After Aaron and his sons performed the first sacrifice, Moses and Aaron blessed the people, then the glory of the Lord came down and holy fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offerings. The sacrifice was acceptable to God.
What had the people done to deserve the blessing of God and to be privy to the spectacular appearance of the glory of the Lord? They had done little other than following Moses into the desert, and even that was not without complaining.
Fast forward to the second coming of the Messiah when Jesus Christ sits on the throne and separates those who attended to the needs of His brethren (His sheep) and those who did not (goats). Based on their actions, not on their sacrifice, one group entered into His kingdom and the latter did not.
It almost seems as if the offering of bulls and goats is a more sure way to please God than just believing in God. So something must be missing in translation, because God is not unjust and He never goes back on His word. So who are the nations and who are the brethren? Scripture indicates that the brethren are those who are sent to the nations to preach the Gospel. Jesus commanded, His followers to be missionaries, evangelists, teachers, and workers in other fields of service for Him. I think of the yearly treks to Honduras our youth pastor and a host of students take to minister in practical ways and spiritual discernment. I am reminded of the often repeated encouragement by our pastor to read the weekly Scriptures he teaches on Sunday morning and to apply that word to our daily walk. When the offering basket is passed, I think of the needs of the staff at church that depend on that offering for their salaries, travel opportunities to the mission field, and upkeep of the technology needed to present the Word in worship, in sermon, in testimony. They are bearers of the message of Jesus to all the nations and Jesus will judge those nations for their treatment of those He has sent. Ultimately it is the acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ that will determine the future of all nations.
I am no longer separated from the presence of the Lord because I have not brought a sacrifice to the Lord. Or am I? It still bothers me to read that the nations thought they were good enough to stand in His presence. They did not see that they neglected to listen and do what God has said through His messengers. I pray that I am doing all that I can to support the ministry of the church, even when there seems to be little I can give. Lord, help me to be sacrificial in giving to and praying for the ministry of the brethren whom You have chosen to spread the Gospel.