I think of the fact they spent all this time and effort sacrificing to God and still screwed it up. I guess we can look on that with disdain and assume we’re somehow better, but in reality, we screw a lot of things up too. My priest reminded us a few weeks ago you can run around all you want doing things, but if there’s no relationship with Jesus it is all meaningless.
Our sacrifices and work only are pleasing if they’re done for Him and we have a relationship with Him. The amount and type and effort and all of that may vary from one period to the next, but God is always the constant.