to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *
September 03, 2019 – Tuesday
Jeremiah 17:24-27 NIV
24 But if you are careful to obey Me, declares the Lord, and bring no load through the gates of this city on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy by not doing any work on it,
25 then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this city with their officials. They and their officials will come riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by the men of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, and this city will be inhabited forever.
26 People will come from the towns of Judah and the villages around Jerusalem, from the territory of Benjamin and the western foothills, from the hill country and the Negev, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, and bringing thank offerings to the house of the Lord.
27 But if you do not obey Me to keep the Sabbath day holy by not carrying any load as you come through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle an unquenchable fire in the gates of Jerusalem that will consume her fortresses.’”
The words are harsh and angry as He has Jeremiah deliver a message of judgment. The four preceding verses tell us the cause of God’s harsh and angry words.
19 This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and stand at the Gate of the People,[c] through which the kings of Judah go in and out; stand also at all the other gates of Jerusalem. 20 Say to them, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah and all people of Judah and everyone living in Jerusalem who come through these gates. 21 This is what the Lord says: Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem. 22 Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors. 23 Yet they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline.
Clearly this was all about keeping the Sabbath holy or in this case the people of Judah, Jerusalem and its surrounding towns not keeping the Sabbath holy. It was not just their sin, but that of their ancestors as well. However they, from the kings on down, had an opportunity to change how things had been done and obtain God’s blessings. Still, they thought they could get away with not honoring the Sabbath and fool God, but it was not to be for earlier we read:
9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? 10 “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
Why this emphasis on the Sabbath and following His command about the Sabbath? If you take the time to read the first part of this chapter you will see their sins were many and varied, but the focus turns to the Sabbath, why? If you have ever raised children who have badly even greatly misbehaved you may understand what God is doing. He is saying “Can you obey this one thing and show Me a change in your hearts, in your behavior?” If so, punishment may be withheld.
For us as Christians today, everything is so very different as our Sabbath (or rest) is found in Jesus.
6 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)
9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9-11)
As Christians in the New Covenant the idea isn’t that there is no Sabbath, but that every day is a day of Sabbath rest in the finished work of God. Since the shadow of the Sabbath is fulfilled in Jesus, we are free to keep any particular day – or no day – as a Sabbath after the custom of ancient Israel. Yet we dare not ignore the importance of a day of rest – God has built us so that we need one. (Guzik) God’s mercy endures.
(to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)
* Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)