Leslie M. John
“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24 ESV)
One of the great teachings of Lord Jesus Christ is that man should have right attitude, not only towards Him, but also toward his neighbors and brothers. A man approaching God to reconcile with Him does no good if he is at odds with his neighbor or brother.
Pointing to the attitude of Pharisees, who were more interested in external purity, Lord Jesus says that a man ought to set right his dealings with his brother first and reconcile with him before he brings any oblation before God for His acceptance.
The very first envying was seen when Cain was angry with his brother because God accepted the offering made by Abel while his offering was not pleasing to the Lord.
“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell” (Genesis 4:3-5)
Loving as He is, God always cherished fellowship with man and desired to commune with him. With Adam and Eve falling into sin they lost fellowship with God and consequently we all have inherited that sin from him. God provided way to go near him, and have fellowship with Him, provided our sin is forgiven and righteousness is imputed to us.
The imputation of righteousness to man is possible only at the discretion of God when all the conditions that He prescribed are fulfilled. These conditions were in different form in the Old Testament period than that of New Testament period. We would not have realized the benefits we have in Jesus Christ unless we knew the pattern of worship that was laid out for man in the Old Testament. There are many references in the Old Testament as to how a man should offer his oblations. Few references are as follows:
“Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall they shall not appear before the LORD empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee” (Deuteronomy 16:16-17).
“And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the LORD. If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour well mixed with oil. With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with loaves of leavened bread. And from it he shall offer one loaf from each offering, as a gift to the LORD. It shall belong to the priest who throws the blood of the peace offerings. And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering. He shall not leave any of it until the morning. But if the sacrifice of his offering is a vow offering or a freewill offering, it shall be eaten on the day that he offers his sacrifice, and on the next day what remains of it shall be eaten. But what remains of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burned up with fire. If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten on the third day, he who offers it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be credited to him. It is tainted, and he who eats of it shall bear his iniquity. “Flesh that touches any unclean thing shall not be eaten. It shall be burned up with fire. All who are clean may eat flesh, but the person who eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of the LORD’s peace offerings while an uncleanness is on him, that person shall be cut off from his people” (Leviticus 7:11-20 ESV).
Every detail mentioned in the Old Testament with regard to worshipping God was shadow that was to be fulfilled in the New Testament, and the Lord fulfilled the entire law of the Old Testament. It is therefore, essential that we should not discard reading and understanding the Old Testament. There is no way for man to get rid of his sin unless the prescribed sacrifice is offered to God. The offering made to God without having the right conscience is not accepted by Him, no matter how expensive the gift may be. The Lord is the creator of this universe and He owns everything. Our offering is accepted by Him only if we have the right attitude and right relationship with our brothers.
There is a sublime concept involved in offering thanksgiving to the Lord. God gave instructions through Moses to the children of Israel as to how sacrifice of peace offering should be made on the altar.
“And if his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offer it of the herd; whether it be a male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the LORD”. (Leviticus 3:1)
It is a magnificent perception to offer our oblations to the Lord with right attitude and right conscience; otherwise our actions are tantamount to mere hypocrisy. We approach God because He loved us first and we try to make peace with Him in order that we may be accepted by Him as the children of God. We confess our sins and transgressions to Him in order that He may forgive us of our sins, and have pre-eminence in our lives. What if someone has some grievances against us and we are at the Lord’s presence with our offering?
Jesus said, if we remember that our brother has something against us, we should leave our gift there before offering it to the Lord, and reconcile with our brother first and then return to offer the gift. The Lord says the one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies His name and therefore, He will show salvation of God to him. (cf. Psalm 50:23)
John the Baptist said of Lord Jesus Christ He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17, John 1:29). There is only one way for salvation. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6).
Speaking to Nicodemus Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. (John 3:16).