to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *
September 05, 2019 – Thursday
Jeremiah 22:1-5 NIV
1 This is what the Lord says: “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there:
2 ‘Hear the word of the Lord to you, king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you, your officials and your people who come through these gates.
3 This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.
4 For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people.
5 But if you do not obey these commands, declares the Lord, I swear by Myself that this palace will become a ruin.’”
It is amazing how God can take all of His commands, laws, and statutes then summarize them all into one short statement Do what is just and right. And if that is just too great of a summary, He provides a list, a short list, of what He requires in the rest of verse three above: Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. That’s it. He ends His instructions there.
Next, He adds if you are able to do this, follow these simple commands then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people. Good things will happen, blessings will flow to Jerusalem and Judah. Wait!! What happens if the kings of Judah do not do what is just and right? Well, He is very explicit here as well saying But if you do not obey these commands, declares the Lord, I swear by Myself that this palace will become a ruin
We might be forgiven for thinking that a command to do what is just and right would be second nature, but we would be wrong. The first time we come across this phrase is in Genesis 18:19 where God is describing why He has chosen Abraham.
For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what He has promised him.”
Skipping up to Proverbs 21:3 we come to one of my favorite verses
To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
We see the phrase eight times in Ezekiel, but my favorite among them is Ezekiel 33:19
And if a wicked person turns away from their wickedness and does what is just and right, they will live by doing so.
Why is this in the Old Testament so many times? Because people, kings, and their own people were intent on doing what they wanted to do whether it was right and just. Thus the need for the threat of punishment if He was not obeyed. God addresses this later in verse twenty-one
I warned you when you felt secure, but you said, ‘I will not listen!’
This has been your way from your youth; you have not obeyed Me.
The sins of youth and feeling like you might live forever. Warnings from parents alone, much less God, were often difficult to follow, especially if I could convince myself I could get away with it. So the many instructions and warnings were necessary. For sure in my case. I am thankful to know the Redeemer God was sent for me if I would but turn from my evil ways believe Jesus rose on the third day and accept Him as my Lord and Savior. So thankful.
(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)