Go and learn what this means, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Matthew 9:13).
“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Matthew 9:13 We see, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). God is saying that He desires love and acknowledgment of Him rather than religious practices. Without a loving relationship with God, nothing you do can please Him: God made a simple way for that loving relationship, we call it – faith (Hebrews 11:6).
When mankind transgressed God in the garden, they were spiritually separated from Him (Ephesians 2:1-10). We turned from glorifying Him to glorifying the creation (Romans 1:21-25). God is love and mercy, so He wants connection with us, which is why He offered propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:25). Propitiation in Hebrew Strong’s Concordance 2617 hesed means God’s atoning lovingkindness and in the Greek Strong’s Concordance 2435 hilasterion which means a sin offering to appease the wrath of a deity or the sprinkling of blood on the Day of Atonement.
Since we were spiritually dead, we didn’t have a relationship with God or true knowledge of Him. In order to be known again, He selected Abram (later given the name Abraham) from the town of Ur of the Chaldeans (i.e., Babylon) on the plain of Shinar . He made an everlasting covenant with him and his offspring. God would be known to the world, through him and his offspring and the nations would be blessed (Galatians 3:7-8). These people are known as the Israelites or Jews of the Old Testament. This covenant was everlasting and redemptive, and it was through faith (Galatians 2:16): “Abraham believed in the LORD and it was counted to Him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). So, propitiation, the atonement of sins and credit of righteousness is and always has been by faith: belief in God and His promises.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).
God’s desire to be loved. He had to establish a system of redemption for all the people had fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23). In order to be known, God created a relationship with His people through The Law of Moses. He established His relationship with man as the first commandment: He was to be their God and they would have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:2-4). The people struggled with this for they turned to their own ways and the worship of other gods. Finally, their hearts waxed cold towards God but they continued their religious observances, so the LORD wanted it to stop. They didn’t glorify Him and that’s all He wanted. He told His prophet Malachi, “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand” (Malachi 1:10). Again, He asks of His people through Isaiah to know the purpose of their many sacrifices and to tell them He did not delight in the blood of their many bulls or rams (Isaiah 1:11).
So, what does please God, if not religious practices?
The Law was the holiness of God and when man became aware of that righteousness, he became guilty of violating that very law (Romans 3:19-20). The sin of mankind actually increased once they became aware of God’s laws (Romans 5:20). This wasn’t a problem for God’s great mercy, as the law as never designed to lead man to repentance (2 Peter 3:9; Romans 2:4). The law is our accuser and we are guilty of God’s wrath because of the knowledge we obtained through it of our guilt before God (Romans 4:15). The great mystery revealed through Christ's death and resurrection is that salvation was not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles (Colossians 1:26-27; Isaiah 56; Acts 28:28).
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
God’s redemptive plan was the propitiation for our sins through the blood of Jesus. Since The Law with the blood of bulls and goats would never satisfy God, there had to be another way (Hebrews 10:4). We see in the holy scripture that atonement and life are in the blood, “The Blood has the life in it, God gave the blood (Jesus) on the alter to make atonement for our souls, for the blood makes atonement by the life” (Leviticus 17:11). That blood is the blood of Jesus. God prepared a body for Jesus (Hebrews 10:5). Therefore, he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:17).
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood—to be received by faith (Romans 3:25). He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, by His own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:22), and He (Jesus) came to do the Father’s will (Hebrews 10:7, 9-10) and which was the sacrifice of His body to sanctify the people as a propitiation for their sins (Hebrews 10:10). He did a single sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:12). He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2). I will remember their sins no more, and where there is forgiveness of sins, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:18). Therefore, we have confidence to enter the holy places of God by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19). In this is love, no that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10).
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6)
Surely, with the entire redemptive work of God being His primary work in relation to man, then His goodness and mercy will be with us forever. Surely it will. The entire law of Moses could be summed up in one command, to love the Lord your God. This is the New Covenant of the blood of Jesus which was poured out on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. We are to love God and in doing, we will love one another (John 13:34). This was always the heart of God, for He is love (1 John 4:7-21).
"So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer" (Romans 12:1).
Having the knowledge that God has always loved us and wanted a relationship with us, let us love Him in return. “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Let us be known as God’s children by our love: our love for Him, and our love for one another.
LORD, You hear our cry. You know our heart’s desires. Please help us to walk in your statutes; help us to obey Your commands. Give us a hunger to know you better so that our love will increase. Help us to forgive one another and ourselves. Help us to trust You with our lives and problems, so we have feet shod (bound) with the gospel of peace so Your light shines through us, regardless of our circumstance. Let us have a defense for the gospel and lips always proclaiming Your precious decrees. AMEN.
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