Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 17.1
1 Do not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep that has any defect or flaw in it, for that would be detestable to him.
Reflection: A Sacrifice of Perfection
By Evie Dykhouse
When watching a baking show, it is easy to notice how every contestant wants their pie to be perfectly baked or their chocolate to be perfectly set before they present their creations to the judges. But any person could tell you that things often don’t go as planned. Perfection is impossible for human beings to achieve. Then here comes Deuteronomy.
It’s tempting to dismiss Deuteronomy as a negative set of laws with unrealistic expectations designed solely for ruining the Israelites’ fun. Instead, we should see Deuteronomy as guidelines crafted out of God’s love. Deuteronomy does raise an important question though.
Why does God require a perfect sacrifice from imperfect people?
Sacrifices were a key part of the Israelites’ culture. To atone for their sins, sacrifices were required. Modern readers have the blessing of being able to see the Bible’s full picture. Reading the New Testament, we see the Old Testament come to fruition. Jesus becomes the flawless sacrifice. (1 Peter 1.19)
It was a tremendous act of love for God to sacrifice his one and only Son for sinful people who constantly rejected him. In sacrificing animals without defect, the people in Deuteronomy are pointing to a need for Jesus the perfect Savior.
Christians today know that God is worthy of even more than the best we can offer. We may struggle, wondering what to give God out of love and gratitude, however, God’s sacrifice for his beloved people was blameless Jesus. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can sacrifice our best, even though we fall short of perfection.
Thinking back to the story of Cain and Abel, it’s clear that, from the beginning, God has revealed himself to be deserving of perfection. Like Abel, we should sacrifice the best of what we have to give. Through Cain, we learn that, if we do what is right, God will look upon our human sacrifices with favor and grace. (Genesis 4.3-7)
We are not a perfect people, but we worship a perfect God. Through the redemption of Jesus Christ, we, as his children, can make sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to Him. This means the best of our time, the best of our talents, the best of our attention, and more.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; let the whole earth tremble before him. — Psalm 96.9
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Read more about The Smell of Our Sacrifices
The smell of sacrifices that pleased God was not pleasing to his stomach, as if God were hungry…So what did it please?
Read more about Sacrifice of Self
Ultimately we have been called to imitate our self-sacrificing savior, Jesus, by giving of ourselves to do good for the benefit of others.