When I first read through this reading, I could not help but say “yuck!” But as in everything that God does, nothing is done for nothing. He formed the earth and all its contents to work in unison, and He formed the human body also to work in unison. And so, He is working in unison with His people. Everything had its place, every person had their assignments, every animal had their assignment, even down to the smallest detail; the blood, the entrails, the organs, and the meat. All this was to cleanse the ones who wandered outside of God’s purpose and plan for their life. I may not be able to understand God’s methods, but I know I can trust them to be good and right, if not in the moment, then somewhere down the road.
The Bible says that all have sinned. Everyone then, and everyone now. It is only because of the love God has for His people that the sacrifices were established, otherwise He would have to destroy every person. Man had dominion over animals, so the animals and birds became the sacrifices. To me, it doesn’t seem fair, but I get it! It was the cute little animals, or God’s cute little people. Man was a special creation right from the start. Man was made in God’s image—I know sometimes I question why God loves us so much, especially because of all we have put him through from early times, until now. But the truth is that, He does love each and every one of us! That is why there were sacrifices, to cleanse and purify us, so that we could find peace in our lives, and so that we could live.
And so, the animals were killed by the people in front of the priests, the head, entrails and fat, and legs placed on the altar, the blood sprinkled on the sides, and the meat cut in pieces.
And the priest shall offer all of it and burn it on the altar, it is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. (Leviticus 1:9b, 1:17b ESV)
It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, in all your dwelling places, that you eat neither fat nor blood. (Leviticus 3:17 ESV)
Just as God expected obedience in the Old Testament, He expects obedience in the New Testament. Why? Not to be a hard taskmaster, but again out of love. Obedience leads to a blessing of some sort, not always what we imagine, but spiritual blessing that will remain for eternity. God operates on a higher plane, but I have learned to trust Him and have faith that He is working for me. It is Satan’s desire to place doubt in my mind and cause me to not trust, but to try and provide for myself.
Ananias and Sapphira are perfect examples of how this plays out:
But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. (Acts 5: 3-5 ESV)
God didn’t care that Ananias and Sapphira kept money for themselves. God cared that they lied about it. In this case, enough to kill them. It would have been better if they just laid the money down on the desk and kept silent. If they didn’t discuss it amongst themselves. Maybe, the couple thought they were being good financial planners. But God gave Peter wisdom about the situation and saw it as a scheme of Satan. God wants us to trust and obey Him, not Satan. Fear, in this instance is wise, if it keeps us from doing the schemes of the devil.
The Apostles continued to grow as they witnessed to all who would listen. The religious sect became furious with them and wanted them gone. They also didn’t want to hear that the blood of Jesus was on their hands. There was forgiveness for them, just like everyone else, but they didn’t want forgiveness. They didn’t want to change their ways. They just wanted power, and it felt like it was shifting over to the Apostles. They put the apostles in jail. An angel of the Lord let them out. The Lord told them to continue witnessing, and He gave them the boldness and the courage to do so. Then, they were put right back in jail!
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned then, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered,” We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. and we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:27-32 ESV)
The Pharisees became furious and wanted to kill the apostles.
But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. (Acts 5:34 ESV)
Not BUT Gamaliel, BUT GOD!
Gamaliel spoke wisdom to the men, and in part said:
“So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice. (Acts 5:38-39 ESV)
God can use anyone, even someone on the opposing team to come to your aid. Never forget it!
And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5 :42 ESV)
Father God, help me to never be found opposing You! Give me your courage and boldness whenever I may need it. Help me to know wisdom when I hear it. Help me to be obedient! In Jesus’ name I pray, AMEN and AMEN!